THE 3 reasons to give up meat (and 1 not to).

Via on Aug 25, 2010

THE 3 reasons to be vegetarian.

I’m not talking about:

  • > Vegetarians who take it literally – eating nothing but vegetables.
  • > Lazy vegetarians, who eat pizza for dinner, left over pizza for breakfast, and pasta with a jar of tomato sauce for lunch. They’re not real vegetarians. They’re just pretending, and it won’t last.
  • > Self-righteous moralizing goody-goodies who like to make other people feel bad by making themselves feel better; trying to convert them to become as self righteous as they are. That’s not what it’s about. They just didn’t grow up yet. They will.

The real vegetarians are people who know what I’m talking about…they eat a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses, grains, seaweeds…and whatever other yummy stuff they can get their hands on (okay, apart from meat – more on that later). They also recognize that in order to really feel their best, some spiritual practice is required. So as well as eating a balanced diet, they live a balanced life: striving always for the proper mix of material and spiritual aspiration.

So, three reasons you should either pat yourself on the back for keeping it real, or consider changing to a healthier, more sustainable, and ethical way of eating:

1. Your Health

I don’t care what anyone says. Yes, you’ll find doctors who disagree with me on this, but I wouldn’t pay much attention: doctors, despite their many years of brainwashing (oops, did I say that out loud?) education often haven’t got much of a clue about what health is. They’re too busy fixing problems.

Being vegetarian is much better for your health than eating a diet that includes animal products.

Rather than asking doctors for unbiased truth, you’re better off asking insurance salesmen. I know that might sound funny but I’m very serious (as always): there’s a lot of money in insurance. That means that they get things right. So ask your insurance company – do they give better premiums for people who are vegetarian? Often they do – why? Because they know that there is less chance you’ll get heart disease or cancer (two of the biggest causes of premature death?) if you’re vegetarian. They know that as a vegetarian, you’re more likely to live longer, and they’re less likely to pay out. Yup, it comes down to simple economics.

So, why is it healthier to be vegetarian?

Why do we eat? Primarily for energy. That energy comes from the sun. All energy comes from the sun, in one way or another. (Even oil, when you think about it, is bottled sunlight – sunlight that fell to the earth millions of years ago and was fossilized and buried for a long time, but sunlight nonetheless!)

When you eat a plant-based diet, you are getting that sunlight directly:

  • Plant absorbs the sun’s energy
  • Photosynthesis occurs
  • You eat the plant, and
  • Bingo! You absorb the energy and feel goood!

When you eat a meat-based diet, you are getting second hand sunlight:

  • Plant absorbs sunlight
  • Photosynthesis occurs
  • Cow eats plant
  • Digests plant and
  • Gets sunlight directly
  • Then you eat the cow, and
  • Get a little of that sunlight, but let’s face it, not much.

To digest that meat takes a lot of work for little energetic reward. It’s not worth it!

Health (as I said in the article linked to above) is not just about avoiding sickness. It’s about feeling fantastic. Yes, there are many people who eat meat and avoid sickness, there’s no disputing that. However, I believe that generally, it’s possible to feel more fantastic eating a vegetarian diet than it is eating meat. The reason being simply that your body will be lighter – yes, most likely in terms of weight, but also and more importantly in terms of photons. Your body actually contains light. You are light. That’s why we eat sunlight and drink water. That’s what we are.

‘Yes’, I hear you say, ‘but we’re also meat’. Well, sure, but do you want to feed the dense, gross, material aspect of yourself, or the subtle, light, spiritual aspect of yourself. That’s what it comes down to on the issue of health, and I know what I choose.

You are what you eat. The reason it’s a cliché is because it’s true – every culture has an equivalent saying. However, and please pay close attention to this: it’s not just your body that IS what you eat. It’s every aspect of you. What you eat is reflected in your thoughts, your desires, your senses, your emotions, your deeper feelings… every aspect of your consciousness. YOU ARE what you eat.

2. The Environment

Our environment is… messed up. (I’m trying to give up swearing. It’s tough sometimes. This is one of those times).

‘What has the environment got to do with meat’ you might ask? Well, a lot.

As Ramesh Bjonnes pointed out in his recent article on the connection between meat consumption and global warming, the meat industry is now considered by many to be the leading contributor to global warming; more so “than all forms of transportation combined”! Wow. Or as they say here in Slovenia, land of forested hill-top churches and castles and bees: Uau.

Also:

  • Meat is not economically viable: it takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of animal flesh.
  • A huge amount of land is required to graze livestock and grow the grain necessary to feed that. That land could be put to much better use. Not to mention the issues of soil erosion, desertification, and threat to indigenous species that are implicit with overgrazing. Or the rain-forests that have been cut down to make space for that land…
  • The meat industry pollutes massively. The VAST amount of water necessary for the rearing of animals and  growing their feed, gets polluted; the land gets polluted (from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feedcrops, and sediments from eroded pastures.); eutrophication occurs.
  • The meat industry is responsible for biodiversity loss on the planet. Care much about the thousands of species that are becoming extinct every year?

