Is Vegetarianism A Hoax?

Via on Jun 8, 2010


I am not a proud omnivore.

“I have stopped fighting the basic algebra of embodiment: For something to live, something else has to die. In that acceptance, with all its suffering and sorrow, is the ability to choose a different way- a better way.” - Lierre Keith

My mom started us out on macrobiotics when I was a wee one, though we were eating an array of meat at the time as well. Later it was Vaidya Raju’s Ayurvedic fare: simple daal, rice and veg. accompanied with whipped cream and honey as our pre-meal dessert and a shredded beet, carrot parsley salad/chutney with the main course. I loved these easy edible delights, and still do. I credit these early culinary experiences (among others) with my love of noshing. Food has always been a big deal in my family.

I made a solid leap to vegetarianism in high school and later went vegan. It was a clearly sensible thing to do for anyone with an iota of consciousness. That lasted well over fifteen years, until trouble set in. My health deteriorated, my energy levels were pitiful, my yoga practice was suffering. Life felt dreadful. Even being a serious foodie and making smart eating choices, I wasn’t able to sustain this extreme diet. I was told over and over again that I had to eat meat. I refused. I denied. I continued to get weaker.

Then my trusted Vaidya, Rama Kant Mishra, gave me some valuable advice: You need meat for your health and your spiritual practice. The Charak Samhita (the Ayurvedic Bible if you will) mentions eating meat and many other “yogic taboos” which helped me to start piecing things together. Life doesn’t make sense sometimes.

For the last four years, I have been on a psychological roller coaster with this phenomenon. I eat meat now (chicken, fish, turkey) and know that I need it. Am I a yogi? Am I a fraud? Am I subject to many more lives as a human because of these actions? How much fear, anger, and misery am I knowingly partaking in? And yadda yadda….

But some things are making sense now.  First of all, there are no easy solutions or universal answers that fit everyone. Not even for yogis. Secondly, death is life. I’m not suggesting we kill like we kill now. That factory farming is acceptable. That massive slaughter can ever be sanctioned. I’m not even suggesting killing is ever wonderful. What I’m suggesting is that life happens and death happens. And death happens for life to happen. This is a universal truth. Something that I may ever be entirely o.k. with.

Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, featured this month in Mother Jones, offers further explanation of these cycles and shares a similar story to my self. I identified with her values, her internal struggle and her reconciliation. She points to the wide-spread destruction that agriculture has had on our land for hundreds of years- ever since agricultural based societies surfaced (remember Ishmael?) This is also murder and the beginning of “living out of balance” with our earth.

“What’s looming in the shadows of our ignorance and denial is a critique of civilization itself. The starting point may be what we eat, but the end is an entire way of life, a global arrangement of power, and with no small measure of personal attachment to it.”

The only reality that I can come up with is that balance looks different for different individuals. Depending on the angle. Balance is different for a cow or a cat, a human or a beetle. Are these needs and desires any less than the other? No.

If we were all consciously involved with our own balance, we’d be keeping the Earth’s balance in check as well. The grass would get her needs met, so would the cow and so would the human. Maybe we are beyond ever finding this true sense of balance. Perhaps it’s impossible at this point. But as a spiritual Being, my balance looks different now then it did fifteen years ago. And I expect this change to continue. Which might very well be the only thing I can be certain about.

About Saraswati J.

Saraswati J. is a Jyotish Coach and Consultant, bridging ancient wisdom with a Body-centered approach to Expressive Art Therapy. Her Jyotish work is especially well suited to the extra sensitive artists, mystics and healers---and those looking for insights for their dharmic path. Check out her website and find her on Facebook. Additionally, she creates unique adornments with the urban goddess in mind. Check out her jewelry at Swati Jr* Jewelry {Be A Goddess. Be Adorned.} #BeAGoddess and also on Facebook.

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73 Responses to “Is Vegetarianism A Hoax?”

  1. Trish says:

    Thought-provoking. I have gone back and forth in my heart and head with these issues for 25 years. I am not drawn to meat, I am for the most part repelled by it, but bits of it occasionally find their way into my body and I do not feel I suffer because of it. I have been horrified by what I have seen in regards to how most animals are treated before they come to our homes in their packages. That is simply not the way life is meant to be. Thank you for touching on the subject of balance. I am in full agreement with you – health would be easier and more vibrant if we all made more conscious food choices for BALANCE!

