Ethical Eating for a Healthier, Happier World
Helping Ourselves, Our Children, Our Animal Friends and Our Mother Earth by Eating Low on the Food Chain
Enjoy the Many Benefits of Eating Delicious Vegan, Vegetarian or Near-Vegetarian Food—And Leave the World's Biggest "Death Cult!"
The vast majority of us dearly wish to live in harmony with each other and contribute to the collective well-being. We are willing to make great sacrifices when the need is obvious. Here is one increasingly obvious issue which I am sure will move you to make a relatively small sacrifice—an issue which heretofore has not received the attention it should.
The situation is this: the Standard American Diet (SAD) of meat, poultry, fish and dairy is responsible for our worst environmental disasters, our killer diseases, irreversible mutations of our precious genetic code, mass starvation, major financial losses (not just from healthcare costs), and, last but not least, nightmarish cruelties to innocent animals—our fully-feeling fellow sentient beings with whom we share this imperiled planet.
Meanwhile, certain powerful food industries have brainwashed and manipulated us from childhood through adulthood into eating "2-3 daily servings" from the "meat group," and the "dairy group," not because they value our health or the public good, but because they want to make money at the expense of ourselves, our children, and countless life forms. (Let us STOP supporting these industries and compassionately help re-locate their relatively small number of workers into "right livelihood." It can be done!)
In the last two decades, landmark studies such as the huge China/Cornell Univ. Health Study overseen by T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Dean Ornish's work on healing heart disease, Barry Sears' newer work on the Soy Zone Diet, and the work of many medical doctors and clinical nutritionists on preventing or alleviating a wide range of diseases, have indicated quite clearly that humans are optimally suited to eating a vegetarian or near-vegetarian diet. Leading medical journals are finally upholding the superior healthiness of such diets when they constantly emphasize that we "eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts/seeds." Dr. Neil Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine states that in the near future it will be considered "malpractice" for a doctor to recommend a "balanced diet" of the "4 basic food groups" featuring the "meat group" and "dairy group."
The meat-, poultry- and dairy-based "Standard American Diet/SAD" consumes 20 times more energy, 20 times more land, and 12 times more water than a vegetarian diet and makes us terribly unhealthy, sick and prematurely dead in the process. Moreover, this very SAD diet is stripping our topsoil and poisoning our waterways. This is horrific, in an age when our arable farming land, our fossil fuels, and our water supplies are going to be totally insufficient to support our population within about 20 years. Need I mention that the meat-based diet is also stripping our American forests and rainforests, and is the major factor in significantly increasing global warming and terrible climate change via huge emissions of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide?
[See a crucial article from early 2007 reporting the UN's finding on how our food choices primarily cause and exacerbate global warming, click
There is a better way. Eating that near-vegetarian or vegan diet featuring wonderful plant foods. A tasty vegetarian diet is not going to make you "weak." Many leading medical newsletters have for some time now been openly recommending a near-vegetarian diet or vegetarian diet. Studies show that switching from a high animal-fat diet to tasty vegetarian meals of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts and fruits actually doubles your muscular endurance levels and optimizes brain functioning, in major part because your internal organs will get superior oxygen supply through healthy arteries. Eating vegetarian will also keep your mineral balance intact and thereby give you stronger bones.
Eating low on the food chain puts you in very good company, the company of champions: Dave Scott (a strict vegetarian throughout the 1980s when he was the world's greatest triathlete: running-swimming-cycling), Hank Aaron (greatest drug-free home-run hitter in baseball, holder of three other hitting records), Peter Burwash (tennis pro, the fittest athlete ever tested in all of Canada), Bill Pearl (a 4-time Mr. Universe), Sixto Linares (holds record for the longest single-day triathlon), Edwin Moses (who dominated an Olympic athletic event—hurdling—more than anyone before him in Olympic history), Murray Rose (one of the greatest swimmers of all time), Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King (two of the greatest women tennis players of all time), and many, many others, male and female, including champion weight-lifters, basketball, baseball, soccer and football players—all have been vegetarian or vegan. Cyclist Lance Armstrong (7-time consecutive winner of the Tour de France), the athlete with one of the fittest cardiovascular systems in recent memory, is almost entirely vegetarian. Billy Simmonds, a 2009 Mr. Universe while vegetarian, has gone completely vegan and in YouTube videos shows how to do it. The Nepali porters—the fittest, most efficient load-lifters in the world—are virtually all vegetarian. Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Albert Schweitzer, Leo Tolstoy, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, et al. were all vegetarians. Many of our most attractive actors/actresses and models are vegetarians. (See lists of notable vegetarians at www.famousveggie.com, www.happycow.net and other websites.)
