Most people feel that a meal without meat is incomplete, for from time immemorial it has been regarded as an axiom that meat is the most strengthening food we have. All other foodstuffs have been looked upon as mere accessories to the one or more kinds of flesh on the menu. Nothing could be more erroneous; science has proven by experiments that invariably the nourishment obtained from vegetables has a greater sustaining power, and the reason is easy to see when we look at the matter from the occult side.
The Law of Assimilation is that "no particle of food may be built into the body by the forces whose task that is until it has overcome by the indwelling Spirit." The Ego must be absolute and undisputed ruler in the body, governing the cells as an autocrat, or they would all go their own ways as they do in decay when the Ego has fled.
The level of the consciousness of the cell determines its power as a unit. The lower its consciousness, the easier it is for the Ego to act as the governing head of the bodily functions. Cells taken into the body also have their individual and collective consciousness. Therefore, the level of their spiritual attainment is a factor to be considered when food is to be used by the organism. The different kingdoms have different vehicles and consequently a different consciousness. The mineral has only its dense body and a consciousness like the deepest trance. It would, therefore, be easiest to subject foods taken directly from the mineral kingdom. Mineral food would remain with us the longest, obviating the necessity of eating so often; but unfortunately we find that the human organism vibrates so rapidly that it is incapable of assimilating the inert mineral directly. Salt and like substances are passed out of the system at once without having been assimilated at all. The air is full of nitrogen which we need to repair waste; we breathe it into our system, yet cannot assimilate it, or any other mineral, till it has first been transmuted in Nature's laboratory and built into the plants.
The plants have a dense and a vital body, which enables them to do this work. Their consciousness is as a deep, dreamless sleep. Thus it is easy for the Ego to overpower the vegetable cells and keep them in subjection for a long time, hence the great sustaining power of the vegetable.
In animal food the cells have already become more individualized, and as the animal has a desire body giving it a passional nature, it is easily understood that when we eat meat it is harder to overcome these cells which have animal consciousness resembling the dream state, and also that such particles will not stay long in subjection. Hence a meat diet requires larger quantities and more frequent meals than the vegetable or fruit diet. If we should go one step farther and eat the flesh of carnivorous animals, we should find ourselves hungry all the time, for there the cells have become exceedingly individualized and will, therefore, seek their freedom and gain it so much the quicker. An excess of meat is burned up, but leaves poisonous uric acid, and it is being more and more recognized that the less meat we eat, the better for our wellbeing.
It is natural that we should desire the very best of food, but every animal body has in it the poisons of decay. The venous blood is filled with carbon dioxide and other noxious products on their way to the kidneys or the pores of the skin to be expelled as urine or perspiration. These loathesome substances are in every part of the flesh and when we eat such food we are filling our bodies with toxic poisons. Much sickness is due to our use of flesh foods.
There is plenty of proof that a carnivorous diet fosters ferocity. We may mention the well-known fierceness of beasts of prey, while the prodigious strength and the docile nature of the ox, the elephant, and the horse show the effect of the herb diet on animals.
As soon as we adopt the vegetarian diet, we escape one of the most serious menaces of health: the putrefaction of particles of flesh embedded between the teeth. Fruits, cereals, and vegetables are from their very natures slow to decay; each particle contains an enormous amount of ether which keeps it alive and sweet for a long time, whereas the ether which interpenetrated the flesh and composed the vital body of an animal was taken away with the Spirit thereof at the time of death. Thus the danger from infection through vegetable foods is very small, and many of them are actually antiseptic in a very high degree. This applies particularly to the citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, grapefruits, etc., not to speak of the king of all antiseptics, the pineapple. Instead of poisoning the digestive tract with putrefactive elements as meats do, fruits cleanse and purify the system, and the pineapple is one of the finest aids to digestion known to man. It is far superior to pepsin and no cruelty to sentient life is used to obtain it. Some modern nutritionists advise that for full benefit of the nutrients, citrus fruits should not be mixed with other foods.
There are twelve salts in the body known as cell salts; they are very vital and represent the twelve signs of the zodiac. These salts are required for the building of the body. They are not mineral salts as generally supposed, but are vegetable. The mineral has no vital body, and it is only by way of the vital body that assimilation is accomplished. Therefore, we have to obtain these salts through the vegetable kingdom.
Heat destroys the vital body of the plant and leaves only the mineral part. Therefore, if we desire to renew the supply of these salts in our bodies, we must obtain them from the uncooked vegetable. Since cooking destroys the valuable cell salts, our diet should contain a large percentage of raw food. Herb teas, which should be steeped and not boiled, are also very rich in vegetable salts.
But we must not jump to the conclusion that everyone should stop eating meat and live entirely on raw plant food. At the present stage of evolution there are very few who can do so. We must take care not to raise the vibrations of our bodies too rapidly, for we, to continue our labor in the present conditions, must have bodies fitted for the work.
Occultists know that there is a flame in the skull at the base of the brain. It burns continually in the medulla oblongata at the head of the spinal cord, and is of divine origin. This fire emits a singing sound like the buzz of a bee and is the keynote of the physical body. It builds and cements together that mass of cells known as "our body."
The fire burns high or low, clear or dim, according to how we feed it. There is fire in everything in Nature except the mineral kingdom. It has no vital body and therefore no avenue for the ingress of the Life Spirit, the fire. We replenish this sacred fire partly from the forces from the Sun entering the vital body through the etheric counterpart of the spleen, and from there to the solar plexus where it is colored and then carried upward through the blood. We also feed this fire from the living fire we absorb from the uncooked food which we eat and thus assimilate.
Looking at the matter of flesh-eating from the ethical side also, it is against the higher conception to kill to eat. We have a heavy debt to pay to the lower creatures whose mentors we should be, but whose murderers we are; the good law which works ever to correct abuses will in time relegate the habit of eating murdered animals to the scrapheap of obsolete practices.
Man, in his earlier stages of unfoldment, was like the beasts of prey in certain respects. However, he is to become God-like and thus he must cease to destroy in order that he may commence to create. Flesh food has fostered human ingenuity of a low order in the past; it has served a purpose in our evolution; but we are now standing on the threshold of a New Age, when self- sacrifice and service will bring spiritual growth to humanity. The evolution of the mind will bring a wisdom beyond our greatest conception, but before it will be safe to entrust us with that wisdom, we must become harmless as doves. Otherwise we would be apt to turn it to such selfish and destructive purposes that it would be an inconceivable menace to our fellow men. To avoid this, the vegetable diet must be adopted.
From the purely practical standpoint, too, the vegetarian diet is advantageous. The ever more prohibited price of meat is causing housewives to turn to substitutes, and people are gradually being taught that the God-given food, the vegetable, is most delicious and healthful. Many people who have been eating more fruits and vegetables are coming to realize that they are gaining in health and, in many cases, that this physical betterment has been accompanied by moral and mental improvement. It has been claimed that it takes twelve acres of pasture to raise the meat sufficient to feed one man. If these twelve acres of land were used for truck gardening, they would produce enough to feed several fair-sized families. With the population increase all over the world, it will soon become necessary to discontinue stock raising and devote the acreage to wheat and vegetable growing.
In this changing age, when more advanced Egos are born, many of them are naturally vegetarians; a new race having a higher consciousness is coming to birth, especially on the Pacific coast. The coming age will be a vegetarian age, and all who are progressive will naturally fall in line and become vegetarians — the others will remain behind and be classed among the stragglers of humanity.