  2. Glenn says:

    Uhhh. I don't disagree with your concept of stewardship and balance and even that killing may be necessary, although I do think that is a slippery slope, so to speak. And I do eat some meat, as you do. We can get all of our nutritional needs from plants if we are conscious and educated about it. But calling vegetarianism a hoax is just a bit sensationalized. It is possible to write a well informed article without fishing for comments using loaded and fallacious headlines.

  3. Padma Kadag says:

    When one can relish the taste of shit as much as the taste of ice cream….then that one will be a Yogi.

  4. Blake Wilson blake says:

    I'm going to say that I agree completely. We are mired in death and killing. Every bit of food that passes over our lips is or was once alive and/or carries the seed of life within. For me the focus isn't so much on the death of what we consume but rather the life. Of course knowing what your body needs is of utmost importance! Some can live without meat and some cannot. And for those who say such things as, "You can get all of your nutritional needs from plants," all I can say is, really? Are you sure? Because honestly, nutritional science is still in the dark ages. We don't understand the entire process enough to say that each and every person can access and utilize every bit of nutrition from each type of food. Try living on an Inuit diet of whale blubber.

    The best we can do is study our own bodies and learn what we need. Personally? I can suck the nutrition out of a rock so meat is not on my menu.

  5. Adam says:

    Vegetarianism is a hoax??? What’s up with the sensationalist headline that has nothing to do with this article??

    That aside, I’m in agreement that the veg diet isn’t for everyone, and while I do care deeply for all the animals that suffer to expand our waistlines, I’m not going to demand everyone go veg. Militant anything (even vegetarianism) isn’t sensible.

    The only meat I eat now is what is leftover from what I feed my son. He’s a ridiculously picky 18 month old, so when we find something healthy for him to eat, we go with it. But I’m concsious of where it came from, so I leave nothing to waste.

  6. Christy Morgan Christy says:

    I hear this argument a lot. The "I need meat for my health" argument. Then I'm reminded of the thousands and thousands of people that have been vegetarian with no health problems whatsoever. It really makes me think you aren't doing it right if you are sick. And you aren't doing it for long enough. I think it's a cumulative thing.

    I've been vegan for 8 years now and I went to have my blood work done. My cholesterol was 88, my vit B12 was perfect. My hemoglobin was especially right on target. Before I went vegan my white blood cell count was abnormally low, now it is normal, and I never get sick even when surrounded by sick people. I'm I just special and have good genes? I think not. I eat a well balanced diet with very little sugar, stopped drinking alcohol 4 years ago and started a spiritual practice. I have protected myself on all sides. The fact that spiritual practice supports my vegetarianism (it's our #1 tool) I really don't have to worry about my health anymore as long as I do my best.

    There is A LOT of collective karma surrounding killing animals for food. Our collective consciousness could change if we all moved toward a plant-based diet. And less people would get sick or feel like they need meat to survive. It's interesting to think about. Can you even imagine a loving, peaceful, conscious society that doesn't kill other living creatures and thrives? I believe it is possible. :)

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Hi Christy….I have no position to defend but I would like you to consider, as a vegetarian, an important point which seems to be rarely addressed by vegetarians. Let me first say that this in no way condones the killing of animals for food. We all agree that killing an innocent life is immoral. In regard to meat eaters…if they are not doing the killing i think you would have to agree that the karma is not as negative as if you were the one doing the killing…right? If we eat meat, i would assume, that you are going to link the idea of supply and demand as equal in it's immorality, therefore equal karmic debt…am I correct? The one consuming meat creates a demand and the butcher will supply. But we also need to understand that the butcher is the butcher. The eater does not kill…most of the time. So karma's will be different.

      • Padma Kadag says:

        The remaider of my post is further down the list…

      • Christy Morgan Christy says:

        What you say seems to make sense intellectually, but I can not judge or know anyone else's karma. If we are talking about the collective karma, as long as there is a demand and we continue to kill animals for our food, clothing, science, etc. then we can not see true change in the world around us. We reap what we sow. It all starts with our own heart and the choices we make in our daily lives. Be the change you want to see it the world :)

  7. your cholesterol number is dangerously low by many standards – there are as many health risks associated with very low cholesterol as with very high cholesterol (see http://tinyurl.com/2faoay6 for lots of studies) – among the risks: cancers, depression, anxiety, suicide, cerebral hemorrhage, infertility – of course, there are many other variables – considering that all sex hormones are made from cholesterol, anything below a total of 130 is generally considered undesirable, with HDL preferred to be around 60 mg/dL (1.5 mmol/L) or higher for women, 75 mg/dl or higher for men

    • Christy Morgan Christy says:

      I've talked with many doctors who actually study nutritional science (most doctors know nothing about nutrition). I think those numbers are a bit outdated (which seems to be the case for many of our common Western understandings) I'm good to go. Thanks though for looking out for me!