3. The Animals

There are about 6 billion of us humans on the planet. Each year in the U.S. alone (not counting China, or Europe, or anywhere else – just the U.S.) around ten billion animals are slaughtered (source: Wikipedia). I believe this may be a very conservative estimate – I’ve seen estimates of up to 40 billion. Nevertheless, if you think of this on a global scale, and then factor in the fish: you realize that the meat industry is actually responsible for the slaughter of many, many times more beings than there are people on the planet. Each year it starts all over again. How many animals and fish is that in my / your lifetime? I dread to think, but if you want you can do the math.

However, that’s only one side to the story: how a being lives is more important than how it dies. How do the vast majority of these animals live: in squalor and without dignity. Think of the worst Nazi concentration camp, and you’re halfway there.

I have no quarrel with killing an animal for food. Try telling the Inuit that they shouldn’t eat fish, or the indigenous people of Tibet that it’s cruel to eat Yak – they’ll laugh long and loud.

But what a difference there is between killing an animal with respect and dignity, out of necessity, and ‘growing’ animals industrially with no basic rights (fresh air, clean water, a little space) in order to slaughter them in a manner that is at best cruel, but usually amounts to torture.

Scientists tell us that everything is energy. What happens to the energy of suffering, pain, and indignity caused by our meat industry? Because you know, energy cannot be created or destroyed, only converted to another form. What happens to that energy I wonder? What happens to it…?

****

Well, I’ve listed 3 good reasons to give up eating meat. For the sake of balanced and unbiased journalism, let’s at this point ask: ‘what are the reasons for eating meat?’

There’s only one good argument that I’ve heard for eating meat: it tastes good. It’s a great reason, because it’s honest. To many people, it does indeed taste good. I myself must admit to occasional cravings.

However, if we’re really truthful with ourselves, we see that in no way can a meat-based diet be justified; in the light of the environmental, economic, ethical, and health crises that we are living through today, giving up meat is quite simply one of the smartest, and best choices you can make.

****

Share this blog post on your social media, give it a facebook ‘like’, and send the link to your (furry or not) friends.

Spread the word.

Giving up meat is the single biggest contribution you can make to a sustainable, ethical, and healthy future.

****

Sources:

Suite 101

Goveg.com

About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston is a therapist, healer, advanced Sivananda Yoga teacher, and writer. His writings have been read by millions of people and can be found on Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and various other portals online. He has been teaching Yoga for 16 years in hotels, ashrams, beaches, gyms and rooftops worldwide. And he runs a busy international therapeutic practice from his home in rural Croatia. Offering sessions in person or via Skype, his therapeutic work is based on healing trauma, and the tools he uses for this are varied – mainly RPT, Shamanism, and energy work. He has also developed some of his own methods, particularly in the area of abuse trauma; ‘resource state’ awareness; and boundary reconstruction. He regularly runs retreats combining Yoga and other energetic exercises with his therapy. He would love nothing more than to see you on one of these retreats, since he believes that this approach to personal development is really the only effective way of bringing love and peace to global human society. Connect with Ben on Facebook. Read more of his writing on his new website with integrated blog! Yes, he's excited about that :)

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Comments

178 Responses to “THE 3 reasons to give up meat (and 1 not to).”

  1. janeray1940 says:

    There's a far better argument for eating it than "it tastes good" – medical reasons. Just ask the Dalai Lama.

  2. Ben Ralston Ben Ralston says:

    Via EJ Facebook page:

    Marielle Smith: There’s a far better argument for eating it than “it tastes good” – medical reasons. Just ask the Dalai Lama.

    Amy Levine Koehler: great. another *share*

    Jigmé Kalsang: meat doesnt even taste all that good. thats y people season the hell out of meat. they take a cut of beef and use herbs and spices (plants) to make it taste good….

    Deborah Tracy what happens to the energy that surrounds the animals is that it is eaten by those that consume the dead flesh., yes, they consume the violence with which the animals were raised and killed.

    Lauren Worsh From “The Prophet”:

    Then an old man, a keeper of an inn, said, “Speak to us of Eating and Drinking.”

    And he said:

    Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.

    But since you must kill to eat, and rob the young of its mother’s milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship,

    And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in many.

    When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,

    “By the same power that slays you, I to am slain; and I too shall be consumed. For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.

    Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven.”

    And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart,

    “Your seeds shall live in my body,

    And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,

    And your fragrance shall be my breath,

    And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”

    And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyard for the wine press, say in you heart,

    “I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the wine press,

    And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels.”

    And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup;

    And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the wine press.

    Remy Chevalier: Nice words Lauren… A lot to remember, like saying Grace. Yet this morning, outside my door, a man fills his windshield wiper fluid and throws the aluminum seal from the bottle on the ground, as if the asphalt will return it to the Earth. Not too long ago we were still cannibals.

    elephantjournal.com:

    ‎@ Marielle: it may well be that there are people who need a little meat in their diet. I can’t ever be sure. I know that for myself, I am 10 times healthier since becoming vegetarian.

