Paths Are Many, Truth is Vegan. ~ Tracey Narayani Glover

Via Tracey Narayani Glover
on May 4, 2014
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Photo: JMcArthur/WeAnimals

Veganism is the philosophy and way of life that seeks to avoid causing harm, or in any way exploiting other living beings of any species.

Whether we are seeking truth in the word of Jesus Christ, Moses, or Mohammed, Krishna, the Buddha, or the scientific method, the sages tell us that we will all eventually get the same answer—many little streams flowing inevitably into the same great ocean of truth. The ancient Indian text of the Rig Veda says, “There is one reality, the wise call it by many names; there is one truth, reached by many paths.”

So what is that pinnacle of spiritual wisdom? That ultimate truth into which all of our diverse paths will merge?

Love.

Divine Love.

Love with a capital “L”.

The kind of love that has no boundaries, no exceptions, no conditions and no limitations; boundless in both quality and scope. The kind of love that dissolves our illusion of separateness and reveals the oneness of all life.

From that mind-blowing insight otherwise known as enlightenment comes a natural desire to want to end the suffering of others and a commitment to live our lives in a way that does the least harm to all other beings.

In other words, the ultimate truth, which we are all destined to discover, is a vegan one.

The motto of the American Vegan Society is “Ahimsa lights the way,” referring to the principle of non-harm that is the foremost of the yogic ethics as taught by Patanjali in his yoga sutras. Vegans abstain from eating animals, any animals (and yes fish and chicken are animals) as well as the by-products of animals including dairy and eggs (which probably involve more cruelty than even the meat industry). They also reject all other forms of exploitation including using animals for fashion, entertainment, or research.

Veganism is a way of life that seeks to treat all beings with love, compassion, respect and integrity.

It is a reflection of Divine Love and a way of life that respects the interconnection of all beings. The laws of the Universe show us that when we live with respect and compassion for all others, we all thrive. When we ignore that connection and disregard the welfare of others, we all suffer. Unfortunately, the paradigm of our current society is not one of Compassionism but that of commodification and exploitation of the non-human animals and the environment.

We are suffering for it.

Not just the animals.

All of us.

Twenty million people worldwide will die as a result of malnutrition this year. Yet, 100 million people could be adequately fed using the land freed if Americans reduced their intake of meat by just 10 percent. In theory, the planet can feed about 9 billion people, but not when half the world’s crops are used to feed livestock and over 30 percent of the planet is used to raise livestock, as is the current state of affairs.

The standard American diet (SAD) is not only contributing to world hunger but to our own high rates of the “diseases of affluence,” those diseases that affect people in wealthier countries due to over-consumption. These are the diseases it seems no one escapes some kind of personal connection. They include many types of cancer like breast, colon and prostate, as well as Diabetes II, stroke, Alzheimer’s and heart-disease.

In contrast, the less meat and dairy we eat and the more plant-based foods we eat (like vegetables, grains, beans, fruits, seeds, and nuts), the lower our risks of these same diseases.

One recent study making headlines found that consumption of seven or more servings of fruit and vegetables per day reduced risk of death by 42 percent. I have to say that again: reduced the risk of death by 42 percent!

vegan-info

Seriously, eat your vegetables, and no one gets hurt!

Not only is a vegan diet the healthiest diet for our own personal health, but it turns out it’s the only diet our planet can sustain.

That’s on the authority of the United Nations. In a 2006 report, the U.N. said raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Nearly half of all water in the U.S. goes to raising animals for food. A vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water a day. Whereas, a meat and dairy based diet requires over 4,000 gallons! That’s just the water waste.

Animal agriculture is also a leading contributor to soil erosion, water and air pollution, deforestation and massive loss of biodiversity. Many experts believe animal agriculture is the leading threat to the environment today.

Giving up animal products in our diets is probably the single most important action we can take to help save our planet.

Yet the most disturbing aspect of animal agriculture today is the way we treat the billions of living beings we kill for meat, eggs and dairy. Factory farms and slaughterhouses are nothing short of hell for the sensitive, feeling and intelligent creatures we have chosen to think of as food—from whom we have thereby disconnected completely.

We have abandoned these utterly helpless creatures to dark and bloody places that most of us would never have the heart or the stomach to visit. For the entirety of their unnatural lives, animals on factory farms endure constant physical pain and mental torment with no hope of kindness or relief until the mercy of death comes to free them from their misery.

Small “humane” farms are certainly better, but there are some cruelties that are unavoidable in an industry based on commodifying, exploiting and killing other living beings.

For example, whether our eggs come from battery cage raised hens or organic free range hens, male chicks, those tiny, fuzzy, adorable babies, are routinely gassed or ground up alive just days after birth because males are useless to the egg industry, whether organic or not. That’s 200 million baby male chicks discarded like trash every year. Male dairy cows have a similarly wrenching fate.

In total, we kill about 10 billion land animals in the U.S. annually.

It is not mere coincidence that the same diet that helps reduce suffering of non-human animals and helps protect the environment is the same diet that can help us reduce human disease and end world hunger.

The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone. What we eat for dinner is connected to the lives of billions of other creatures, the environment and all her inhabitants, as well as our own health.

All things are interconnected.

When we live a life of compassion and Love, we create harmony and balance in the world. When we live without regard for other beings, we harm ourselves as much as we do them because the great truth is that we are not separate. Within the world in which we live—one of violence to all species, industrialized factory farming, an environmental crisis, persistent domestic hunger, world starvation and an epidemic of the diseases of affluence—there is only one adequate response:

That is Divine Love.

That is Veganism.

