I wanted to write an article to put forward my point of view in defense of veganism, a dietary and lifestyle change I consider a direct result of my spiritual perspective.
Before I start, please note that I don’t want to say that veganism is unquestionably superior to anything ever or that you’re a complete idiot if you don’t subscribe to veganism. I do want to make a fairly balanced, reasonable argument for why I consider veganism to be a worthy lifestyle.
Actually, I don’t really want to “debate” here. I’m talking for people who will listen but as soon as we get into a pissing match I’d rather opt out. No one wins debates. So this is nothing more than how I see things, take it or leave it, and don’t forget to love
Veganism, for the curious, is a lifestyle which aims to minimise animal suffering. As well as avoiding eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, and milk products, subscribers to the viewpoint of veganism generally also avoid honey and certain food additives made from insects; and outside the realm of diet we stop using leather, wool, eiderdown, fur, gelatin-based glues, and so on.
Veganism and Facing Up to the Truth
Why am I such a proponent of veganism? In a sentence, I guess you could say it’s because I’m not interested in paying people to do things for me that I wouldn’t be happy to do myself.
For me veganism was a lot about facing up to the truth. I think a lot of people prefer to turn their heads in regards to what goes on in the meat industry. And – quite apart from the insane cruelty that goes on in modern factory farms slaughter aside, who among us would actually have the heart to put a knife to an animal’s throat?
In fact, I know of plenty of people who prefer not to think about the fact that what they are eating is a dead animal. They find to put it like that distasteful (even though it’s the truth). These people only eat cuts of meat which don’t look like anyone they know and couldn’t fathom eating a pig’s head with its dead, staring eyes gazing into empty space.
In our society we call dead pigs “pork”, dead deer “venison” and dead cows “beef”. To me it seems like we are using a different name to make us think that what we are eating is something different to where it comes from. In the supermarkets, chickens have their heads cut off and feathers removed and look quite unrecognisable from as they did in life.
Once You’ve Faced the Truth, Veganism is About Sensitivity
There are actually a few people who become conscious of this inconsistency in our thinking and straighten it out by going out and killing animals themselves. That way, they know that they are eating meat out of choice and not by default. I remember seeing the facebook profile of the writer of a blog about the paleo diet, whose photo displayed him proudly holding a severed pig’s head at his side and showing off his six pack.
I guess to these people I can’t say anything. It’s your choice. However, I think you can’t do that if you have a certain level of sensitivity. In my experience, you just can’t maintain sensitivity and remain fully conscious of the needless violence which your diet entails. You either change what you do, or you kill your sensitivity to be able to continue.
It’s your choice which of the two options you choose. There’s no big arbiter of justice out there who can tell you which is more valid. However, I think that it’s more true to me to develop sensitivity, and more likely to help me cultivate happiness and wellbeing.
So I actively aim to develop sensitivity and compassion towards all things. This sensitivity extends to plants, insects, animals, and humans and even to some extent inanimate objects.
Sensitivity is literally to do with having your attention focused in your senses rather than your thought-stream. When we get too stuck in our thought-stream, we become what we *think* we are rather than what we really are, and we *think* what we experience rather than directly experiencing it. This brings us a lot of suffering, though it’s often a subtle thing to realise.
Veganism and Judgement
I didn’t aim to become sensitive because anyone told me I “should” or because I want to be a good lightworker. (Actually, I identify tongue-in-cheek as a “Pirate Lightworker” to make a statement that I serve the highest good but don’t want the burden of anyone’s approval for doing so). I started to nurture my sensitivity because, inspired by books like The Power of Now, my heart told me that this was a true path, a path to real joy and happiness and truth.
I think this path is a true path for anyone who is ready for it, but that doesn’t mean that choosing not to develop sensitivity towards all things is “wrong”. “Wrong” doesn’t have any meaning for me (unless I’m angry, in which case I’ll tell you you’re wrong all I like, but that’s not my official stance on things). Basically, everything is as it is. Judgement doesn’t exist anywhere in the known Universe – except in our heads.
A lot of vegans are pretty militant about veganism. They consider killing people “wrong” and therefore killing animals must be “wrong”. The logic is sound in that animals are not fundamentally different from people, except that killing *people* doesn’t need to be “wrong”.