  8. Randall Smith says:

    Swati Jr., you are practicing mindfulness in your diet by the virtue of the fact that you took the time to share your thoughts with others. I have been through a lot of different "diets" that have all had a physical (and mental) impact on me. My favourite was and still is raw vegan, which is best practiced in a place with a lot of variety of locally grown food. I was living in SoCal when I practiced that. Now I've moved into a more macrobiotic diet with just a little animal now and then. Being aware not only of the effect on the body and mind but also on the path that food traveled to your plate is healthy or harmful. Thanks for sharing.

    • swati jr* says:

      randall, i appreciate such a sensible response. i can tell you have really absorbed the lessons you have endured. it is not easy finding one's balance. we are constantly striving. i am really understanding more and more that compassionate living looks WAY different than ideals, dogmas, projections and judgments. if only we could all experience this…..but egos like to succumb nonetheless.

  9. Padma Kadag says:

    If our universal view of the world is one which categorizes all living beings as being equal to a right to a happy life and that one's exisitence is not more important than another's life, no matter how small or large the brain or whether there is an actual brain or larger bodied vs. smaller bodied then we are moral in our thinking.
    Farming kills millions of living beings every hour daily. Yes they are small and for the most part out of sight. But we as moralists who are deeply concerned for all living beings equally are not being honest with our selves and the killing which farming inflicts. We cannot deny the millions of insects and ground animals which are killed everyday for our vegetables and grains. We have seen the butchering and killing of livestock and it is gruesome in factories. Is this more reprehensible than the killing of insects at the blade of a plough or cultivation disc or hoe? The drowning of insects for rice. The drying out and burning of water bugs established in rice fields when those field are drained?

  10. Padma Kadag says:

    So what do we do? Not eat? Is the killing of millions of smaller animals less karmic than the killing of larger animals?
    In our self satisfaction of our moralist green lifestyles i think we should consider that, in regard to morality and karma,
    we are not very different than the meat eater.

    • Adam says:

      Eating a pound or so of grain-fed meat kills many, many times more life than replacing that with a cup or two of lentils (decent protein exchange). It also requires exponentially more water to produce. So yes, vegetarian/vegan eating absolutley lessens the impact we have on the enviroment and sentient life on this planet. It doesn't eliminate the taking of life, it lessens it.

      • Padma Kadag says:

        Adam…so which argument is most moral? the economic impact, based on whose figures? or the environmental based on whose figures? or the moral? My comments are based on references to karma and it's relation to the individual. There is no argument so long as we all understand that there is massive killing in farming every hour of each day 365 days a year. This is never discussed by vegetarians or meat eaters who obviously need to eat grains and vegies. This is not a discussion on my part to justify eating meat.

        • Adam says:

          However, I do find this statement: " This is never discussed by vegetarians or meat eaters who obviously need to eat grains and vegies." to be a complete fabrication. Destruction of life in farming practices (animal, grain, fish, whatever…) are discussed at length on a regular basis all around. In magazines, here on Ele, Huff post, I've seen it everywhere. You also seem to be under the impression that those that go from eating meat to a vegetarian lifestyle eat nothing but meat before hand! The replacement factor is minimal if you're eating a healthy diet to begin with. You should already be eating plenty of vegetables.

          • Padma Kadag says:

            Adam….Settle down. How would anyone assume that one would only eat meat prior to vegetarianism? If you are looking for holes in my comments then I am sure you will not need to look very far. I am not really qualified to make economic arguments but I can say that the majority of the information you have about raising meat is based on feed lot farming which all of us know is inefficient and cruel. There are other ways which meat is raised.
            Having said that…you have a great many arguments which are wasted on me. I only wanted to point out that there is massive death to sentient life in farming. But we all still need to eat.