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Apprentice Editor: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photo: Photo:  JMcArthur/WeAnimals, CulinarySchools.org

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About Tracey Narayani Glover

Tracey Narayani Glover, JD, RYT 200, has been many things, including a juvenile delinquent, a lawyer, and an animal rescue officer. At the moment, she is a yoga teacher, writer, and vegan chef living on the Gulf Coast with more rescued animals than she will admit in public. You can connect with Tracey through either of her websites (here and here), or through Facebook. Find Tracey’s fiction on her website.

Comments

9 Responses to “Paths Are Many, Truth is Vegan. ~ Tracey Narayani Glover”

  1. Chuck_Culp says:

    Fantastic article! It is so depressing to see so many people practicing Yoga and consuming animal products. I've even encountered some who twist the truth of Ahimsa to justify their murdeous ways. They say: "I dont want to harm myself because I'm addicted to animal products and their misery, therefore I will continue to do what I've always done since Pantajaly said "do no harm". It would "harm" me to deprive myself of my murderous joy". Its like an alcoholic defending their "right" to get plastered! Or a slave owner defending their "right" to exploit others!

  2. Thanks so much for this well-written, insightful article. I appreciate the grace and compassion with which you write, and the honest, authenticity that propel this message of justice and love into the light.

  3. JoeF says:

    It's not true that nothing is harmed by the global production of fruits and vegetables. Uncountably many insects, arachnids, rodents and other small animals are brutally mangled or poisoned by conventional farming methods – even those practiced by smaller, organic, sustainable farms that avoid pesticides.

    That said, there is no plausible question that any movement away the explicit production of animals will reduce suffering, insofar as it is possible to in the world today.

  4. I agree with your points. I am wondering what you feed your animals?
    Another point, eggs grow up to be chickens. So I would not consider them dairy, not that you were making that an issue. Ayurveda and yoga have a long history of using dairy products (hold the rennet please) as a lacto-veggie life style. Then there are some yogis that make the point that cows freely give. Not the cows that are unfortunately raised on industrial factory farms, but that are cared for by their individual owners.

  5. traceyglover says:

    Thank you Jenni. I appreciate your kind words so much. It's so hard to take that ache in the heart and put it into words. I'm grateful beyond measure for compassionate souls in the world like you. You give me hope. Peace to you and all beings~ Namaste.

  6. traceyglover says:

    Thanks you Chuck! yes, I think it's wonderful that yoga and Buddhism have spread West- but so far, it's mostly just the physical postures of yoga, and maybe some meditation techniques that have spread- But its really the ethics, and the love for all beings, that are the heart of it all- From everything i've read in both of these traditions, it is clear, as you say that ahimsa is about the way we treat all other beings- and vegetarianism has always been understood to be fundamental to the practice of ahimsa. I hope one day everyone who walks into a yoga class will understand that. Om Shanti~

  7. traceyglover says:

    Hi Joe, Yes, you're right- I think it's impossible to practice a perfect ahimsa- I admire the Jains tremendously for their careful cultivation of foods to avoid harming any of those small creatures you mention. I think the best we can do is just that, our best- to strive to eliminate from our lives any intentional or avoidable harm- and that's all we can do- I remind myself often that this world is not Nirvana and I will constantly be depressed if I expect it to be- But the more we can reduce suffering, the fewer creatures we harm, the more we can show kindness and mercy and act selflessly and with awareness, the more light we bring… Peace~

  8. traceyglover says:

    Hi Patrick. Thanks for your all the good points you've brought up. I feed my dog a vegan kibble called V-dog- (www.v-dog.com) very high quality food-and dogs, like humans, are omnivores, meaning they can eat meat or not, and they can thrive, like we can, on a purely plant-based diet- Cats are more complicated- they are obligate carnivores, meaning they need meat- though I have some very well-educated vegan friends that tell me their vegan cats are in great health- I struggle with the issue every time I go to the pet food store, but I feed my cats animal products. My cats are all rescues- I would not have intentionally brought them into the world- but I keep them inside where they can't hunt for themselves (which also cuts down on the pleasure killing they would otherwise inflict on countless small birds, mammals, and reptiles)- again, I struggle with this and I haven't figured out a perfect solution- But I do my best, and I am open to change if I can figure out a way to take care of the animals I have committed to care for while reducing harm to others… Yes, Ayurveda and yoga and dairy. I believe the real benefit of dairy products in these systems comes from the love a mother cow has for her calf and the milk she produces to feed that baby- If we were in a loving relationship with that animal, and we allowed her to nurse her calf and then raised that calf into old age, then I think the original intention and benefit could still exist- but that is just so far from the current state of animal agriculture- The lidea that we would consume products that involve so much heartbreak and suffering for the cows involved turns the love and reverence yogis have for cows on its head- and I think any potential benefit of dairy would be completely destroyed by the modern commercial reality. I do however tell people that if they have to have dairy, they should go find their closest Krishna farm, where the cows are truly cared for , babies are not stolen from their mothers and sent to slaughter, and they are allowed to live out their natural lifespans (but this is not commercially feasible so can only exist in where there are donations available to support those cows)… Peace and Namaste~

  9. Bert says:

    Its not like that at all. Alcoholics do have the right to get plastered unless the state steps in with a safety concern. Slave owners did defend that right in the US and the country divided and went to war. People felt so strongly about slavery that there was fighting and dying involved in its abolition. If you truly believed that all sentient beings were equal and that people are justifying murder and feeling murderous joy by using animal products then what are you doing just sitting there writing poorly. Mass murder cannot be tolerated and we generally react to it harshly and swiftly. So either this should be doing more than getting you depressed, or you need to go back and think about your words and ideas.