Most of the greatest spiritual masters on the planet were/are vegetarians. If Jesus wasn't a strict vegetarian in his day, due to cultural conditions, almost certainly today he would be a vegetarian, given the rampant suffering and damage involved—see christianveg.com.
Why not join these champions of body, mind and spirit by eating the nutritious, wholesome fare they have eaten?—not toxic, fatty animal corpses—which are more suitable as "cat-food," for cats' health, unlike ours, is not harmed by saturated fat.
Over 95% of former meat-eaters report that a switch to a vegetarian diet increases their energy, vitality and overall feeling of well-being. (The other 5% may be eating too much junk food, too much fat, not enough calories, or eating meals with too high a "glycemic index"—see further below).
Beware the "you-need-lots-of-protein" myth! The original studies for our protein needs were done on rats, not humans, and a rat needs lots of protein. Americans are consuming far too much protein, and paying the price with osteoporosis, mineral imbalances, uric acid, etc.
You don't have to fuss over "combining proteins," either. Frances Moore Lappé put this myth to rest in the 1980s after chiefly creating it in the 1970s. The only thing to be careful about if you decide to eat a totally vegan diet is to get enough calories from wholesome foods (emphasizing grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts/seeds), and, as much as possible, stay away from sugar and other unhealthy sweeteners, white flour, excessive salt and caffeine; take a tiny amount of vitamin B-12 once in a while. (For general health purposes, also take some Vitamin D every day, a proven anti-cancer treatment, and ingest anti-oxidants like vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, selenium, etc.) If you make sure to get enough calories from these wholesome foods, you'll be getting enough protein.
Because toxic poisons such as PCBs, DDT, dieldrin, dioxin, etc. all accumulate higher along the food chain, 95-99% of the toxic pesticide residue in the American diet comes from meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. Our immune systems are under serious attack. We are also mutating our DNA in the process, an irreversible horror. Did you know that the breast milk from a nursing mother on the average American animal-fat-based-diet is many, many times more toxic than the milk of vegetarian women? No wonder there is so much cancer among children and young adults in recent decades. Let us protect our babies and everyone else by eating low on the food chain, primarily vegetarian. Also, contrary to lies from the meat industry, babies and children flourish on vegetarian diets, as shown by unbiased studies.
The longest lived people on earth, the Hunzas of N. Pakistan, Vilcambas of the Andes, and Abhkasians of Caucasia, are almost entirely vegetarian, and have no signs of the many degenerative diseases that afflict the middle-aged and elderly of our culture. The shortest lived people on the planet are those who eat foods high in animal fat.
Vegetarians tend to live longer than non-vegetarians, as many scientific studies demonstrate. They have, by far, the lowest incidence of heart disease, cancer and strokes (our 3 major killers) compared to consumers of diets heavy in animal-fat. Many other horrendous diseases are caused by or aggravated by our meat-and-dairy diets: diabetes, peptic ulcers, hemorrhoids, hiatal hernia, diverticulitis, appendicitis, irritable colon,constipation, salmonellosis, rheumatoid and gout arthritis, asthma, gall-bladder disease, gallstones, kidney stones, hypertension, and obesity. Much sexual impotence in males and heavy menstrual periods for women are also linked to our high-fat diets. Toxic, high-saturated-fat diets are also implicated in the alarming high levels of psychological disorders afflicting millions of Americans.
Think chicken and turkey are any healthier? Years ago a Time magazine article (10/17/1994) stated: "An uncooked chicken has become one of the most dangerous items in the American home. At least 60% of U.S. poultry is contaminated with salmonella, camphylobacter or other micro-organisms... Each year at least 6.5 million and possibly as many as 80 million people get sick from chicken; the precise figure is unknown since most cases are never reported.... The conservative estimate is that bad chicken kills at least 1,000 people each year.... The USDA blithely continues to stamp every piece of inspected poultry with a seal of approval even if the product is crawling with deadly bacteria.... Everything that tainted raw chicken touches can be contaminated. ... Many studies have shown that washing is ineffective, even after 40 rinses.... The final product is no different than if you stuck it in the toilet and ate it. ... People are getting sick every day and dying."
