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

Via Ben Ralston
on Aug 25, 2010
get elephant's newsletter

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.


  • 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.



Suite 101


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


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 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.

    ‎@ 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 says:

    Hi Waxbear,

    First off, as far as I know the Sun is the source of all energy on this planet. Tell me another please?

    Secondly, I didn’t say anything about eating photons! Please don’t put such ridiculous words in my mouth! We ARE made of light though. For a first hand account of someone who was able to see it clearly, read “And there was light” by Jacques Lusseyran… for a scientific account look at the link in the article… and for other scientific evidence a little research on the internet will do. For thousands of years many spiritual traditions, not least the yogic tradition, has referred to energy bodies; light bodies; auras; halos… etc. The energy that we get from food, does come originally from the sun.

    Thirdly, you raise an excellent point about supporting ethical meat production. However, that topic is beyond the scope of my short article here, and … my intention was simply to raise awareness.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment, I appreciate your view.

    Love, Ben

    ps – i’m not trying to “convince the educated”. I prefer to speak to those that are aware that life is one long education, and won’t ever consider their education over yet.

  4. 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

  5. Ben Ralston says:

    Hi Christine,

    I accept that there are many people who say that they need meat, and who am I to tell them they are wrong!? On the other hand, I can say from my own personal experience that a) doctors who advise people to eat meat generally don’t know what a proper vegetarian diet is, and b) it’s not easy to get the right balance as a vegetarian, but when I do get that balance, I feel GRRRREAT, and c) there is nothing in meat that you cannot get from elsewhere, if you do a bit of research and are prepared to change your cooking / eating habits. It does take a little work to begin with, but is it worth it, knowing that you are making a huge contribution to the environmental, ethical, and economic footprint you leave behind you? I’d say a big YES.

    Love, Ben

  6. Great piece, Ben.

    A great film to watch: Peaceable Kingdom (even if you're a vegetarian).… . 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.

  7. Ben Ralston says:

    Thanks for the link Lynn, I’m looking forward to checking that out.

  8. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hi Emily,
    I guess running 100 miles a week and eating badly = poor health and broken bones huh?
    I'm glad you've found a balance, and that you eat meat that is sourced as ethically as possible. And that you aren't breaking your bones anymore!
    I don't think it's that you weren't the 'right' kind of anything, but it does sound as if your diet and lifestyle weren't at all balanced.
    I know of athletes (champions as well) who have succeeded whilst eating not only vegetarian, but also vegan / raw food only.
    Love, Ben

  9. Ben_Ralston says:

    Thank you for another perspective Losang.
    Of course, we're all different, and some people have special needs to be sure. It's all about balance. There are no absolutes, and there's no judgement on my part. I simply want, as I see you realized already, to inform people. Why? Because there's so much mis-information out there.
    Thanks again for your contribution.
    With love, Ben

  10. 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)

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    ‘Wail-on’: I’m tempted to not dignify your (anonymous) comments with a reply… but in the interests of proper information I will.

    1: B12 is available in the following vegetarian sources: Tempeh, cheese, spirulina, yeast spreads (marmite), yeast flakes, milk… some vegetarians choose to eat eggs too, although I don’t. Maybe also miso but I'm not sure.
    Perhaps you are confusing vegetarianism for veganism? 🙂 In which case your comment is laughable, and I will be surprised if you come back here to debate your point further, even with the protection of anonymity.

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

    3: What exactly do you refer to as “actual scientific evidence supporting omnivoorous diets”?

    4: “no comparable data for vegetarians”. Have a look at this link (… ), and you’ll discover that the World Health Organisation (WHO), British Medical Association (BMA), Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and American Dietetic Association (ADA) all back vegetarianism as not only a healthy option, but also one that: “significantly reduces instances of coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, certain types of cancers, gall stones and large intestine disorders.”

    5: I have a friend on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) who tells me that Global Warming is real, and it is caused by mankind. She should know; she is unbiased; and I will certainly trust her word (and my own intuition and common sense) over yours. “I would look a little deeper into the global warming theory as well” Yes, you should look a little deeper into it, and into all the other issues you raise as well.

    6: You accuse me of ‘flawed information’ and trying to justify my own emotional beliefs. Actually, I don’t have emotional beliefs about this subject. I am almost entirely unemotional about it! I simply present the facts as I know them to be, as a result of over 15 years of research and experimentation into the field of holistic health and diet. If that isn’t scientific, I don’t know what is.

    7: you say the environmental argument is suspect because… “healthy cows don't eat grain.”
    Yes, and? Cows don’t eat grain. So what is your point, and in what way does that negate all of my points about the meat industry's detrimental effect on our environment?
    And you start your comment by saying that I’m on the “mis-information super highway”!!