What does “wrong” mean? Basically it’s an emotional reaction. It’s a rejection – violent to a greater or lesser extent – of something – or someone. This is optional.
Reason is to do with sensitivity – being in tune with real life, with the senses, and with your own being – and doesn’t require judgement to work.
Violence in Veganism
Many people see vegans as extremists and that’s because some proponents of veganism give the lifestyle a bad name. There are people who cause hurt to save animals and there are ad campaigns for veganism which are really distasteful. Though some good can come of these practises, I think they’re short sighted. This is because violence creates violence and people will see vegans as enemies rather than real people, friends, who they can listen to. And if they won’t listen to you how the heck can you convince them of anything???
Don’t be discouraged by the few people who give veganism a bad name. They are the people who make themselves most known, but they are not the majority and even if they were, veganism is nothing to do with that. Veganism is about compassion, sense of superiority optional.
Compassion for Plants
I’ve heard this argument before: that all animals feed off other living beings, and that causing hurt is inevitable if we are to be on Earth.
I say that causing an EFFECT on those beings you come in contact with is inevitable if we are to be on Earth. Whether this effect is to be mostly positive, or mostly negative, is down to us and has a lot to do with whether we default to the standard way of living here (which everyone agrees is destroying the Earth) or we decide to consciously work out a new way of living for ourselves.
I think there are ways of minimising the impacts of our diets. One is to stop eating animals.
Animals have to eat something, so really if you eat an animal you are both eating the plants it ate and the animal itself.
What plants feel about being eaten is an article in itself, but I do feel quite in tune with plants and my intuition sees eating them as less impactful for a couple of other reasons.
One is that most plants live shorter lives generally and have correspondingly less lifeforce. When a short-lived plant’s lifeforce is released before its time, it’s less of a tragedy – and less pain is experienced – than when a vigorous animal with the potential for a lot of life and expression dies.
The other has to do with Life Purpose. A plant’s Life Purpose is about expressing its radiance, clearing negative energies from the environment, and continuing the circle of life as we are all mandated to do. We can often get our sustainence from a plant after it has completed most of its mission. We can also get sustainence from a plant without killing it – the purest method of which is to eat its fruit, which is the most nourishing food for human beings and in the best of circumstances means no pain for the plant at all.
When we cage up animals in factories like we do, we actually make sure that they don’t express any of their life purposes. Plants can radiate positive energy and cleanse negative energies from the fields in which they are grown (even if modern farming practises are very damaging for them). Animals can’t run around, can’t relate to each other, get no stimulation, can’t explore new places, can’t have sex, and are often deprived of bringing up their children. Cows which are raised for milk have their beloved children taken away from them at birth every 3 years. They are not so stupid as to not notice that.
Side Note: Veganism vs. Ovo-Lacto Vegetarianism
In this article I talk about meat eating as opposed to veganism, to keep my writing simple. Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (a diet containing milk, milk products and eggs) is an in-between option, but for me there is not a vast difference between that and a meat eating diet. Just as many, if not more animals are killed and made to suffer in the factory farming system to produce milk and eggs compared to those raised to produce meat. I actually have the feeling that milk, especially concentrated milk such as cheese, has the largest amounts of suffering attached to it. Cheese appears in my third eye perception as a big glob of dense, negative energy, a tangle of long black threads of pain vibrating discordantly.
For the curious, I feel that eggs raised in someone’s backyard in a loving environment are the least impactful of the animal foods and could be helpful for those people who have troubles adapting to a vegan diet. On the other hand, even the grass fed cows which I have met have seemed sad. They craved more freedom and for their needs to be better considered. Perhaps there are happier cows than this, but I haven’t met any.
Veganism and the Environment
As I was saying, killing an animal for food can be intuited to cause more hurt than eating plant foods if we are sensitive enough to feel it. But also on the macro level, tremors are felt from our insensitivity, and it’s here that our unenlightened actions come back to us.
As far as global warming is concerned, the difference between meat eating vs. a veganism is equal to the difference between driving a standard car vs. an SUV according to one study on the effects of veganism on global warming. (Eshel & Martin, 2005)
In 2006 the United Nations issued a press release that stated;
According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent—18 percent—than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.