Our animal-based diet is actually much, much more dangerous to us now than most research has shown, because in the last three decades we have been subjecting our factory-farm livestock to vast quantities of toxic chemicals (mainly pesticides), artificial hormones, growth stimulants, tranquilizers, appetite stimulants, and antibiotics—all of which get passed along to those of us who eat their flesh, milk and eggs.
In the 1990s the dangerous "Atkins diet" and similar low carbohydrate, high protein diets came into vogue among certain people desperate to lose weight. These food-plans only aim at one, single health benefit—weight loss. Studies have shown that a number of people do lose weight on these diets—although they often gain the weight right back after going off this terribly restrictive diet. But such fad diets come with a grievous price. Heavy with saturated animal fats (e.g., butter and cheese) and excessive proteins (steak, bacon, etc.), these lo-carb, high-protein-&-saturated-fat diets are simply NOT healthy for our heart and arteries (Atkins himself died of heart disease), nor for our muscles, our skin, and various other bodily organs. Shall we also here mention the colossal torture and murder of so many innocent animals to support this vanity-based "weight-loss program"?
The only two good things about the Atkins diet are that 1) it reduces overall daily caloric intake (the secret of weight loss, but easily available on any number of other, far healthier food plans) and 2) it eliminates unhealthy, processed carbohydrates—white flour, white rice, other overly processed grains, and all simple sugars.
Unfortunately, the Atkins diet and its emulators throw the baby out with the bathwater in urging that one eliminate healthy, complex carbohydrates from one's daily nutrition, such as whole grains, healthy organic pastas, potatoes, etc. This is based on a colossal misunderstanding of how our metabolic process works—specifically how different foods affect our blood sugar and insulin levels.
The glycemic index or GI is a measure of a certain food's ability to raise blood sugar levels after it is eaten. The index compares the blood sugar response to a particular food with the body’s reaction to pure glucose sugar, which is given the GI value of 100. High-glycemic-index foods trigger a rapid rise in blood sugar that the body attempts to balance by producing a large amount of insulin. Over time, this creates a condition of excess insulin levels (stored as fat) and even insulin resistance, with the likelihood of assorted diseases related to hormonal and blood sugar problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Now, even certain wholesome carbohydrates, not to mention over-processed "junk carbs," have a high glycemic index for the human body, causing blood-sugar and associated insulin level to soar, followed by a plummeting of the blood-sugar to levels that cause hunger, fatigue and mental fogginess. But this process only happens if one eats just the high GI carbohydrate and nothing else during a several hour period.
A much more realistic, healthy way of eating, however, doesn't do this, but adds nutritious, low-GI oils and proteins to the mix, and so one's overall glycemic index "smoothes out" to a normal level, for optimal nutrition. For instance, carrots are a high glycemic index food. If one were to only eat a bunch of carrots or drink a big glass of carrot juice, without anything else, the carrots would trigger a spike in blood sugar and excessive insulin response. But if one mixes the carrots with a reasonable amount of healthy oil & vinegar salad dressing (vinegar is a very low GI substance and the oil will slow down the entry rate of carbohydrate into the bloodstream), the overall glycemic load comes in at normal levels. Likewise, if one eats at a sitting only a plain baked potato, another high GI food, one jacks up the blood sugar and insulin in response. But put some more of that healthy oil & vinegar dressing on the potato, and it's very healthy for you, not harmful at all. Similarly, one can mix fruits (which tend not to be very high GI foods anyway) with wholesome nuts or seeds at a sitting. And here's a taste treat: put some almond butter or tahini sesame spread along with some sugarless fruit jam (both now widely available in better supermarkets) onto that whole grain bread or toast for a much healthier version of the classic "peanut butter and jelly sandwich." The overall glycemic levels of such a snack or meal are fine.