    I also know that it’s not easy to get the right balance sometimes, and that occasionally my body craves meat. There are many factors as to why this might be – alcohol consumption and sex are closely connected to the need for meat. That is why i said in the article that spiritual practice is perhaps necessary also…

    @ Amy: big thank you!

    @ Remy: Cannibals? Were we really Remy? What do you base that on? – cannibalism exists amongst humans today in some very remote regions, but I have never heard any evidence of it ever having been widespread. In fact, on the contrary, as far as I know it’s always been pretty taboo.

    With love, Ben

  3. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Meat as medicine – sure. But how often do you take medicine? When you're sick right, so hopefully not often? I'm not talking about food as medicine, I'm talking about proper diet; how to eat to AVOID the need for medicine.
    I acknowledge that there are people who feel that they need a little meat in their diet (perhaps like the Dalai Lama). But I honestly think that they are a minority, and of that minority, i wonder how many have ever tried a balanced vegetarian diet, with proper lifestyle.
    With love, Ben

  4. Great piece, Ben.

    A great film to watch: Peaceable Kingdom (even if you're a vegetarian). http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/07/peaceable-… . The documentary explores the awakening conscience of several people who grew up in traditional farming culture and who have now come to question the basic premises of their inherited way of life.

  5. wail-on says:

    Ben you are on the mis-information super highway. B12 is unavailable in vegetarian sources. There is ample evidence that omnivorous diets, particularly in aboriginal/traditional cultures are very healthy and lead to none of the degenerative diseases you mention (you know what they don't eat? cultivated grains). There has also been a very high incedence of heart disease in long term vegetatians in India. There is actual scientific evidence supporting omnivoorous diets(NOT the standard American diet) while there is actually no comparable data for vegetarians. The majority of dietary evidence is anecdotal at best. You present these things as if you have the backing of science, when actually your argument is purely emotional. (cont)

  6. wail-on says:

    2: can you clarify what you mean by: “a very high incedence of heart disease in long term vegetatians” because it makes no sense.

    Sure. That was a typo. Should read long term vegetarians, and you left out the in India part. Yes, Indian vegetarians are dying of heart disease. I am not anti vegetarian. I am against people preaching about the right way to eat.

    Your friend is a member of the unbiased IPCC? Come on the IPCC exists only to promote a prepackaged agenda. If you keep only looking for sources of information that confirm your view then that is what you get. I always make sure to study multiple sides of an argument. I guess you could just take someones word for it if you want. There are so many reasons to question anthropogenic global warming it is unbelievable.

  7. wail-on says:

    I know you'll ask, so start with this:
    The famous medical missionary, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, writing in Berglas [1957], reports the following [Berglas 1957, preface]:

    On my arrival in Gabon, in 1913, I was astonished to encounter no cases of cancer. I saw none among the natives two hundred miles from the coast.
    I can not, of course, say positively there was no cancer at all, but, like other frontier doctors, I can only say that if any cases existed they must have been quite rare.

  8. Nyima Wimberly says:

    I think you're falling off point on this one. No ecosystem exists without animals. Farming can enrich the soil or deplete it, and that depends on diversity. I'm a Buddhist, but only hold that as far as the Dharma means truth. And the ecological truth is that no ecology exists without diversity and animals, bugs, etc…
    Why should farming exist without that diversity, and without a model based on the model of nature itself. The Whole Foods model is the same shit, different toilet, as far as I'm concerned. Soil depletion in the same, fossil fuels run the trucks that bring the food from California, Mexico, and wherever else. The best farming methods need to be based on what works naturally, which is a system that integrates animals.
    Using figures about human health and the dangers of mass consumption that only reference modern-day USA is like using racism stats from 1940's Germany; of course it's fucked. The USA, and all the modern Western societies consume too much meat, and consume primarily meat that is raised in shocking and disturbing conditions. This is not an argument against meat, but an argument against a system of heartless monoculture farming. The same system that is growing most of the vegetables that vegetarians are eating. It's the same sickness.
    I don't want to go on and on, but I want to express that I have lived vegan and vegetarian, and that I cannot do it as an environmentalist, as animal protein just makes sense. It doesn't have to be an "evil" act, as portrayed in the article. Everything has at least one bad day. We can live with animals and treat them with dignity until their bad day. Until that moment, they can graze land that we can't grow anything on. They can poop on out fields and enrich the soil. The can give us dairy and eggs in a health way while they express their living pigness, cowness, chickenness, and so on.
    To summarize, it's the factory farming and overconsumption that is the issue. Let's not become polarized. Eating less meat is good for the planet, but to say that it is irrational is hyperbolic.
    Cheer!
    -Nyima Wimberly

  9. Howie says:

    For the sake of argument lets say all 6 billion people on the planet were vegetarians. The food would still have to come from somewhere. Mass farming would still be practiced and land would have to be cleared for planting. This would have a negative impact on the environment and deprive animals of habitat and their own food sources. This would also mean that they would be in direct competition for our food sources as they need to eat as well.

