24 May 2009

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) on the Wastefulness of Meat-Eating

Enough has now been said to show that the habit of flesh-eating, involving as it does the sacrifice of vast tracts of land to the grazing of cattle, and the consequent starving of agriculture, is far too costly to be justified, in the face of an extending civilisation, unless by a much clearer proof of its necessity than any which its advocates have essayed; in fact it only remains possible, on its present large scale, through the temporary use of huge pasture-grounds in remote semi-civilised regions which will not always be available. For pastoralism belongs rightly to another and earlier phase of the world's economics, and as civilisation spreads it becomes more and more an anachronism, as surely as flesh-eating, by a corresponding change, becomes an anachronism in morals. It seems, generally speaking, that the foods which are the costliest in suffering are also the costliest in price, whereas the wholesome and harmless diet to which Nature points us is at once the cheapest and most humane.

(Henry S. Salt, The Logic of Vegetarianism: Essays and Dialogues [London: The Ideal Publishing Union, 1899], 87 [footnote omitted])