Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)


Lt 102, 1896

Tait, A. O.

“Sunnyside,” Cooranbong, Australia

March 1896

This letter is published in entirety in 7MR 420-424; CD 462.

Dear Brother:

There is much that can be said on the question of health reform, and some persons are always ready to catch up the most objectionable features, and urge them upon the attention of those who are not properly enlightened in regard to the subject. But this course is not wise. At our camp meetings, all classes of people are represented, and we need to guard every expression that bears upon any question of reform, else someone will catch at our words, and use them unwisely. The temperance question should be handled carefully. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 1

The large gatherings of our people afford us an excellent opportunity to illustrate our principles, to educate the people, not only by our words, but by our practice. Some years ago at these gatherings there was much said upon health reform, and the benefits of a vegetarian diet, but at the same time meat was furnished upon the tables at the dining tent. Faith without works is dead; and the instruction upon health reform, denied by the practice, did not make the deepest impression. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 2

At the camp meetings in Victoria and New South Wales, those in charge, educated by practice as well as by precept. Although it has been but a few years since they received the truth, they took a noble stand for health principles. No meat was furnished at the dining tent, but fruits, grains, and vegetables, were supplied in abundance. I could not but be pleased, for precept and practice combined have a telling influence. Both believers and unbelievers asked questions in reference to the absence of meat, and then the reason was plainly stated, that meat is not the most healthful food. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 3

In this country there is an organized vegetarian society, but its numbers are comparatively few. Among the people in general, meat is largely used by all classes. It is the cheapest article of food, and even where poverty abounds, meat is usually found upon the table. Therefore there is the more need of handling wisely the question of meat-eating. In regard to this matter there should be no rash movements. We should consider the situation of the people, and the power of life-long habits and practices, and should be careful not to urge our ideas upon others, as if this question were a test, and those who eat largely of meat were the greatest of sinners. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 4

All should have the light on this question, but let it be carefully presented. Habits that have been thought right for a lifetime are not to be changed by harsh or hasty measures. We should dedicate the people at our camp meetings and other large gatherings. While the principles of health reform should be presented, let the teaching be backed by example. Let no meat be found at our restaurants or dining tents, but let its place be supplied with fruits, grains, and vegetables. We must practice what we teach. When sitting at a table where meat is provided, we are not to make a raid upon those who use it, but we should let it alone ourselves, and when asked our reasons for doing this, we should in a kindly manner explain why we do not use it. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 5

A very serious objection to the practice of meat-eating is found in the fact that disease is becoming more and more widespread among the animal creation. The curse because of sin causes the earth to groan under the inhabitants thereof, and every living thing is subject to disease and death. Cancers, tumors, diseases of the lungs, the liver, the kidneys, all exist among the animals that are used for food. Until late years we have never heard of anything approaching to the variety of diseases now apparent in the animal creation. It is stated that out of a herd of twenty cattle, the inspectors accepted only two; from another herd of one hundred, only twenty five were accepted as having no apparent disease. The only way to avoid contracting disease from the use of flesh meats is to discard them altogether. Persons will do this much more readily if they have an intelligent knowledge of the dangers that attend the eating of the flesh of dead animals. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 6

While living in Granville, New South Wales, we were obliged to pass large stockyards on our way to Sydney. To these yards thousands and thousands of sheep and cattle were driven, to be purchased and killed by the butchers for consumption in the cities and towns. The sights I have witnessed in passing to and from Sydney have been heart-sickening. I read in our daily paper that in one locality three thousand sheep were killed daily, and as many as six thousand have been killed in a day. Large canneries are erected, in which the meat is canned to be sent to Europe. Meat is frozen also, and sent to distant markets. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 7

