Shall We Eat Meat?

     We have little patience with people who, without excuse, apologize for the use of pork as an article of human food. It was first prohibited by Scripture, and the results of science and common sense have since verified the wisdom of the prohibition. People have, however, in later days ceased to regard the Divine command as of any authority, and pork has become one of the most common articles of food, even among professing Christians, and with this increased consumption, has come proper penalties. The trichina disease, as it is called, is one of them, and while no worse than many other penalties, yet it is attracting more attention from its greater fatality. And what is the trichina? It is a species of entozoa found in the lean meat of certain animals. This entozoa is a little, hair-like worm, whose presence in the muscles, produces death. In Germany, pigs are kept in stys, and there the disease has been very frequent, amounting often to an epidemic, and causing the torture and death of many persons.  

     "A trichina mother has a hundred of living young in her body, and, after these young, she always bears more and more eggs. How long she lives and produces young, is not exactly known, but at least four weeks. It is, however, certain that she becomes fixed in the intestine, and continues to produce new broods of young. If we calculate that one trichina mother has two hundred young, seventy thousand such mothers, are sufficient to produce a million young, and so many female animals may be contained in a few morsals of meat, even if there is no high degree of infestation." 

     Pigs get trichina from their own filth, and human beings eating the filthy pig, get the worms into their stomach, where they multiply and spread to the muscles, producing death.  

     "In June, 1851, in the neighborhood of Hamburg, several well persons having eaten ham fell sick. Three of them died, and others were long in a critical state. A judicial investigation was held without satisfaction. Ham-poisoning was supposed, but long afterward it was shown that the symptoms and other circumstances pertaining to the sickness and death of these people, were precisely similar with those subsequently ascertained to be trichina infestation.  

     "Zencker first observed an epidemic in and near Dresden, and showed the trichina found in the ham and sausage made from one particular pig. This pig had been butchered on a farm near Dresden. The butcher and owner of the farm, and other people, had fallen sick, and a previously perfectly healthy servant girl had died. In her body, an abundance of trichina were found. With the finding of the trichina in the muscles of her body, Virchord commenced a series of experimental observations. These may be briefly stated. A rabbit fed with trichina-flesh from this girl, died in a month, and its flesh was found full of them. Some of this flesh was given to a second rabbit, which also died in a month. With this meat, three other rabbits were fed. Two of these died at the end of three weeks, and the third in the fourth week. Lastly, the flesh of these animals dead with the trichina, was fed to another rabbit. It ate but very little, yet died at the end of six weeks. In all of these, the muscles after death were found filled with trichina, and even in the smallest particle of the meat several were found. Their living flesh was examined before they were fed, and no trichina were found in them; yet, a few weeks after they were fed with the meat, the muscles of the same animals were found filled with trichina."    

     Though this disease has mainly been confined to Germany, a few cases have occurred in New York, Chicago, and Michigan; and it is not at all improbable that many cases of diseases which were not attributable to their proper cause, were really trichina disease. It is not uncertain that, unless restriction is placed on the use of pork in America, we shall have the same experience here that the Germans are having, only in a worse form. The German element is a large one in this country, and it would seem that in no part of the world, is there so much pork used, or this animal worse treated. Filthy, and a scavenger by nature, he is much more so by his habits among our people.    

     As for the disease, there is no permanent cure for it after the muscles once become infested, therefore prevention is the proper remedy. And what is the true means of prevention? We answer, Entire abstinence from pork. Never, under any circumstances, touch it, and let children be brought up to hate hog's meat as they now do vermin, snakes or any other filthy thing. Do this on the ground that you are supported in it by Scripture, by science, and by experience.  

     While on this subject, we will also quote from Dr. Cobbold on other sources of entozoan:  

     "Dr. Cobbold, in a communication read before the British Association, at its meeting in September last, referred to the general impression that the common pig was the principal source of entozoa. He asserted that birds and all animals of warm blood were liable to breed parasitic disease, and stated that, in spite of all preconceived notions, the human system was the home of at least two sorts of entozoan. He combated the popular idea that tapeworm was principally derived from measly pork, and asserted that the disease was as often contracted from eating beef and veal. He showed, too, that animals containing parasites did not always display unhealthy symptoms, therefore it was difficult to detect the disease, and asserted that persons who ate moderately of infected meat, were liable to be affected with tapeworm. Dr. Cobbold, by the aid of diagrams, showed the different kinds of tania, and stated that the hookless tania was to be found generally in beef, and the hooked tania in pork."   