The United States Environmental agency, while first admitting that
A strong livestock industry is essential to our nation’s economic stability, the viability of many rural communities, and a healthy and high-quality food supply.
goes on to say that
Animal waste has the potential to contribute [Sophia's note: they mean it DOES contribute] pollutants such as nutrients (e.g., nitrate, phosphorous), organic matter, sediments, pathogens (e.g., giardia, cryptosporidium), heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics and ammonia to the waters we use for drinking, swimming and fishing. In addition to water quality problems, AFOs can also contribute to significant air quality problems, including dust, smog, greenhouse gases, and odors.
To put it in another way, the Earth was never meant to have so many carnivores in it. Veganism is a safe alternative to meat eating for humans, hence we had better start thinking about it if we want to keep on living here, because things can’t go on as they are.
In the wild, a carnivore has a symbiotic relationship with its prey. They prey animal has extra children to account for predation and the predator does not engage in practises that strip the land of all of its prey. It maintains its territory fiercely and keeps other predators out. I’m sure the prey would prefer not to be eaten, but from a wider perspective it’s all in balance and there is a beauty to the dance. For each predator, there is a number of prey animals, and for each prey animal, there is an ecosystem of plants and other animals that support them.
With us, we strip the ecosystem of all its balancing factors and do what we can to pack the maximum amount of meat out of the minimum amount of land. 30% of all of the world’s land goes into meat production according to the same UN report quoted above. Can you imagine what 30% of the entire Earth means? Most of this land was once forest and we are still cutting down more forest, including the vital rainforest to make more animal feedlots. Trees, especially the massive trees of the rainforest are carbon sinks which hold back global warming, so the global warming estimates before may have been understated.
If the world is so saturated with animal farms that we need to cut down forest to make more, then it’s obvious that there is a limit to how much meat we can eat. This limit once you’ve factored in sustainability is less than what we are eating now.
Sustainability and Sensitivity
We went to the macro, now back to the micro. The cause of macro environmental damage is actually a reflection of micro level sensitivity. Let me explain further.
Animals, while they are at a lower level of consciousness than humans, are more sensitive because they are not caught up in their thought-stream like we are.
Carnivores who are sensitive to their being and their environment don’t share their territory with many other carnivores, sensing that their food supply has a natural limit.
Herbivores, on the other hand, tend to live in herds for mutual empowerment (much like humans) and don’t eat meat.
Caught up in their thought-stream, humans aren’t sensitive enough to tune into their true nature and seem unable to decide if they want to live like a herbivore or a carnivore. They can’t tune into their surroundings or their natural wisdom either, leaving them with a short-sighted drive to win an imaginary battle against imaginary enemies for a mostly imaginary prize and a big bucket of real life pain and suffering.
There is a solution, which is spiritual development. You’d better hurry up about it, mind, cause we don’t have much time.
But we do have the solution to everything inside of us and becoming more sensitive – to our soul, to our surroundings, to life itself – is the way to access it. Death isn’t the worst part of it, ’cause we’ll just be born again (or so I understand it) but the suffering we experience between the birth and death of our unnaturally short lives is worth dealing with — and is quite curable.
Veganism is just one of the many things which our souls will tell us to do if only we listen to them. The goal is not veganism, the goal is getting in tune with our souls; veganism is the by product. Even this article is aimed at getting you in tune with your soul primarily; veganism would be the hopeful byproduct of that.
The Health and Safety of Veganism
This talk about sensitivity gives me a good opportunity to phase into the health aspects of veganism. The micro level (suffering) and the macro level (environmental damage) are manifestations of the root cause (insensitivity). The personal level, which includes health and vitality, is also affected by this root cause.
I find theoretical talk highly frustrating in the realm of diet because without sensitivity, it’s so easy to get the “facts” to back you up on whatever you want them to, especially since there are already people in business making sure that (relatively) unbiased findings get presented in slanted ways. I will however present one fairly unbiased scientific perspective, from the American Dietetic Association:
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.… An evidence-based review showed that vegetarian diets can be nutritionally adequate in pregnancy and result in positive maternal and infant health outcomes. The results of an evidencebased review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates.
