4 Compelling Reasons to Finally go Vegan.

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Years ago, I shut a window on the tail of a gecko.

It fell to the ground and continued to wiggle around while I stood in shock with tears streaming down my face. I felt horrible for being the cause of its suffering. In high school, I hit a cat with my car and years later, a deer. I cried for hours after each unintentional incident.

I don’t want to be the reason any sentient being feels pain. So why would I choose to consume a dead animal?

I used to love a juicy filet. It was my meal of choice. I was socially conditioned from a young age to believe that meat was dinner. Like many, I was initially resistant to veganism or vegetarianism and judged them harshly. “Why should I give up what makes me happy?”

But, as I educated myself with the vast amount of knowledge available on diet and its personal and global consequences, I craved meat less and less. I fought the facts for a while—however, as I evolved, I realized each decision has an impact on myself and the world around me.

Being a yogini, I do my best to follow the yamas and niyamas (moral and ethical guidelines from the eight limbs of yoga for a spiritually friendly lifestyle). The first yama is ahimsa, meaning non-harmfulness. It involves much more than not hurting others, but also animals, the planet, and ourselves; causing no injury through deed, word, or even thought.

Eating animals is not a necessity but a choice, stemming from concepts we have been fed most our lives. Social psychologist, Dr. Melanie Joy, coined the term “carnism: the invisible belief system that conditions us to eat certain animals.” For example, dogs and cats may be our cherished pets but cows and pigs are fine to abuse, kill, and consume because that’s what we’re used to.

“People are addicted to their beliefs. When you try to change someone’s belief, they act like an addict.” ~ Dr. Siegel, Yale surgeon

I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind. But I do intend to raise awareness. Here are four practical reasons why eating meat (particularly store-bought) is no longer a sensible option.

1. Physical health.

The meat industry has done a brilliant job at convincing easily-persuaded consumers that our bodies need more protein than they actually do and that protein must come in the form of dead animal.

Making the connection between diet and wellness is a personal responsibility. The verdict is out: Plant based meals equal better health. Carnivores have much shorter intestines than people and can digest flesh more quickly. Eating meat can cause heart disease and other serious ailments.

Vegan diets are rich in natural protein, and increase mental clarity, confidence, vitality, and guilt-free happiness. There are a plethora of delectable recipes online!

“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of ‘real food for real people’ you’d better live real close to a real good hospital.” ~ Neal D. Barnard

2. Spiritual compassion.

Each time someone purchases animal products from the majority of stores and restaurants, they are voting against animal rights and choosing to continue their abuse. Supporting the meat industry endorses violence and extensive harm but it’s easy for people to deny the invisible truth because the tortured victims are out of sight. The conscious animals are held captive and given no purpose in their life.

And we are what we eat. When compassion outweighs personal addiction to likes and habits, the world will find peace. Getting upset when other cultures eat dogs—while still eating pigs and cows in our society—is absurd. You either eat meat or you don’t. Being responsible for violence wraps us in a whirlwind of negative karma.

“Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do.” ~ Michael Pollan

“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

“But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.” ~ Plutarch

“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

3.Sexual vitality.

Vegetarians make much better lovers because they aren’t energetically weighed down by dead animal flesh wasting in their guts. Sexual energy is able to move throughout the body more fluidly when the system is cleared of the heavy vibes from stagnating, rotting meat. Arousing sensations are more full-bodied and can last much longer.

Going vegan changes the chemistry in the body, even making bodily secretions smell better. The heaviness of a meat diet restricts blood flow, especially to that special area below the belt. It increases toxins in the blood and can result in impotence and erectile dysfunction. Meat is not macho. That mentality must die. A vegan diet increases libido, sexual stamina, virility, and longevity.

“As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” ~ Pythagoras

4. Environmental concerns.

It’s no secret anymore that the livestock industry is destroying our precious planet. Millions of acres are cleared for cattle and the grains to feed them for human consumption. Deforestation is a major international threat. Up to 90 percent of the Amazon rain forests are being demolished. Air pollution and climate change are increasing on a massive scale. To simply look the other way because it’s more convenient is not only irresponsible, it’s selfish.

“By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“To seriously fight climate change, more plant-based diets will be needed. Our analysis shows if the world went vegetarian that cut in food-related emissions would rise to 63%. And if everyone turned vegan, 70%.” ~ Cowspiracy, National Academy of Sciences

Bringing more light to this wretched system helps to free ourselves from it. “It blocks empathy and other qualities vital to us. It is irrational and inhuman. We have been wrongly programmed to believe the myths that eating meat is normal, natural, necessary. The system is built on deception and relies on us to not care. Awareness is the greatest threat.” ~ Melanie Joy

There exists some heavy animosity between vegans and vegetarians and people who still decide to eat meat. Meat-eaters’ arguments just aren’t valid anymore.

Isn’t a fairly simple choice preventing the destruction of our planet, our bodies, and our karma well worth the initial challenge of a gradual diet change? Eliminating dead animals from my cuisine continues to benefit and enlighten me in indescribable ways. I feel less heavy physically, as well as emotionally, and much more wholly nourished.

