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He drinks only water because he desires to be always sober, eschewing wine, coffee, and tea, even though they tempt him. His refusal to eat meat, coffee or tea, or salt and spices is primarily a symbolic statement. Vegetarianism, for him, is not an end in itself. A Puritan eating brown bread can be a glutton if he gives in to his base physical desire for it. Additionally, because Thoreau allies himself with animals as coexistent parts of nature, to eat them would be tantamount to cannibalism.