Ethical Eating for a Healthier, Happier and Truly Kinder World
Copyright © 1990, revised and expanded in 2015, by Timothy Conway, PhD
Helping Ourselves, Our Children, Our Animal Friends and Our Mother Earth by Eating Plants, Not Ruinous Animal Products
Enjoy the Many Benefits of Eating Delicious Vegan/Plant Food—And Leave the World's Biggest, Cruelest "Slavery & Death Cult"
This is the #1 thing you and all of us can do to honor life and help stop catastrophic climate change! Don't wait for politicians to "do something."
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 that I am sure will move you to make a relatively small sacrifice ...actually, a great joyful contribution which is incredibly easy to achieve! This is an issue that only in recent years has begun to receive the widespread attention it should.
The situation is this: the Standard American Diet (SAD) heavy on meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and processed junk-food is responsible for our worst environmental disasters (climate change, wasting and polluting of water, etc.), killer diseases, irreversible mutations of our precious genetic code, malnutrition and starvation, major financial losses (not just from gargantuan healthcare costs), and, last but not least, nightmarish cruelties to hundreds of billions of innocent animals every year—our fellow sentient beings with whom we share this imperiled planet. Science in recent decades has clearly shown (against longstanding "speciesist" prejudice by the majority of humans) that mammals, birds and fish are fully-feeling, sentient persons and deserve the rights to life, liberty and happiness, not callous exploitation and killing for human consumption, clothing and testing.
With this fact of shared sentience becoming more and more obvious, millions of people around the world have joined the "abolitionist" movement by no longer buying or eating animal food-products, which comprise 99% of the enslaving and murdering of animals for human purposes. These people have GONE VEGAN... They now enjoy eating a bountiful wealth of delicious meals of whole-food cereal grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts/seeds, rich with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, other nutrients and filled with the Life-force. You, too, can eat this way!... the way that entirely avoids terrible violence to animals, to the environment and to yourself and your families.
Fully 95% to 99%+ of readers here already agree that it is wrong to hurt animals, wrong to hurt the environment, wrong to hurt future generations of humans and non-human beings. Therefore, unless you are a sadistic sociopath, your own moral beliefs commit you to a cruelty-free life. Veganism is simply the natural, no-hypocrisy application of what you already deeply know to be true.
Understandably, many people feel, "I don't want anyone telling me what to eat." And yet the vast majority of human beings in most cultures are completely hypnotized by a 3,000 year-old indoctrination-program instilled from infancy onward in our pastoralist-herder cultures, a program which dictates to our minds that we must eat meat, fish, dairy and eggs. This indoctrination is strongly reinforced by every shared meal of animal-foods with family and friends, especially the many holiday / holy-day meals and desserts. Meanwhile, over the past century, certain powerful food industries have even more forcefully brainwashed and manipulated us from childhood through adulthood into eating "2-3 daily servings" from the "meat group" and the "dairy group" (including eggs).
These "Big Agribusiness" and "Big Food" corporations conduct this brainwashing not because they value our health or the public good (they most certainly do NOT), but because they want to make money at the expense of ourselves, our children, our animal friends, and countless life forms. It's all about corporate profits for these operators. Let us stop supporting these terrible industries and compassionately help re-locate their relatively small number of workers, most of them very traumatized workers (most of them "captured" illegal immigrants), into cruelty-free food production or other "right livelihood" jobs, to use the Buddha's term. It can be done! And it will happen when enough sane people awaken from the heavy hypnotic trance, stop buying animal foods, and switch instead to healthy, plant-based, truly "happy meals."
Evidently far too many people prioritize their own physical health (and their own pleasure) over the dire fate of the planet or the well-being of other sentient beings, so let us first delve briefly into the impact of food on human health. And then we'll discuss issues like how eating animal foods is by far the major factor in worsening, doomsday climate change, and how our ongoing enslavement, torturing and killing of animals is surely the most criminal and ongoing atrocity in the history of life on this planet.
In the last few decades, landmark studies such as the huge China/Cornell Univ. Health Study overseen by T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Dean Ornish's and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn's and other doctors' clinical work on reversing and healing heart disease and other killer diseases, Barry Sears' later work on the Soy Zone Diet, and the scientific research of many medical doctors and clinical nutritionists on preventing or alleviating a wide range of diseases, have indicated quite clearly that humans are physically and psychologically optimally suited to eating the many types of plant food, not animal food. (See bibliography near the bottom of this webpage.)
The proof that humans are designed by evolution to primarily be frugivore-herbivores is the superior health effects and our own physiology, which involves a longer intestinal tract than carnivores and jaws which can move sideways for effective grinding of foods by our teeth. And here's one more fact: raw plant-foods are far more appealing to us than raw, dead animal bodies. Carnivore or omnivore animals eagerly gobble up the flesh, blood, scales, skin, and bones of other animals. But very few humans enjoy eating raw, bloody meat. The only way that animal skin and flesh becomes "tasty" for the usual human meat-eater is by draining the blood, cooking the meat, and then adding salt or flavorful plant-based sauces and condiments to that dead meat to disguise the fact that one is eating a corpse.
As for dairy products, involving the stealing of mammary secretions from female cows, goats and sheep (a practice that over the past century has been "industrialized" to unimaginable forms of cruelty), only the human being in cultures like ours consumes the milk and milk-products of another species and has not yet weaned himself/herself off such secretions.
Countless scientific studies have shown dairy products can and do harm human health. Not just by causing allergies and filling us with different bizarre hormones, nasty pesticide residues, and artery-damaging saturated fat and cholesterol. The eminent nutrition scientist Dr. T. Colin Campbell and other researchers have found that casein, the cow-milk protein, is more carcinogenic than the "worst" carcinogens we encounter (e.g., see Campbell at nutritionstudies.org/animal-protein-carcinogen/). Different studies have shown that vegans live longer than lacto-vegetarians, and much longer than the usual meat-/dairy-eater. One British study, highlighted by The Telegraph on Oct. 28, 2014 (www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11193329/Three-glasses-of-milk-a-day-can-lead-to-early-death-warn-scientists.html), indicated those who daily consumed three glasses of milk (or more) were twice as likely to die prematurely as those who drank less than one glass or no milk at all; moreover, all that milk-drinking actually made their bones weaker and more prone to fracture, contrary to the false hype that "milk makes strong bones." The prestigious Nurses’ Health Study years ago indicated dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50%! And countries with lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption, mainly in Africa and Asia, have the lowest rates of osteoporosis anywhere. There are far better ways to get calcium, such as eating dark leafy vegetables. Studies going back 30 years and more have shown that animal-milk (which is much higher in protein than human mother's milk) actually creates mineral imbalances that leech the calcium right out of your body. All this was carefully documented in the classic 1987 text, Diet for a New America by John Robbins, who renounced a personal fortune from his family's famous ice-cream business (Baskin-Robbins) and told the world the darker truths about dairy and the industry that ruthlessly exploits it.
Business statistics in recent decades show that the dairy industry is falling further and further into serious decline as more and more consumers learn of its cruelty toward the animals involved (cows and their calves) and the deleterious effect on human health because of all those toxic chemicals, hormonal stimulants, and dangerous over-use of antibiotics. As any shopper can see on the food aisles of a decent market, many cruelty-free, much healthier, plant-based milk products are now cheaply available, including vegan milks, cheeses, yogurts, kefirs, butters, creams, and ice-creams, based on soy, rice, almonds, hemp, and coconut. It's never been easier to eliminate dairy secretions from your life! These products, which are grabbing a huge amount of marketshare away from the dairy industry, would be even cheaper if the massive government subsidies going to harmful dairy products were instead shifted over to these safer, cruelty-free, plant-based products. These purer, non-dairy foods allow people to finally "grow up" and be weaned off the infantile fetish for animal secretions, and henceforth stop inflicting indescribable brutality upon animal mothers and endangering our own human (and planetary) health.
Consumers should know that all dairy operations involve confinement, trauma and death of innocent fellow persons, and almost all dairy operations involve gruesome brutality: repeated raping of animal mothers by artificial insemination, injecting terrible chemicals, tightly confining them like wretched galley-slaves, and stealing the baby cows (or baby goats), causing these moms to weep and moan in anguished grief for days afterward. Finally, after a nightmarish life of confinement and abuse, the moms are callously butchered for their meat. No wonder the "Got milk?" global advertising phrase by dairy corporations is being replaced by animal-rights activists' message, "Got misery?"... and millions of people worldwide are going fully vegan, no longer opting for mere lacto-vegetarian diets. They realize that "there is far too much suffering in a glass of milk" and in other dairy products stolen from cows, goats or sheep.
Leading medical journals in recent decades are upholding the superior healthiness of plant food-choices when they constantly emphasize that we "eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts/seeds." That's a vegan meal-plan! Dr. Neil Barnard, well-known medical researcher and founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), has long declared that it should be considered "malpractice" for a doctor to still be recommending a "balanced diet" of the "4 basic food groups" strongly featuring the "meat group" and "dairy group." This is what the USDA heavily promoted from 1956 to 1992, followed by the "Food Pyramid" which also emphasized meat and dairy. Dr. Barnard's educational campaign emphasizes a very different, much healthier New Four Food Groups: grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit (including healthy seeds, nuts and oils).
Note that in 2011, the USDA replaced its "food pyramid" with the somewhat healthier "MyPlate," whose five food groups are quite conducive to eating vegan: grains, vegetables, fruits, "dairy" (which can substitute vegan milk for bovine dairy) and the "protein" group, which includes beans, peas, soy products, nuts and seeds, not just animal products. And in 2012 the USDA ruled that soy protein (tofu) may replace meat protein in the National School Lunch Program. Parents should demand that more and more tofu replacement occur in school lunches given all the many ways that soy is kinder to animals, healthier for our bodies, and far less destructive to our climate and planetary ecology. Time magazine in 2015 ran columns saying 4 out of 5 of its nutritional consultants said "No!" to hot dogs, while 4 out of 5 of consultants recommended "Yes" on eating tofu (the one dissident was concerned by GMO forms of soy, but this is easily avoided by consuming widely-available organic soy products).
Beyond personal health issues are the extremely crucial environmental consequences of our food choices....
Astonishingly, the meat-, poultry- and dairy-based Standard American Diet or "SAD" consumes roughly 20 times more energy, 20 times more land, and 12 times more water than a vegan diet and makes us terribly unhealthy, sick and prematurely dead in the process. In addition to cruelly torturing and killing many billions of animals each and every year!
Our very SAD diet is stripping our topsoil, poisoning our waterways and draining our freshwater sources. This is horrific, at a precarious time when our arable farming land and our water supplies are going to be totally insufficient to support our growing population probably within another 10-15 years.
The issues with water and livestock have become notorious: first, the rampant grazing of cattle and sheep since the 1800s have seriously harmed or altogether destroyed up to 99% of fragile riparian stream habitats in the Americas and elsewhere (in some world regions this was done many centuries ago). In more recent generations, news reports have proliferated on the massive livestock excrement leeching into our groundwater or running off and causing our heavily polluted rivers and utter "dead zones" in coastal areas of our oceans. And in terms of water usage to produce a meat- (or dairy-) based or a plant-based diet, there's no comparison: the average full-meal bowl of 8 ounces of rice and hefty vegetable serving requires only about 200 gallons of water, whereas just an 8-oz. steak or beef entree alone requires fully 1,800 gallons of water! (See table much further down this webpage for a listing of water requirements for a long list of foods.)
Let's look briefly at livestock and topsoil: clearly this is one of our most precious planetary resources, built up over countless eras. It is of course what we use (or mis-use) to grow our food! But just as formerly fertile regions of the planet such as the Middle East and North Africa became arid deserts through mis-use of the land and exhausting the topsoil, so also in our era astonishing loss of topsoil is occurring. And fully 85% of this loss is directly associated with livestock raising. Two centuries ago, most of America's croplands had at least 21 inches of topsoil; today most of it is down to around 3-5 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 vegan food choices make less than 5% of the demand on the soil compared to a meat- and dairy-oriented diet.
The meat-based diet is of course also infamously known to have stripped and razed our forests and rainforests in America and worldwide, our planet's invaluable "lungs" for absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2). One essential fact has emerged in just the past ten years: the meat- and dairy- diet is the major factor in causing and worsening catastrophic climate change via huge emissions of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide.
It's gotten so obviously ominous that in April 2015, the USA's Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a federally appointed panel of nutritionists created in 1983 (during the Reagan presidency), finally decided for the first time to factor in environmental sustainability in its recommendations. (I suppose this is a case of "better late than never"!) They include a finding that a diet lower in animal foods is not only healthier for us, but has much less environmental impact. The 571-page report says the average U.S. diet has (by far!) a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use and energy use than a diet of plant-based food choices. For summary news of this report, see thehill.com/regulation/237767-vegan-diet-best-for-planet-federal-report-says
This is no surprise to those who have been following reports from Lester Brown's Worldwatch Institute over the past few decades. In late 2006 the UN FAO (United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization) alerted the major media in their blockbuster report "Livestock’s Long Shadow" (www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm) with the stunning news that non-vegan food choices are the major cause of humanity's contribution to global warming, far more than transportation. But less than three years later, in October 2009, the Worldwatch Institute published in its Nov/Dec issue an even more staggering report by two longtime respected environmental specialists for the World Bank, Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang: "Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are… cows, pigs, and chickens?" Goodland, for 23 years the "conscience of the World Bank" as its environmental impact assessor, and his colleague Anhang criticized FAO's admittedly conservative report for using obsolete data (e.g., far too low a figure for the number of livestock animals) and examining fewer real impacts on climate change. The authors assessed that the true contribution of animal agriculture to human-caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is not 18%, as found by the FAO, but is a whopping amount, "at least 51%" of all emissions! (To access the pdf file for the report, a follow-on reply by Goodland to questions, and many other related articles, see www.chompingclimatechange.org/publications/articles/.)
