Mad Cow Disease Retrospective Update

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By: Rudolf Steiner

"...Some animals are simply gentle vegetarian beings. Cows, for example, eat no meat. Neither are horses keen on meat. An animal not only absorbs food but also constantly sheds what is inside its body. Birds molt, deer drop their antlers. You cut your nails and they grow back. What appears outwardly so visible is part of a continuous process. We constantly shed our skin. In about seven to eight years, our entire bod­ies are shed and replaced with new ones. This is also the case with ani­mals.

Consider a cow or an ox. After some years the flesh within it has been entirely replaced and new flesh is made. From what did this flesh originate, however? The ox itself has produced it from plant substances. Its body is therefore capable of pro­ducing meat from plants. Now you can cook cabbage for as long as you like, but you won't turn it into meat! The animal accomplishes it, but to do so 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.

Now imagine that an ox suddenly decided it was too tiresome to graze and nibble at plants, that it would let another animal eat them and do the work for it, and then it would eat the animal. What would happen if the ox were to eat meat directly instead of plants? It would leave the forces unused that can produce the flesh in him. Think of the tremendous amount of energy that is lost if ma­chines in a factory 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 produces waste products, harmful substances such as uric acid and urates.

Now urates have specific effects 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 fed pigeons it would pro­duce a completely mad herd of oxen. In spite of the gentleness of the pi­geons, the oxen would go mad, would turn into terribly wild, furious creatures..."


From Rudolf Steiner's lectures to workmen in Dornach, Switzerland, January 13, 1923. (Lectures available from the Anthroposophic Press under the title: Health and Illness, Volume 2.)

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