Now for what I consider better than scientific results – sensitivity. (I do agree that sensitivity can work in conjunction to science, but due to the out of control thought-stream found in science, I find it rather uncomfortable for me to try. Quoting science also opens this article up for debate, and I really don’t want to debate, just make an exposée on my perspective for the benefit of others).
My body tells me that meat isn’t food. As Douglas Graham says, “When you leave a baby with a piece of fruit and a lamb, which one does the baby eat and which one does he play with?” (Source: The 80/10/10 Diet, a recommended book on raw veganism).
Meat is actually pretty tough for a human to eat raw, and real carnivores in the wild all eat meat raw. It’s also unappetising unless we dress it up and hide the bits that look like eyes, guts, and so on.
Fruit, on the other hand is so appetising in its natural state that supermarkets use it or its image to attract customers to their shops (I don’t have a source for this, it’s just observation — check it out) and brand name foods create their sweets, bars and other packages as “artificial fruits”, pleasing our fruit-sensing eyes with their bright colours.
When someone eats a diet that they as animals are not adapted to, health problems are the obvious consequence. Additionally, I believe that the extra suffering that goes into meat production over plant food production reverbates on our health. As I described above, the extra suffering and the unnaturalness of the lives which farm animals live are inextricably linked. And what is unnatural is unhealthy.
We could go into hormones and antibiotics used on animals, the toxins from the pesticides in plants accumulated in the animal’s flesh and secretions over their whole lifetime, mercury accumulation in fish, and so on. We could also mention findings linking meat eating to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and so on. Not to mention that cholesterol is not found in plants. Those concepts I picked out of memory and I don’t want to look for sources on them since remember, I only listened to these ideas over ideas presented in favour of meat eating because my sensitivity warned me against meat eating from the outset.
I can say that I lost a lot of weight from going vegan, which is said to be water retention weight. Other people have reported (as well as this) greater mental clarity, better emotions and more vitality. I think I did have this improvement, and certainly over the few years’ time since I gave up meat my life has improved in SO many ways and my longterm illness has been cured, though I can’t say how much was the veganism as so many changes happened at the same time.
Nowadays simply looking at meat makes me turn away. It has nothing that attracts me. My sensitivity says no and that’s that. To me it’d be similar to stubbing my toe on purpose or something. Why would I?
The Attraction of Negative Energy
Well why *would* you? To get metaphysical, it’s because there is a pull away from the lovely world of sensitivity, and that pull can be likened to addiction or fear.
The negative world is a weird world, and is mostly unknown to most people – because of course one of its modus operandi is deception. Basically some astral spirits and some people on Earth need negative energy (anger, conflict, fear). They need to create it in others to be able to feed.
Negative energy has the quality of addiction. It tells lies to make you believe in your dependence on it and it offers you poisoned gifts which make it hard to leave. Negative energy numbs the emotions by keeping you in a state of sleepiness. This numbness allows you to ignore pain, but in the long term it is actually what is really causing the majority of your pain.
I have the strong feeling that it is the world of negative energy which has made a veritable mafia out of the meat industry, getting government subsidies to make meat and animal products seem cheaper than they are, brainwashing people to believe they need more protein than they do, and stirring up panic about veganism being unnatural by inventing a long list of nutrients which animals are supposedly better sources of. Injecting vitamin B12 into animals because our modern way of living is removing it from the diet of everyone – and then suggesting that animal foods that are essentially fortified in B12 are the only “natural” sources of it.
I sense emotions in meat. When you eat it, you eat the negative energy it contains, including that of the animal’s screams as it went to slaughter. (And if you want to get physical plane here, consider that emotions are chemicals, too).
I have heard stories – one the direct experience of one of my best friends – of people trying meat after fasting to become more sensitive and becoming possessed with nervousness or anger. In the end, though, I have nothing but my sensitivity to tell me that meat eating is probably a contributor to a very large part of the fear, unease, pain, anger, conflict, sickness and suffering in the world.
Can Veganism Make a Difference?
In closing, let’s look at if veganism can really make a difference.
Die hard meat eaters often use the argument that “veganism can’t make any difference anyway” (usually after admitting that they don’t want to give up meat, and don’t agree that there is any environmental damage caused by animal rearing, and that they don’t care about or don’t believe in the suffering caused to the animals themselves). Is this true?