    8: Owned.

    with love, Ben

  12. wail-on says:

    Okay, the environmental question: The sixteen pounds of grain to one pound of meat figure has been around since at least the seventies. I already said that the feedlot phenomena is a problem I agree with you on. Healthy cows eat grass, so get rid of the feed lots and the 16:1 ratio is irrelevant. Do we need the way we farm to change, yes. Can meat be a part of a sustainable locally sourced diet, yes. At high altiude it has to be. I completely agree with you on the point about the way animals are raised.
    In the beginning of your post you talk of brainwashed doctors, then you cite the same doictors to back your claims. If you look into the studies, all of them were comparing a vegetarian diet to the standard American diet which is based on the food pyramid, tends to include feedlot meat, and also includes a high concentration of grains. It has been clearly shone that traditional diets that include meat (usually hunted or raised without chemicals)but exclude agricultural grains are very healthy in the long term.

  13. wail-on says:

    The china study is deeply flawed, and while the site you link to obviously wants to promote a particular point of view you can find a critique of the methodology at rawfoodsos(dot)com. One of the problems is that the 6500(sounds like a lot) people studied were then grouped by county which took the number of data points down to 65. There were hundreds of variables in the study, and none of the diets were strictly vegetarian, or vegan, nor did any of them exclude grains. Holding that up as definitive proof of the health of a vegetarian diet is not accurate.(for the record I am all for people being vegetarian if it works for them, I just take issue with your statement that there is no justification for eating meat, it just isn't true). The studies showing that traditional hunter gather diets show strong teeth, bones and little to no instances of Cancer, Diabetes or heart disease are fairly sound. The correlations in the china study isolate variables 1to1 more meat, more breast cancer, but they don't take ito account the other factors involved. it is an unreliable study. (again there is no doubt that a vegetarian diet is healthier than the SAD, but that is as far as one can be certain.)

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. wail-on says:

    Williams [1908] reports that cancer is extremely rare among Australian aborigines and in the aboriginal peoples of Africa and also North America. (Note the date of the citation: 1908, a time when there were far more hunter-gatherers than there are today.)

    Cancer among the Inuit. Stefansson [1960] describes the search of George B. Leavitt, a physician on a whaling ship, who searched for cancer among the Inuit of Canada and Alaska. It took him 49 years, from 1884 to the first confirmed case in 1933, to find cancer. (Stefansson [1960] describes a possible but unconfirmed case of cancer in 1900, and Eaton et al. [1988] describe cancer in a 500-year-old Inuit mummy.)
    Schaefer [1981] reports that breast cancer was virtually unknown among the Inuit in earlier times, but was one of the most common forms of malignancy by 1976.

  17. wail-on says:

    Cardiovascular disease. Moodie [1981] reports on evidence of hypertension among Australian aborigines, from 1926 to 1975. The data support an association between increasing Westernization and hypertension, but there are some inconsistencies. However, citing additional, more recent data, Moodie reports further evidence of increasing hypertensive disease among Aborigines.
    Moodie [1981] also reports that prior to the 1960s, arteriosclerosis and ischemic heart disease were rare among the Australian aborigines.

    Schaefer [1981] reports that hypertension and coronary heart disease are extremely rare among the less-acculturated Inuit, but are increasing markedly among the acculturated groups. A 1958 survey of Alaskan natives found no hypertension; however, a 1969 survey found that native Alaskan women showed so-called normal levels of hypertension (i.e, comparable to Western women).

    Diabetes. Moodie [1981] reports that diabetes was rare in Aboriginal communities prior to the 1970s; nowadays the prevalence of diabetes is more than 10% in some Aboriginal communities.

  18. wail-on says:

    Schaefer [1981] reports there are no cases of diabetes among the Inuit who still live the traditional lifestyle. However, cases are now being reported among the acculturated Inuit of the Mackenzie delta area (Canada). Diabetes is also increasing in incidence in the Inuit of Alaska and Greenland.

    The above indicate that chronic degenerative diseases are rare when traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyles are followed, but the incidence of disease increases as Westernization occurs. This suggests that at least from the viewpoint of chronic degenerative diseases, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and diet were quite healthy.


  19. Kara N says:

    Dude, do you have any idea how bad the technology for Dxing cancer was in 1933?

  20. 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.
    -Nyima Wimberly

  21. Ben_Ralston says:

    That's exactly my point Kara. Thank you… by the way, I don't really believe that doctors are brainwashed. I was attempting to use humor to enliven what could othewise be a fairly dry and boring subject to write about.
    With love, Ben

  22. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yes Chuck. VERY seriously. I am a VERY serious guy.
    I don't take criticism lightly, because I'm very, very serious. I don't smile much, and I quote myself ALL THE TIME!!
    Every time I open my mouth, or type on the keyboard, it's like: "Oh my gosh, I'm quoting MYSELF"

    No, seriously (really, honest, I'll try) what did you mean by "the author quotes himself".