Note that Barry Sears, inventor of the popular Zone Diet in 1995, which advocated the use of higher levels of oil/fat and protein in the human diet for this simple reason of smoothing out the glycemic index of one's meals, and avoiding the low blood-sugar "crash" after excessively high initial blood-sugar levels, in 2000 released his immensely improved book, The Soy Zone. Sears' "Zone Diet" books all stress a diet of only about 40% of calories from healthy carbohydrates (compared to about 60%-70% as advocated by most knowledgeable nutritionists), and an increase of oil/fat and protein to 30% each of one's overall daily caloric intake. Whereas Sears' earlier "Zone" books had denigrated vegetarian or vegan diets and, like Atkins, advocated eating lots of animal protein, his newer release, based on much more thorough research in nutritional science, makes a complete turn-around toward the superiority of eating far less animal flesh and, specifically, more soy. Sears had the intellectual courage and honesty to reverse his earlier position and advocate a new direction toward what many of us already knew. Thus, Sears writes:
"The Soy Zone represents the next chapter of my ongoing scientific journey.... Without a doubt, the Soy Zone Diet is the most powerful version of my Zone technology that I have developed. What's more, the Soy Zone is ideally suited for vegetarians (even vegans) who want to enter the Zone. The humble soybean is now being hailed as the next magic bullet that will help save us.... As we replace more of the animal protein in our diet with soy protein, better health is assured ... by ensuring that your overall diet is hormonally correct.... I believe the Soy Zone is the healthiest diet in the world—a diet that creates balance in your body's hormonal systems and keeps your body running at peak efficiency. You'll feel healthier and will have a lower risk of developing such life-threatening diseases as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. At the same time, you'll experience more energy and a mental sharpness.... All you need to do is replace some of the low-fat animal protein you normally eat with soy protein products.... Besides being rich in protein, soy has unique properties that help your body maintain steady insulin levels even better than other protein-rich foods, such as meat or chicken.... Soy has another added plus: It contains isoflavones, which are disease-fighting substances (called phytochemicals) found only in plants.... In recent years, researchers have become aware of the vast health benefits of eating soy foods, mostly by studying populations throughout the world [i.e., Okinawans and Japanese] who eat a lot of soy.... Here are some of the specific benefits that have been attributed to soy: reduces the risk of heart disease [our number 1 killer disease].... Protects against breast cancer.... Reduces risk of prostate cancer.... Diminishes menopausal symptoms.... Helps prevent osteoporosis.... Hippocrates once said, 'Let food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food.' I'm writing you a prescription for the Soy Zone because I know it's the most effective drug for gaining a longer and healthier life." (From the Introduction and Chapter 1.)
Note here that even Sears is evidently still not aware of the way to smoothe out blood-sugar levels at a meal by combining low-glycemic foods with higher-glycemic foods like healthy grains and pastas. But his emphasis on switching from animal sources of protein to soy and other legumes (chickpeas, lentils, etc.) is a major dietary shift toward not just healthier bodies but also toward a far more just and sane way of eating for a better world.
Soybeans are, of course, one of the great bumper crops in the USA. But soy, corn, wheat and and other nutritious legumes and grains are being terribly mis-used. The meat-oriented diet of Americans and an increasing number of people worldwide is wasting HUGE amounts of grain to feed livestock animals, and only getting in return ridiculously small amounts of meat. Imagine putting $1,000 into the bank and, at the end of the year, you go to collect the $1,000 as well as the interest generated by your money—but instead the banker only gives you $100 back! What kind of terrible investment is this?? But this is exactly what we are doing with our food! We feed our immense livestock population over 80% of the corn we grow and over 95% of the oats. We end up with only 10% as many calories available to feed humans as would be available if we ate the grain directly. For every 16 lbs. of grain and soybeans fed to beef cattle, we get back only 1 lb. as meat on our plates. Most of the rest of the 15 lbs. is turned into manure—millions of tons of this toxic material are increasingly contaminating our water supplies. By cycling our grain through livestock, we not only waste 90% of its protein, we sadly waste 96% of its calories, 100% of its fiber, and 100% of its carbohydrates. Thus, we tragically throw away most of the food-value of many of crops we are raising in this country.
Astonishing loss of topsoil (which is what we use to grow our food) is occurring in recent decades. Fully 85% of this loss is directly associated with livestock raising. Two hundred years ago, most of America's croplands had at least 21 inches of topsoil; today most of it is down to around 6 inches, and the rate of loss is accelerating; we already have lost 75% of what may be our most precious natural resource. Over 4 million acres of cropland are now being lost to erosion in this country every year. That's an area the size of Connecticut. Pure vegetarian food choices make less than 5% of the demand on the soil as a meat-oriented diet.
For a number of reasons, chiefly savings in energy, medical and insurance costs, if we changed our food-choices to primarily plant-based vegetarian nutrition, our economy would be radically improved, helping us to reduce the ever-growing, multi-trillion-dollar national deficit.
Moreover, we could begin to feed the 40,000 people who die each day from starvation. Most of these are children—this is equivalent to dozens of jumbo jets crashing every day! Why isn't this horrendous daily occurrence reported in our media and the source of the problem articulated? Because we have been brainwashed to be unquestioning, ignorant, docile, disempowered participants in a corpse-eating cult. These are harsh words, but let us be honest about the truth of the situation; the truth is the first step in getting free of our negative conditioning.
