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Vegetarianism in the News

March 1, 2013 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Food Taster Reignites Old Controversy

During World War II Margot Woelk had the important job of food taster, a job that turned out to be a matter of life and death. The 95-year-old German woman recently revealed that she was one of 15 women who tasted food before Adolph Hitler ate it.

Margot Woelk Because of his paranoid fear he might be poisoned, the Fuehrer would wait one hour after his tasters consumed a small portion of his meal before he would eat.

In an interview, Woelk told a London Daily Mail reporter, "It was all vegetarian, the most delicious fresh things, from asparagus to peppers and peas, served with rice and salads. It was arranged on one plate, just as it was served to him."

Woelk usually was served between eleven and twelve o'clock, an hour before Hitler ate. The women were observed during that time to see if they suffered any ill effects.

The Woelk revelation reignited an old controversy: Was Hitler a vegetarian? Since all the meals she tasted were vegetarian, was the German leader really a vegetarian or did he eat differently at other times, or does it matter at all?

Historian Rynn Berry who has written and spoken about vegetarianism and famous vegetarians debunks the myth that Hitler was a vegetarian. Berry quotes Robert Payne, author of The Life and Death of Adolph Hitler who wrote, "Hitler's asceticism played an important part in the image he projected over Germany. According to the widely believed legend, he neither smoked nor drank, nor did he eat meat or have anything to do with women.

Only the first was true. He drank beer and diluted wine frequently, had a special fondness for Bavarian sausages and kept a mistress, Eva Braun, who lived with him quietly in the Berghof. There had been other discreet affairs with women. His asceticism was fiction invented by Goebbels to emphasize his total dedication, his self-control, the distance that separated him from other men. By this outward show of asceticism, he could claim that he was dedicated to the service of his people.

Adolph Hitler "In fact, he was remarkably self-indulgent and possessed none of the instincts of the ascetic. His cook, an enormously fat man named Willy Kanneneberg, produced exquisite meals and acted as court jester. Although Hitler had no fondness for meat except in the form of sausages, and never ate fish, he enjoyed caviar. " Berry tells of European chef, Dione Lucas, who wrote Gourmet Cooking School Cookbook published in 1964. In the book she relates she was often asked to prepare the Fuhrer's favorite dish, stuffed squab.

Berry has assembled his research on Hitler and vegetarianism in the monograph Why Hitler Was Not a Vegetarian, which according to Publisher's Weekly "lays to rest the myth that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian." He also published his research in Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal Lover.

The squabble over whether Hitler was or was not vegetarian does not seem to be a weighty matter in the scheme of things, but, perhaps, it should be analyzed.

If Hitler was really a vegetarian, what does that say about vegetarians. The syllogism would be as follows: Hitler was evil. Hitler was a vegetarian. Therefore, vegetarians are evil. This is an example of guilt by association that often pops up in political campaigns. People are often judged by the company they keep. Linking President Barack Obama to young radical Bill Ayers is a recent example.

As vegans and vegetarians, we have to recognize there are many people who would like to discredit our lifestyle. One great way to accomplish their motive is to link us with Hitler. Our task is to fight back by presenting the information we have learned about the myth of Hitler being vegetarian.

More important is to say, "So what if Hitler was a vegetarian! He was evil, but that doesn't mean that vegetarianism is evil. My vegan lifestyle and philosophy is no way diminished by a bad person espousing similar views.

The bottom line: so what if Hitler was a vegetarian? It really doesn't matter.

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