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

Via Jerome Burdi
on Sep 5, 2011
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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.”



About Jerome Burdi

Jerome Burdi is a writer, yoga teacher and darbuka player living in New York City. He believes in the power harnessed by silence, music and shamans. Find him at


13 Responses to “There are many reasons to be a vegetarian. Which one will stick?”

  1. Tamilyn says:

    This was beautiful, thank you! I went vegan a few months ago, mostly just for the health reasons and a while later found that I was having a hard time sticking to it. I believe your words have really helped me figure out why.

  2. Lovely article. Thank you 🙂

  3. alicia says:

    very well said, my friend. thank you kindly. namaste xo

  4. MCC says:

    I am a vegetarian, and a meditator as well, and this is the kind of article that is problematic to me. Your words are full of judegment which is exactly why people view vegetarians/vegans as uppity and pretentious…this article screams those things. I appreciate the message, more or less, because i can see that it is coming from a well-intended place. But i think we can all benefit from opening our eyes a bit and see peoples varrying reasons for their food choices. Economic and social positioning has a lot to do with it. I suggest that you read "Paths to God" by Ram Dass to get an idea of the EGO-building reasons to be vegetarian. When we are vegetarians, sometimes we let ourselves feel oh-so-holy for not eating meat, bulding up our egos to a point where we view everyone else as lesser. We need to let go of that. Stop judging and feeling holier than thou for abstaining from meat consumption.

  5. MCC says:

    It is ok to feel good about your decisions, and to encourage others to try it out. However, it is so important to drop this language you are using that is full of judgement. Lets work on raising our consciousness as vegetarians and vegans, not convincing ourselves and the world how wonderful we are for eating the way we do. For example, why might someone choose to drink dairy milk over hemp,almond, oat, or coconut milk? Because those are often luxery items, expensive and available to an elite. People all over the world depend on their cows for sustenance.

    Also, eating meat didnt kill the Native Americans. Europeans slaughtered them, and spread bountiful diseases to them to the same effect.

  6. […] have been vegetarian for twenty years. I was vegan for three of them but it left me somewhat anemic. Introducing eggs […]

  7. TCS says:

    I agree with MCC.

    Read this article:

    -Another Ex-vegan.

  8. Jerome says:

    She sounds like she's been off balance since childhood. I wouldn't trust this as a guide back to eating corpses. Bless her though, I wish her well…especially on a 14-egg a week diet.

  9. TCS says:

    On the contrary, a vegan diet is off balance. I found this out the hard way. I was a vegan for 7 years before I became very sick with many deficiencies. My brain did not function properly anymore from depriving myself of so many valuable nutrients for so long and I also became nervous, fatigued, and depressed like this woman was. Meat and eggs have a lot of nutrition that we need for our brains and nervous system to function properly, that no supplement can provide. Experience is the best teacher. Everything in moderation and balance. Extreme in anything is never good, and especially with diet. Good luck to you.

  10. mettafour says:

    I would like to see more balanced arguments. I think it is more about being conscientious about what you eat. I am primarily vegetarian, but I eat fish and milk and eggs. I drink raw milk from a local farm produced by a small herd share of grass fed cows (that is until I find our own family milk cow who can roam our 5 acres. I also only buy eggs from small farms who feed their hens non gmo feed, who roam free on abundant land (that is until December when we will be getting our livestock guardian dog and ducks that we will raise for eggs.) We also grow most of our own food or purchase from local farmers. I think this is a much more holistic way to live and to eat. The more I am able to stay out of the supermarket, the better I find I feel.

  11. Katherine says:

    Personally, I am leaning towards a more veggie-based diet these days but I still occasionally eat meat on special occasions especially when someone else makes me a meal. I have a hard time letting food go to waste and I am a believer that every little bit helps. I am also anemic and iron supplements haven't been cutting it. To me, extremes are just that- extreme. Humans have been eating meat since there have been humans, we are all animals and sometimes we need to eat others to survive- savage? Yes. But it's the nature of our planet. I'd like to think that someday, when I die, I will become sustenance for the earth as well- completing the cycle.
    I am the biggest animal lover I know, I cry at ASPCA commercials, and I loathe the whole notion of factory farming- the alternatives are there for people who want to see them. I also agree that we do not value good, nutritious food as a society. Americans spend the lowest percentage of their income on food in the world. (Thanks Michael Pollan!) But there are some people who simply cannot afford the meatless lifestyle without compromising their own nutrition- and that's cruel as well.
    In any case, I enjoyed your article enough to get here and write this. Kudos to you for your lifestyle.
    Metta- K

  12. fix now says:

    I think it is possible for anyone who wants to quit eating animals and animal products and then to start a vegetarian balanced diet. There are so many ways to continue as a vegetarian. You will have to practice some additional things, but I think it is always good to be a vegetarian. Thanks for the post.

  13. Codoublez says:

    America loves meat!