  10. Alice2112 says:

    Thanks for this positive and non-judgmental perspective Ben (and elephant). 15 years ago I was one of those "but I need meat, I get dizzy w/out it" people like some commenters above. I now realize that my issue wasn't needing to eat flesh, but it was what I like to call my "corporate diet" – constantly eating out in a meat-centric culture, living off of side dishes or the salad bar from my work cafeteria. My high stress job where I skipped meals frequently didn't help either, yet I blamed not eating meat. The biggest challenge to going Veg, in my opinion, is navigating our meat and dairy-centric culture, but this has improved ten fold in the last twenty years (and continues to do so but we must speak out). Most restaurants now at the very least have veggie burgers even if they are not on the menu, and I can think of 4 popular pizza places in my town that offer a non-dairy cheese option. Cool, huh?

    My advice to those wanting to Go Veg but are having trouble is to make friends with a healthy vegetarian, get a mentor or join a meetup group. We are everywhere, but you just might not realize it. It was the best thing I have ever done. We are truly learning how to turn this titanic around – TOGETHER : )

  11. ARCreated says:

    lovely. thank you

    Somedays I feel like I am swimming up stream, and somedays I feel that the losing battle is just not worth it and then this…sigh of relief. I am not alone, what I do matters, and someone else gets it.
    I feel so much better now being animal product free…on a variety of levels, and I think you are right it almost has to come with a spiritual practice, for to stay strong in your convictions you have to have a really good reason.

    I find it interesting you mentioned the alcohol..since I went animal free my alcohol consumption kept getting less and less until now I don't drink at all…hmmmm

  12. See http://www.shabkar.org/ for Buddhist vegetarian site.
    My article about "life as a VEgetarian Tibetan Buddhist practitioner" is there at: http://www.shabkar.org/download/pdf/Eileen_Weintr

    Answers a lot of questions I hope!

  13. Shelli Meyers says:

    “Lazy vegetarians, who eat pizza for dinner, left over pizza for breakfast, and pasta with a jar of tomato sauce for lunch. They’re not real vegetarians. They’re just pretending, and it won’t last.”

    There’s nothing for you to gain in disparaging the lazy. I’ve been eating like that for 20 years; it’s lasted :-)

  14. Hi Ben, I see you got a lot of people going here. Good. I feel as with everything else about living life on Earth is that it boils down to personal responsibility for our own health and well being to become self educated in order to allow the changes to take place based on our daily choices. However, sometimes trial and error gets us to a better place while other times depending on on our capacity to grow and make the actual changes needed to evolve with our health thus enabling “change” not to bring in the new transformation. I have experimented with a vegetarian diet during my years in New York City and I have been able to cure a condition in my body that doctors otherwise told me I had to spend thousands of dollars to correct one of my fingernails that grew into a split and had puss oozing out for many years. Several months of a vegetarian diet made it disappear forever! In fact it came as a surprise to me when one day (out of the blue) I happened to glance down at my fingernail and there it was “whole again”! However I went back to eating free range/organic meat once in a while and I am still teaching myself to let it go again because it maintains my youthful appearance and my energy levels are far greater. Still learning, still evolving. Enjoyed you article, thank you.

  15. Patricia Kelly says:

    I think it's misleading people to tell them that everyone can do well on a vegetarian diet. I tried it myself, for quite a few years, and no matter what variation of vegetarianism or veganism I tried, I had severe deficiencies. I thought it was my own fault, believing that everyone should be healthier as a vegetarian. It wasn't until I starting eating animal products again that the deficiencies balanced out.

    All of the peoples from cold climates have meat as a staple of their diet. And in many of those peoples, there was very little disease until processed foods and a modern diet was introduced. All of my ancestors are from Northern Europe and ate a varied diet, with meat as a focus in the cold months. A whole foods, low-sugar, gluten free diet feels most right to my body and provides me with excellent health and vitality.

    "Desaturase enzyme deficiencies are usually present in those people of Innuit, Scandinavian, Northern European, and sea coast ancestry. They lack the ability to convert alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids intimately involved in the function of the immune and nervous systems. The reason for this is because these people's ancestors got an abundance of EPA and DHA from the large amounts of cold-water fish they ate. Over time, because of non-use, they lost the ability to manufacture the necessary enzymes to create EPA and DHA in their bodies. For these people, vegetarianism is simply not possible. They MUST get their EPA and DHA from food and EPA is only found in animal foods. DHA is present in some algae, but the amounts are much lower than in fish oils. (135)"
    http://www.westonaprice.org/mythstruths/mtvegetar

  16. Ramesh says:

    Ben et al, this earlier EJ article of mine, WHY YOGIS EAT CARROTS RATHER THAN COWS might be of interest.
    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/04/yoga-for-t

  17. Ben Ralston Ben Ralston says:

    From Grounded Spirituality ( http://benralston.blogspot.com ):

    Peter said…

    Signed except the global warming stuff.