    And what is a logical fallacy!? (Apart from a great example of an oxymoron). I presume you mean either that there are logical inconsistencies in my writing, or that something I write is false… if so, fine, but please give an example so I can refute your heinous accusations.

    Erm, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: never lose your sense of humor 😉

    With love, Ben

  23. Ben_Ralston says:

    It's nice of you to spend so much time trying to convince me that an omnivorous diet can be healthy, but you could have saved yourself the time. I fully agree – an omnivorous diet based on the ancient hunter gatherer lifestyle is very healthy.
    Now, what does that have to do with anything in my article I wonder?
    With love, Ben

  24. 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.

  25. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hi Howie,
    Thanks for raising a good point.
    The answer is this: you need FAR less land to produce an equivalent amount of vegetarian food (and far less water): the statistic I quoted above is 16 pounds of grain to just 1 pound of meat. So that's a lot of rainforest and other lands that could grow back, endangered species that would be able to return, etc… less water polluted.

  26. wail-on says:

    Simple, you made absolut statements about what people should eat. THat is the only point I am making.

  27. Ramesh says:

    Chuck, it's not fair to Ben, the author, to slam his article without an iota of "evidence" to back up your claim that it is "poorly researched."

  28. 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 : )

  29. 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

  30. ARCreated says:

    PS I have met one person that has a true medical reason for eating meat – a rare blood disorder that prevents iron absorption or storage — HOWEVER she only needs red meat about once a week …. IF someone doesn't feel great without meat this is not carte blanche to go "hog" wild. We can support sustainability via conscious consumption taking only what we need, not wasting and eating meat in limited qualities…This is what I "preach" to my non-veg counterparts…OK fine don't "give it up" but limit it — relish it and enjoy it rather than looking at it as throw away.
    I went to a dinner the other week and a man ordered a giant steak and then let the server throw away half of it…NOW that is disgusting. If we get away from that mentality many things will start to change.

  31. Kara N says:

    Yeah, I know. 🙂

  32. See for Buddhist vegetarian site.
    My article about "life as a VEgetarian Tibetan Buddhist practitioner" is there at:

    Answers a lot of questions I hope!

  33. 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 🙂

  34. Ben Ralston says:

    Hello Alice,

    You had the courage to stick to what you felt deep down was right, in spite of years of conditioning and a meat-centric culture (as you say) and I congratulate you. We few who are in a minority at the moment have something that is really very valuable: trust in our deeper, higher self; our intuition, which guides us so strongly that we are able to swim against the current and forge a new course for ourselves, our families, and ultimately our society. I believe that mankind is evolving, and will ultimately come to a point where we realize our potential as guardians of this beautiful planet, and all it’s citizens. Until then our quiet example is the best catalyst for change.

    With love, Ben

  35. Jablonski says:

    i am a lazy flexitarian, and I do quite well. I eat cheese, eggs, ice cream, shrimp or small portions of fish a couple times a month. If I crave it, I eat it, and thankfully, I no longer crave red meat, pork, poultry, etc. once in a while I will make a tuna sandwich. I don't think I could ever give up sushi! but I said that 5 years ago about steak…

  36. Kara N says:

    So your point is that there is more than one healthy way to eat? Ok. But his point is *not* that there is only one healthy way to eat. His point is that there are many good reason to be a vegetarian. So you're addressing a false premise.

  37. 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.

  38. wail-on says:

    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.

    No way a meat based diet can be justified. . . sounds like telling people what to eat.

  39. amanaceo says:

    you are funny; those doctors should have their licenses revoked.

  40. 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)"

  41. Ben Ralston says:

    Well, to be fair, I'll grant you that my language was a little too strong there – better would have been:
    "However, if we’re really truthful with ourselves, we see that the meat based diet that is so entrenched in our society today is doing far more harm than good…"
    A meat based diet can be justified, you're right Wail-on. But not THE meat based diet which I was referring to in my article. As Kara N pointed out, I wasn't referring to aboriginal tribes, many of whom no longer exist in any case.

  42. Ramesh says:

    Ben et al, this earlier EJ article of mine, WHY YOGIS EAT CARROTS RATHER THAN COWS might be of interest.

  43. Ben Ralston says:

    From Grounded Spirituality ( ):

    Peter said…

    Signed except the global warming stuff.

    Great Article!

    Keep up the good work Ben.



    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

  44. Ben_Ralston says:

    From Grounded Spirituality ( )
    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

  45. 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…
    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.

  46. Ben_Ralston says:

    Peter said…
    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:
    Really great way to get some "green" energy. Tastes great!

    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!

  47. 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.

  48. Ben_Ralston says:

    Peter said…
    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 (, 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.

    Ben Ralston said…
    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…

  49. 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