“I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.” ~ Henry David Thoreau





Author: Tirzah Shiya (Adya)
Image: libertine101/Flickr 
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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Tirzah Shiya (Adya)

Tirzah Shiya (Adya) is a cheerful yoga instructor, tantra/sacred sex coach, massage therapist, and love enthusiast. She’s resonated deeply with the tantric path for many years, as it has captivated her with its extraordinary teachings. She considers herself a citizen of the world and has received the richest education through travel (external and internal). She genuinely adores culture shock, bare feet, dreaming, coconuts, oddities, buzzing meditations, celebrations, and making love (in every sense of the word). Tirzah is optimistic about living fully and focuses her time and energy on experiences rather than material things. She is working on heart and mind expansion, eliminating self-doubt, finding amusement in all situations, and cultivating knowledge through nature. She feels most alive while illuminating herself and others in the vast ocean of boundless love! Catch up with Tirzah on her website and Instagram.


Juliana Barefoot Aug 7, 2017 5:24pm

Tirzah Shiya p.s. not sure what you mean by "deforestation, animal cruelty and supporting pharmaceutics and corrupt corporations"? I certainly don't support those things! Not sure if it came through in my comments, but I advocate against eating 99% of the animal products out there.

Juliana Barefoot Aug 7, 2017 5:21pm

Tirzah Shiya sure! I assure you we have common goals here. I am definitely angry -- my wellbeing is inextricably tied to that of mama earth. When I see topsoil disappearing, ecosystems shrinking, species going extinct, and humans suffering as well, I get angry about it. I don't always comment this thoroughly on internet articles. I don't have the energy for that. This one just struck me in particular because it's clear we're on the same side, but with different ideas of how to help the world and ourselves. Don't worry, I'm at peace, but just because I'm at peace doesn't mean I'll stop fighting. <3

Tirzah Shiya Aug 7, 2017 4:49pm

Juliana Barefoot I think maybe we should meet and hug it out!

Tirzah Shiya Aug 7, 2017 2:39am

Juliana Barefoot You seem very angry and I don't believe it has anything to do with my article. When something upsets you so much, perhaps it's a mirror of what you need to work on? It's delusional to state "the future of our planet depends on it." Depends on deforestation, animal cruelty and supporting pharmaceutics and corrupt corporations?? I hope you find peace.

Juliana Barefoot Jul 15, 2017 4:07am

Hi Tirzah. Please do not use the term "triggered" so lightly - that is reserved for those who have actually gone through trauma. I am simply trying to educate, and yes, I do get upset when people spread misinformation! Like I said, if we disagree on what a "fact" is, you and I shouldn't bother continuing this conversation. I'm stating facts, not my opinions. For example, it is a fact that you can only get non-heme iron from spinach, and it is a fact that you can only get short or medium chain omega-3s from coconuts and only omega-6s from avocados. Humans need heme iron and long chain omega-3s, which are only found in animal products. Perhaps think about why death and the eating of things that were once alive is such an unnatural thing to you, when we- and every other living creature on earth- have been doing it for millions of years. And this IS a big deal. The future of our planet depends on it.

Tirzah Shiya Jul 10, 2017 12:42am

Hello again Juliana Barefoot! Do you wonder why this specific post has triggered you so much? If you don't like it, why spend your precious time and energy attacking it? Your views are your own and I respect them. Let's agree to disagree! Being an ex vegan does not make you an expert either. Isn't it a bit stubborn to claim your opinions are true and mine are not? I welcome any solid proof you have discrediting my feelings. Spinach is full of iron. Coconuts and avocados, full of good fats. Do your research. My intention is to raise awareness (specifically on the mass production of livestock), not get into a debate on who's lifestyle is right/wrong. Waste of time.Thank you for sharing your opinion that we're designed to eat meat. From experience, I disagree. I enjoy being inspired by different views, including yours, but I don't let it ruin my day. It just deepens my yearning for knowledge. To each his own. Yes I have done research and have had over a decade of spiritual education, including anatomy and physiology of humans. As for the slugs, I understand the sentiment but are you saying it's better not to save any creatures if I can't save them all?? Sounds like a shallow argument. I'm doing the best I can with what I know. Even baby steps make progress. And humane meat, to me, is like saying it's ok to murder a person as long as they lived a good life. Silly. Wouldn't you agree a large majority of what we're exposed to is full of misinformation (media, internet, even history books..) Even science is continuously changing. Your opinions are no more true than mine. No big deal. I think we have more in common than you know. We're both looking to find our own truths and with all the mass downloads of crap, that can be hard. I encourage you to follow your own heart. As for my words. Just take them with a grain of salt. No need to get upset when it shouldn't affect your life one bit. Peace to you dear sister.