    Great Article!

    Keep up the good work Ben.

    Namasté

    Peter

    Ben Ralston said…

    Thanks Peter – nice to see you back here as well!

    Out of interest, what part of the global warming stuff don’t you agree with: the idea that so much of it is caused by the meat industry, or more generally that mankind is causing it? Or what?

    Love, Ben

  18. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    From Grounded Spirituality ( http://benralston.blogspot.com )
    Jeremy Janson said…
    With regards to 1: the one thing you forget to mention is those animals which absorb the plants et cetera often have abillities to digest things that us humans cannot, and create amino acids that us humans cannot. This isn't a big deal for people who live sedentary lifestyles and can generally replace with lower quality substitutes what they don't have, but athletes need their muscles to be as high performance as possible, so I'd say that being an omnivore is ONLY healthy if coupled with exercise. If you are not willing to exercise, you should be a vegetarian.

    As for 2 and 3, I would reccomend hunting and butchering your own meat, which prevents the environmental problems (assuming you don't poach of course) and allows you to decide yourself how the animal will be treated in its final minutes. It also gives you beautiful gifts for your wife and great comforters and rugs if you know how to tan furs, and great ecofriendly (though smelly) fertilizer for your garden if you know how to deal with the inedible parts of the animal correctly, wonderful time outdoors, a little hair on your chest, and something great to do with the kids.

    Ben Ralston said…
    @ Jeremy: I beg to differ, I didn't forget anything. There are amino acid-rich plant foods. It is unnecessary for an athlete to eat meat. You're buying into the whole "I need my protein from meat" argument, albeit from the amino acid angle – you sneaky thing. But sorry, there are many examples of great athletes, weight lifters, triathletes, who were vegan – one I know of who ate raw food only and was a champion body builder.
    Please, do some research into it from an unbiased perspective before you accuse me of 'forgetfulness'.
    As for what you say in the rest of your comment, I have to partially agree: except to say that I don't feel the need to kill anything to put 'hair on my chest', whatever that means, and I believe your kids along with all the other kids in the world would benefit from an education in compassion rather than violence. But hey, who am I to tell you how to raise your kids?
    With love, Ben

  19. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Jeremy Janson said…
    @Ben: Yes, there are "amino acids" in plants but there are not neccesarily all 21 and not neccesarily in plants humans can digest, and Steve Prefontaine was an alcoholic – that doesn't mean being an alcoholic makes you a better runner. Also, just because something is in a plant doesn't mean your body will be able to process it, there's a reason meat eating was a major advance in the evolution of mankind. Though if you want to trade stories, part of the reason Kenya produces some of the best runners in the world is cow blood is a regular part of their diet.

    Ben Ralston said…
    @JJ
    I did warn you… if you're going to come to my blog and contradict anything, you'd better know what you're talking about.
    When you say "there are "amino acids" in plants but there are not neccesarily all 21 and not neccesarily in plants humans can digest"
    you are completely, and yes, necessarily, wrong. Look up Spirulina, and look up hemp seeds. Then come back and eat some humble pie, if you have enough 'hair on your chest' to be able to swallow it.
    The Prefontaine argument doesn't stand up – I didn't say that being veggie was what made someone great; I said that it didn't prevent them from being great.
    "meat eating was a major advance" – speculative. Prove it.
    And finally, I didn't, and don't particularly, want to trade stories. And again, prove that Kenya's great runners are great because of cows blood; you can't, because it could be for any number of reasons, and probably is.
    Ben

  20. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Peter said…
    @Ben
    That mankind causing it. I have done a lot of research on this topic and come to the conclusion that the small fireball up there makes our climate (to 99%). The climate is going where its going no matter what we do. CO2 is part of the cycle of life and good for us and not the "toxic gas" which is told. The resources should go in a lot of other important parts of environmental protection… That´s a big Topic.

    I forgot to post this link in my last post: http://greensmoothiesblog.com/starting-green-smoo
    Really great way to get some "green" energy. Tastes great!

    Namasté
    Peter
    25 August 2010 23:15
    Ben Ralston said…
    Hi Peter,
    I have a friend who works for the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. She tells me that mankind does have an impact on global warming, in a big way, and that all the movies, and media stuff contradicting that is propaganda. She is completely unbiased, and I see no reason to disbelieve her.
    When you consider how much of a delicate balance there is in our eco-system, and how every species plays a role in that balance, and how out of balance mankind lives (to the point of destroying many species that are absolutely necessary for maintaing balance (think rain-forest) then it also makes sense to me that we are capable of making a big impact.
    CO2 is of course part of the cycle, and absolutely necessary. That's never been in question. The question is, what happens when CO2 levels go far, far above and beyond anything seen in thousands of years…

    I'm looking forward to checking your link – gonna do it now. Thank you!
    Ben

  21. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Kobra said…
    Vitamin B12. Look it up.