          • swati jr* says:

            padma. i understood what you were saying. i share this awareness. there is death no matter the choice we make: veganism/vegetarianism or omnivorous eating habits. should we disregard this? all, veg and non veg alike, tend to overlook that many creatures- plant, insect, etc. are losing lives by our choices. when we say that we desire to eat so that the least amount of impact is being made, and the least amount of lives, what does that really mean? i think this is lierre kieth's point. and one that requires pondering at the least. all beings are sacred.

      • Adam said: "Eating a pound or so of grain-fed meat …. replacing that with a cup or two of lentils (decent protein exchange)."

        Not even remotely correct on the protein exchange issue. Lentils at best are an incomplete protein (lacking essential amino acids), and in general the protein is not fully absorbed because lentils are poorly digested.

        I have no issue with people being vegan/vegetarian, but there is often a lot of ignorance about nutrition and how the body processes foods.

        • Adam says:

          William, what I was referring to was a per-gram protein replacement. But even then I was wrong! I was looking at steak, but it wasn't on a per-pound scale when I refrenced that #. So, a 1/4lb steak would = 2 cups of lentis for a protein gram replacement. I would hope you weren't sourcing all of your daily protein from those cups of lentils/ steak/pound of beef though either.

          You are correct in that the way we digest saturated fat, animal protein and carbs are greatly misinformed.

  11. LCK says:

    @Padma: Your first post I'm afraid is a perfect example of the apathy and reasoning we use to avoid taking responsibility. To think that there is a grand tally sheet for karmic debt is ridiculousness. It's like saying: "I held the knife, but he jumped onto it, so I'm innocent." I don't eat meat because I know too much about how it gets to my plate, and, of course, because it is not necessary for a being to die for me to live. Now, I don't sit and preach at my carnivore friends, but I think if you choose to eat it, you take responsibility for your role in the destruction of a life and all of the carnage and destruction created in the process. @Swati Jr.: We as humans have the unique ability to justify any act, therefore the meat-eater's justification of his lifestyle makes as much sense as the vegetarian's. OK, so if you REALLY NEED/WANT IT, it's cool. Truth is, protein is available from many plant sources, and meat is not a necessity. If you are going to justify your lifestyle to the world, be true and fair with your reasoning. You decided to eat meat again because you wanted to eat it.

    • Padma Kadag says:

      Thanks for the comments. There is no justification in my statement for apathy. My only point is to make sure vegetarians realize that they are not without karmic killing in regard to their diet. That is all. Would you deny that there is massive death in cultivation of crops? I understand your not wanting to eat meat and your reasons are moral and good. But do not think because you have chosen this lifestyle that it is without equal amounts of karmic debt. You take responsibilty in admitting your karmic debt in the farming of our vegies. The moral high road used to justify vegetarianism is not so high. Is it a good path? yes. Do i respect vegetarians? yes. But vegetarians and vegans really do not consider the millions of deaths in the name of our grains and vegies.

  12. Charlotte says:

    I've been vegetarian since 1978 and have absolutely no desire to eat meat. Even as a child I didn't like meat. I tolerated chicken and turkey, but all red meat made me feel awful. Since I quit eating meat, I've never been the least bit tempted to go back, and the few times I've inadvertently eaten beef broth or some other form of meat my body has rejected it violently. That said, I'm in no position to judge anyone else's diet. There are places humans live in this world where meat is the only viable option, and the bodies of people indigenous to those areas have likely evolved and adapted to eating what's available. I think the spirit of ahimsa is that we do what causes the least harm in our own individual ways. For me, it is not eating meat; for someone else, not eating meat may compromise his/her health. I don't think there's one universal way that applies to everyone.

  13. Ria says:

    Why do people, even those who consider themselves yogis or yoginis, seem so eager to jump at someone? The true title of this piece is "IS vegetarianism a hoax?". It is a question, not a statement. Perhaps people should practice breathing before they respond. Many of these statements are very defensive. The author is describing what happened to HER body while SHE ate a vegetarian diet. No one has the right to tell her how her body reacted to that diet. You may suggest to her to try it again. I feel the lack of compassion from many of these responses, even those claiming to have compassion. It's not an easy debate – except for the self-righteous on both sides.