In other words, exploiting animals for food is by far the biggest contributor to ruinous climate change, even more than coal and other fossil-fuel powered plants and all forms of transportation, etc., combined. Goodland, before his death in 2013, warned that the only viable short-term solution for alleviating climate change is a dramatic shift by year 2020 of 50%-85% of the global population away from meat, dairy, fish, and eggs toward vegan food-choices.
To clarify this remarkably important point: instead of feeling paralyzed by dreadful fear of climate change destroying more and more of the planet's ecosystems and creating a nightmare for our children, grandchildren and future generations of humans and animals, we are hereby empowered to MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE in future outcomes for all life on earth by simply eating a vegan whole-foods diet featuring a wide variety of wonderfully tasty plant foods.
This is what, a few decades ago, we used to call a "pure vegetarian" meal-plan, free of the misery-based and quite unhealthy eggs and dairy products involved in an ovo-lacto-vegetarian diet. Today it is simply called "veganism." It is what numerous health advocates were promoting in the USA and Europe in the 1800s and certainly by the mid-20th century when "factory farming" and the fast-food industry hijacked most of the way food was produced and distributed. Many, many newer voices are again strongly promoting veganism, and dietitians and food industry groups are recognizing that "going vegan" is one of the strongest demographic trends, especially among young people 18-24.
Veganism is what the Jaina spiritual masters and many Buddhist masters of ancient India recommended, and also what the Chan ("Zen") Buddhists and other Buddhists have promoted in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam for 1,000 to 1,500 years. Today in East Asia veganism is undergoing a strong revival in the form of "temple food" or "vegetable food" (Google "Japan's shojin ryori" or "Korean temple cuisine"," i.e., sachal eumsik), as a way to cease exploiting animals and hurting ourselves. Many East Asian people's move back to traditional vegan food is a response to 1) the increasingly evident horrible suffering of animals abused for food, and also because of 2) the terrible epidemics of disease that Asians are experiencing as a result of consuming western-style (American, northern European) animal-food and junk-food diet the past several decades, clearly noticeable in the good health of the senior citizens (eating their traditional plant-based Asian diet) compared to the increasingly poor health of younger Asian generations eating the wrong diet.
Delicious, nutritious vegan food, properly supplemented, is not going to make you "weak." (Tell gorillas and elephants, the strongest animals on the planet, that eating only plants will make them weak!) It is the eating of dead animal corpses and the cruelty-based toxic eggs and dairy products that will make you weak, sick and kill you prematurely. Vegans, on average and with obvious exceptions, live seven years longer than the general population of meat- and dairy-consumers because healthy vegan eating greatly lowers your chance of getting heart disease, diabetes, strokes, cancer, obesity and other killer diseases. Many leading medical newsletters have for some time now been openly recommending a plant-based diet. Studies show that switching from a diet heavy on animal food over to tasty vegan meals of whole grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, 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 vegan will also keep your mineral balance intact and thereby give you stronger bones.
Lest anyone still entertain any doubts about the matter, the United States' Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND; before 2012 known as the American Dietetic Association/ADA) and numerous other health organizations have clearly stated that balanced vegan diets are health-promoting and nutritionally sound. For instance, in July 2009 the Journal of the American Dietetic Association declared: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”
Eating "low on the food chain," that is, food from plants, puts you in very good company, the company of champions. Vegans or near-vegan vegetarians include the amazing Shaolin Temple wushu/gongfu vegan Buddhist martial art adepts, Scott Jurek (the most dominant ultra-marathoner from 1999-2010, a strict vegan since 1999), Dave Scott (a vegetarian throughout the 1980s when he was the world's greatest triathlete: running-swimming-cycling), Bill Pearl (a 4-time Mr. Universe), Fiona Oakes (vegan since her teens, she is a former British cycling champion who has set multiple records in marathon running), Sixto Linares (held record for the longest single-day triathlon), Edwin Moses (who dominated an Olympic athletic event more than anyone before him in history, in this case, hurdling), Murray Rose (one of the greatest swimmers of all time), Novak Djokovic (one of the top 5 male tennis players of all time, continuing to set new records; he opened a vegan restaurant in Monte Carlo in 2016), Peter Burwash (tennis pro, the fittest athlete ever tested in all of Canada in the 1980s), Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King (two of the greatest women tennis players of all time; tennis champions Serena and Venus Williams both went vegan in 2011), Bill Walton and Robert Parish (Hall-of-Famer basketball centers, both longtime vegetarians, Parish "the greatest shooting big man in NBA history"), and many, many others, male and female, including champion weight-lifters, boxers (e.g., David Haye), wrestlers (e.g., Austin Aries), football, basketball, baseball, soccer players, figure skaters, martial artists and so on. While a few of the aforementioned have been lacto-vegetarians, the newer trend in recent decades is to go completely vegan, especially for those who realize the ethical considerations for doing so. Billy Simmonds, a 2009 Mr. Universe while vegetarian, has gone completely vegan and in YouTube videos shows how to do it. Canadian Moe Beaulieu, now in his 70s, has run over 130 ultra-marathons (races 30 miles up to 100 miles!); already a near-vegetarian for decades, he went completely vegan to beat throat cancer and says he now recovers much faster from ultra-marathons in his 70s than when in his 50s. The strongest man in the world (in the 105kg division), German weightlifter Patrik Baboumian, is vegan. Science magazine reported in 2005 that the Nepali porters, despite using very inferior equipment, are the fittest, most efficient load-lifters in the world, hauling up steep mountain paths loads weighing 100%-150% of their own body weight; their diet is almost exclusively rice and vegetables and promotes superior metabolic functioning.
Cruelty-free eating is not only associated with strength and athletic ability but also beauty: many of our most attractive actors/actresses and models are vegans for ethical and/or health reasons. (See lists of notable vegans at www.famousveggie.com, www.happycow.net and other websites.)
And clarity of mind: some of the West's most famous persons of philosophy, science and letters were known to be vegans or near-vegan vegetarians for ethical reasons of not harming animals—including Pythagoras, Empedocles, Plutarch, Plotinus, Porphyry, Leonardo Da Vinci, William Blake, Percy and Mary Shelley, A. Bronson Alcott (mentor of the New England Transcendentalists), Leo Tolstoy, Albert Schweitzer, Albert Einstein, and many others.
Many of the greatest spiritual masters and countless devout monastics and laypersons on the planet were/are vegans, especially among India's Jains led by Vardamana Mahavira (circa 599-527 BCE) and in East Asia among Mahayana Buddhists. Or else they were lacto-vegetarians or near vegetarians, if they lived in pastoralist-herder societies (like Aryan India, the Middle-East and Europe). So, for instance, Hinduism's celebrated epic poem Mahabharata (circa 400-200 BCE) says that "the meat of other animals is like the flesh of one's own son" and condemns the meat-eater as "the vilest of beings." The ancient guidebook for conduct, the Laws of Manu, tells observant Hindus to "shun the use of meat" and avoid hurting and killing animals. A widely influential South Indian Tamil Hindu text, the Tirukural (200 CE), was especially eloquent and forceful on not eating meat. India's Mahayana Buddhist texts like the Lankavatara Sutra, Mahaparinirvana Sutra and several others from 1,800 to 1,500 years ago condemned eating meat or hurting fellow sentient beings, which led billions of Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese Buddhists (and Daoists and Confucians influenced by them) over the centuries to eat entirely vegan (no eggs, no dairy, and no meat or fish) as essential to an ethical life of ahimsa or harmlessness.
In the west, Pythagoras (fl. 520 BCE) and his followers were strict vegetarians as were many other Greco-Roman Hellenists. In any case, the bulk of the diets of most "commoners" in the ancient world was plant-based: bread, grains, beans and a small amount of nuts/seeds, vegetables and fruits. In the pre-modern world of warmer climes, the lower, numerically-dominant classes rarely ate dairy products, eggs or meat, unless they owned some farm animals. Members of the Jewish Essene sect were vegetarian. The Roman historian and Christian bishop Eusebius wrote of James the brother of Jesus that "He was holy from his mother’s womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh" (Ecclesiastical History 2.23.5). This suggests to author Keith Akers that James was raised as a vegetarian, implying further that James' and Jesus' parents Mary and Joseph raised their family vegetarian. In fact, none of the canonical gospels tell of Jesus eating meat, dairy or eggs, and the one reference to his eating fish occurs in a late, suspect passage in the Luke Gospel to bolster the dubious idea that his resurrected form was not a subtle, spiritual body but an actual physical body. (But this makes his spiritual Ascension impossible given the biological constraints of a physical body.) Eusebius notably wrote in Proof of the Gospel (3.5b) that the early apostles persevered in abstaining/fasting from meat and wine, which would suggest they were emulating Jesus in being vegetarian if not entirely vegan. The Ebionites, the most prominent of the Jewish Christian movements (descended from James' leadership at Jerusalem and lasting for a few centuries), were vegetarian, according to different accounts. Among Gentile Christians, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Arnobius, Tertullian, and Jerome were vegetarian according to statements made by them or about them in diverse sources. The non-vegetarian Augustine, while vehemently arguing against the idea that Christians must be vegetarian, admitted that Christians who "abstain both from flesh and from wine" are "without number" (On the Morals of the Catholic Church, 33). So also, many Christian monks, nuns and devout laity of the classical, medieval and Renaissance eras adopted vegetarianism and often underwent extensive fasts on a purely vegan diet. The Cistercian and Carthusian orders of Catholic monks and nuns, both emerging from the Benedictine Order as late 11th-century reform movements, followed St. Benedict's original Rule that forbade eating of meat from quadrupeds and they have often fasted on just bread or bread and vegetables. The eminent 16th-century Spanish luminaries St. Teresa of Avila and her colleague St. John of the Cross (Roman Catholicism's "Greatest Mystical Doctor of the Church") made their deeply contemplative "Discalced" reform of the Carmelite order of Catholic nuns and monks completely vegetarian (and largely vegan, with few dairy products consumed).
Turning to Islam, one of the three greatest early Muslim Sufi saints, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya (8th century CE), famous for her closeness to God, nature and animals, chided the male sage Hasan al-Basri that his meat-eating kept the animals away, suggesting that she was a longtime vegetarian, perhaps a vegan. Numerous Muslim Sufi mystics, especially living in the Indian subcontinent, China, and elsewhere, have eaten vegetarian, in keeping with Prophet Muhammad's statements about compassion for God's creatures. A relatively small but increasing number of Muslims today are shifting toward near-vegan or (far better) to completely vegan food-choices given that the Qur'an scriptural rules for halal (permitted food) are not just about hygiene but also intended to spare animals from needless suffering and distress— and this is impossible in modern intensive-confinement "factory farms" and slaughterhouses. And as some Muslims have noted: "Just read how positively the Qur'an mentions vegetables (e.g. 6:99, 6:141, 16:10-11, 50:9-11) but just tolerates meat (e.g. 6:142); and note how rarely Prophet Muhammed PBUH ate meat."
The objection might be raised that certain towering spiritual masters weren't strict vegans or even lacto-vegetarians in their day. But this is due to heavy conditioning and "status quo" practices by our ancient pastoralist/herder cultures (e.g., the ancestors of Jewish and Hindu cultures) that utilized cows, goats or sheep for dairy products and the flesh of these and other animals for meat. But based on their own teachings about loving-kindness, compassion and helping the most vulnerable, we can be almost certain that Jesus and other Jewish rabbis and early Christian leaders, the Buddha, the Hindu sages, and Prophet Muhammad would, if transported into our time-frame, be complete vegans (not just vegetarians, pescetarians or "flexitarians") because of the rampant nightmare suffering for animals in the meat, egg, dairy and fishing industries, the basic immorality of enslaving and heavily exploiting animals for human use, and the horrifically insane damage involved to our climate and ecosystems, genetic code, and human health.
The moral consequences of still exploiting animals for food are just too serious today.
Let's face it: in former eras such as 2,000 years ago when Jesus was alive, the human population was relatively small (200-300 million, 3% to 4% of today's population); even by the 1920s the population was only around 25% of today's figure. Down through the millennia, the domesticated herds of animals were accordingly small and living far more natural lives. But with a modern-era human population now surpassing 7.2 billion persons and growing, the voracious and unprecedented appetite for meat, dairy, eggs and fish now requires annually CONFINING, ABUSING AND KILLING HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF ANIMALS, most of whom are "factory farmed" and grotesquely, cruelly treated to satisfy what ethical activist Gary Francione and his abolitionist vegan colleagues call "selfishly pleasuring the palate."
There is simply no more excuse to continue supporting this nightmare of widespread agony and anguish when we have delicious, nutritious, healthier and far, far kinder vegan alternatives to all the animal foods that people are addicted to allegedly because "they taste good."
The average meat-, dairy-, egg- and fish-eating human of the modern so-called "civilized" era is responsible for killing over 7,000 sentient, fully-feeling beings (chickens, fish, pigs, turkeys, cows, sheep, etc.) in his or her lifetime! That's a lot of needless torture and murder of animals weighing on one's conscience or one's subconscious mind....
No true spiritual master would support this massive, cruel cult of animal exploitation ongoing today. The fact that a number of well-regarded spiritual teachers in our era still aren't clear about this issue means that there is one major area of their life in which they are NOT enlightened, not awake to the moral consequences of their actions.
Here are some extremely cogent, urgent quotes from law professor Gary L. Francione of Rutgers University, the leading ethical philosopher arguing a "do no harm" abolitionist position against the use of animals as "property" and instead upholding their rights as sentient persons:
“Veganism is not a limitation in any way; it’s an expansion of your love, your commitment to nonviolence, and your belief in justice for all.”
“Every sentient being values her/his life even if no one else does. That is what is meant by saying that the lives of all have inherent value.”
“Being vegan provides us with the peace of knowing that we are no longer participants in the hideous violence that is animal exploitation.”
“Is going vegan good for physical health? All the evidence says so. But there is no doubt it is essential for your moral/spiritual health.”