Speaking of the dear animals involved in our meat-eating, they are being tortured, poisoned, maimed, made sick and obese by despicable, Nazi-like "factory farm" conditions, and then are being killed in the most cruel ways, because of no adequate protection for their rights, and because of "profit motives" by the unbelievably callous food industries. These animals have nervous systems no different in kind than our own, and suffer pain just as much as we do. Our institutionalized inflicting of anguish and terror into these animals' lives is arguably the most criminal atrocity committed in the history of planet earth.
Thus, there are major ethical/moral reasons for eating low on the food chain, beyond saving the environment and treating our own bodies with respect. Tom Regan, Peter Singer, Gary Francione and others have alerted the philosophy academy to the severe violation of ethics in killing and eating sentient beings who have the same kind of sentience and emotions that human beings have. Andrew Linzey and Richard Alan Young have made the same case on a theological level for our predominantly Christian-Jewish-Muslim society.
George Bernard Shaw, when asked why he was a vegetarian, stated, "Animals are my friends; I don't eat my friends." Henry David Thoreau: "I have no doubt that it is part of the destiny of the human race in its gradual development to leave off the eating of animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other..."
An old adage runs: "You are what you eat." —Is it any wonder, then, that in rendering our poor "factory farm" animals totally stressed-out, insane, obese, and diseased, many people have also become terribly stressed-out, insane, obese and diseased? Yet we can change all this by eating properly, thereby truly becoming a "kinder, gentler nation." Works by John Robbins, Jim Mason & Pete Singer, Sue Coe, Gail Eisnitz, Will Tuttle, et al. have disclosed shocking revelations of what is going on in our "factory farms" today (see references at end of this essay).
Over twenty-seven MILLION animals on the land (not including fish and other aquatic animals) are killed each and every day to support our meat-habit in the USA alone! That's nearly 10 BILLION animals slaughtered each year, just in the USA. Worldwide, around 56 BILLION animals are killed annually to support humanity's meat-habit.
Please read those three sentences several times to let the reality sink in. Fully 90% of the toll is chickens, but many of these murdered creatures are pigs (~1.4 Billion each year), who have an intelligence higher than dogs. Be they pig, cow, steer, veal calf, goat, sheep, turkey, duck, chicken or aquatic animal—of whatever level of intelligence—these are fellow sentient beings who definitely feel vivid emotions, and they experience so much intense misery and agonizing suffering due to humanity's inhumane treatment of them. All to satisfy voracious, ignorant appetites in our widespread corpse-eating cult.
To refrigerate and transport by truck, train or ship this colossal amount of dead animal bodies, huge amounts of carbon dioxide and CFCs (chloroflourocarbons) have been released into the lower and upper atmospheres, destroying fragile balances, also promoting global warming. Grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, rich with life-force, and a fine protein source, can last much longer without refrigeration. The billions of livestock animals kept daily in our Nazi-like "factory farms" are also emitting huge amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, gases which, even more severely than CO2, are increasing global warming (methane traps heat 23 times more than CO2, nitrous oxide 296 times more than CO2).
Our imprisoned animals are also producing 20 times as much excrement as the entire U.S. population. Over half of this cannot be recycled as fertilizer and, riddled with toxins, is polluting our waterways, as mentioned. The meat industry alone accounts for more than 3 times as much harmful organic-waste water-pollution as the rest of the nation's industries combined. Roughly 70% of all water in the U.S. west of the Mississippi River is guzzled by livestock industries. And over 90% of fragile "riparian" streamside, oasis-like areas in the western U.S. have been either completely destroyed or severely degraded due to cattle ranching—entire species of plants and animals have been rendered extinct by this. Our local "water rationing" efforts are a complete joke—the production of one hamburger uses an amount of water equivalent to 2 months' worth of showers. Meanwhile, our government, virtually "owned" by certain special-interest groups is, unbelievably, subsidizing water-usage by the meat industries and related agribusiness. Each dollar spent by the government in this way actually costs taxpayers over $7 in lost wages, higher living costs, and reduced business income. This is completely insane. There is a better way...