  14. LCK says:

    Ria, the aggressiveness of voice witnessed here is passion, not judgment. Nowhere do I see any of the posts condemning others for their choices, and each participant is sharing highly personal experiences. It is an open and healthy debate, where each respondent is speaking their mind. It truly is impossible to be completely objective about what we put into our bodies, our sustaining philosophies. This is what makes human nature great, and I am grateful for the opportunity to weigh in. I think if we all cared less, this might be a rather boring exchange. :-)

  15. Shannon Wenger says:

    There once was a farmer who needed to slaughter a goat in order to feed his family. He was so distraught at the thought of incurring a karmic debt for killing the goat that he was almost in tears. As he walked toward the goat with knife in hand, the goat started laughing. The farmer asked the goat why it was laughing, saying "Do you not know why I come toward you with this knife?" The goat replied, "Yes, I know why you come toward me with that knife. This is my last incarnation as a goat. Tomorrow I will be reborn as a man. This is a happy moment for me. Please, come slit my throat."
    We do not know what actions will incur a karmic debt. What we perceive as helping someone may be hurting them by not allowing them to learn their own lessons. If the author states that she needs meat, accept it. I have issues with my health that make a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle impossible. People evolved differently all over the world. Just because you are perfectly healthy being vegan doesn't mean that everyone will be. Horror movies give some people nightmares. I have pattern nightmares that I can only get rid of by watching something scary a couple of hours before going to bed. We are all different, thank the powers that be. It is by cherishing that difference that we learn and grow. That is the path to enlightenment. The world is only a beautiful place because we are all different.

  16. Eric says:

    I would like a address a few key issues here. Firstly, the title of the article "Is Vegetarianism A Hoax?" 'A hoax is a deliberate attempt to deceive or trick people into believing or accepting something which the hoaxer (the person or group creating the hoax) knows is false.' (Wikipedia) 'Vegetarianism is the practice of following a plant-based diet including fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, nuts, and seeds, with or without dairy products and eggs.' (wiki) Vegetarianism has been practiced and well documented for well over 2000 years. It has stood the test of time despite what the critics have said. This article is another such criticism in the form of a personal testimonial based on the authors health uncertainty. I will now counter this criticism with a quote from one of the greatest minds that has ever graced our planet.

    "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
    Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel Prize 1921

  17. Eric says:

    Secondly, the author makes mention of some health concerns, "My health deteriorated, my energy levels were pitiful, my yoga practice was suffering. Life felt dreadful. Even being a serious foodie and making smart eating choices, I wasn’t able to sustain this extreme diet. I was told over and over again that I had to eat meat. I refused. I denied. I continued to get weaker." There is no mention of any cause or diagnosis for your health issues. A treatment prescribed without a cause is simply trial and error, not Ayurvedic medicine.

    • boulderwind says:

      The cause of her illnesses was most likely protein deficiency which impacts the endocrine system, the immune system, etc.The whole system. And the fact that these issues disappeared once she started eating meat again is evidence that the root of her problem was nutritional.

  18. JenniferKH says:

    I've been vegan for years. I've never felt better and have never been healthier… both physically and spiritually. I firmly believe that if you are a smart vegan – which is not easy – you will have no problems staying healthy while adhering to your spiritual beliefs.

    Of course, every body is different… some people process foods differently. Emotionally I know that I could never eat meat or animal products. I feel like I know too much to perpetuate that cycle so I choose to not participate. I think the best advice is to listen to both your heart and your body. Since it effects both, they need to be in a sort of agreement. Luckily, mine were in accordance once I got past the superficial cravings. Only you know what works best for your spiritual and physicaly wellbeing.

  19. Jessica says:

    "First of all, there are no easy solutions or universal answers that fit everyone. "

    Your article invalidates your title. This is sloppy rhetoric and writing if your entire argument can be broken by your exact sentence. How can you say that vegetarianism is a hoax, denounce it, and then say but everyones different? Maybe instead of denouncing vegetarianism because it didnt work for you, you should be looking inward and not throwing the blame. If you want to say that you really have problems with vegetarianism-like your title implies, dont hide behind PC nonsense. You arent saying, everyones different. Youre saying, vegetarians are wrong and your right- no ego there…

    • swati jr* says:

      jessica, do you write for public media? we thrive on clicks and comments. therefor titles must tantalize. clearly, it worked. thanks for commenting!