    28 August 2010 10:09
    Ben Ralston said…
    Hi Kobra,
    Yeast extract (marmite), yeast flakes, eggs, milk, cheese, spirulina, hemp seeds… there are several others. All are good sources of B12. Look em up :)

    My wife is pregnant after 10 years of vegetarianism, 2 of which were strictly vegan. she had several blood tests and there was no problem with B12, or anything else for that matter.

  22. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Peter said…
    @Ben
    I only wanted to point out that CO2 is not causing "global warming". So the effort who goes in this can be used much more effective on other aspects. Like to establish Curcuits (http://www.mbdc.com/detail.aspx?linkid=1&sublink=6), not to poisoning our soil which is the base of our food, and so on…
    In fact, CO2 is good for our plants. In the Netherlands they put it in their green houses to increase and support the growth of the plants.

    On your other point´s.
    The Temperature will be anyway going where it´s going. What´s the problem about it? What is the optimal temparature? Life is change.
    We have the real problem not the environment. We depend on the environment. The environment will heal itself but in much greater time scales.
    I have a little problem with "save the planet" and "change the world". Some other people in the past had the same intention and you see what has happend. The only thing that we can and must change are ourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eScDfYzMEEw
    😉
    Namasté
    Peter

    Ben Ralston said…
    @Peter,
    First off, I'm very happy that we have this discussion. It's partly for this reason that this blog exists.
    Secondly, to answer your comment:
    I completely agree, it's not the problem of the environment (generally). The earth, the world, and the universe will go on long after us silly humans have self-destructed, if that is indeed what we will do.
    BUT, (big but 😉 I see the debate on global warming and the environmental destruction that humans do cause (whether you agree we cause global warming, it's surely undisputed that we cause many other problems, from biodiversity destruction, to pollution of our own water supplies, soil etc, as you said) as an opportunity to educate people and promote the change you are talking about – self development, and the change of people's attitudes towards themselves, each other, and the world around them. Who really cares if we are causing Global Warming or not? I don't! But global warming is a reality; it is accelerating fast, together with many of the problems that we DO cause; and it offers us an opportunity to become more in tune with, and more respectful toward the world around us.
    Perhaps it would make no difference to Global Warming itself if we stop eating so much meat; change our addiction to oil; become more respectful to the world around us generally… perhaps it would! But regardless of which scientists and politicians are right, the world would be a better place without a shadow of a doubt.
    What makes me sad, is that the very people who WOULD do something about it become divided by the debate about whether or not we cause global warming…
    It doesn't matter whether we do cause it or don't! What matters is, what are we gonna do about it now! What we should do is, as you say, change. If we change and global warming continues, so be it! But maybe, maybe it would make a difference…

  23. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Nicone said…
    Great article, Ben. You've almost convinced me to give up meat, but I think I'll start by reducing my meat-consumption first. I have some good friends that are vegetarian so the question of becoming one myself isn't new to me.

    I must admit I find maintaining a healthy balanced diet to be quite a challenge, partly because life is so busy and the kids prefer sausage to vegetables any day! But getting a grip on this is for both me and my family is definitely on my to-do-list. Thanks for inspiring me further.

    Ben Ralston said…
    Hi Nicone,
    It's a good idea to do it gradually… no need to go to any extremes – slow is always best.
    Do what feels good and right to your body, and if you need any advice I'll be happy to help – you can email me or leave a message here.
    I can imagine that with kids it's ALOT more complicated – good luck! :)
    Love, Ben

  24. lisa says:

    I have another reason to eat meat…for some people, based on their own biochemical individuality, an entirely plant based diet devoid of any animal products is simply not the best choice for optimal health. I am one of those people. I was a raw vegan for years…I was not only overweight, but I also had low energy and health that was overall less than optimal.

    That said, I eat VERY minimal amounts of animal products..I eat mindfully. No industrialized meat…I buy from local, organic farms for my produce; I eat 3-4 oz of sustainable fish, grass fed beef (average red meat consumption 1-2 times a month), or free range/organic chicken per serving; and I only eat local organic eggs from my neighbors’ backyard or another farm in my general vicinity. I avoid dairy with the exception of some Greek yogurt in moderate amounts as well. The majority of my diet consists of a raw, organic plant based diet, and I adopt the Michael Pollan philosophy of knowing where my food comes from and using common sense.

    I have thyroid issues and soy is an unhealthy food for me for the most part. My body does poorly with grains as well, and I also avoid corn and any kind of flour.

    Biochemical individuality…one man’s food is another’s poison. If I felt best on a 100% vegan or vegetarian diet, I would eat that way. This is not my reality.

    And one more thing…eating dairy, even the organic, hormone free, free range, etc….is still often quite cruel and may promote the killing of baby calves for veal, etc. Not to mention the terrible processed faux meat products that are filled with sugar, MSG (TVP), and add to all sorts of physical ailments. There is no ONE way of eating that fits ALL.