“Being vegan is easy. Are there social pressures that encourage you to eat, wear, and use animal products? Of course there are. But in a patriarchal, racist, homophobic, and ableist society, there are social pressures to participate and engage in sexism, racism, homophobia, and ableism. At some point, you have to decide who you are and what matters morally to you. And once you decide that you regard victimizing vulnerable nonhumans as not morally acceptable, it is easy to go and stay vegan.”
“If animals are not mere things; if they have moral value, we cannot justify eating, wearing, or using them particularly when we have no better reason than palate pleasure or fashion.”
“You want to stop participating in animal slavery? Go vegan. You want to help an individual animal right now? Adopt or foster a homeless animal.”
“Is veganism a matter of ‘choice’? That depends on whether you think we have the moral right to choose to exploit the vulnerable for frivolous purposes such as palate pleasure.”
“If you care about animals, there is one and only one choice: go vegan. Can you choose not to be vegan? Sure. You can choose not to care.”
“There is nothing 'extreme' about veganism. What is extreme is the notion that we support the suffering and death of billions of sentient beings [i.e., the annual murdering of 58 billion land-based animals and countless marine mammals and fish] for no reason other than that we enjoy the taste of animal products or the look of clothes made from animals. What is extreme is that we continue to support animal agriculture, with its deleterious consequences for human health, the environment, and, most important, our moral integrity.”
“Please consider going vegan. It is the most effective personal statement you can make about rejecting the status of nonhuman animals as commodities.”
“Being vegan is not a matter of your opinion. It is not a matter of your preferences at a given moment--your 'who you are space.' It is not a matter of your 'journey.' It is not a matter of your 'compassion.' It is not a matter of your 'mercy.' It is a matter of fundamental justice for the vulnerable. It is a matter of the right of all sentient beings not to be used as resources. It is a matter of what we *owe* to nonhumans, and not a matter of what we are willing to give. Veganism is not about you. It is about them.”
“I am so tired of hearing 'animal people' [welfarists, reducetarians, and others] declare how difficult it is to go vegan. Going vegan is as easy as wanting to go vegan. *Nothing* more than your decision to want to stop participating directly in the exploitation of the vulnerable is required. Nothing. If you want to go vegan, just do it. If you don't go vegan, just have the integrity to admit that you don't care enough and stop whining about how 'difficult' it is to go vegan. It isn't difficult.”
“We need to change social discourse about animal ethics and we won't do that with things like 'Meatless Monday' or 'happy meat.' [...] Should we campaign for 'humane' forms of torture, child molestation, or rape? Most of us would say: 'Of course not.' So why is it okay to think it perfectly appropriate in the context of nonhumans? [...] It's not a matter of exploiting them 'humanely,' it's a matter of not exploiting them.”
“If you are a feminist and are not a vegan, you are ignoring the exploitation of female nonhumans [e.g., dairy cows and chickens] and the commodification of their reproductive processes, as well as the destruction of their relationship with their babies. If you are an environmentalist and not a vegan, you are ignoring the undeniable fact that animal agriculture is an ecological disaster. If you embrace nonviolence but are not a vegan, then words of nonviolence come out of your mouth as the products of torture and death go into it.... Stop trying to make excuses. There are no good ones to make. Go vegan.”
“The world is filled with a great deal of violence. Why do you want to contribute to it when you can so easily choose not to participate in the victimization of the vulnerable? Please go vegan. Stop eating, wearing, and using those who value their lives just as you value yours.”
“We love some animals and grieve when they die. We eat others and are directly responsible for their suffering and death. How very strange.”
“We can live without participating in the exploitation of the vulnerable.
We can live without destroying the environment.
We can live in a way that guarantees a more healthy life.
But many choose to do otherwise.
And they claim that it is 'natural' to participate in violence, destroy the earth, and kill ourselves. What incredible confusion.”
“Animals are the most vulnerable members of society. They really are. They have no ability to protect or defend themselves. And we exploit them relentlessly. And what I am saying is: a first step towards healing yourself morally is asking yourself, 'Can I justify this?' And if the answer is no, then you stop doing it. You go vegan.”
“There are an estimated 7.5 million vegans in the U.S. [based on a 2011 Harris Poll conducted for Vegetarian Resource Group, showing 5% of USA's population of 310 million people at the time were vegetarian and about half were vegan]. If every one of those vegans persuaded one other person to go vegan in the next year, there would be 15 million vegans. If every one of those persuaded one other person in the second year, there would be 30 million. If we repeated this every year, the entire country would be vegan in fewer than six years.... We could make veganism the prevailing paradigm. Please talk to everyone you know about why veganism is the only rational response to the recognition that animals matter morally.”
[--from www.abolitionistapproach.com/quotes/#.VXTXVEZ8VOZ and other writings and talks by Gary Francione.]
Beyond the profound moral issue of not exploiting animals for selfish human interests, most former meat/dairy eaters report that switching to a vegan diet increases their energy, vitality and overall feeling of well-being.
A minority of people who go vegan may experience some difficulties if:
1) they still eat too much processed wheat, corn and "junk food,"
2) consume too much or too little oil/fat or the wrong kind of oil,
3) consume insufficient daily calories,
4) neglect a few vital supplements (mainly B-12 and iodine), or
5) eat meals or snacks too high on the "glycemic index"
(—see further below on the last two topics).
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 mineral imbalances, osteoporosis, 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—especially organic and non-GMO tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and other legumes as the main protein sources, along with a variety of tasty grains, vegetables, nuts/seeds, fruits, and avocados. And, as much as possible, stay away from sugar and other unhealthy sweeteners, white flour, excessive salt and caffeine, and GMO foods (see below). If you make sure to get enough calories from wholesome plant foods, you'll be getting enough protein as well as other essential nutrients.
For supplements, take a daily multi-vitamin especially to get the tiny amount of vitamin B-12 as well as extra iodine (if not getting enough from plant sources and iodized salt). Vegan nutrition experts now recommend either a daily vitamin/mineral supplement with 20-100 mcg of vitamin B-12 or else a twice-weekly B-12 supplement of 1000 mcg. For general health purposes, also take some Vitamin D every day (strongly correlated with lower incidence of 13 different kinds of cancer), along with Omega-3 fatty acids (e.g., just 4 walnut halves or tablespoon of ground flaxseeds or teaspoon of flaxseed oil several times a week). Perhaps ingest, too, extra anti-oxidants like vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, zinc, selenium, etc., in supplement form if you wish.
My dear friend Will Tuttle, author of the highly-acclaimed book The World Peace Diet, has noted the tragic irony that vegans have for so long been targeted for "worry" that they are not getting enough nutrients and may have compromised health, when in fact it is the general meat/dairy-eating population that is deficient in a lot more nutrients and suffering from a long list of preventable, reversible diseases that disable them or kill them prematurely. Our general society is deeply confused and completely "upside down" on this basic matter of healthy nutrition!
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 vegan women? No wonder there is so much cancer among children and young adults in the past several decades. Let us protect our babies and everyone else by eating vegan meals "low on the food chain." Also, contrary to lies from the meat industry, babies and children flourish on vegan diets, as shown by unbiased scientific studies.
Vegans and to lesser extent lacto-vegetarians generally live longer than non-vegetarians, as scientific studies demonstrate. (Far more nutrition science has been done with lacto-vegetarians than vegans, but this will change in the future as the number of vegans is growing at a greater rate than vegetarians.) Vegans have, by far, the lowest incidence of heart disease, cancer, strokes and diabetes (our 4 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: 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 and/or erectile dysfunction 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? Over 20 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 [the contamination figure is MUCH HIGHER today in 2015].... 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." More recent studies show that not only are conditions much worse today than back in 1994 when this Time article appeared, but the outside of the plastic/cellophane packaging has also been found to be contaminated with the same pernicious bugs.
Our animal-based diet is actually much, much more dangerous to us now than most research has shown, because in the last several 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 anyone who eats their flesh, milk and eggs.
One of the scariest stories in the past decade is that the colossal over-use of antibiotics to treat the billions of diseased animals in the food business is rapidly causing the bugs to mutate into "superbugs" for which we have NO KNOWN TREATMENTS. UK scientists in 2015 estimate that by year 2050 the death toll from drug-resistant infections may rise from today’s 700,000 (a low estimate) to an astonishing 10 million per year. A simple cut or scrape could be infected and kill you. That is happening right now with superbugs already in our midst, mainly due to the meat, egg and dairy industries.
Our society promotes rampant insanity about food choices in the form of ridiculous rationalizations, justifications, and denials (and other Freudian defense mechanisms) about the horrors of eating animals and animal products instead of all of us just easily shifting into the OBVIOUS MORAL CHOICE: going vegan. Yet more and more people are making this profound shift to veganism, especially large numbers of young people, who have had far fewer years of brainwashing by "the corpse-eating cult."
But the greedy meat, dairy and egg industries have found that by sponsoring and publicizing crazy fad diets, they can keep many people addicted to these toxic, cruelty-based foods....
In the 1990s the "Atkins diet" and similar low-carbohydrate, high-fat and usually too-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 diets come with a grievous price. Heavy with saturated animal fats (e.g., butter, cheese, cream, and fatty meats) and usually sliding off into excessive protein intake (too much steak, bacon, eggs, milk, etc.), these low-carb, high-saturated-fat and high-protein diets are in too many cases NOT healthy for our heart and arteries, nor for our muscles, our our bones, our skin, and various other bodily organs. Do we need mention again 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 and the Paleo diet that imitates some of its principles (a much better choice: the Paleo Vegan 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, especially a vegan diet); 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, potatoes, legumes, fruits, 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 GI was discovered in 1981 by acclaimed scientist David Jenkins, who revolutionized the diet industry with his work at University of Toronto. Jenkins has notably gone vegan and recommends a GI-balanced, completely vegan diet. His Glycemic 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 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: onto some whole grain bread (toasted or not) put some almond butter or tahini sesame spread along with some organic banana-slices or raisins or sugarless fruit jam (now widely available in better supermarkets and health-food markets) for a much healthier version of the classic "peanut butter and jelly sandwich." The overall glycemic levels of such a tasty, nutritious snack or meal are perfect.
I would add here (in an update on Oct. 16, 2016) a lengthy paragraph on the keto or ketogenic diet, said to be an improved version of the Atkins Diet. Essentially, like the Atkins diet, this very strict low-carbohydrate, high-fat food-plan transforms the basic human metabolism over a few weeks from burning carbohydrates for glucose energy over into a fat-burning metabolism to generate the energy that our body's organs (especially the brain) need for fuel. Though our brains and other organs run off glucose and not fat, they can also be made to use ketones as an alternative fuel source. Adopting the keto diet requires close supervision by a certified dietitian and licensed doctor, because it involves such a radical metabolic change and usually also nasty side-effects during the transition, such as hypoglycemia-induced shakiness, dizziness, tremors, weakness and pounding heart, as well as constipation, bad breath, and more. The keto diet, which induces a state of ketosis (not ketoacidosis), is CONTRA-INDICATED for pregnant or nursing mothers and for anyone with kidney, heart, gallbladder, or liver problems, pancreatitis, Type 1 diabetes, advanced cases of Type 2 diabetes, impaired fat digestion, and certain other conditions. Biologists know that the great ape family of hominid primates (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and early humans) derived 97%-100% of their diet from plants. Most of the tiny percentage of "meat" consumed by some of these great apes was in the form of insects. Thus the low-carb, high-fat ketogenic Atkins-type diet trend of the late 20th-century, based on heavy consumption of fatty meats, fish, dairy, and oils, along with non-starchy vegetables, is completely unlike anything eaten by hominids over millions of years of evolution. The one group of humans who have traditionally eaten an extremely low-carb, fat-heavy ketogenic diet, the Inuit or "Eskimo" people of the far-northern terrain of North America, are scientifically known to have been unhealthy, with atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and lack of longevity. This occurred even hundreds of years before they began to eat a significant amount of whole and processed carbohydrate foods in the 20th century. (See Dr. John McDougall's slideshow presentation on the scientific evidence, such as from the April 6, 2013 edition of medical journal Lancet at www.vegsource.com/news/2016/01/eskimo-low-carb-diet-is-deadly---dr-mcdougall-video.html; and see Thomas Campbell's summary of the scientific literature on the Inuit and also Africa's Masai people at nutritionstudies.org/masai-and-inuit-high-protein-diets-a-closer-look/.) And yet a number of Americans, Europeans and Asians are now interested in low-carb, high-fat keto diets, primarily to lose weight. (The keto diet has also been shown to definitely help many epileptic children, and it may be helpful for Alzheimers, and for certain cancers since it starves cancer cells of simple sugars.) A much healthier version of the keto diet, for anyone who wants to experiment with the metabolic state of ketosis induced by a radical ketogenic diet, is a plant-based one, what is sometimes called the "Eco-Atkins" approach. On this vegan keto diet, one substitutes nuts, healthy plant oils (hemp oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.) and avocados for all the animal sources of fat (meat, fish, dairy), along with vegan protein sources, and lots of low-net-carb veggies (fibrous vegetables such as cabbage, spinach and salads) to achieve the target keto-diet proportions of around 70%-75% of daily calories from oil/fat, 20%-25% of calories from protein, and 5%-10% of calories from carbohydrates. And because the saturated fat in coconut oil produces more ketones than other plant-based oils, a vegan keto-diet rich with coconut oil would allow for a somewhat higher percentage of daily calories to come from healthy carbohydrates like fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables or whole grains. And so instead of being limited to only about 30-60 grams of healthy carbs on a daily basis for the standard keto diet, the coconut oil would allow for maybe 75-100 gms of healthy carbs (300-400 calories) without undermining the ketosis state. Be aware that even the vegan version of the keto-diet, which is far healthier for the bloodstream than the meat-/dairy-based keto diet (better cholesterol levels and far fewer environmental toxins than when eating high on the food chain), will still require lots of nutritional supplements: the full array of B-vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, anti-oxidants and plant-based enzymes, some of which are notoriously deficient in meat-/dairy-based Atkins-type diets. And one must be very careful to stay well-hydrated with water on a keto-diet. You'll also probably need a blood ketones meter to track the levels of ketosis at different times of day, and a spreadsheet program to monitor the nutrient content of different meals and snacks until you have worked out a routine. Dietitians caution that numerous people otherwise "eligible" for a keto diet (i.e., they have no specific health condition contraindicating it) simply don't feel or function well on a keto diet after a few months, and they should NOT try to force such a radical change on their body. Such individuals can start slowly increasing their daily intake of healthy carbohydrates to ease out of the state of ketosis and back into a vegan, glucose-based metabolism. After all, the human organism is descended from plant-eating great apes, not from carnivorous predators like tigers, lions, wolves, coyotes, jackals and hyenas.