  20. elaine says:

    I tried earlier to post a comment and it never worked. Here is try #3…

    The title is provocative, but no more than the title of the upcoming vegan book, "Meat is for Pussies." Frankly, if you're going to go with provocative, I prefer the title of this article to the title of that book.

    There is so much passion in the vegan/vegetarian camps, particularly the vegan one since it is truly an entire philosophy. The passion makes it hard for some people to hear the fact that *some* people seem to do better than *some* meat in their diets. I, for one, cannot criticize people for the choices they make IF they do TRY veganism or vegetarianism — and this author certainly did. Do we know if she was careful "enough" with her diet? No. Is it possible that her health problems could have been solved while remaining meat-free? Maybe. But we don't know.

    The title brings people to the article, so in that sense, it's terribly effective. It is misleading, however: vegetarianism isn't a hoax, but it may, indeed, not work the same for every BODY. What IS a hoax is the claim that it CAN work for everyone.

  21. Patrick says:

    Vegetarianism IS a hoax…..GO VEGAN.

  22. Gynna says:

    Believing that your health issues are only caused or cured by the foods you eat I feel is missing the point of body mind and soulful healing. Yes you should be conscious of WHAT you feed your temple… but you should also be aware of HOW you are feeding your temple… when eating are you consciously absorbing all the nutrients from the whole body mind and soul of the food that you have chosen or are you just eating to eat? Are you stressed when you eat? Do you breath between gulps? Are you thankful for the energy that has been provided to you? Are you eating with the expectation that this food will FIX you like the western medicine magic pill? Are you allowing your subtle energy body to accept the subtle energy of the food you are eating? Are you judging yourself, others or the food that you are eating? Are you eating with love, light and life?

    You could truly choose one food and eat with intention of healing and it really doesn't matter what that food is. I have a friend who cured his bronchitis by smoking cigarettes in a very intentional way…

    now asking the question "Is vegetarianism a hoax?" also begs the question… is there only one correct way to eat?? Are we not individuals that know what are needs are? Have you asked your body mind soul what it needs and do you listen and hear and accept what she is saying?

  23. Reader says:

    "We should look upon all beings as our kind parents, and in order to repay the goodness they have shown us, we must meditate daily on loving-kindness, compassion, and bodhichitta.
    Let us not be stained by this evil food, the flesh and blood of our very parents!"
    Shabkar
    ("Food of Bodhisattvas: Buddhist Teachings on Abstaining from Meat ")

    About Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol you may read "The Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin "

    Amazon Review
    "Regarded by many as the greatest yogi after Milarepa to gain enlightenment in one lifetime (…) as source of inspiration to Buddhist practitioners and general readers alike." HH Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche: "As one reads it, one's mind cannot resist being turned toward the Dharma."
    This autobiography is full of humor, wit and playful joy, intense self-discipline as well as magnificant flights of imagination. An accessible book full of telling stories, a must-read, must-own for those interested.

    "Man –
    If you have any self-respect,
    A heart in your chest,
    Brains in your head, and
    Some sympathy for yourself,
    Regret your past actions and
    Improve your whole behavior.
    It's time! It's very late! "
    - Shabkar

  24. Reader says:

    "What I’m suggesting is that life happens and death happens. And death happens for life to happen. This is a universal truth. Something that I may ever be entirely o.k. with."

    Except your own death, maybe.?

    Eatin meat will not save us from death. We will die anyway. All of us.
    So there is another question to ask, maybe, then.
    How will a live my life? What for?
    Myself or others?
    If you consider others: who others, just people or animals too?

  25. Tom Swiss says:

    Ah. Nothing like superstition and pseudo-science to justify cruelty.

    It is a fact that human beings do not need to eat animal flesh to be healthy. Anyone telling you otherwise is ignorant. I refer you to the position statement of the ADA: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” [ http://www.eatright.org/about/content.aspx?id=8357 ]

    There are, of course, many ways to eat poorly on a vegetarian or vegan diet, just as their are on a diet containing carcasses; but that does not change the biochemical facts of the matter. Nor will appeals to Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine principles — principles that not only lack scientific rigor, but have often been misrepresented and contaminated both by the hierarchies of their native cultures and by colonialism.

    The science, as well as thousands of years of examples from India, China, Japan, and even Greece (Pythagoras was definitely vegetarian, Socrates may have been) is quite clear that humans can thrive without eating the corpses of our fellow animals.