    Namaste~Lisa

  25. […] Ben Ralston, is a regular contributor to Elephant Journal.  Ben asked us to post this and get people thinking about meat consumption.  He lives with his family live in the secluded hills of Eastern Slovenia, one of the most un-spoiled, beautiful countries of Europe.  Ben is a yoga master in the Sivananda tradition, and a healer. The Ralstons welcome people to their home and center for yoga retreats and healing.  Connect with Ben on Facebook, find out more about his unique retreats at Prem Center and read more of his writings about yoga, healing, holistic health, and personal empowerment on his blog Grounded Spirituality.  He tried Twittering, but couldn’t get the hang if it. var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname="The 3 Reasons To Give Up Meat (…1 not to) by Ben Ralston"; a2a_config.linkurl="http://www.yogahappening.com/2010/08/the-3-reasons-to-give-up-meat-1-not-to-by-ben-ralston/"; […]

  26. barefootlotuss says:

    These discussions are all great. . and remind me why I'm not a Buddhist. . .I love diversity too much.

  27. Science Works says:

    "To digest that meat takes a lot of work for little energetic reward. It’s not worth it!"

    please, if this were true, there would not be such a thing as carnivores. The energy required to digest, hunt and kill an animal, guard it from opportunists, heal itself, reproduce and if is female and a mammal care for it's young by producing milk must be at least equal to the energy of it's food source, meat. How about the fact that many physically anthropologists, theorize that it was the introduction of large amounts of meat into our diet that allowed the human brain to expand to it's current size and abilities. Or the fact that one of the oldest forms of hunting involves hunters running down their prey until it is too exhausted to continue in hunts that can last days.

    Eating plants is the very definition of the indirect consumption of the sun's energy. We are not made of photon's. The fact that certain life processes result in a tiny amount of electromagnetic radiation is unsurprising, and doesn't change anything. Oil is not fossilized light as oil formation requires biomass.

    I have no issue if you choose to be a vegetarian, but when you present misinformation into your argument especially as related to scientific fact, it becomes an issue.

  28. Ben Ralston Ben_Ralston says:

    Science Works,
    With a name like that you should do some research, and think a little deeper about what is presented before making silly comments about it.
    My article is not about carnivores. It's about human beings. It is arguable that human beings are omnivores. It is not even remotely feasible that we are carnivores. We have completely different biological makeup to all carnivores.
    What about the people who suggest that our brains got bigger due to the introduction of meat into our diets. What about them indeed? It's absolute nonsense as far as I am concerned. It is an offshoot of the 'I need animal protein to survive' theory.
    I didn't say that we are made of photons. i said that we are light. There's a subtle but important difference. That subtlety is one of the reasons it is better not to eat meat. A lighter diet helps you to think, perceive, and act in lighter, and more subtle ways.
    Please don't just come here and accuse of misinformation unless you are going to a) read the article properly, and b) disprove that something I have said is untrue. Otherwise it's simply rude.
    With love, Ben

  29. […] The 3 Reasons to Give Up Meat (and 1 not to) from elephantjournal. http://veganhope.com/2010/08/02/21-dollar-week-challenge/ Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)10k downloads in 2 days, update on what is coming up!How over rated 😉 from → love lists ← Etsy Love No comments yet Click here to cancel reply. […]

  30. Science Works says:

    Your assertion was that less energy is available from meat the plant matter and that is simply not true. I was pointing out if it were true carnivores would not exist, not that humans are carnivores. I am quite aware we are omnivores. All one needs to do is look at say lions which make a kill every couple of days, and compare to their prey which must graze nearly continuously. to see it is false.

    As far as The meat diet- brain connection go here http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/99legacy/…. You can dismiss it if you like but you'd still be wrong.

    To say that we are light, is to say that we are photons. Which is patently untrue. Furthermore you confuse two meanings of the word light to give credence to your assertion. I fail to see what light in the sense of a fundamental particle and light as an abstract feeling one gets from eating certain types of food have to do with each other, and they are not the same thing.

    As far as you subtle spiritual essence use of the word light. I don't even know what that means. and I doubt if you can explain it to me in any coherent way.

  31. […] The Three Reasons to Give up Meat (And One Not To) – The Elephant Journal. I would agree with the reasons in the post and I appreciate articles advocating vegetarianism that don’t come off as preachy or judgmental of omnivores. […]

  32. думаю Вы слышали об этой авиафирмы, в большинстве случааев плохое. мы с мужем обязаны были улететь из Геленджика в Москву в 12.10 , а улетели на следующий вечер в 22.00. еще до этой поездки мы купили билеты на октябрь в Геленджик, сейчас поездка срывается и деньги получить буквально нереально… а это немало. еще у них нет эл.адреса( есть только почтовый для возврата денег), даромго телефона( только с моб. платныф- 38 руб. за 1 мин) и связаться с ними в принципе невозможно, офиса нет). и не летайте этой авиакомпанией!
    к стате сериаллы и фильмы я качаю с Мегаполиса i7 причем бесплато. :) можете пользоватся. Лучше чем локалка.Если канечно ссылка не нужна можете и удалить.