I've already mentioned that David Jenkins, who pioneered work on the Glycemic Index, went vegan, and, notably, has published in 2014 a scientific article demonstrating the healthiness of a vegan version of the Atkins diet. Now consider Barry Sears, inventor of the popular Zone Diet in 1995 based on Jenkins' work and which, like Jenkins, 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 Sears 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, Sears' book The Soy Zone, based on much more thorough research in nutritional science, makes a complete turn-around toward the superiority of substituting soy for animal flesh. Sears had the intellectual honesty and emotional courage 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 and soy 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, 100% of its carbohydrates, and unknown amounts of healthy vitamins and enzymes. Thus, we tragically throw away most of the food-value of many of crops we are raising in this country.
On another topic, i would interject: far too many of our soy, corn, wheat and certain other crops are now grown as GMOs / Genetically Modified Organisms. GMOs have been proven by independent researchers to cause terrible inflammation to the digestive tract and entire body, and are implicated as a major cause of epidemics of allergies, asthma, cancers, heart-disease and many other afflictions. This is why Europe, for instance, bans many food-imports coming from the USA. Therefore, it is ESSENTIAL TO EAT ORGANIC soy, corn, wheat, etc., and beware the many forms of GMO contaminated foods.
For a number of reasons, chiefly savings in energy, medical and insurance costs, if we changed our food-choices to plant-based vegan nutrition, our economy would be radically improved, helping us to reduce the ever-growing, multi-trillion-dollar national deficit. But a whole-foods plant diet also saves each U.S. consumer around $750 per year (that $3,000 annually for a family of four), according to a 2015 report.
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 and waking up from the hypnotic trance put in place by "Big Agribusiness."
Speaking of the dear animals involved in our society's eating of meat, dairy and eggs, a "non-instrumentalist" approach, i.e., abolitionism, insists that animals not be used in this way, period. As it is, the vast majority of the roughly 58 BILLION LAND-ANIMALS killed each year have been tortured, poisoned, maimed, made sick and obese by despicable, Nazi-like "factory farm" conditions, and then are killed usually in very cruel ways, because of no recognition or protection for their rights as persons, 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, especially since the invention of modern-era confinement systems and mass slaughterhouses, is the most criminal ongoing atrocity committed in the history of planet earth.
The compassionate veganism movement, based in the ancient ideal of "ahimsa" or nonviolence among Jainas in India then Buddhists of East Asia, and in the Jewish and Christian Divine imperative to "love thy neighbor" and "care for and liberate the downtrodden," aims to end all use of animals and their dairy or egg products for human consumption, and so even the question of "humane treatment of animals" for "our food" becomes a moot point.
Clearly, there are major ethical/moral reasons for refraining from eating animal food and instead eating low on the food chain, beyond saving the environment and treating our own bodies with respect. Gary Francione, Tom Regan, Gary Steiner 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. In the theological and religious ethics domain, the Rev. Andrew Linzey, Richard Schwartz, Charles Patterson, Richard Alan Young and others have made the same case 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 Will Tuttle, John Robbins, Sue Coe, Gail Eisnitz, 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 58 BILLION animals and at least a 100 BILLION fish and other aquatic animals, including mammals, are killed annually to support humanity's animal-food habit.
Please read those three sentences several times to let the reality sink in. Fully 90% of the toll on land-animals is chickens (highly social, loving and remarkably bright little animals), but many of these murdered creatures are pigs (~1.4 billion each year), who have an intelligence rated 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, fellow personal consciousnesses or persons who definitely feel vivid emotions, they love pleasure and abhor pain. And they experience so much intense misery and agonizing suffering due to humanity's callous use and inhumane treatment of them. All to satisfy voracious, ignorant, evil 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 30-60 billion 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 72 times more than CO2 according to Goodland & Anhang over a 20-year period, while nitrous oxide has a GWP or Global-Warming Potential 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 and dairy 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. The same corporate-owned government at the federal and/or state levels in the USA has taken terrible steps to make illegal the "disparaging of certain foods" like meat, dairy and eggs, and is banning the making of any covert videos/photographs of traumatized, injured and diseased animals within the "death camps" showing Americans how so much of their "food" actually is produced.
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 friend Will Tuttle, Ph.D., has written in his widely-acclaimed book, The World Peace Diet (2005), "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."
"Refraining from eating and using animals is the natural result of seeing that is no longer chained within the dark and rigid dungeon of narrow self-interest. From the outside it may look like and be called 'veganism,' but it is simply awareness and the expression of our sense of interconnectedness. It manifests naturally as inclusiveness and caring." (The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony, NY: Lantern Books, 2005, pp. 183, 195-8, 293.)
The choice is clear: let us all join together to eat plant-food vegan meals, to save ourselves, our children, our animal friends, and our planet.
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(The above is based on the books and articles of various authors, and leading nutrition, medical and environmental journals.)
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WATER REQUIREMENTS FOR DIFFERENT PLANT vs ANIMAL FOODS
Compare the amounts of water to produce some typical plant foods versus animal foods (most data from WaterFootprint.org):
• 13 gallons of water per 8 oz. of tomatoes
• 14 gallons of water per 8 oz. of lettuce
• 18-20 gallons of water per apple or banana
• 22 gallons of water per 2 slices of bread
• 25 gallons of water per 8 oz. strawberries, pineapple, watermelon
• 33 gallons of water per 8 oz. orange
• 34 gallons of water per 16 oz. unprocessed potatoes
• 34 gallons of water per 16 oz. broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts
• 49 gallons of water per 8 oz. artichoke
• 55 gallons of water per 8 oz. peach
• 54 gallons of water per 8 oz. of corn
• 66 gallons of water per 8 oz. of wheat
• 70 gallons of water per 8 oz. of avocado flesh
• 111 gallons of water per 8 oz. of pasta
• 118 gallons of water per 8 oz. of barley
• 128 gallons of water per 8 oz. of soybeans
• 130 gallons of water per 8 oz. of asparagus
• 135-145 gallons of water per 8 oz. of dates or raisins
• 145 gallons of water per 8 oz. of rolled oats
• 150 gallons of water per 8 oz. of processed white rice (unprocessed paddy rice is sometimes said to require more water, but actually not since most of the water is reabsorbed into the water cycle)
• 150 gallons of water per 8 oz. of tofu
• 125 gallons of water per 8 oz. of dairy milk
• 190 gallons of water per 8 oz. of cheese
• 250 gallons of water per 8 oz. of chickpeas
• 260 gallons of water per 8 oz. of chicken
• 330 gallons of water per 8 oz. of butter
• 360 gallons of water per 8 oz. of pork
• 400 gallons of water per single egg
• 624 gallons of water per 8 oz. of sheep (mutton, lamb)
• 550-950 gallons of water per 8 oz. of nuts, ranging up from walnuts to hazelnuts, cashews, almonds
• 1,030 gallons of water per 8 oz. of chocolate
• 1,300 gallons of water per 8 oz. of coffee (only 1/10th of that for tea!)
• 1,800 gallons of water per 8 oz. steak or beef serving
Katherine Boehrer stated, in an Oct. 13, 2014 article (www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/13/food-water-footprint_n_5952862.html): "Some will argue that the measurement of gallons per pound isn't fair -- we should consider water consumed per gram of protein. In this case, pulses (including beans, lentils, peas, etc.) win out at 5 gallons per gram of protein, followed by eggs at 7.7 gal./gram, milk at 8.2 gal./gram, and chicken at 9 gal./gram. The numbers only go up from there, with beef topping the scale, requiring 29.6 gallons of water per gram of protein."
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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).
Here are just some quick personal tips for what to buy at your better markets and keep in your refrigerator and food pantry:
Grains: organic whole-grain breads and tortilla wraps, oatmeal, quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah"), organic (non-GMO!) corn/cornmeal, brown rice and/or basmati rice, millet, barley, etc. You can buy an inexpensive rice/grain steamer to always easily and safely get perfectly cooked rice, quinoa, barley (etc.) without having to closely monitor a boiling/simmering pot of rice on the stove-top. Moreover, many of the better markets now offer frozen, "quick cook" varieties of whole-grain rice etc. as a convenient fast-food.... As for breads, highly recommended is Ezekiel brand, which in its several varieties utilizes organic sprouted grains AND sprouted legumes/pulses (soy, lentil) for incredibly nutritious and "closest to nature" (least processed) breads unmatched by most other brands.
Vegetables: organic squashes (summer, winter), celery, artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, collard, bok-choy, chard, various other greens and lettuces, cabbages, bell peppers, beets, carrots, green beans, sea vegetables, radishes, leeks, onions, etc., including condiments like ginger and garlic... Mushrooms are often considered a "vegetable" even though they belong to the fungi family of organisms. A good electronic juicer makes it so easy to quickly prepare a nutrient-rich "veggie smoothie" as an alternative to steaming those God-given vegetables.... Potatoes, yams, turnips, parsnips, etc. are among the starchiest of the vegetables, but their high glycemic-index nature can be balanced out with things like oil&vinegar salad dressing or a handful of nuts, some tofu or tempeh, etc.
Fruits: organic berries, bananas, apples, pears, apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries, papayas, mangoes, pineapples, watermelon, cantaloupe, other melons, figs, grapes, dates, kiwis, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tomatoes.... the list is bountiful. Some people don't do well with citrus and eat it sparingly. Fruit always digests better on an empty stomach, so best to eat it first thing in the morning or as a snack between meals. Also, eating fruit in its natural state is rich with enzymes and far superior to drinking bottled/packaged fruit juices, which often contain added sugars and fewer nutrients. When eating fruit, adding some nuts/seeds will balance the sweetness of the natural fruit sugar, and provide a "Zone diet" balance with a healthy glycemic-index balance.
Legumes: organic lentils, peas (including green peas, chickpeas, blackeyed peas, snap peas, etc.), split-peas, peanuts, beans of all varieties (you can buy organic soups with pre-cooked forms of these legumes for easiest preparation), the various vegan veggie burgers based on legumes, and of course organic (non-GMO) soy-beans. Soybeans are one of the most scientifically-studied and healthy sources of protein and other nutrients (beware the paid-for "science" by the meat & dairy industry trying to scare consumers away from soy; see Barry Sears' amazing work on his Soy Zone Diet). Special mention can be made of the healthy soy-foods developed in East Asia for easier digestion and added protein: the wonderfully multi-use tofu as well as fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso, and soy-based "fake meats." Like the Zen cooks and award-winning chefs around the world, you can add the high-protein tofu or tempeh to just about any meal instead of meat, fish, eggs or cheese.... Put a dash of cinnamon on it with your tomato-sauced pasta or a dash of curry powder/sauce or ginger on it with your rice dish.... The possibilities are endless.
Nuts/seeds: organic almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, filberts, cashews, pine nuts, nut butters (almond, cashew), tahini (a buttery spread made of sesame seeds), flaxseeds (an especially great source of Omega-3 fatty acids), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. The better markets have "trail mixes" of healthy nuts and adding raisins or other dried fruit for sweetness and making this a glycemic-balanced "Zone-diet" snack. Add a handful of trail mix to your oatmeal with some organic soy milk, or apply one of the buttery nut/seed spreads to some organic bread/toast and fruit-sweetened no-sugar jam for a perfect meal....
Oils: cold-pressed virgin olive oil, hemp oil, and flaxseed oil are among the tastiest, healthiest, and most nutritious oils (beware coconut oil and palm oil, which are far too high in saturated fat).... Instead of lathering your bread with butter in restaurants and at home, dip your bread in a little dish of olive oil maybe with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper for a taste treat (almost every restaurant will provide you the olive oil free). Avocado, a fruit, can be included here among the healthy oils for its high unsaturated oil content (unique in the fruit family). Remember that nuts and seeds, especially the "buttery" forms, have a high and healthy oil content, too. Some people do better with higher (30-40%) or lower (10-20%) percentage of oil in the caloric value of their diet. Just don't consume too much oil or too little oil. (When figuring calories, know that oil/fat has 9 calories per gram, whereas carbs and protein each have only 4 calories per gram.)
Nondairy Milks: Unsweetened, organic (thus non-GMO) soymilk, hemp milk, almond milk, rice milk, cashew milk. Unsweetened plain soymilk is by far the highest in protein, with about 9 grams of protein per 8-oz glass, even more than a glass of (unhealthy, cruelty-based) bovine dairy milk. Big Dairy has tried to have supermarkets ban or remotely locate these non-dairy milk-substitutes, but these CRUELTY-FREE beverages not only help you stop exploiting cow mothers and their babies (think of the horrors experienced by veal-calves, and the terrible pain of separating mother and child), these plant-based milks are far healthier and safer for you and your children. As for cost, the USA spends ~$4 billion per year on dairy subsidies. Without these ridiculous subsidies, plant-based milks (soy, almond, etc.) would be cheaper than cow's milk. As it is, because plant-based milks more safely store for longer periods, their cost is probably the same as dairy milk when factoring in the dairy milk that most consumers let go bad and unused in a given year.