    It is a fact that mammals and birds are capable of feeling pain and experiencing suffering, fear, and grief; even fish can feel pain and experience anxiety. Any so called “spiritual leader” telling you that you must inflict deliberate pain and suffering, or have it inflicted by your order, in order to further your spiritual progress, is a fraud.

    This would be immediately apparent if your “leader” were to tell you “go do deliberate harm to another human being, it will help your spiritual progress!”; it is only our irrational ethical anthrocentrism that prevents us from seeing the same in the more general case, “go do deliberate harm to another sentient being, it will help your spiritual progress!”

    (We all, of course, inflict some amount of incidental and accidental pain and harm on each other in the course of our lives.)

    I’m sure that the blatherings of Lierre Keith, a well-known crank who misrepresents nutritional science and thinks that billions of people should die so that humanity can abandon agriculture and resume a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, are comforting to those who find it hard to break their addiction to consuming animal flesh.

    But in the end, embracing illusions and lies can only increase one’s suffering.

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  27. kimisgoa says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us Sarah, certainly stimulated a spirited debate. As everyone on this page I have my own beliefs and embrace the Ayurvedic path for myself. I strongly feel that I can only say what's right for me and that's only in this moment as I believe it is 'subject to change'…and even THEN I can be prone to getting it wrong!! I have no desire to bludgeon another into submission with my own beliefs and actually think some of the energy so fiercely evident (borderline attacking actually) on this page could be channeled elsewhere into reducing karmic debt. Two of my favourite phrases are 'when you point the finger count how many are pointing back at you' and 'do everything with love'.

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  29. Manmath Dhage says:

    Hopefully this will help. This is the divine knowledge received by seekers during their active spiritual practice and meditation directly from deities.

    http://www.spiritualresearchfoundation.org/articl

    Thank you

  30. Christy Morgan Christy says:

    I have no less love or compassion for you if you eat meat. My veganism (and spiritual practice) has allowed me to experience what true compassion and love really feels like. I believe in radical inclusion like Will Tuttle talks about in his book World Peace Diet (a great read!) Love for all. Peace and hugs.

  31. Since he eats fish (http://xrl.in/5kf, pg 284), I have no idea how to respond to that thing about humans being herbivores – on the cholesterol thing, here is the quote from that article (question 6):

    "If the LDL cholesterol level is <100— and possibly it needs to be <80 mg/dL—the other previously mentioned risk factors in and of themselves are not associated with atherosclerosis."

    Please look closely – LDL (the bad cholesterol) should be less than 100, and maybe less than 80 – but we still have VLDL (really bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) – He also says:

    "In other words, if the serum total cholesterol is 90 to 140 mg/dL, there is no evidence that cigarette smoking, systemic hypertension, diabetes mellitus, inactivity, or obesity produces atherosclerotic plaques."

    So low total cholesterol (90-140) does not produce atherosclerotic plaques – but that does not address ANY of the other health issues associated with very low total cholesterol

  32. Padma Kadag says:

    Thanks Eric…you are right. I do not have enough information to make an argument which is both economic and environmental. The model used by vegetarians to argue against meat is the "feed lot" model. And Yes! the efficiency it seems is devastating as well as the conditions the animals endure. But not all meat, if we are speaking completely about economics, is feed lot raised. Grass fed beef actually if done properly, can enhance the grasslands and return them to a natural ecology as they were when there were buffalo. If it is done right! Grazing animals which are managed properly will enhance an ecology previously created by native grazing animals. But i digress…I was only wanting to point out that there are millions of animals killed by farming

  33. Padma Kadag says:

    Eric…Though my comment and only concern is my original comment regarding the taking of lives in any style of cultivation of crops…I would be interested in a study, if you are aware of one, which details the efficiency of grass fed beef, range fed beef and it's economy of impact on sentient lives as compared to feed lot factory farming. Only natural grass as managed by the animals and rancher themselves using those tools prescribed by Alan Savory and his studies using cattle to regain grasslands once inhabited by wildlife grazing.

