In the italian naturist magazine INFO Naturista, we had already dealt with vegetarians because we had raised the problem of the impact that animal farms, especially those of an intensive type (cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, etc.) had on the environment. Those were the times, four or five years ago, when the World Health Organization (WHO) had accused processed red meat. At that point, the debate between omnivores and vegetarians had become more heated. Naturism, it must be said, has always maintained a position of equidistance, because the naturist movement has deemed equally valid, both the position of vegetarians, because waste is not ethical (cattle breeding consumes a lot of water and animal manure pollutes extremely pollute the environment), and those of omnivores because the reasoning, from an anthropological point of view, does not make a difference: we have been conceived to eat everything for a matter of survival.
We made this premise because I believe that we naturists must be pragmatic and flexible about people’s ethical choices. Our movement must have aggregating capabilities, so if we took a position for this or that thesis we would not be tolerant. Indeed, stating that “you cannot be a naturist if you are not a vegetarian” appears to be an extremely radical position (even if it now seems certain that a vegetarian diet is healthier than that which includes meat), as it is difficult to understand the position of those who says that naturism would lead to transcendence, a statement that, in addition to being of religious inspiration, takes on a decidedly metaphysical value.
Because, if we followed this path, then we would have to start by saying that, who is a hunter, who is a smoker, who eats meat, etc., in the same way who is an atheist cannot be accepted into the naturist movement. However, it must be clear, as it was written in the number 29 of this magazine, that we must speak of vegetarianism because this is part of naturism, as evidenced by the Statute of our movement where it states that “naturism promotes nudism intended as a way of live in harmony with nature, which finds its essential expression in collective nudity, also encouraging the practice of life in the open air, exercise, natural and vegetarian nutrition, natural medicine (to the extent possible), the promotion of peace and human rights, the protection of the environment, nature, non-human animals, the fight against pollution, consumerism, the abuse of alcohol and the use of tobacco and drugs … “.
In the history of the naturist movement vegetarianism has appeared since the beginning. In the “Brief history of naturism in German-speaking countries” (“Naturism”, November 1996) we read that Karl Wilhelm Diefenbach, considered the first naturist, was a vegetarian, as were the other naturist pioneers, Pudor, Ungewitter, Zimmermann, Fankhauser. In the holiday center “Die Neue Zeit” on Lake Neuchàtel, founded in 1961 by Elsi Fankhauser-Waldrich, Eduard and Werner Fankhauser, and managed today by the Organization Naturiste Suisse, meat was strictly banned. Maybe this tells us that we should follow the teachings of our pioneers and all become vegetarians? Who knows! However, beyond this consideration, vegetarianism is spreading more and more in society: according to statistics in our country the sum of vegetarians and vegans reaches a now considerable share of the population (about 8%, while vegetarians in the world touch the 400 million). It is a race that seems unstoppable, given the continuous increase of those who have eliminated the meat from their table.
Also in that published article, as was said in issue 29 of this magazine, it was stated that there are at least three different reasons for being vegetarian. One is ethical: meat consumption causes the killing of animals with the consequent corollary of suffering due to unsuitable breeding conditions; the second reason is of a medical nature: meat would be the source of many pathologies, especially tumors and cardiovascular diseases, which are among the most common causes of death: according to the WHO, the vegetarian diet allows to prevent up to 33% of lung tumors , 75% of those of the stomach, 50% of those of the breast, 75% of those of the colorectal, 50% of those of the mouth and pharynx; the third reason concerns resources: meat production constitutes a great waste of resources, such as water, and is the source of the pollution mentioned above. Furthermore, it should be noted that about half of world agricultural production is used to feed meat animals in order to meet the needs of rich countries at the expense of poor ones. And this represents a social problem (which is like a time bomb), to which we must add the fact that with some plants biofuels are produced, subtracting further food resources from those people who suffer from hunger.
Well, what does Coronavirus have to do with all this? Indeed, as scholars say, it has nothing to do with it. But if it is legitimate to ask questions, we must reflect on the fact that the consumption of meat, in addition to causing the pathologies mentioned above, has some connection with Covid 19, given that this would have passed from the bat to man . It is clear, we do not want to say here that meat consumption gave rise to this terrifying virus, we only intend to instill some doubt in the mind of researchers, since animals are also subject to many epidemics, such as avian, swine fever, the mad cow, etc. Perhaps no one remembers anymore: but had the mad cow disease not passed from animal to man? With this we do not want to relate meat consumption to Coronavirus, we only intend to ring a alarm bell and break a spear in favor of vegetarians. And who says that the history of the bat would be nothing more than a hoax, we can testify, from the documentaries seen on TV, that the alarm had been launched about ten years ago by careful researchers who had not escaped this danger, so much so that some journalists had written articles on said research and even a book had been published on the subject. Obviously, everyone had been taken mad and silenced.
So, going back to the point, that is to say, scientifically verified pathologies, it is quite evident how and how much the positions of vegetarians can be shared. However, given the previous experiences made of absolute prohibitions (compulsory vegetarianism and the imposition of anti-tobaccoism), the naturist movement has deemed it appropriate to leave the ethical setting of food intake to individuals, without prejudice to the principle that any excess, in a sense or in the other, always hurt anyway. We had written in a previous article, always in this magazine, that food is to be considered ethical when it serves to feed us according to the needs of our body, emphasizing, in addition to the danger of obesity, that it is not ethically acceptable to waste food (since buy too much), when millions of people suffer from hunger, food, among other things, which then ends up regularly in the trash (about 30 “). So the criticism of the naturist movement is directed only towards certain types of vegetarian diets, that is, towards certain excesses of an extremely radical vegetarianism. And this is because, it must be said, without hypocrisy, that the world of vegetarians is so varied, in terms of differentiating the diet, that it deserves further study.
