22nd January 1942, evening
Meat-eaters and vegetarians—Alcohol and smoking.
At the time when I ate meat, I used to sweat a lot. I used to drink four pots of beer and six bottles of water during a meeting, and I’d succeed in losing nine pounds! When I became a vegetarian, a mouthful of water from time to time was enough.
When you offer a child the choice of a piece of meat, an apple or a cake, it’s never the meat that he chooses. There’s an ancestral instinct there. In the same way, the child would never begin to drink or smoke if it weren’t to imitate others.
The consumption of meat is reduced the moment the market presents a greater choice of vegetables, and in proportion as each man can afford the luxury of the first fruits. I suppose man became carnivorous because, during the Ice Age, circumstances compelled him. They also prompted him to have his food cooked, a habit which, as one knows to-day, has harmful consequences. Our peasants never eat any food that hasn’t been cooked and re-cooked, and thus deprived of all its virtues. The southern peoples are not acquainted either with a meat diet or with cooking. I lived marvellously in Italy. I don’t know any country that enlivens one more. Roman food, how delicious it is!
When I go into an inn where people are smoking, within an hour I feel I’ve caught a cold. The microbes hurl themselves upon me! They find a favourable climate in the smoke and heat.