  34. Campbell is now on the advisory board of the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, the "scientific arm" of PETA – and widely known for their junk science. The China Study itself is interesting – more interesting is the way Thompson distorted it in his book: http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/China-Study

    full link for the fish thing: http://www.baylorhealth.edu/proceedings/20_3/20_3… – one might think he'd be an herbivore if he thought that is how we are supposed to eat

    full link for Google scholar search: http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22very+low+c

    generally, when someone gives a number as their cholesterol score, they mean total cholesterol

  35. Padma Kadag says:

    My reason for this is if we are talking only numbers of sentient lives to be counted in determining which method has less killing involved…then quite possibly if the feed lot was dropped from the production line and people only ate range fed, grass fed beef…then one might make the arguement that one animal feeds many mouths with little impact on the environment and other sentients in comparison to a cultivation of vegeies and grains. You are no longer raising crops for feed lots and using water at a high rate for production.

  36. The govt knows NOTHING about nutrition, witness their food pyramid as example #1 – their basic recommendations about consumption of breads and cereals, proteins, and dietary fats are all wrong

    the ten essential amino acids are essential because they must come from food and cannot be produced by the body – and they are necessary to our health – it's basic biology and chemistry – anyone who has abandoned this concept is not to be trusted about nutrition

  37. we NEED cholesterol – every one of the sex hormones are built from cholesterol, and hundreds of studies have no dispelled the myth that dietary cholesterol has anything to do with serum cholesterol, so at least he is right about that – but since we need cholesterol, we need saturated fat from the diet to make cholesterol in the liver – it's difficult to get that without meat, eggs, or dairy (not impossible)

  38. Actually I did read it – and he is partially right and partially full of shit – his chart on the amino acids and plant sources uses the govt protein guidelines to prove that we get enough amino acids from plants – misleading at best, lies at worst – then the elephant example – the stupidest example any vegan/vegetarian has ever argued and he trots it out – humans and elephants have very different digestive systems, we could not eat grass and leaves and survive for very long – he claims to have studied nutrition at U of Texas, not a good example for their school

  39. Christy Morgan Christy says:

    It's unfortunate, but 99% of the animal foods we eat come from horrible factory farms. The idealic farm you speak of accounts for only 1%. So if you only get your meat from these 1% of farms, you aren't contributing as much to the greater global crisis and it's your karma to deal with. A great book for everyone to read is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It's written in a narrative style, and just gives the facts and his own experience finding out where his food comes from.

  40. Eric says:

    Swati jr, It is the delusional nature of this world to believe that we are nourished only by the food we consume. Perhaps your illness was a test of faith.

  41. Amen, Christy.

    Avoiding factory farmed meats is probably the most important compassionate and environmental moral issue we can all embrace, easily. Main difficulty is it effects our eating out—you have to know where the meat is coming from, or ask. If you're eating fast food, Chipotle is a good one.

  42. Eric, you should write for us, if so inspired! Appreciate all your comments. Email write at elephantjournal dot com, if interested.

  43. swati jr* says:

    are you an pranatarian eric? i'd love to meet one!

  44. swati jr* says:

    the thing we have to consider here, and Ayurved does, is that just because a plant, animal, food combo. etc. is a "complete protein", doesn't mean that our bodies absorb that. this is the argument we take against raw food diets. sure, there's more nutrients perhaps in a raw carrot, but nary a person on this planet has a refined enough digestive system to actually digest and absorb those nutrients. so there are special things to do for special individual constitutions in order to ensure that that the carrot is absorbed properly. this is precisely why i needed more dense protein sources, yet others seem to be fine on a lifetime of soy, nuts, etc. we have to get over this Westernized model of all or nothing. it has been ingrained in us via our culture. again, this is not balance. and i might argue, compassionate, either.

  45. swati jr* says:

    and eating meat sensibly. knowing how much meat you really need is important. most people eat WAY too much animal which is not necessary. a little goes a long way.

  46. swati jr* says:

    what's crazy is this is how i used to be. my sister used to call me the "vegan nazi." i now have had to eat all my words [pun] and then some. now i am seeing compassion in a whole new way. it's really incredible.

  47. Eric says:

    I happily maintain a vegan diet, and i have done a few juice fasts over the years. It's not necessary to be a pranatarian or solarian, etc. to attain a little bit of enlightenment, just be vegan.

  48. Eric says:

    Thanks, I'll consider it.

  49. Eric says:

    Swati jr, whether your goal is perfect health, harmony or enlightenment, the vegan diet is a dependable vessel that will keep you afloat towards your goal. I cannot say the same for the consumption of "flesh."

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