Vegetarianism (which, it must be reiterated, is a scientifically proven healthy dietary practice) is a type of diet that excludes foods consisting of animal tissue, meat and fish from the diet. The term was coined in England by the Vegetarian Society in 1842 which was inspired, not so much by the word “vegetable”, as by the Latin “vegetus”, which means fresh, sprightly and lively. This type of diet, which has existed since ancient times, has an ethical-religious origin and is based on the precept of not killing and on the supposed doctrine of metempsychosis, according to which at our death the soul would transmigrate from one body to another body (human , animal, vegetable). Only later did vegetarianism also take on Therefore, whoever feeds exclusively on vegetables is a vegetarian, refusing meat for ethical or religious or health reasons. And so far so good. But then the matter becomes more complicated because there are pure vegetarians, who only feed on vegetables grown in the sun (and therefore not on tubers or roots); there are vegetarians who, in addition to classic vegetables, also add dairy products and eggs to their diet; there are raw food vegetarians who eat only raw food; and finally, leaving aside other differentiations existing in the vegetarian galaxy, there are vegans (a term that is now also understood in the sense of vegetarian) who, in addition to vegetarian nutrition, adhere to a lifestyle strictly respectful of the life of animals, for example, excluding clothing made from animal skin, wool, feathers, etc.
From this we deduce, and from here the ethical freedom which the naturist movement is currently inspired by, that it is not easy to stick to a lifestyle pushed to the limit, also because finding totally non-animal clothing is not easy. And anyway this problem implies some questions: aren’t synthetic clothes harmful to the skin? Does cutting sheep fleece cause them suffering? Etc. This does not mean that humanity must seriously address the problem of a vegetarian diet as it is mathematically proven that to produce a kilo of meat, up to ten times more soil is needed than to produce a kilo of cereals.
As far back as 1988, the magazine “Naturismo” dealt with the issue going back to the origin of this practice. “Vegetarianism”, it was said, “has taken on an almost religious meaning and symbolism, because adepts considered the intake of meat, before a form of food harmful to the organism, a reason for psychic regression in the sphere of animality , in the primordial world where the strongest beast suppresses and devours the weakest beast in accordance with the strictest biological law. Man, who is a participant in this law, but also transcends it due to its undoubted psychic spiritual value, refusing to feed on the flesh of animals, would not only place himself above a costume that repels sensitive souls, but it would also put a brake on the empire of biology, thus contributing to the elevation of man and his nature ”.
All this is beautiful and true, and who knows how many people would become vegetarian if they had to kill an animal with their own hands. Most certainly. And yet, despite the image appearing raw, if we make a local mind do we realize that the fetus does not feed on the blood of the mother? And that the growth and development of the fetus certainly does not occur through the assimilation of vegetable substances, but through the appropriation of substances belonging to the mother’s body, such as breast milk. By analogy, certain vegetarians, such as those who, despite having banned meat from their diet, drink milk, eat dairy products and eggs, do they not behave a bit like the newborn who feeds only on the mother’s milk ?. We say this only by way of example, knowing full well that the vegetarian world, as mentioned above, is divided into many subsets.
Having said that, it should be remembered that no one escapes the law of life, not even whole vegetarians. Certainly, from a purely hygienic and social ethics point of view, meat consumption must be limited (WHO has unequivocally told us). In addition, every human being with sensitivity has the duty to collaborate with institutions and all those protectionist initiatives so that animals are not mistreated, unnecessarily decimated or killed for sadistic fun (hunting!). Under the natural law, animals share the same fate with us and with the vegetable kingdom.
From what has been said, it is clear that those who are not vegetarians do not have a perfect coincidence with the ideal figure of the true naturist. A vegetarian is certainly a naturist, and certainly among the best, but a naturist, without prejudice to sensitivity and respect for animals, is not required to be a vegetarian. What is certain is that a non-nudist vegetarian is certainly not a naturist, because the only practice of vegetarianism is not enough to qualify him as a naturist. And the reasoning is simple: a nudist becomes a naturist when a person accepts his natural condition, that is, he accepts that nature which, in the condition in which we live in this life, admits that certain beings feed on other beings belonging to a other species. Naturist is therefore a person who accepts nudity just as he accepts – of course, within reasonable limits – the universal law of nature.
And here it is important to underline the concept of “reasonable limits”, in the sense that the use of the sacrifice of other living beings for the purpose of one’s survival must be contained within the limits of real needs and with the sobriety that must distinguish every good naturist. So the naturist is not a person who only undresses, but a person who also dresses when necessary. For the same reason, and in perfect analogy, the naturist, who is ready to give up his nakedness to dress a wool sweater (taken from the sheep!) In the cold winter, is also ready to feed on all that nature offers him , always when this is strictly necessary (for example, the Eskimos, being unable to feed on vegetable foods, can never be vegetarian).
In conclusion, what we want to say, recognizing the vegetarian diet’s merits, is that the sharp contrast between omnivores and vegetarians has no reason to exist: just respect the rules of ethics and moderation by the so-called “carnivores” “And at the same time reminding vegetarians that their diet must be integrated with the B12 vitamins, present only in meat (so much so that they are forced to take so-called supplements). The important thing is to live up to the law of the least possible damage, to oneself, to others and to nature in its universality.
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