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by William A. (William Andrus) Alcott 1798-1859
“Premise of this book: William A. Alcott set out to prove that humans do not need animal flesh to live.
He asked questions in a scientific publication and people corresponded with him detailing personal experiences with a predominantly vegetable and milk diet and (in some cases) the experiences of their patients, friends, and family members.
In the book he discusses human physiology- teeth, intestines, bone structure. He speaks on biblical reasons for following this diet (citing that man did not eat flesh before the fall of man). Examples are given of groups of people with a predominantly vegetable diet (including vegetarians in India, orphanages without much money in Germany, and the Pythagoreans).
He says this diet helps to cure: scurvy, colic, intestinal problems, weak temperament, inflammatory fevers, and other maladies. It also improves mental capacity and physical endurance and strength.
Bread and other vegetable substances are main foods along with milk and water.
Foods to be avoided include animal flesh, wine and spirits, coffee, and tea. Meats and oils are hard to digest and not helpful for health.
Included at the end of the book are some very dated recipes for porridge type substances.
I find this book interesting on two levels. The first is the historical perspective on health and diet. The second is fact that books like this were being published in the mid- nineteenth century and we are still a meat-eating culture now. Alcott spoke about ending world hunger by ceasing to feed all our grain to livestock and gave figures of how many people could be fed from acreages of ground on different foods. It is sad to think that this information is nowhere near new and still pertains to our culture's everlasting problems.
If you are at all interested in the history of Vegetarianism and health in the 1800s, this would be a great book to start reading.
Where you can find this book: Amazon and Project Gutenberg
Marjorie P wrote this review Wednesday, November 13, 2013.