The complicated production of our "animal food" is an energy-conservationist's worst nightmare come true. The overall production of meats, dairy products, and eggs accounts for 1/3 of the total amount of all raw materials used for all purposes in the U.S. In contrast, growing grains, vegetables and fruits is a model of efficiency, using less than 5% of the raw material consumption as does the production of meat. This wastage of energy by our current diet is straining our supply of fossil fuels, leading to more oil drilling and more tension over Middle East and other remote sources of oil. This energy waste causes increasing petrochemical emissions, more global warming, and acid-rain conditions harmful to life. There is a better way...
Our way of eating continues to massively destroy our precious, irreplaceable forests. The U.S. has converted over 260 million acres of forest into land which is now needed to produce a wasteful, meat-oriented diet-style. Our meat addiction, a habit that has spread through much of the world, is very rapidly annihilating the extremely valuable rainforests of Central and South America. At the current rate, the entire tropical rainforests of Central America will be gone in less than 20 years. Not only are rainforests the site for most of the living species on the planet (which are being rapidly extinguished), and a treasure-house for potential life-saving medicines, rainforests account for a substantial percentage of the earth's oxygen. What will we and our children have to breathe in the years ahead?? Moreover, the massive amount of plant matter in a tropical rainforest absorbs carbon dioxide and mitigates global warming; without rainforests there will be much more CO2 trapping heat and driving further disastrous climate change. Adding insult to injury, when forests are razed, termites explode exponentially to devour the dead wood—and termites' metabolism releases huge amounts of methane, that other global warming gas.
There is a better way...
Let us eat wisely and compassionately!
My dear friend Will Tuttle, Ph.D., has written, "It would be difficult to conceive of a more wasteful, toxic, inhumane, disease-promoting, and destructive food production system than our farmed animal industry.... [But] just as the [U.S.] Department of Defense is run by people from the weapons industries, the Department of Agriculture is run by former ranchers, executives, and lawyers for the meat, dairy, and egg industries. It is in the interest of the animal food industries that consumers be kept as unaware as possible of the abysmal conditions in which the animals must live, as well as the horrendous effects of these foods on human health and on our ecosystems. The production and selling of our animal-based diet disproportionately benefits a small elite at the expense of imprisoned animals, sick and starving people, and future generations. This elite, an inevitable result of our culture's mentality of domination and exclusion, controls agribusiness, industry, and the governmental, media, military, educational, medical and financial institutions. These institutions promote eating animals because the slavery of animals is fundamental to this elite's power structure, as it has been since its rise to power with the herding of animals roughly eight thousand years ago.... A plant-based diet ... is an enormous threat [to this long-standing social and economic system]... and huge campaigns are waged to keep us distracted and believing that complex carbohydrates are bad for us while animal protein is absolutely necessary, and that science can save us from diabetes, cancer, and the other diseases brought on by our callous domination of animals for food.... Much of medical research today is actually an apparently desperate quest to find ways to continue eating animal foods and to escape the consequences of our cruel and unnatural practices.... We become free as we stop cooperating with the system of domination that would like to feed us its blood foods.... The powerful elite that controls the military-industrial-meat-medical-media complex strives to pull the strings of control ever tighter, and with awareness we can see it all around us. Violence only begets further violence. We are called to retaliate with love, directed at those who are most vulnerable and abused—food animals—and spread the word. Our lives flow from our beliefs, and our beliefs are conditioned by our daily actions. As we act, so we build our character and so we become. By consciously making our meals celebrations of peace, compassion and freedom, we can sow seeds in the most powerful way possible to contribute to the healing of our world." (The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony, NY: Lantern Books, 2005, pp. 183, 195-8.)
The choice is clear: let us all join together to eat primarily vegetarian food, to save ourselves, our children, our animal friends, and our world.
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(The above is based on the books and articles of various authors, and leading medical and environmental journals.)
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Biblical passages which advocate vegetarianism:
And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat [food]. —Gen. i., 29.
But flesh with life thereof, which is the blood thereof, ye shall not eat. —Gen. ix., 4.
It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that ye shall eat neither fat nor blood. —Lev. iii., 17.
Ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl, or beast. —Lev. vii., 26.
Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. —Lev. xvii., 14.
He that killeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man. —Isaiah lxvi., 3.
It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth. —Romans xiv., 21.