Probiotics: vegan sauerkraut (just cabbage and salt), miso (white, low-sodium miso is tastiest and healthiest for most people), tempeh, natto, fermented tofu, kimchee/gimji (Korea's hot-spicy fermented veggies), and the new vegan kefir from GoodBelly (lactobacillus in a coconut water base). With growing scientific focus on the need for friendly bacteria in our guts, many people are spending big dollars to get probiotics as expensive supplements in capsule form... when in fact traditional societies have long known how to create extremely probiotic-rich foods for far less cost.
Sweeteners: If one needs sweeteners at all, powdered stevia leaf is a fine, zero-calorie substitute for sugar, and agave nectar is an excellent substitute for honey, which is a non-vegan food since it is stolen from bees. In general, one needs little or no sweeteners beyond the natural whole fruits that one eats daily. Organic raisins (several up to a handful) or some slices of apple (etc.) can easily sweeten many dishes.
The truth is that when we eat mindfully and sensitively, we awaken the power of our taste buds to savor the unique "Zen suchness" flavor of each type of natural food. Even plain raw or steamed vegetables with no sauce and no salt, or mild, unsweetened teas (green tea, etc.), will be sensed with great pleasure for their uniquely subtle flavor and rich nutrients. Wake up those taste buds and stop overwhelming them with sugar, fat and salt.
Remember that vegan food choices (such as listed here), which are still being maligned by sadly ignorant persons in our society as somehow "weird" or "non-mainstream," have been the bulk or entire diet of billions of people over human history and actually comprise the same meal-plan of many of our top athletes, scientists, musicians, models, actors/actresses, and so many of our spiritual leaders past and present.
The "crazy crackpots" here are not the vegans but rather the foolish persons still addicted to animal products that are ruining their own health and ruining the planet's health. But ABOVE ALL: going vegan is the only truly ethical way to leave behind the widespread slavery-&-death cult and instead live on this globe in loving, compassionate and joyous solidarity with fellow sentient beings.
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THE SIX ABOLITIONIST PRINCIPLES:
In their profound book, Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach (Exempla Press, 2015), Prof. Gary Francione and his wife Anna Charlton expose the egregious shortcomings of the "welfarist" movement (insidiously espoused by Humane Society of the US, PETA/People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, MFA / Mercy for Animals, et al.) and clearly lay out and elaborate on the Six Abolitionist Principles for a revolutionary new ethical paradigm:
1) Abolitionists maintain that all sentient beings, human or nonhuman, have one right—the basic right not to be treated as the property of others.
2) Abolitionists maintain that our recognition of this one basic right means that we must abolish, and not merely regulate, institutionalized animal exploitation, and that abolitionists should not support welfare reform campaigns or single-issue campaigns.
3) Abolitionists maintain that veganism is a moral baseline and that creative, nonviolent vegan education must be the cornerstone of rational animal rights advocacy.
4) The Abolitionist Approach links the moral status of nonhumans with sentience alone and not with any other cognitive characteristic; all sentient beings are equal for the purpose of not being used exclusively as a resource.
5) Abolitionists reject all forms of human discrimination, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and classism—just as they reject speciesism.
6) Abolitionists recognize the principle of nonviolence as a core principle of the animal rights movement.
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Biblical passages which advocate not eating animal food:
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 Veganism
At the website for the most flourishing Zen tradition in the world, namely South Korea's Jogye Order of Seon (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 vegan. This is why millions of South Korean Buddhists (Seon 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 vegans (and increasingly more people are becoming vegans upon hearing the abolitionist arguments for stopping the exploitation of dairy cows and egg-laying hens):
10 Virtues of Veganism
[Note that the website uses the old word "vegetarian," but they mean a "pure vegetarian" diet free of meat, fish, eggs and dairy. We therefore substitute for "vegetarian" the word "vegan" throughout the following...]
1. It’s good for health. A vegan 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 vegan 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 [and fish, dairy and eggs].
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 [and dairy]. [...]
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ANNOTATED "PROS & CONS" DISCUSSION OF READINGS, WEBSITES and FILMS:
If you are already committed to the abolitionist ethics and veganism as the only valid expression of this moral philosophy, see www.internationalvegan.org/ten-crucial-tips-for-public-outreach-work/ for how to best conduct social outreach to help fellow humans adopt this form of inter-species justice.
If you are not already committed, please examine your heart and conscience, and read the works of Gary Francione and others since him arguing the case for an abolitionist approach to how we treat animals...
You can also explore some of the following books, articles, websites, and feature-length films for more in-depth learning and inspiration....
But please note my caveats and warnings remarks about certain books, films and organizations (like HSUS, PETA, FARM and MFA) that terribly compromise themselves and fail our animal friends by only advocating a "welfarist" or "reducetarian" position instead of the completely abolitionist moral baseline of veganism:
Gary L. Francione, Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation, NY: Columbia Univ. Press, 2008. One of the more recent, most comprehensive and most recommended books by a leading academic philosopher and professor of law and philosophy (at Rutgers University) compassionately advocating veganism based on complete abolition of animal exploitation. Francione makes a big jump beyond the work of earlier ethical philosophers arguing for certain limited animal rights like omnivore Peter Singer. See also Francione's two more recent books (separate entries listed below) and his earlier, seminal books, Rain without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement, Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1996; Animals, Property and the Law, Temple U., 1995; and Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? Temple U., 2000.
Gary L. Francione & Anna Charlton, Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals, Exempla Press, 2013. This short book (144 pages) by Francione and his wife Anna is his most straightforward, popular work on abolitionism expressed through ethical veganism. One of the several "must-read" books on this reading list, it opens with the persuasive argument that our present belief in the wrongness of mistreating animals obligates us to eradicate all hypocrisy by going vegan and stop being complicit in the entirely unnecessary and immoral enslavement of animals for food and other uses (otherwise, "we are all Michael Vick," referring to the notorious torturer of dogs). Gary and Anna devote most of the book to Q&As thoroughly rebutting all the "buts," the dozens of excuses not to go vegan. See www.eatlikeyoucarebook.com/.
Gary L. Francione & Anna Charlton, Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach, Exempla Press, 2015. Another cogent, short book (160 pages) by Gary & Anna, exposing the egregious shortcomings of the "welfarist" movement (insidiously espoused by Humane Society of the US, PETA/People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, et al.). The authors, both lawyers, clearly lay out and elaborate on the Six Abolitionist Principles for a revolutionary new ethical paradigm: 1) Abolitionists maintain that all sentient beings, human or nonhuman, have one right—the basic right not to be treated as the property of others. 2) Abolitionists maintain that our recognition of this one basic right means that we must abolish, and not merely regulate, institutionalized animal exploitation, and that abolitionists should not support welfare reform campaigns or single-issue campaigns. 3) Abolitionists maintain that veganism is a moral baseline and that creative, nonviolent vegan education must be the cornerstone of rational animal rights advocacy. 4) The Abolitionist Approach links the moral status of nonhumans with sentience alone and not with any other cognitive characteristic; all sentient beings are equal for the purpose of not being used exclusively as a resource. 5) Abolitionists reject all forms of human discrimination, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and classism—just as they reject speciesism. 6) Abolitionists recognize the principle of nonviolence as a core principle of the animal rights movement.
Gary L. Francione & Robert Garner, The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? NY: Columbia University Press, 2010. In this extensive debate with British professor Garner (who specializes in the philosophy and politics of animal protection), Francione argues that extremely little progress has been made in animal protection. He charges that the huge amounts of time/money/energy spent by the famous big "corporate animal rights" groups like Humane Society (HSUS), PETA, Farm Sanctuary, FARM, and Mercy for Animals (MFA), would have been far better spent over the past few decades on straightforward vegan education and advocacy. Francione shows how the passing of farm-animal protection laws and promotion of "free-range" and "grass fed" "happy meat" campaigns have merely duped people into thinking that enslaved, miserable animals are being treated humanely and that there is no ethical/moral problem with confining, murdering and eating many billions of these fellow creatures each year.
--See also the veganism / abolitionist blog of Gary Francione at www.abolitionistapproach.com, featuring dozens of essays, talks, videos, and resources, and the basic message: "There is veganism and there is animal exploitation. There is no third choice." See also a blog by one of his colleagues, Linda McKenzie, at lindaamckenzie.blogspot.com/. E.g., read McKenzie's crucial blog-essay of Nov. 30, 2012, "Misanthropy And Its Effect On Our Vegan Advocacy (with Addendum)," addressed to fellow vegans on the need to staying loving and respectful toward non-vegans, not hating or castigating them for their "moral failure" in not (yet) abandoning the widespread and powerful meat-dairy cult.
--Great vegan "starter kit" websites based on Francione's work are www.howdoigovegan.com and www.internationalvegan.org/nutrition/.
Will Tuttle, World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony, NY: Lantern Books, 2005 (see worldpeacediet.org). Will Tuttle is a long-time student of deep spirituality (including Seon/Zen Buddhism), with a PhD in philosophy of education; his book, an Amazon.com #1 bestseller, is "must-reading" for its solid research and penetrating psychological analysis of the massive cultural indoctrination that enslaves human minds/hearts along with enslaving, abusing and killing billions of animals. Even more, Tuttle's book goes to our deepest core with a profound sense of our spiritual interconnection with all living beings in the one Great Life. See also an anthology of scholarly essays edited by Tuttle, Circles of Compassion: Essays Connecting Issues of Justice, Danvers, MA: Vegan Publ., 2015.
Andrew Linzey, Animal Theology, Urbana, IL: Univ. of Illinois, 1995; Animal Gospel, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1999; Christianity and the Rights of Animals, NY: Crossroad, 1987; Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics, Oxford U. Press, 2009; Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology, Winchester Univ. Press, 2009; and Linzey & Tom Regan, Eds., Animals and Christianity: A Book of Readings, 1988. Important philosophical and theological work challenging Christians on the usually quite-neglected issue of animal rights, by Rev. Dr. Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest, professor of theology at Oxford University, holder of the world’s first academic post in Ethics, Theology and Animal Welfare, and an early colleague of Peter Singer and the Oxford Group that helped pioneer modern animal-rights thinking. Linzey began his contributions with the treatise Animal Rights: a Christian Perspective, SCM Press, 1976. His most substantial theological work is Animal Theology. Considered to have almost single-handedly created the discipline of animal rights theology, Linzey's simple overarching message, a basis for abolitionism, is this: "Animals are God's creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God's sight." Linzey argues that authentic Christians aiming to imitate Christ must heed Jesus' injunction to empathize with, side with, serve and save the most vulnerable victims of injustice. And in our society that clearly means the vulnerable animals enslaved for food and other ends. In other words, the very powerlessness of animals entitles them to moral priority. He also documents historical sources indicating that Jesus and many early Christians were at least vegetarian and perhaps vegan.
Gary Steiner, Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship, NY: Columbia Univ., 2008. A professor of philosophy at Bucknell University, Steiner draws on Gary Francione's rejection of "similar minds theory" to persuasively argue for an abolitionist veganism on the basis of a "cosmic holism" and cosmic justice. This demands that we value animals' moral status (based on the simple fact of their sentience and unique animal intelligence) as we value our own moral status. Francione has stated, "This is an important book that will fundamentally restructure our discourse about animal cognition. Steiner's theory of cosmic holism is one of the most important developments in animal ethics in recent years." See also Steiner's recent work, Animals and the Limits of Postmodernism (Columbia Univ., 2013), very critical of the moral relativism of the postmodernist movement in academia. And see Steiner's earlier important work of survey and discussion, Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy (2005).
John Sanbonmatsu, Ed., Critical Theory and Animal Liberation, NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011. A rich collection of essays by different abolitionists and academics, combined with the gripping artwork of illustrator Sue Coe. The blurb tells that this is "the first collection to approach our relationship with other animals from the critical or 'left' [progressive] tradition in political and social thought. Breaking with past treatments that have framed the problem as [only] one of 'animal rights,' the authors instead depict the exploitation and killing of other animals as a political question of the first order. The contributions highlight connections between our everyday treatment of animals and other forms of social power, mass violence, and domination, from capitalism and patriarchy to genocide, fascism, and ecocide. Contributors... point the way toward a new transformative politics that would encompass the human and animal alike." The Introduction features a lengthy, eloquent and disturbing overview of the situation facing countless billions of animals and the speciesist ideology and politics of humans, written by the eloquent ethical-political philosopher Sanbonmatsu, presently working on his own book (The Omnivore's Distraction: The Politics and Ethics of Killing Animals) and a longtime critic of the postmodernist indifference to ethical standards (see his 2003 book The Postmodern Prince). Sanbonmatsu, whose approach is to question humanity's terrible speciesism based on a sense of superiority, has called for a radical abolitionist ethos based on empathy for all living creatures and ending their legal status as property. The many contributors include Karen Davis (of United Poultry Concern), well-known feminist Carol Adams, Vasile Stanescu (criticizing the "locavore" movement), Josephine Donovan, Renzo Llorente, John Sorenson, Aaron Bell, Ted Benton, Susan Benston, Carl Boggs, Christina Gerhardt, Victoria Johnson, Eduardo Mendieta, Dennis Soron, and Zipporah Weisberg.
H. Jay Dinshah, Out of the Jungle: The Way of Dynamic Harmlessness, Malaga, NJ: American Vegan Society, 1995 (first published in 1965 by the AVS); and H. Jay Dinshah, Ed., Here’s Harmlessness: An Anthology of Ahimsa [Harmlessness], AVS, 1993 (first published in 1964 by the AVS). Dinshah, inspired by the ethical views of Mohandas Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer, established the American Vegan Society in 1960 in Malaga, New Jersey. This is the pre-eminent organization of its kind in the western hemisphere. He was soon joined in the work by his British wife Freya. Dinshah was also president of the (not entirely vegan) North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) which since 1974 conducted the Summerfest, the largest and most influential gathering of vegetarians in North America. Many of them went vegan as a result of Dinshah's influence. (NOTE: In recent years, there are other, larger, purely vegan events in the USA.)