     Mr. John Gramgree of Edinburgh, writing to The London Lancet on this subject says:  

     "I have recently had occasion to examine the bodies of dogs that have been much about the Edinburgh slaughter-houses, and I find them invariably crammed with every kind of tapeworm which usually infest a dog's intestines. The enormous prevalence of parasitic diseases in animals, indicates the great importance of having scientific inspectors of fresh animal food, and of furthering the study of helminthological science among students of medicine, whether human or veterinary. That trichina spiralis should be as common as it really is in the United Kingdom, and no cases of death from it yet recorded by British observers, is a conclusive proof in my mind, of the little attention paid here to parasitic diseases. There is a very wide, and almost unexplored field in study of the distribution of entozoa among men and animals in this country; and the facts I gleaned three years ago regarding the prevalence of 'measles' among Irish pigs, afford an indication of how much could be done in the way of exterminating some of the entozoa. The roving cottage pig is often crammed with cysticerci, whereas the cleanly fed swine confined in a proper sty, whether in Britain or Ireland, affords proof that Pat's saying. 'Every pig has its measle,' has no foundation in fact." 


     parasitic disease produced in men and animals by the chigoe or jigger

     "The little insect known under this name, is very common in the American tropics, and a source of great annoyance to the residents in tropical climates. It selects the human hands and feet as its residence. Its plan is to introduce itself obliquely beneath the epidermis or scarf-skin, sometimes entering by one of the pores with which this tissue is perforated. Its course may be very clearly traced in the form of an elongated brown spot. This spot disappears gradually as the insect makes its way to the dermis or true skin, when it stops to insert its proboscis. The epidermis is soon detached and raised, in order to make room for the insect between it and the dermis. The head and the feet of the parasite, then become hidden beneath its own stomach, which enlarges rapidly, the upper part of the insect alone being perceptible through the epidermis, under the form of a milk-white spot. This spot enlarges considerably daily, until it looks like a large freckle, insensibly, meanwhile, changing its milk-white color to a pearly gray. By the time the insect is ready to deposit its eggs, it has become," says Dr. Greyon, to whom we are indebted for these particulars, "literally all stomach, and this period may be known by the ash-gray color of the eggs, which are visible through this transparent envelop. The eggs now come forth, one by one, with astonishing rapidity, following each other through the layer of epidermis, which re-opens for them the passage previously made by the entrance of the parasite. The departure of the eggs brings to a termination the existence of the insect; it then perishes, attached entire-head, feet and stomach-to the epidermis which had enveloped it, and with which it is carried finally from the individual in whom it had fixed itself."  

The Detroit Tribune says:  

     "One case of the disease called trichina, which has recently excited much alarm in Berlin, Prussia, has appeared in this city and proved fatal. The victim was a young German lady. We learn by the London Lancet, that at Hedersleben, in Prussian Saxony, upward of ninety deaths have occurred from this disease, while the number of persons attacked has been several hundred. All this havoc has been caused by one trichinous pig! The butcher, having recognized the abnormal appearance of the meat of this pig, had carefully disguised it by mixing it with the meat of two healthy pigs, or added it in small pieces to larger joints of pork to make up weight. He made this confession shortly before his death, which was caused by trichiniasis contracted from his own meat. His wife also died of the disease." 

     From the foregoing evidence, it seems that the trichina may be, and often is, produced by other meats than pork. Such evidence reads one to think that the whole subject of food for man, needs careful study and revision. If vegetable food contains all the nutriment necessary for our subsistence when well chosen and properly prepared, let us daily more and more ignore meat, until the quantity consumed is reduced to its lowest amount. There is less danger of our eating diseased vegetables, than there is of our eating the flesh of diseased animals. In fact, there is but little flesh consumed in any of our large cities that is not more or less diseased. Cattle brought hundreds of miles in crowded, filthy cars, without food or drink, or even air, get feverish, and are generally killed in this condition. The same is true of sheep and calves. There is strong testimony in favor of the argument that flesh-eating is a habit rather than an animal instinct, that man was made, as it is recorded in Genesis, to subsist on vegetable products, and, with all his perversions since, that he will one day return to his condition before the fall. It seems due to the race that the present generation give this subject a closer investigation, laying aside prejudice and habit, and if it be found that science declares men frugivorous, or organized to subsist on the products of the vegetable kingdom, admit the fact, and teach our children accordingly. We shall have more to say in future articles on this hitherto neglected subject.-Herald of Health.

May 22, 1866 UrSe, ARSH 194.3