From the May 1945 issue of the Socialist Standard
Vegetarians and vegans may rightly claim that diet is an important factor in maintaining a healthy body and a sustainable society, but— many other factors, also play their part as contributing factors in causing ill-health and disease.
Health, therefore (even as a relative term), does not merely depend upon the question as to whether one derives sustenance from the vegetable or animal kingdoms, but also upon many other complex conditions.
Even were diet the determining factor in social health (and we do not belittle the part it plays) and an agricultural policy was universally adopted, would the vegetarian products of such a policy be available to all? Would workers and their families receive an adequate supply of fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts according to their needs? Or would they merely receive the quantity which the cash equivalent of their “butcher's meat" would buy? From the viewpoint of the working class, there would still remain the problem of “making ends meet.” whether on a vegetarian or flesh diet.
It has taken a climate crisis to prove the economic advantages of vegetarianism and that the exigencies of climate change do not permit the extravagant policy of rearing large numbers of animals for food consumption.
Whilst we may agree that a plant-based balanced diet which contains all the natural vital elements and vitamins is preferable to the flesh-eating we realise that until such a diet is available to the majority of mankind according to their needs and not according to their income as at present, a small benefit can accrue for those who “live to work.”
Another factor to be taken into consideration relative to a flesh diet is the danger of adulteration and contamination. We are not concerned with alleviating the problems of our master's system but are very much concerned with putting an end to the system which produces such problems.
The health of the working class, who hold no share in livestock or any other industry, will, in the long run, depend upon their conscious knowledge of their slave position in society and their attainment of socialism. Until then, their health will remain as it is, in jeopardy, despite any meagre benefits as a result of dietetic reform, restricted as it is by income.
What most vegetarians fail to realise is that diet and health are determined by the method whereby all wealth is produced.
At present, we live in an era of private ownership of the means of life. Goods are produced for sale and only with a view to profit. Those who produce everything, own nothing (comparatively), and those who own everything, produce nothing. The worker sells his or her physical and mental energies and receives in return sufficient to allow us to replenish our lost energy and reproduce. This process goes on, “from the cradle to the grave," there is no escape. Neither by adopting a vegetarian diet nor by concerning ourselves in the administration of their master’s system, will the workers emancipate themselves from ill health, poverty, war and unemployment. There is a far bigger problem than diet to solve, that is, the struggle for social ownership of the wealth that is socially produced. So we see that the road to health is also the road to socialism.
Workers! Get busy, start breaking your chains by joining the World Socialist Movement.