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Buddhists (and Others) for Vegetarianism
At the website for the most flourishing Zen tradition in the world, namely South Korea's Jogye Order of Son (Zen) Buddhism, which oversees 3,000 beautiful temples, 15,000 dedicated monks and nuns, and over 8 million devout lay adherents, one of their webpages contains a lovely, succinct summary of reasons for going vegetarian. This is why millions of South Korean Buddhists (Son/Zen and otherwise), and many more millions of Buddhists in China, Japan, Vietnam, south/southeast Asia, and the West, along with hundreds of millions of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Taoists, Jews, Christians and other spiritual people, are complete or nearly complete vegans or vegetarians:
10 Virtues of Vegetarianism
1. It’s good for health. A vegetarian diet is easier to digest, and contributes to vigor and long life.
2. It’s really great for the animals. Our fellow living beings live in unimaginably dreadful conditions being fed harmful hormones, only to suffer a cruel death. Lord Buddha taught us to protect every living being. Every being wants to live in peace and does not want to suffer and die.
3. It’s good for the environment. The livestock industry greatly contributes to deforestation and global warming.
4. It’s good for our [spiritual] practice. It can help us develop compassion by not contributing to the suffering and death of living beings.
5. We have a vegetarian physiology. Our intestines are long and narrow, whereas those of a carnivore are short and thick. We don’t have sharp nails and fangs like those of a carnivore. Our nature is generally gentle and peaceful like a deer or other herbivores.
6. It’s good for our Karma. Lord Buddha taught that our current longevity and health is due to protecting and saving the lives of others in the past. Our current sickness and early death is often due to harming and killing other sentient beings in the past.
7. There are numerous diseases related to eating meat.
8. It can contribute to a brighter and more peaceful countenance and attitude by not ingesting the fearful and negative energy of the suffering animals.
9. It’s good for our wisdom. It can increase our understanding of the kinship and connectedness with all life.
10. It saves us money. Vegetables [and other plant foods] are generally far less expensive than meat.
Even if we can’t become 100% vegetarian, it’s very helpful to eat less meat [for all the above reasons].
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At Kathy Freston's excellent FAQs section of her website (see www.kathyfreston.com/kathy_freston_ask_any_question.html#protein), she replies to the following question with a potent set of facts:
Q. I have heard you and others talk about “Meatless Mondays.” Why should I give up meat one day a week? How could this help in any way?
Kathy: If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:
● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;
● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;
● 70 million gallons of gas—enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;
● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;
● 33 tons of antibiotics.
If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:
● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;
● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;
● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;
● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.
My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?
[See rest of that FAQs page for many more questions and expert answers from Kathy Freston and from Dr. Neal Barnard on healthy eating, including topics of protein needs, the merits of soy, weight loss, etc. etc.]
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Getting started: People often wonder "What am I going to eat if I reduce or eliminate all the unhealthy foods that I've been eating?" There are many webpages, books and articles on vegan meals and snacks to support a healthy body-mind-soul (see resources listed toward very BOTTOM OF THIS WEBPAGE).
And remember, this vegan set of food choices, which is still being maligned by sadly ignorant persons in our society as somehow "weird" or "non-mainstream," is actually the SAME meal-plan of many of our top athletes, models, actors/actresses and so many of our spiritual leaders past and present.
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Suggested reading and resources:
Will Tuttle, World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony, NY: Lantern Books, 2005 (see worldpeacediet.org). This is, to my mind, the best successor to John Robbin's landmark text, Diet for a New America (see immediately below).
John Robbins, Diet for a New America, Walpole, NH: Stillpoint, 1987 (and subsequent reprints), The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World, Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 2001, and other works. See earthsave.org.
T. Colin Campbell, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health, Dallas, TX: Benbella, 2005 (see www.thechinastudy.com, on the most scientifically acclaimed study ever done on human health and nutrition).
Gabriel Cousens, Conscious Eating, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books rev. ed., 2000 (850 pages; the rabbi and doctor argues for a four-stage shift from meat-based diets to a raw foods vegan diet).
Steven Rosen, Diet for Transcendence: Vegetarianism and the World Religions, Badger, CA: Torchlight Publ., 1997.
Rynn Berry, Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism & the World's Religions, NY: Pythagorean Publ., 1998.
Gary L. Francione, Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation, NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 2008. (One of the more recent books by a leading academic philosopher of veganism.)
Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 1983.
Jim Mason & Pete Singer, Animal Factories, NY: Three Rivers, rev. ed., 1990; Singer & Mason, The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, Rodale, 2006.
Victoria Moran, Compassion: The Ultimate Ethic, An Exploration of Veganism, UK: Thorsons, 1985.
David Coats, Old McDonald's Factory Farm: The Myth of the Traditional Farm and the Shocking Truth about Animal Suffering in Today's Agribusiness, NY: Continuum, 1989.
Sue Coe, Dead Meat, NY: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1996.