Eva Bhatt, essay “Why Veganism?” filed at www.abolitionistapproach.com/text/why-veganism-by-eva-batt/#.VbjSu_l8VOY. This piece by Batt (1908–1989) first appeared in Jay Dinshah's edited collection Here’s Harmlessness. Residing in England, Bhatt went vegan in 1954, ten years after the term was coined by Donald Watson. She chaired for 15 years the UK Vegan Society that Watson and colleagues set up, wrote two vegan cookbooks, and did much to promote veganism.
Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 1983, reprinted in 2004 with new Preface. One of the pioneering works in the philosophy of ethics and ending all animal exploitation, covering numerous aspects of animal rights in its 474 pages. The late Tom Regan's views are based on the philosophy of natural rights, a superior basis compared to the utilitarian philosophy argued in Peter Singer's hugely influential earlier book Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for our Treatment of Animals (1975) and other works. Regan's later books include Defending Animal Rights, Univ. of Illinois Press, 2000; Animal Rights, Human Wrongs: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy, Rowman & Littlefield, 2003; and Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. Gary Francione, asked about the difference between his and Regan's approach to animal rights, has stated (June 25, 2016 at his Facebook page): "Tom’s main work, The Case for Animal Rights, links status as a rightholder with being the 'subject-of-a-life'--a concept that requires a level of preference autonomy that goes well beyond sentience. Given that he thinks the clear case of a SoL is a mammal one year of age or older, we see that his idea of the cognitive level required for rights status is pretty high. That sort of theoretical framework is not really conducive to seeing veganism as a central idea. Indeed, one of the reasons Tom and I stopped working together was that Tom, like Peter Singer, took the position that he would eat animal products if they were served to him by a host or in a restaurant. I considered that a non-vegan position. I still consider that a non-vegan position. [...] Several [more] things: [...] Tom was indeed talking about abolition in the early days as an alternative to the 'gentle use' proposed by Peter [Singer] and the utilitarians. But Tom was by no means the first person to propose the abolition of animal exploitation. Far more radical in his thinking was Lewis Gompertz (1783-1861). Tom never discussed the property issues involved in animal exploitation [i.e., that, as persons, animals are entitled to not be treated as property by humans] and he never saw rights theory as related to property status. He never saw veganism as central to rights theory. He never accepted that sentience was the only characteristic necessary for full membership in the moral community (indeed, he rejected that). There are other differences as well just on the animal issue (and others relating to the human rights/violence implications)."
John Robbins, Diet for a New America, Walpole, NH: Stillpoint, 1987 (and subsequent reprints, such as the 25th anniversary edition in 2012), and Robbins' sequel, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World, Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 2001, and other works (Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples, Random House, 2006; No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution, Conari, 2012, etc.). His group Earthsave.org has chapters throughout the USA and beyond. Psychically sensing the ongoing hourly agony of billions of animal persons confined and tortured by Big Ag, John Robbins courageously abandoned his family's Baskin-Robbins ice-cream fortune to stand up from the late 1980s onward as one of the most eloquent and influential voices for kindness to animals and ourselves. His first tome was filled with a massive amount of medical science and environmental science research, and poignant opening chapters on the rich inner life and capacities of the various animals we enslave and murder for food. Robbins also compassionately explores the really thick psychological conditioning and brainwashing that keeps humans complicit in the crimes against animals. Most unfortunately, what could have been a strong vegan / abolitionist message in Robbins' book (with his severe criticism of the meat, poultry and dairy industries) was contradicted by his occasional advice to buy so-called “humanely raised” animal products and his ongoing support of venal organizations like HSUS (Humane Society of the U.S.). And the Earthsave organization for many years has de-emphasized any real concern for animals and instead promoted a mere "health"-orientation and an explicitly gradualist "shift toward a plant-based diet." (At the FAQ section: "Q: Do I need to eat a vegetarian diet to join? A: Definitely not. We prefer to talk about eating a more plant-based diet....") So Robbins' writing and the Earthsave movement have been left behind by the abolitionist vegan movement (based on the works of Gary Francione) that has grown its numbers much stronger in recent decades with a clear-cut ethical basis.
Jack Norris & Virginia Messina, Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet, Boston: Da Capo, 2011. Norris and Messina are both registered dietitians and long-time vegans. See Ginny Messina's www.TheVeganRD.com for other book-titles and her blog-articles on helping people stay vegan without recidivism into "ex-vegan" status, and her cogent critique of books such as The Myth of Vegetarianism written by an ex-vegan. Jack Norris co-founded the now problematic group Vegan Outreach (www.VeganOutreach.org) in 1995 (previously known as Animal Liberation Action) which now annually distributes over 2 million brochures on veganism at college campuses. I call VO "problematic" because in recent years too much of their message is attacking abolitionist vegans and arguing for a "reducetarian" approach. Having said that, Norris' www.VeganHealth.org is one of the better sites on vegan nutritional needs, especially for B12 (the best experts on vegan nutrition recommend either a daily vitamin/mineral supplement with 20-100 mcg of B-12 or else a twice-weekly B-12 supplement of 1000 mcg).
Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina, Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet, TN: Book Publishing Co., 2000. See also Vesanto Melina, Becoming Vegan, Express Edition: The Everyday Guide to Plant-based Nutrition, Book Publishing Co., 2013. Davis and Melina are registered dietitians (e.g., see numerous articles by Davis at www.BrendaDavisRD.com).
Joanne Stepaniak, The Vegan Sourcebook, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2000; Being Vegan: Living with Conscience, Conviction, and Compassion, Lowell House, 2000; J. Stepaniak & Vesanto Melina, Raising Vegetarian Children: A Guide to Good Health and Family Harmony, McGraw-Hill, 2002. Stepaniak is the author of several vegan cookbooks in addition to the above titles; note that her book Raising Vegetarian Children actually argues for vegan choices, not lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
Victoria Moran, Compassion: The Ultimate Ethic, An Exploration of Veganism, UK: Thorsons, 1985; Main Street Vegan: Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World, Los Angeles: Tarcher, 2012; The Good Karma Diet: Eat Gently, Feel Amazing, Age in Slow Motion, Tarcher, 2015; and The Love-Powered Diet: Eating for Freedom, Health, and Joy, Lantern: 2009. Long-time vegan and popular author Moran, whose first book Compassion: the Ultimate Ethic in 1985 was a major influence on the animal rights movement, went on to set up Main Street Vegan Academy, an in-person program to train and certify vegan lifestyle coaches/educators (VLCEs); see www.mainstreetvegan.net. It is unfortunate and bizarre that Moran has committed herself to the "reducetarian" approach (reducing, not eliminating, consumption of animals and their milk secretions), which still privileges old speciesist human attachments and "convenience" over the horrific plight of the animals being exploited, when she endorsed the Reducetarian.org website's views as "a lovely concept." Certainly none of this is "lovely" or a mere "concept" for the confined, tortured and slaughtered animals.
Reed Mangels, Virginia Messina, and Mark Messina, The Dietitian's Guide to Vegetarian Diets, Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2011. This is a "nearly vegan" book, and the authors would do well to make it a completely vegan approach, as author Reed Mangels does in his The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book, Adams Media, 2011.
Beverly Lynn Bennett & Ray Sammartano, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vegan Living, Alpha, 2005. See Bennett's Vegan Chef website, veganchef.com.
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. See www.DoctorKlaper.com) Doctors Klaper, John McDougall and Neal Barnard (see next two entries) are three AMA-licensed physicians in the USA who have been promoting veganism since the 1980s and were made famous by John Robbins' first book, Diet for a New America. One caveat: Klaper has been criticized by more recent vegan nutritionists for not recommending the right kind of Vitamin B-12 supplementation.
Dr. John McDougall, various works such as The McDougall Plan, 1983, McDougall's Medicine, 1985, both by New Century Publ., Piscataway, NJ, and later related books on health as well as several cookbooks. See www.DrMcdougall.com. Dr. McDougall came to vegan nutritional fame with his low-fat vegan diet based on observing clinical differences in Hawaii between older Asian-Americans (eating their traditional diet based on rice, vegetables, legumes and fruit) and their children, who ate the "Standard American Diet" (SAD). McDougall himself survived a massive stroke at age 18 eating the latter before going vegetarian then vegan.
Dr. Neal Barnard, Food for Life: How the New Four Food Groups Can Save Your Life, Three Rivers, 1994. Long-time vegan and master of public relations, Barnard is founding president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) and The Cancer Project (education on diet's role in cancer prevention and survival), and a well-known advocate for animal rights (banning use of live animals in medical education or research), and educator on diet's role in human health (he is featured in three PBS specials on the topic). Barnard designed a "New Four Food Groups" to replace the USDA's notorious "Four Basic Food Groups" model; his model shows grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit (which include healthy seeds, nuts and oils). With others, he has been a provocative voice to reform the USA's school-lunch programs toward far healthier vegan options, and in late 2015 he opened the Barnard Medical Center in Washington, DC, based on nutritional principles of preventive and curative health. See www.NealBarnard.org.
Erik Marcus, Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating, Ithaca, NY: McBooks, 2nd ed., 2000; Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, & Money, Brio, 2005; The Ultimate Vegan Guide: Compassionate Living Without Sacrifice, Create Space, 2011, 2nd ed.; and the Kindle-format 41-page booklet, A Vegan History: 1944-2010, Amazon, 2011. Marcus originated the Vegan.com website, which places highly on a Google list of returns for "vegan." Yet Marcus and his site and especially his newsletters have far too often espoused a mediocre "reducetarian" position and/or gradualism rather than an abolitionist vegan stance as the moral baseline. For example, see vegan.com's "How to Go Vegan" section, which recommends the "Vegan Before 6:00 [p.m.]" halfway-approach of Mark Bittman and the deeply flawed book Eating Animals by J. Safran Foer (see further below for my severe critique of that work). Crazily enough, Marcus has devoted much print and speech to criticizing 100% ethical vegans as "purists" rather than criticizing the "halfway" advocates, or the meat-eating hordes and evil corporations that serve them. Marcus, the "anti-vegan vegan" as one friend has called him, frequently betrays the ethical vegan stance by privileging the happiness and comfort-level of humans over against the basic injustice of confining and slaughtering animals. But as Gary Francione has frequently stated, the ethical vegan/abolitionist movement is not about us and our "comfort," but about the animals.
T. Colin Campbell and (son) Thomas M. 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. Subsequent books include T. Colin Campbell with Howard Jacobson, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, BenBella, 2013 (352 pp); Campbell & Jacobson, The Low-Carb Fraud, 2014 (96 pp.); and Gene Stone & T. Colin Campbell, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, The Experiment, 2011 (featuring many recipes after the introductory sections, this is a companion book to the hit documentary film of the same name). See www.TheChinaStudy.com, on the China-Oxford-Cornell research project headed by Campbell, the largest, most scientifically acclaimed study ever done on human health and nutrition--which clearly shows that humans are far better "designed" by evolution to eat plant food rather than animal products. Campbell, professor emeritus of nutritional biochemistry at Cornell University, received international acclaim for his work, yet pressure was exerted on him by the meat and dairy industry through Cornell University for his daring to challenge the destructive status quo in nutritional science. See also nutritionstudies.org/articles/ for many articles by T. Colin Campbell, Thomas Campbell MD (and others) at their Center for Nutrition Studies.
Dr. Alona Pulde & Dr. Matthew Lederman, The Forks Over Knives Plan: How to Transition to the Life-Saving, Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet, The Experiment, 2011; and Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide To Optimum Health, Los Angeles: Exsalus Health & Wellness Center, 2009. By two vegan licensed doctors practicing nutritional and lifestyle medicine at their Exsalus clinic in Los Angeles; these doctors were shown in their clinical practice reversing patients' diseases in the 2011 hit documentary film "Forks Over Knives."
Brendan Brazier, Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, DaCapo, 2007; Thrive Fitness: The Vegan-Based Training Program, Vega, 2009; Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health, Vega, 2011; Thrive Energy Cookbook: 150 Plant-Based Whole Food Recipes, DaCapo, 2014; etc. The Canadian Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete and creator of VEGA, a whole food plant-based nutritional product line; he is also something of a cult figure on the vegan lecture circuit for his expertise on premium fitness, first expressed in a short book released in 2004, followed by these other titles listed above.
Ruth Harrison, Animal Machines, 1964. This book by British Quaker and animal-welfare activist Harrison (1921-2000), with a foreword by Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring), was the first to reveal the conditions of industrialized factory farming for poultry and livestock. Published in seven countries, it profoundly impacted the UK public and government and subsequent animal rights thinkers like Peter Singer. The book can be downloaded at www.Scribd.com.
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. (Featuring her remarkable, touching paintings of distressed and dead animals.)
Gail Eisnitz, Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry, NY: Prometheus Books, 1997. These last three titles by Coats, Coe and Eisnitz take up where Ruth Harrison, John Robbins, and others left off in telling the terrible tale of gruesome conditions for the agonized animals in our nightmarish "factory farming" industry.
Mark Hawthorne, Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Sufferings, Changemakers Books, 2013. At 643 pages (including over 120 pages of notes), Hawthorne has compiled an enormous, eloquent, heart-breaking exposé of the many, many ways that humans abuse and exploit animals. The explicit message to counter all this horror: go vegan and educate one another on the multiple atrocities and how to stop being complicit in many of them.
