The following are excerpts from The Higher Taste. (1983)
I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants. – Gandhi
Each year over 135 million mammals and over 3 billion birds are killed in America. But few people make any conscious connection between this slaughter and the meat products that appear on their tables. A case in point: in TV commercials a clown called Ronald McDonald tells kiddies that hamburger grows in “hamburger patches.” The truth is not so pleasant.
Describing his reaction to a visit to a slaughterhouse, the former champion tennis player Peter Burwash, wrote in his book A Vegetarian Primer, “I’m no shrinking violet. I played hockey until half of my teeth were knocked down my throat. I’m extremely competitive on a tennis court . . . But that experience at the slaughterhouse overwhelmed me. When I walked out of there, I knew I would never again harm an animal! I knew all the physiological, economic, and ecological arguments supporting vegetarianism, but it was firsthand experience of man’s cruelty to animals that laid the real ground work for my commitment to vegetarianism.”
Playwright George Bernard Shaw first tried to become a vegetarian at age twenty-five. “It was Shelly who first opened my eyes to the savagery of my diet,’ he wrote in his autobiography. Shaw’s doctors warned that the (vegetarian) diet would kill him. When an old man, he was asked why he didn’t go back and show them what good it had done him. He replied, “I would, but they all passed away years ago!” Once someone asked him how it was that he looked so youthful. “I don’t know,” Shaw retorted. “I look my age. It is the other people wo look older than they are. What can you expect from people who eat corpses?”
On the connection between flesh-eating and violence in human society, Shaw wrote:
We pray on Sundays that we may have light
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread;
We are sick of war, we don’t want to fight,
And yet we gorge ourselves upon the dead.