The UK gets bovine spongiform encephalophy – and perhaps Dr Steiner was ahead of the curve here too?

HEALTH AND ILLNESS, by Rudolf Steiner. The Anthroposophic Press, 1983; pp. 82 – 85

‘What is the “objective view,” however, regarding eating plants and eating meat? Consider the plant. A plant manages to develop the seed that is planted in the earth all the way to green leaves and colorful flower petals.

Now, you either receive your nourishment directly from grains, or you pluck a cabbage and make soup or something. Compare what you get from the plant with what is present in meat, usually an animal’s muscle.

Meat is a completely different substance from the plant. What is the relationship between these two substances? You know that there are some animals that are simply gentle vegetarian beings. There are animals that do not eat meat. Cows, for example, eat no meat. Neither are horses keen on meat; they also eat only plants. Now, you must be clear that an animal not only absorbs food but is also constantly shedding what is inside its body. Among birds you know that there is something called molting. The birds lose their feathers and must replace them with new ones. You know that deer drop their antlers. You cut your nails, and they grow back. What appears outwardly so visible here is part of a continuous process. We constantly shed our skins.

I have explained this to you once before. During a period of approximately seven to eight years, our entire bodies are shed and replaced with new ones. This is also the case with an animal.

Consider a cow or an ox. After some years the flesh within it has been entirely replaced. With oxen the exchange takes place even faster than with human beings. A new flesh is therefore made. From what did this flesh originate, however? You must ask yourself this. The ox itself has produced the flesh of its body from plant substances. This is the most important point to consider. This animal’s body is therefore capable of producing meat from plants. Now, you can cook cabbage as long as you like, but you won’t turn it into meat! You do not produce meat in your frying pan or your stew pot, and nobody ever baked a cake that became meat. This cannot be done with outer skills, but, taken fundamentally, the animal’s body can accomplish inwardly what one can’t do outwardly. Flesh is produced in the animal’s body, and to do this forces must first be present in the body. With all our technological forces, we have none by which we can simply produce meat from plants. We don’t have that, but in our bodies and in animal bodies there are forces that can make meat substance from plant substance….

Now imagine that an ox suddenly decided that it was too tiresome to graze and nibble plants, that it would let another animal eat them and do the work for it, and then it would eat the animal. In other words, the ox would begin to eat meat, though it could produce the meat by itself. It has the inner forces to do so. What would happen if the ox were to eat meat directly instead of plants? It would leave all the forces unused that can produce the flesh in him.

Think of the tremendous amount of energy that is lost when the machines in a factory in which something or other is manufactured are all turned on without producing anything. There is a tremendous loss of energy. But the unused energy in the ox’s body cannot simply be lost, so the ox is finally filled with it, and this pent-up force does something in him other than produce flesh from plant substances. It does something else in him. After all, the energy remains; it is present in the animal, and so it produces waste products. Instead of flesh, harmful substances are produced.

Therefore, if an ox were suddenly turn into a meat eater, it would fill itself with all kinds of harmful substances such as uric acid and urates. Now urates have their specific effects. The specific effects of urates are expressed in a particular affinity for the nervous system and the brain. The result is that if an ox were to consume meat directly, large amounts of urates would be secreted; they would enter the brain, and the ox would go crazy.

If an experiment could be made in which a herd of oxen were suddenly fed with pigeons, it would produce a completely mad herd of oxen. That is what would happen. In spite of the gentleness of the pigeons, the oxen would go mad.’