  33. Christopher Spiewak says:

    Despite the debatable elements of vegetarianism that will inevitably evoke disagreement for all eternity, the simple non-debatable fact is that the cumulative (individual or human) effect of living/eating veg*an is more positive than negative, more light than dark.

  34. Stacey says:

    I have been vegetarian since 1998 because of ethical concerns, environment and lastly my health. I am the only one in my family however my hubby is a semi-vegetarian, he just needs to give up chicken now and.. for most people the transition is a step by step process. I became completely meat free over 6 months with chicken being the first that I gave up.

    I guess you would call me a lazy vegetarian because I still in enjoy my pizza, french fries, etc. I eat what I want, I just avoid meat. However I do enjoy some mock meats quite regularly. I admit that I do need to re-review my diet as far as recipes go because I don't do many of these which help to make meals more interesting, diverse and healthy. Thx for your review.

  35. Erica says:

    I think to say that the only good reason to eat meat is that it tastes good is a careless minimizaion. I personally was born and raised a vegetarian and when I turned 30, my body shut down and I became very sick. Now, without regular meat in my diet, I don't build muscle, have energy or feel good in general. There are many people who can live off of a vegetarian or vegan diet, but each body is different, comes from a different lineage and culture, and has different nutritional needs. To make a broad generalization that vegetarianism is the way for all people discounts our individuality and speaks to an extreme fundamentalist viewpoint.

  36. Erica says:

    I am conscious in the meat that I choose and am aware of where it came from and how it was treated. I honor the animals that gave their life to provide me with nourishment and strength. Like it or not a food chain exists in all living beings. Animals of all kinds prey on others to survive and thrive, and just because we humans are the most evolved, doesn't make us wrong for seeking nourishment where we need it, even if that means in the flesh of another animal. If your body can function on a vegetarian diet and even thrives on one, more power to you and thank you for the contribution to our planet and it's animals. However, the message would be more openly received without the judgement.

  37. goddamnit says:

    if i was to be your dinner, i would will with every fiber in my body that i made you suffer as well. . .
    how do you like them apples?
    speaking of apples, the only thing snakes eat that even slightly resemble apples are eggs.

  38. […] the two textual traditions of the Theravada and Mahayana and the contradicting teachings about meat eating contained within them. Buddhist monks recieving alms. Photo: […]

  39. omnivore says:

    I personally was born into a vegetarian family. We ate a lot of dairy, beans and grains and I grew up watching other kids play sports and constantly feeling weak and tired, unable to participate. I could not build muscle no matter how hard I tried. I ran, biked, lifted weights, swam and I was always weak and tired. I was a conscious vegetarian and at times vegan. I focused on getting vegetarian forms of protein like beans, nuts, seeds, high quality grains like quinoa and amaranth and yet by the time I was 30, I had developed serious health problems and could hardly function. At that time a nutritionist suggested I try adding meat to my diet. With the first bite, my body screamed with delight and gratitude, soaking in the protein. After adding meat to my diet, I had energy, built muscle, and felt vibrant. I do not feel heavy or dense. I feel light and healthy. I do often think about the animals who gave their life for my nutrition. I choose carefully the meat that I eat and I am aware that if I consume an animal who was treated poorly and not nourished appropriately, then I am consuming both their energy and contaminated flesh.

  40. omnivore says:

    I make the best choices I can, but I am very clear that I need meat to survive and thrive. Not everyone does, so to write an all-encompassing, one-size-fits-all article that reduces the value of eating meat to taste is irresponsible. People listen to you for heaven's sake. I respect you, what I know of your background, and your work, but if you want to be taken seriously as you say you do, my suggestion is avoid editorializing relevant and controversial issues such as this one.

  41. CultofNow says:

    Poorly reasoned nonsense.

  42. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Good stuff, Ben. I'm with ya.

  43. Lindsay Jean Thomson Lindsay Jean says:

    Respectfully, I agree with the first three reasons to be a vegetarian but I think the one reason to eat meat was a bit flippant, Ben. I gave vegetarianism a good try – three years – and for health reasons I don’t feel obligated to share over the internet, my body’s response made it clear that I need to eat meat. I still eat a primarily vegetarian diet and try to make responsible decisions around all of the food I eat, most especially the small amount of animal products I consume. Ahimsa means more than not eating animals.

    Moreover, haven’t we at ele already beaten this topic into the ground?

  44. francesca_c says:

    "Because they know that there is less chance you’ll get heart disease or cancer (two of the biggest causes of premature death?) if you’re vegetarian. They know that as a vegetarian, you’re more likely to live longer…"

    I agree that vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease but vegetarians do not generally have lower overall rates of cancer and their survival rates are similar to that of health-conscious omnivores. Please keep promoting a vegetarian diet on the grounds of environmental or ethical reasons but perhaps you could be cautious in recommending a vegetarian diet on the basis of health.

  45. Bob says:

    I disregarded everything you said when you tried to tell me that we "eat sunlight."
    You obviously have no idea how a cell works at all.

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