Juliana Barefoot Jul 8, 2017 1:42am

Tirzah Shiya You describe your personal experience in this article, but you also state a number of things as fact. “The verdict is out: Plant based meals equal better health.” “Vegan diets are rich in natural protein, and increase mental clarity, confidence, vitality, and guilt-free happiness.” “The heaviness of a meat diet restricts blood flow.” ^ to name just a few. You yourself state the importance of accepting facts: "I fought the facts for a while—however, as I evolved, I realized each decision has an impact on myself and the world around me." Yes, anything can be found on the internet. But there is a difference between a partial truth and a whole truth, and peer-reviewed research means something. If you're telling people that "Meat-eaters’ arguments just aren’t valid anymore" and that they should change their habits because their health and our planet is at stake, yes, those are things you're putting out there as facts, and you have to take responsibility for that. If your stance is that there is no objective truth, and nothing in your article is meant to be taken seriously, I would strongly encourage you to mention that in your writing.

Tirzah Shiya Jul 8, 2017 12:37am

Hi Juliana, Thank you so much for reading the article! You kept mentioning to "do your research." As with most topics, we can find "truth" written on either side of the spectrum. � Research can produce just about anything on any topic. I can research so-called "facts" to prove the earth is flat. That doesn't mean that it is. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject. I'm not fully vegan myself. My article is written from personal views with influence from the past decade of my spiritual education to simply raise awareness (specifically on store & restaurant bought animal meat). We're bombarded with a ton of "facts" from every side. I write what I feel. Can you prove my words false? If you don't resonate with this view, no need to absorb it. �We all have that beautiful choice to choose what we take in. Here are some links if you like- http://science.time.com/2013/12/16/the-triple-whopper-environmental-impact-of-global-meat-production/ https://journals.law.stanford.edu/stanford-environmental-law-journal-elj/blog/leading-cause-everything-one-industry-destroying-our-planet-and-our-ability-thrive-it http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11316316/Red-meat-triggers-toxic-immune-reaction-which-causes-cancer-scientists-find.html http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/214390 https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/redefining-stress/200903/the-aphrodisiac-foods-and-libido

Juliana Barefoot Jul 7, 2017 4:20pm

Stephanus Potgieter I was a vegan for years and yes, I have watched that as well as probably all the other health documentaries you might suggest to me. I used to tell people to watch them too. They have their place. I encourage you to do your own research, and also note the massive difference between consuming animal products that are a product of CAFOs and those that are wild or raised in a natural ecosystem.

Juliana Barefoot Jul 7, 2017 4:16pm

Elephant Journal Khara, thank you for this. Still a huge fan + supporter of EJ.

Elephant Journal Jul 7, 2017 11:24am

Juliana, thanks for holding us accountable. That typo is embarrassing. I've fixed and notified editors who worked on this piece. I've also added an appropriate editor's note which I believe should be there. I hear you on responsible sourcing and background research on anything an author presents as fact, which I've also passed on to other editors here. Yours, Khara, Eleditor

Stephanus Potgieter Jul 7, 2017 5:45am

Have u watched ' what the health'? If not pls do so...

Juliana Barefoot Jul 6, 2017 9:59pm

This article is full of misinformation. 1. “Tail” is misspelled in the very first sentence. 2. “The meat industry has done a brilliant job at convincing easily-persuaded consumers that our bodies need more protein than they actually do and that protein must come in the form of dead animal.” It’s not just about protein. It’s about iron, it’s about fat, it’s about bioavailability of nutrients. Do your research. 3. “Carnivores have much shorter intestines than people and can digest flesh more quickly”. Yes, but we’re not carnivores. We’re omnivores. Have you at all researched the digestive systems of herbivores? We are much closer to carnivores than we are to herbivores. We cannot break down cellulose like herbivores do. We are designed to eat meat (AND plants). Do your research. 4. “I don’t want to be the reason any sentient being feels pain. So why would I choose to consume a dead animal?” Tell me where your food comes from. Unless you are actually able to grow enough fruit and vegetables to sustain yourself (without killing any sentient beings in the process - slugs, insects, gophers, etc), you are probably subsisting off grains. Do you know what it takes to grow your grains? It takes destroying entire ecosystems, killing more animals than you could ever eat. You cannot escape killing animals with a vegan diet. In fact, you encourage it by turning a blind eye. Do your research. 5. If you want to save the environment, participate in it. A vegan planet will not last long due to rapid topsoil degradation by annual mono crops. Do your research. 6. “Going vegan changes the chemistry in the body, even making bodily secretions smell better”. There is only one point in that 6-point article that links to a study that supports this, and that study does not even indicate what kind of meat the subjects were eating. CAFO meat is literally chemically different than meat from healthy pasture raised animals. Do your research. 7. Make the distinction between meat from corn-fed, suffering animals and those that are raised sustainably on their natural diets. Eating the first is awful. Eating the second is natural. Do your research. Written by an ex-vegan and earth lover who found the courage to participate in her environment rather than pretend she could exist apart from it. I encourage you and all vegans to consider what it really is you're trying to escape from.