Gail Eisnitz, Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry, NY: Prometheus Books, 1997.
Erik Marcus, Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, Ithaca, NY: McBooks, 1998.
Andrew Linzey, Animal Gospel, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1999; Animal Theology, Urbana, IL: U. if Illinois, 1995.
Richard Alan Young, Is God a Vegetarian? Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights, Peru, IL: Open Court, 1999.
Tristram Stuart, The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times, NY: Norton, 2007 (656 pages, with the arguments made especially by British and French philosophers and scientists of the times [note: publ. in the UK by HarperCollins]; see many reviews of this book in the mainstream press: The New Yorker, The Independent [UK], etc.).
Carol Adams, various works on eco-feminism and vegetarianism (The Sexual Politics of Meat, NY: Continuum, 1998, The Inner Art of Vegetarianism Lantern Books, 2002, Living Among Meat Eaters, Three Rivers, 2001, The Pornography of Meat, Continuum, 2003).
Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet, NY: Ballantine, 2nd rev. ed., 1987; F.M. Lappé and Anna Lappé, Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet, NY: Penguin Putnam, 2002.
Marion Nestle, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Univ. of California Press, 2002; What To Eat, North Point, 2006.
Dr. Michael Klaper, Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple, TN: Book Publishing Co., 4th ed., 1999; The Cookbook for People Who Love Animals, Paia, HI: Gentle World, 7th ed., 1990.
Dr. John McDougall, various works (The McDougall Program, McDougall's Medicine, both by New Century Publns., Piscataway, NJ, and related books on health; see www.drmcdougall.com).
Dr. Neal Barnard, Food for Life: How the New Four Food Groups Can Save Your Life, Three Rivers, 1994 (his "New Four Food Groups" feature grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit).
Beverly Lynn Bennett & Ray Sammartano, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Living, Alpha, 2005 (see her Vegan Chef website, veganchef.com).
Ingrid Newkirk, Compassionate Cook: Please Don't Eat the Animals, NY: Time Warner Books, 1993.
Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina, Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet, TN: Book Publishing Co., 2000.
Paul Pitchford, Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 3rd rev. ed., 2002.
Barry Sears, The Soy Zone, ReganBooks, 2000 (a major correction to his famous earlier "Zone diet" books which argued for animal sources of protein over vegetarian; in The Soy Zone he urges readers, on the basis of the scientific evidence, to replace all meat, poultry, fish and dairy with soy- and plant-based foods).
Kathy Freston, Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World. NY: Weinstein Books, 2011. By the well-known inner/outer wellness expert, friend of Oprah and Huffington Post blogger; see www.kathyfreston.com.
Jennie Brand-Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell, & Joanna McMillan-Price, The Low GI Diet Revolution: The Definitive Science-Based Weight Loss Plan, Marlowe paper ed., 2005. And see the very informative online resource on GI created by Brand-Miller and other nutrition science experts at the University of Sydney (Australia), www.glycemicindex.com/ For other books on eating according to a healthy, moderate glycemic index, see Rick Gallop, Lucy Beale & Joan Clark, et al.
Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef: The Rise & Fall of the Cattle Culture, NY: Dutton, 1992.
--And see the massive list of vegan or vegetarian cookbooks at www.happycow.net/shop/cookbooks.html and general sites like www.amazon.com and others.
--For great vegan/vegetarian restaurants and health food stores worldwide, see the HappyCow's searchable guide at www.happycow.net, a site that includes much educational info on food choices, etc.
--General vegan or vegetarian info and resource websites include: Vegan Action (vegan.org), Vegan Society (vegansociety.com), Vegan.com (vegan.com), Vegan Outreach (veganoutreach.org), Vegan Porn (veganporn.com), Notmilk (notmilk.com), etc. Among various other notable vegetarian groups is the Christian Vegetarian Society (christianveg.com) and the oldest formal group in the West, the Vegetarian Society (f. 1847) (vegsoc.org).
--And see the GoVeg (goveg.com) "food campaign" at the website for PETA / People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, www.peta.org, the largest animal rights group in the world, which has produced many videos/DVDs on healthier and more compassionate eating, and cookbooks such as Cooking With Peta: Great Vegan Recipes for a Compassionate Kitchen, TN: Book Publishing Co., 1997; and The Peta Celebrity Cookbook, Lantern Books, 2002.
--A leading vegetarian magazine is VegNews at www.vegnews.com.
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Copyright © by Timothy Conway, Ph.D., 1990, 2007.