James McWilliams, The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martins, 2015. With five previous books on food, animals and agriculture, McWilliams, a history professor at Texas State University and longtime animal welfarist (a big supporter of the dubious Humane Society of US), here begins to shift closer (though often in a confused, wishy-washy way) toward an abolitionist position. But his actions both before and after publishing this book indicate he is still squarely within the welfarist camp which repeatedly betrays the abolitionist cause. In The Modern Savage, he reveals extensive cruelty to animals (and greater incidence of disease, etc.) occurring even on the smallest and supposedly most "humane" farms. Given the fact of animals' deep intelligence and rich emotional life, he intermittently argues for the only truly moral choice: giving up all meat, dairy, and other animal products. As such, he criticizes the "compassionate carnivore" views of popular writers Michael Pollan (Omnivore's Dilemma) and Mark Bittman (VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00). This latest book by McWilliams appears to have been influenced by his exposure to the abolitionist ideas of Gary Francione, though Francione is never mentioned. McWilliams refused to publicly discuss these issues with Francione in 2012 and on Aug. 16, 2015, seven months after this essentially "near-vegan" book from McWilliams came out, he and co-author Bob Fischer wrote a New York Times blog-piece, "When Vegans Won't Compromise," using a bizarre straw-man argument to misrepresent and attack Francione's abolitionist position as "absolutist." Nevertheless, this book The Modern Savage is listed here for showing how all sorts of thinkers/authors are finally feeling compelled (long overdue!) to advocate (albeit inconsistently) for animal rights and "the eventual and complete elimination of domesticated animals from the human diet" (p. 226). "What we have to do as reformers is attack the premise of eating animals in the first place." Which is exactly what clear-minded vegan abolitionists like Francione have been arguing for decades, contrary to the mixed-up, vacillating, self-contradictory message of "welfarist" organizations like HSUS, PETA, MFA, et al. and of authors like McWilliams.
Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals, Little, Brown & Co., 2009. This widely-reviewed non-fiction work by young fiction writer Foer (his first two novels were adapted into films) attracted mainstream media attention for its first-person approach to the topics of animal suffering, factory farming, and going vegetarian (alas, not fully vegan!). The book has some well-turned phrases and 70 pages of fact-based notes at the end. However, Foer, while casting a keen eye onto the horrendous suffering of animals consumed for their "tortured flesh," mostly ignores the anguished suffering of the laying hens and cows confined and abused for their eggs and dairy products (Foer does briefly acknowledge that 200 million sensitive little male chicks are brutally slaughtered every year in the egg/poultry industry). So the abolitionist vegan viewpoint is missing here while he makes his ethical and environmental case for a vegetarianism that actually reads more like mere "reducetarianism." In the end, Foer in his book and in subsequent interviews undermines and even contradicts his case by recommending to any meat-addicted readers mere baby steps like "Meatless Mondays" and suggesting that they get their meat from small "humane" farms. Such talk perpetuates the illusion that it is "really difficult" to go completely vegan, when fundamentally it is not difficult at all! Besides that, not only would it be impossible logistically for most meat-eaters to get their fix this way, animal rights advocates over the decades have exposed the intolerable "standard practices" of castration, nose-rings, branding, and other cruelties that occur in meat-production on most of the supposedly "humane" small farms. Some readers have complained at Amazon.com that Foer gives no useful info on how to easily shift to a plant-based diet. Despite the book's serious gaps and flaws, many of its readers (based on comments at Amazon.com) went beyond Foer's limited arguments and lingering speciesism to become completely vegan.
Victoria Braithwaite, Do Fish Feel Pain?, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2010. She answers resoundingly: "Yes they do!" and provides the scientific evidence that fish, just like mammals, do experience intense suffering of pain, providing more grounds for readers to go entirely vegan, given the terrible pain inflicted on fish, especially including "farmed fish."
Karen Davis, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An Inside Look at the Modern Poultry Industry, TN: Book Publishing Co., rev. ed., 2009. This book is highly significant, given that some 90% or 9 billion of the 10 billion land-animals tortured and killed every year for "food" in the USA are chickens.
Richard Alan Young, Is God a Vegetarian? Christianity, Vegetarianism, and Animal Rights, Peru, IL: Open Court, 1999. Based on the work of Andrew Linzey and others. Obviously, Young has not deeply considered the abolitionist argument for going fully vegan.
Richard Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism, NY: Lantern Books, revised edition, 2001 (orig. publ. in 1982). A seminal work for Jews interested in the topic, based on historical sources. Professor Schwartz, of the Modern Orthodox denomination of Jews, demonstrates that, not only is vegetarianism wholly consistent with Judaism (against the view of some who mistakenly think the Bible presumes and commands meat-eating), it is imperative in this cruel era of factory farming, environmental depletion, epidemic human disease, and world hunger. Schwartz actually develops the ethical/spiritual argument for going entirely vegan, not just vegetarian.
Charles Patterson, Eternal Treblinka: Our Treatment of Animals and the Holocaust, NY: Lantern Books, 2002. The title is based on a profound saying by the vegetarian Yiddish writer and Nobel Laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, "In relation to them [animals], all [human] people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka." Longtime Holocaust educator Patterson, a graduate of Yad Vashem Institute for Holocaust Education in Jerusalem with a PhD from Columbia Univ., and author of Anti-Semitism: The Road to the Holocaust and Beyond, The Civil Rights Movement and other works, sensitively explores historical topics of slavery, death camps, criminal confinement, prejudice, and how cruel human treatment of animals has predisposed too many humans for other evils.
Philip Kapleau, To Cherish All Life: A Buddhist Case for Becoming Vegetarian, Rochester, NY: The Zen Center, 2nd ed., 1986. By the famous American Zen Roshi who authored the classic Three Pillars of Zen. His book on vegetarianism (largely veganism), originally published in 1981, turned many western Buddhists onto veganism or vegetarianism for ethical reasons. A deeper consideration of ethics would lead to full abolitionist veganism, which is in fact how most Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhists & Pure Land Buddhists and S.Korean Seon (Zen) Buddhists eat in their monasteries, homes and restaurants.
Norm Phelps, The Dominion of Love: Animal Rights According to the Bible, Lantern, 2002; The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights, Lantern, 2004; The Longest Struggle: Animal Advocacy from Pythagoras to PETA, Lantern, 2007. The first two books here challenge Christians and Buddhists, respectively, to live up to their ideals of loving-kindness and compassion, while The Longest Struggle is the fullest overview of animal protection developments (and its foes) through human history. The late Norm Phelps (d.2014), who took the lead to challenge the Dalai Lama on his meat-eating, and challenged the Unitarian-Universalist Church in 2011 on its "Statement of Conscience" about ethical eating, in several essays available online promoted what he termed "two-track activism": not just complete abolitionism and veganism but also the attempt to lessen the horrific suffering of confined animals through campaigns that alert the public to the appalling consequences of our society's use/abuse of animals. (Gary Francione, the earlier cited pioneer of abolitionist thinking, has strongly criticized this "new welfarist" view, despite Phelps presenting some scientific evidence that some welfarist programs may persuade the public to lessen consumption of animal-food products. Why? The welfarist campaigns waste far too much time, energy and money on very limited improvements when the same resources could be used for much more focused vegan advocacy.) Phelps strongly urges enlisting mainstream religious groups to help with ultimate abolition of animal use/abuse, since the churches were a major factor in ending slavery by the 1860s and promoting civil rights in the 1960s onward. Among the sometimes flawed writings and talks at his website www.AnimalsandEthics.org (still maintained by his widow Patti Rogers), Phelps has an in-depth overview of the history of animal rights and animal welfare developments from ancient times to recent years: "A Chronology of Animal Protection," based on his 2007 in-depth history book, The Longest Struggle.
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. These books by Steve Rosen (mentioned prior to this one) and Rynn Berry are included for their historical value and interface with the topic of religion; they were written before ethical veganism publicly became more of a trend and strongly criticized mere lacto-/ovo-vegetarianism as a venal half-measure.
Tristram Stuart, The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism from 1600 to Modern Times, NY: Norton, 2007; London: HarperCollins. At 656 pages, this book reviews the arguments made especially by British and French philosophers and scientists from 1600 onward; see many reviews of this book in the mainstream press: The New Yorker, The Independent (UK), etc.
Martha Brotherton, A New System of Vegetable Cookery, published in 1812 and included here for historical reference. As Norm Phelps observes (animalsandethics.org/mostimportantbooks.html), "This is believed to have been the first vegetarian cookbook. Martha Brotherton was a leading figure in the Bible Christian Church, founded around 1809 by William Cowherd in Salford, UK. Cowherd required Church members to be vegetarian out of compassion for animals and as a way to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual health. Famous for providing free vegetarian meals to the poor, the Bible Christian Church was the first organization in Europe since the demise of the Pythagorean Society 1400 years earlier to require a vegetarian diet at least in part from concern for animals. In 1847, Martha Brotherton’s husband, Joseph, by then the leader of the Bible Christian Church, was instrumental in the formation of the Vegetarian Society in London." Today, Brotherton and Cowherd would no doubt be fully vegan, not just vegetarian, given the further development of abolitionist ethics.
Rupert H. Wheldon, No Animal Food: Two Essays and 100 Recipes, the first known fully vegan cookbook, published in London in 1910, after nearly a century of pure vegan advocacy by Lewis Gompertz in England and by Amos Bronson Alcott and some of his Transcendentalist colleagues in Massachusetts. The book proposed a diet of pulses, cereals, nuts, fruits, green vegetables and roots on health and moral grounds.
Carol Adams, various works on eco-feminism and veganism (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). Adams shows how feminists worldwide need to be aware of the ongoing terrible injustices toward female sentient beings such as cows, hens and their babies under the modern industrialized agribusiness systems.
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. Lappé was a fairly early voice looking at the terrible environmental consequences of eating meat, fish, eggs and dairy; she also laid to rest in the 2nd edition of her Diet for a Small Planet a myth that she helped start in the first edition: that one needs to figure out how to "combine proteins" in order to get sufficient protein. Just eat a sufficiently balanced diet of grains, beans/legumes, fruits, vegetables and nuts/seeds and no need to worry.
Ingrid Newkirk, Compassionate Cook--Please Don't Eat the Animals: A Vegan Cookbook, NY: Time Warner Books, 1993. By the controversial head of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), but a staunch vegan of several decades. PETA, founded in 1980 by Newkirk and Alex Pacheco and mega-wealthy from a heavy focus on fund-raising, has been strongly, repeatedly criticized by Gary Francione for its sensationalist and sexist campaigns. (Note that Gary was an early and influential member of PETA before leaving to start a purely abolitionist movement.) Worse, like some other mega-funded "animal rights" organizations, PETA has betrayed the abolitionist approach toward animals by actually giving the terribly-misleading "humane" stamp of approval to many meat- and dairy-producers (and markets such as Whole Foods). This approval essentially tells the public that confining and killing billions of animals yearly for food is "okay," despite PETA's well-known original message, "Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way." PETA has also been heavily criticized for euthanizing most of the rescue animals at its shelters when it cannot get people to adopt them (albeit PETA has created a quicker, more painfree form of euthanization than is standard). On the positive side, PETA has produced many videos/DVDs on healthy vegan eating, and cookbooks such as Cooking With Peta: Great Vegan Recipes for a Compassionate Kitchen, TN: Book Publishing Co., 1997. It is also by far the most visible organization worldwide (with branches in India, China, Japan, etc.) trying to educate the public about the horrors that animals experience in factory farming, vivisection, drug/product testing, puppy mills, pet shops, circuses, zoos and so on. But there are far better organizations to support than PETA, which has often offended even its own membership by being "press sluts" and "pushing the envelope of good taste," as Newkirk readily admits in her desire to wake up humanity to its inhumanity.
Barry Sears, The Soy Zone, ReganBooks, 2000. This book is a major correction to his famous earlier "Zone diet" books of the mid-1990s that argued for animal sources of protein over vegan. 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. Unfortunately, Freston has in the past supported things like "Meatless Mondays," which tacitly implies that eating meat (and dairy) the other days of the week is just fine; as Francione says, we don't promote things like "Rapeless Mondays," so why should it be any different when it comes to standing up for animals' rights all seven days per week?
Marion Nestle, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health, Univ. of California Press, revised expanded ed., 2013, 534 pp. (first publ. in 2002); What To Eat, North Point, 2006, 624 pp. Prof. Nestle chaired from 1988 to 2003 the Department of Nutrition & Food Studies at NY University, and served as a nutrition policy advisor to the Dept of Health & Human Services, the USDA and FDA. These are not vegan advocacy books but Nestle, a big proponent of eating plant foods (primarily if not entirely), reveals in her formidable Food Politics book how corporate control of the nation's food system limits our choices and direly threatens our health (not to mention the horror for the animals). See also her Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, UC Press, 2010.
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 scientists at 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. A classic muckraking historical account of how America's ecosystems have been largely destroyed by the cattle-based Big Ag business over the past 160 years.
--See the massive list of vegan cookbooks at www.happycow.net/shop/cookbooks.html and general sites like www.amazon.com and others.
--For great vegan 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.; also see VeganFoodIsEverywhere.com.
--For breaking new stories related to veganism, see: Latest Vegan News at http://latestvegannews.com/
--General vegan info and resource websites include, starting with the two oldest groups:
The UK-based original vegan group Vegan Society, founded in 1944 by Donald Watson and friends (vegansociety.com). See also back issues of their long-running magazine, The Vegan.
The first USA-based vegan group, American Vegan Society, founded in 1960 by Jay & Freya Dinshah (americanvegan.org). See back issues of their long-running magazine, Ahimsa (Non-Violence).
Gary Francione's Abolitionist Approach blog (www.abolitionistapproach.com), containing 350 essays with many available in 5 languages; dozens of podcasts and audio interviews; more than a dozen videos; pamphlets and other materials in more than 22 languages, all available for advocates to use in their work around the world.
International Vegan Association (www.internationalvegan.org), based on Gary Francione's abolitionist approach, with a great vegan starter kit.
HumaneMyth.org: Deconstructing the Myth of Humane Animal Agriculture (humanemyth.org), an excellent abolitionist vegan website run by Jenny Stein and James LaVeck, producers of the film "Peaceable Journey" (see below) and founders of Tribe of Heart. They combat the myths of the "humaneness" and "sustainability" of using animals for human consumption, with insightful articles and critique of the "happy meat" trend increasingly rampant in the mainstream media and among former vegetarians.