As Brother Belden, my secretary, and myself were returning from Ashfield camp-ground to our home in Granville, we saw a large herd of cattle in the road ahead of us. One animal, an enormous ox, was standing, sullen and defiant, in the middle of the street in advance of the herd. A man on horseback, having in his hand a danger signal, halted near this animal’s head, and called out to Brother Belden, “Keep to the right, and drive as quickly as possible, and he may not make a charge.” We followed directions, and went on our way safely. This poor beast had travelled, oppressed with heat and thirst, until his nature was wrought up to a determined resistance to the will of men, and he had become unmanageable. So it was necessary for a signal flag of danger to be constantly exhibited, as a warning to the people, lest the beast should make a charge upon travellers. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 8

In the same herd some animals had been wounded; some were limping along. One poor suffering creature had both horns broken off close to his head, and the blood was flowing from the wound. Some were very lame, and were pictures of brute misery. Taken from the green paddocks, and traveling for weary miles over the hot, dusty road, these poor creatures are driven to their death, that human beings may feast on the miserable dead carcasses. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 9

I have seen large flocks of sheep, hundreds and even thousands in a flock. Some of these flocks followed the shepherd, and seemed to understand where he desired them to go. He had no whip, no dog, as we generally see, but whenever a sheep strayed, he made a peculiar noise with his mouth. Every sheep seemed to understand it, and all pressed close together, following the shepherd. This reminded us of the sheep following the true Shepherd. The affection of animals for man seems to approach so closely to human intelligence that it is a mystery. We need to consider these things. The animals were created by God. They see, they hear, they use their organs as faithfully as human beings use theirs. They are the Lord’s creatures. And His Word declares, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast.” [Proverbs 12:10.] 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 10

I might fill pages with descriptions of the sights I have seen, the suffering among the animals that are to be used for food. When a sheep in a flock lies down and cannot rise, the others leap over or upon it as they proceed. A large box wagon follows the flock, and I have seen the drivers take up the heavy sheep, when unable to travel farther, and bounce them into the wagon, right upon their backs. And, during one ride, I have counted no less than eight sheep, some already dead, and others in the agonies of death, lying by the roadside, after the flock had passed. But I will not go on to describe these sickening sights. If I had not, prior to this time, discarded the use of the flesh of dead animals, I should now take the pledge to eat no more meat as long as fruits and vegetables can be obtained. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 11

We are living in critical times. Disease of every stripe and type is afflicting the human family, and it is largely the result of subsisting upon the diseased flesh of dead animals. Some who have had the consequences of a meat diet set before them do not change. Why? Because they have educated their tastes to enjoy the flesh of dead animals, and that taste must be indulged at any cost. And instead of preparing the meat in the least objectionable way, many choose the way that is most objectionable. The meat is served, reeking with fat, because it suits the perverted taste. Both the blood and the fat of animals are consumed as a luxury. But the Lord gave special directions that these should not be eaten. Why? Because their use would make a diseased current of blood in the human system. The disregard of the Lord’s special directions has brought a variety of difficulties and diseases upon human beings. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 12

Jesus, speaking from the cloudy pillar, gave special directions to the children of Israel, saying, “It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations, throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.” [Leviticus 3:17.] “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Ye shall eat no manner of fat, of ox, of sheep, or of goat.” “For whosoever eateth the fat of the beasts, of which men offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people. Moreover ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings. Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people.” [Leviticus 3:17; 7:22, 23, 25-27.] 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 13

Many Bible readers and professed Bible believers do the very thing that the Lord has told them not to do, and then they suffer the result of their disobedience. God does not work a miracle to prevent the consequences of their folly. If they introduce into their systems that which cannot make good flesh and blood, they must endure the result of their disregard of God’s Word. All who claim to love and serve the Lord Jesus should feel it their solemn duty to search the Scriptures, to see how they can be doers of His Word. Christ gave His own life for a perishing world. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16.] God is good to His children, and they do not begin to understand His mercy, and His gracious care for them. 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 14

<I have written this in response to your letter requesting me to give you some light on some points of health reform.> 11LtMs, Lt 102, 1896, par. 15