September 5, 2011

There are many reasons to be a vegetarian. Which one will stick?


Any reason you stop eating animals and animal products is a good one.

But will the kind diet stick?

It’s easy to be passionate about the diet and the newfound feeling of cleanliness your body has. But after a while, you may slip back into meat eating if you don’t consider the bigger picture.

Giving up meat was rather easy for me. So was giving up dairy milk.

But it took me a year of being a lacto-ovo vegetarian –even slipping in some fish here and there—before I realized I really wasn’t helping the planet, the animals or my health with that diet.

I was indeed a cheese and egg lover– Especially pizza, a friend of mine since I was a boy in Brooklyn.

Then I started meditating. And I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. The pizza and Sunday omelets vanished from my diet without me even trying to give them up.

There are two types of vegans—those who choose the diet for their health and those who choose it to prevent animal cruelty, which all types of animal farms in some way contribute to.

A yogi once said to me about going vegan: Do it for the animals and the planet. Your health is a byproduct of that.

It’s the vegans who chose the diet out of their own conscience who will stick to it. If you do it for health reasons, you can easily sway because the reason you’re choosing the diet is ultimately selfish. As your interests or ideas change, so will your diet.

But if you choose, as the Buddha – and some say Jesus – did to refrain from eating meat out of compassion, you will not go back. That is, unless you consciously decide to not care, or stop thinking, about the welfare of the planet and animals on it.

There are many flesh eaters — my former self among them—who do not eat veal because they know it’s a calf. Good start, but keep looking.

Ignorance is (fake) bliss and no one wants to ruin their lunch. If they knew the sorrow that went into the animal or animal products they are innocently eating, they may have a change of heart. But an awakening must occur. And it has to come from the individual. Shock tactics don’t always work. People turn their head or change the channel.

If shock tactics will work for someone you know, show them Earthlings.

I credit my now vegan diet to a raised level of consciousness. I feel better, my cholesterol dropped 100 points, and I have no interest in cheese, meat, fish or eggs.

Not because of the taste. But because the meat, fish, dairy and egg industries contribute to animal cruelty and there’s no need for animals or animal products in our diet. Research shows that free range chickens aren’t so free. Organic milk is still something meant for calves, and probably still has hormones in it.

Besides—ever try rice, hemp, coconut, oat or almond milk? Delicious! I’m not sure why anyone, except a calf, would choose the taste of dairy milk over those.

Think about what you are putting in your mouth and what it is. Do you really want to eat another animal’s egg? Would you eat a human egg? Remember, you are what you eat. And the odds are the animal or animal product you’re eating did not come from happiness.

To think of all those late night drunken bacon, cheese and egg sandwiches or hamburgers with fries I used to eat. It takes drunks or people who don’t really have love for themselves to put those foods in their bodies. And when they do, they will keep putting them in because they are stuck in a cycle of unawareness, not realizing that their poor food choice is what leads to disease, low energy, bad moods and other problems.

If you can kill one thing, you can kill all things.

“As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields,“ the wise Leo Tolstoy said.

We are here to be the best humans we can be.

Eating meat numbs our consciousness. Some people may justify eating meat because the Native Americans did.

But a study published in the 90s states that part of the demise of the Native Americans came when they switched (thanks to the Europeans) from a lifestyle of a plant-based agriculture diet to a nomad meat-based diet.

This also led to the near extinction of the mighty and mystic Buffalo. Why? To satiate a European craze for Buffalo tongue meat and robes. Sometimes the creatures were slaughtered and only their tongues were taken. The Europeans paid Native Americans in whiskey.

“Return to the arms of Mother Corn,” the shamans advised.

Many people are fortunate to get to choose their diet and don’t have to hunt to live. But even if they could hunt, would they want to? Many people would not, because something about killing turns their stomachs. The meat in the supermarket should do the exact same thing.

The vegans or vegetarians who do it for their own health may still see the cows, chickens and other farm animals as something apart from them, apart from the human race, servants of the human race.

But animals are our distant cousins. We are in this together.

Nature dispenses energy, animals receive it and humans determine where it goes, a shaman told me.

Humans are the custodians of animals. And we’d better be kind and good, lest we are reincarnated as a nervous and conscious chicken or cow headed for slaughter—which is what happens to dairy cows and egg laying hens after they’re done serving humans.

If pizza is the last thing keeping you from going vegan, here’s a tip:

Order a marinara pizza and tell them to undercook it a bit. When you get it, sprinkle some daiya vegan cheese on top and melt it in the oven. Delicious!

Have your pizza, and leave the milk for calves.


Bonus: 😉 “Best Yearbook Caption, hard as hell.”

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