BeFairBeVegan.com, a richly informative website for the highly visible, educational vegan digital slideshow and static poster campaign running for four weeks above Times Square and the Javits Center in New York City during Summer 2016, with other cities to come later. The "Be Fair Be Vegan" production (with the subtitle: "Different But Equal") has been described as "the most ambitious social justice campaign ever to be launched in New York" and also the most visible vegan campaign in U.S. history. It is the brainchild of Joanna Lucas, a writer, visual artist and animal rights activist who created vegan outreach materials and campaigns for Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary. The BeFairBeVegan.com website has many essays on various facets of veganism, as well as links to articles at other sites, especially the vegan site GentleWorld.org, whose Angel Flinn is a media-spokesperson for the BeFairBeVegan campaign.
Goveganworld.com, an Irish website for another highly visible, educational vegan campaign of posters and billboards running in the UK starting in July 2016, initiated by Sandra Higgins of Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary Ireland.
Notmilk (notmilk.com), a vegan site filled with Robert Cohen's interesting op-eds on a wide range of topics, such as his blasting of milk products for the dozens of diseases they cause, BurgerKing for their pseudo-vegan veggie-burger (and PETA for promoting it), celebrities who wear the milk mustache for the National Dairy Council, etc.
Go Vegan Radio (www.GoVeganRadio.com), weekly broadcasts since 2002 by longtime radio host Bob Linden, organizer of the World Vegan Summit. All past radio shows are archived at the site, along with his 5-minute KPFA weekly segments, along with Bob's fiery written blog-posts. This is a staunch vegan approach that won't settle for mere "reducetarian" or "welfarist" compromises.
Chomping Climate Change (www.chompingclimatechange.org/publications/articles/), the site founded by Robert Goodland (d.2013), Jeff Anhang and colleagues to raise consciousness on how animal agriculture is contributing at least 51% of all greenhouse gases (GHGs), thereby being the primary cause of catastrophic climate change (not just 18%, as previously estimated by the UN FAO). The website provides the pdf file for the famous 2009 report “Livestock and Climate Change” by Goodland & Anhang for Worldwatch Institute, as well as a follow-on reply by Goodland to questions, and many other related articles. At the website's home page, learn about getting involved.
The Vegan Calculator (www.thevegancalculator.com), allows one to calculate how many lives and resources one has saved by eating vegan, based on facts presented in the documentary film Cowspiracy (see section on films, further below). For instance, when I plug in "40 years" being vegan, it calculates that I have spared 14,600 lives, saved 16,060,000 gallons of water, 438,000 square feet of forest, 584,000 tons of grain, and 292,000 lbs of CO2. The site states that each day you eat vegan, you spare (on average) one animal life and save 1100 gallons of water, 30 sq ft of forest, 40 lbs of grain, and 20 lbs of CO2. And the last figure (on CO2) should be multiplied by at least 2 or 3 because, as Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang have shown in their Worldwatch paper, the 2006 UN FAO report badly understates the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by animal agriculture, including not just CO2 but also methane and other climate-changing gases.
Plantrician Project (plantricianproject.org), founded in 2012, sponsor since 2013 of the yearly CME-accredited International Plant-Based Nutrition Healthcare Conference (over 600 doctors and other medical professionals attended in 2015). Plantrician Project's mission is "To educate, equip and empower our physicians and healthcare practitioners with knowledge about the indisputable benefits of plant-based nutrition. To provide them with the resources they, in turn, use to inform and inspire their patients to shift from the Western industrialized diet to a life-changing, whole-food, plant-based [WFPB] way of living." In 2015, Plantrician Project launched the Plant-based Nutrition Ultimate Resource Guide; The Plantrician Project Plant-based Nutrition Quick Start Guide (print copies for $2.50); PlantBasedDocs.com, a global online directory of medical professionals who pledge to use plant-based nutrition as their first treatment option; and Culinary Rx (in partnership with Rouxbe Cooking School), a 60-day nutrition literacy and plant-based cooking course that clinicians can "prescribe" to patients. The Plantrician Project's vision is sustainability of human health, the healthcare system, and planetary climate and ecosystems.
Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM) (www.farmusa.org/), founded in 1981 by Holocaust-survivor Alex Hershaft and animal rights colleagues. FARM has sponsored in more recent years a Live Vegan outreach educational program (www.LiveVegan.org) and since 2012 the "10 Billion Lives Tour" to college campuses, street fairs and music festivals across the nation, paying students or anyone $1 to watch a 4-minute video (viewable at 10billionlives.com/) to help people go vegan. FARM every several years gets the most updated statistics on animal confinement and slaughter, e.g., the most recent figure that nearly 10 billion land animals in the USA alone are killed annually, cruelly, for "food." FARM also sponsors a yearly animal rights conference that unfortunately has been dominated by those in the non-abolitionist animal welfare camp (not animal rights). As critiqued by Bob Linden (Go Vegan Radio), "Alex Hershaft and his staff at FARM need to resign immediately and retire this disgusting and despicable organization. FARM sells us the sell-outs as an 'animal rights movement,' as the animals suffer and die, betrayed by those who are supposed to be their advocates."
Other groups include: Vegan Outreach (veganoutreach.org, founded in 1995 primarily to provide educational brochures on veganism to college students); Vegan Action (vegan.org); Vegan.com (vegan.com); the rather vegan-oriented Christian Vegetarian Society (christianveg.com); and the oldest formal vegetarian group in the West, the Vegetarian Society (f. 1847) (vegsoc.org), which in recent decades has been pressured by animal rights activists to go completely vegan in its message.
--Unfortunately, most of these last-mentioned groups, as with FARM, have lent their approval to the merely "Reducetarian" approach and the deeply problematic "humane" welfarist factory-farm programs, e.g., the "happy meat" produced by Big Ag and sold by WholeFoods and other stores, essentially condoning the continued enslavement, mistreatment and murder of billions of animal friends.
A leading vegan magazine is VegNews at www.vegnews.com, "the premier vegan lifestyle magazine," with many awards for "best lifestyle magazine" from different groups.
• Live and Let Live, 2013, 80 minutes.
This feature-length documentary by German sociologist and author Marc Pierschel examines our relationship with animals, the history of veganism and the sound reasons that move people to go vegan. Six such persons are featured here (a butcher, a chef, a factory farmer, a farm sanctuary owner, an animal activist, and a professional cyclist). Philosophers Gary Francione, Tom Regan, and Peter Singer join scientists T. Colin Campbell, Jonathan Balcombe and many others to shed light on the ethical, health and environmental perspectives of veganism. The film observes the origins of veganism in London 1944 to its becoming one of the fastest growing lifestyles and moral/ethical movements worldwide, with more and more people realizing what’s on their plates matters urgently to the fate of billions of animals, the environment, and themselves.
• Speciesism: The Movie, 2013, 94 minutes.
Mark DeVries's low-key yet elevating film, which some critics have actually called "entertaining" and even "comic" (surely not the best words to use, given the serious issues at stake), is neither condescending nor overly confrontational and is based mainly on thoughtful interviews with thoughtful persons (e.g., leading animal rights philosopher Gary Francione, and the Holocaust survivor who was reminded of the death camps upon seeing a slaughterhouse) and silly persons (futilely trying to defend their omnivore eating habits). This is a more philosophical approach to the subject matter, less reliant on animal-cruelty scenes than a documentary like Earthlings; DeVries also talks with "welfarists" like Peter Singer and PETA's Ingrid Newkirk but with abolitionist Francione and near-abolitionist Tom Regan providing their views, this documentary's mixed message is provocative enough for most viewers to transform by showing the reality behind such absurdities as "Happy Meat" campaigns.
• Vegucated, 2011, 76 minutes.
Marisa Miller Wolfson's award-winning, extremely engaging and effective documentary, a perfect balance of light and heavy emotions, opens up with her own personal story of going vegan after learning about the horrors of the SAD (Standard American Diet) for our collective well-being. Then she finds and follows three ordinary meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers (a young Latina college student, an aspiring male actor, and a psychiatrist-comedienne mother of two children) who all agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. As part of their learning, they see the dark underbelly of animal butchery going on inside chicken, beef, and pork production plants, visit a farm-animal sanctuary, and undergo a remarkable ethical transformation that commits them to going vegan or near-vegan (because of social pressures) for the rest of their lives. The IMDB synopsis says, in part, "[At the outset,] they have no idea that so much more than steak is at stake and that the planet's fate may fall on their plates.... Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated showcases the rapid ... evolution of three people who are trying their darnedest to change in a culture that seems dead set against it." Note: in the film, Wolfson mentions the UN FAO's obsolete calculation from 2006 that eating animal foods is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions when World Bank scientists Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang in 2009 calculated that it is actually around 51%. For excellent further vegan information and resources, and the "Take the Vegucated Challenge" (to go vegan for a month or become vegan within a month), and testimonials from hundreds of viewers who've gone vegan after watching the film, see website www.GetVegucated.com.
• Earthlings, 2005, 95 minutes.
Shaun Monson's acclaimed documentary, poignantly narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, has transformed many viewers into ethical vegans overnight with its reasoned arguments and extremely gruesome imagery (for about 60 of its 95 minutes) of slaughterhouses, factory farms, puppy mills, circuses, medical labs, etc., concerning the use/abuse of animals in five domains: food, pet industry, clothing, entertainment, and science. See website Earthlings.com to watch the entire film and for more information. Note that in summer 2015, Monson and his team released the documentary "Unity," which explores humans' terrible mistreatment of animals as well as the environment and fellow humans, and the inspiring possibility of a harmonious, cruelty-free civilization.
• Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, 2009, 78 minutes.
This is a soul-stirring and highly-rated animal rights film by Tribe of Heart founders Jenny Stein and James LaVeck. Like the earlier film by the same producers (Peaceable Kingdom, 2004, 70 mins.), it interweaves the stories of ranchers Howard Lyman, Howard Brown and others who used to raise animals for profit, then were profoundly transformed by the animals themselves to go vegan and quit the "factory farm" agribusiness industry that treats animal persons as mere "things" and "units of production." This film, rather than dwell at too much length on the atrocities of animal agriculture, mostly features beautiful footage and stories of animals and the humans who reclaimed their own souls in the process of finding animals to be full-fledged persons. See website PeaceableKingdomfilm.com and also the filmmakers' important web-resource HumaneMyth.org, "Deconstructing the Myth of Humane Animal Agriculture."
• Diet for a New America, 1991. 60 minutes.
Based on John Robbins' famous book of the same name, featuring interviews with T. Colin Campbell and doctors Michael Klaper and John McDougall. This documentary is sometimes shown on PBS and other educational channels or you can get it from EarthSave.org.
• Forks over Knives, 2011, 96 minutes.
Filmmaker Lee Fulkerson's widely-viewed and highly-acclaimed examination of the terrible health consequences of eating meat, dairy and junk food; he presents his own and several other patients' health problems and shows the amazing disease-reversing magic of switching to "whole-food plant-based diets" in as little as several weeks. The film features the blue-chip medical science work of T. Colin Campbell and his Chinese colleagues along with the remarkable clinical work of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, with appearances by partners Dr. Matthew Lederman and Dr. Alona Pulde, Dr. John McDougall, and numerous other doctors, scientists, athletes, and patients. A number of the patients were on death's door and then were cured through a few months or years of plant-based diets. As one reviewer among the nearly 2,500 reviewers at Amazon.com noted about this film: "No segments of tortured animals - just wonderful information, top athletes, and people reversing their chronic disease." See also www.ForksOverKnives.com for hundreds of recipes, hundreds of articles, and further information, and see the earlier-cited book by Drs. Pulde & Lederman, The Forks Over Knives Plan.
• Planeat: Nothing Changes the Planet as Much as the Way We Eat, 2012, 71 minutes.
British filmmaker Shelley Lee Davies and her colleague Or Shlomi consult with T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and other experts to examine not just animal foods' terrible consequences for human health but also planetary health. With Campbell and Esselstyn featured, this film has much similar content to Forks Over Knives; Israeli scientist Gidon Essel adds more on the major environmental difference between consuming a plant-based diet over meat-and-dairy food choices. A nice emphasis in Planeat is the considerable footage (somewhere around 20 minutes) of expert chefs whipping up delicious, attractive vegan foods. A major omission in this film is the absence of any focus (except for a brief mention by Peter Singer near the close of a supplemental interview with him on the DVD) on the horrific agony of the animals exploited for meat and dairy. See website www.Planeat.co.uk for more information and many vegan recipes.
• Cowspiracy, 2014, 85 minutes.
Filmmakers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn go in search of the solution to the most pressing environmental problems (climate change, severe water shortages, etc. etc.) and health problems and their take-away message is simply this: switch to a plant-based diet. The website www.Cowspiracy.com has a free fact-sheet with all the information that informs the film. Note again that the statistic on greenhouse gas emissions (the 18% figure from the UN FAO in 2006) grossly understates the problem by a factor of nearly three, as Goodland and Anhang have documented in their 2009 paper for World Watch Institute.
• The Ghosts In Our Machine, 2013, 93 minutes.
Director-writer Liz Marshall serves up a film about animal rights photographer Jo-Anne McArthur and her attempts to expose the horrors of the animals tortured and killed for food, fur, research, etc., but this documentary prefers to not make the vegan message very explicit, evidently not wanting to risk sounding "preachy," so the film lacks forcefulness. And there is nothing in here, for instance, about the suffering involved for animals in the dairy and egg industries. Overall the film's message is primarily "welfarist," not abolitionist. The difficult-to-view scenes are balanced with much footage of various soulful, lovable animals.
• Food, Inc., 2008, 94 minutes.
Filmmaker Robert Kenner's unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industries and their corrupt political connections, featuring Eric Schlosser (author of Fast-Food Nation), Michael Pollan (author of the more flippant bestseller The Omnivore's Dilemma) and other voices.
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Copyright © by Timothy Conway, Ph.D., 1990, 2007, revised and expanded edition, August-October 2015.