Use your sensitivity god damn it, and you wouldn’t have to ask me :p
One person doesn’t create a huge difference. But that’s fighting on the level of statistics anyway. Can you even imagine all of the suffering animals in the world? You can’t, and you can’t really care about them, because they’re in your head, and the only place you can express love and caring is here and now, in your senses and not your thought-stream.
If you follow your sensitivity, you know that the outcome will be good – and in fact the purpose of following your sensitivity is not the outcome but something like living through sensitivity for its own sake. (Ever wanted to know the meaning of life? Get into your senses and you will feel it).
But on the macro level. Can one person make a difference? Yes and no. As a single person your difference is small. As a part of a larger whole you are sending out waves, some loud and clear and many that are basically imperceptible to you, which create change in unexpected ways.
You are not separate from those around you – and what you do, the lead which you take, and the energies which you transmit both consciously and subconsciously cannot help but cause change. For the good, or for the bad. It’s your choice, and moreover it’s your responsibility whether you take it up or not – because our constant influence on the world that surrounds us is not something that we can abdicate.
Make a change. The world is depending on you.
Sophia Gubb, 8th July 2010.
Appendix: How To Go Vegan
I’ve written about this more in depth on my vegan recipe site, The Spiritual Vegan, though a short summary wouldn’t go amiss. Actually very little information is needed, though so long as you have fears it’s worth putting them to rest through good information. Study up on veganism and particularly look for the advice of those who have already gone vegan and who are doing well on the diet.
Legal Notice: Your health and your use of discernment to verify what is true are your responsibilities, not mine, and I excuse myself from all legal responsibility concerning your use of this advice. If you think a medical doctor or a System-certified nutritionist are really worth listening to, then be aware that I am not one of those.
I have the strong sense that veganism is a natural diet, and I think that’s worth keeping in mind as you transition. There is SO much fear about veganism as a diet knocking around it blows my mind. But if they knew that humans were naturally frugivore animals wouldn’t it be meat that they should be scared of?
Be wary of social pressure and be ready to answer constant questions about where you get your protein with smart alec comments such as “I steal it!”, “From my food, where do you get yours?”, “I have nodules in my roots which fix nitrogen for me and allow me to build basic amino acids”, and so on. If social pressure gets too much, find some new friends.
The diet itself is very easy. Don’t even think about combining proteins, looking for calcium from special sources, vitamin D (just get enough sunlight), omega 3, etc.
Iron, however, can be occasionally an issue for people who are already susceptible to deficiency. In the same way, vitamin B12 is not the life-and-death issue which it’s generally thought of to be, but some people who are already susceptible may need to take care. For either of those issues, it may be worth monitoring your blood levels, especially if you start feeling unwell. For more information, read B12 Deficiency.
In the case of protein, it really is true that large amounts are just not necessary. In my current diet (which is not standard vegan) I eat about 10% of my calories from protein. Actually, the average calories from protein are about 16% in meat eating diets, and 5% protein, a safe level, is almost impossible not to get if you eat enough food in calories. Check out Douglas Graham’s book “The 80/10/10 Diet” for more, and you can also go to www.30bananasaday.com to meet more than 3000 people who consume 5 to 10 percent of their calories from protein; many of them have been doing so for years, and all of them have far above average health.
For a basic (not 80/10/10) vegan diet, all you really need to do is to replace meat with starches such as wheat, potatoes, and other grains and tubers. Make them more interesting with a good balance of vegetables, herbs and spices and you may soon find you eat more delicious food on the vegan diet than you did on the meat eating diet!
If you miss meat on an emotional level, you can use dense foods such as tofu, seitan, shop bought meat alternatives, seeds, nuts and legumes to scratch that same itch. As protein is not necessary to worry about, these foods are simply for their psychological value. A number of condiments contain the “umami” flavour found in meat which can help you psychologically too, including shitake mushrooms, soy sauce, and miso. Experiment with these in your meals to make them more satisfying if you desire.
Cheese and milk both have their vegan alternatives you can buy in a shop, and you’ll find that most recipes you needed eggs for can be made inexplicably well without the stuff we were told was needed to “bind” the dough with. Get some vegan cookbooks for details.
To finish this appendix up, I want to leave you with a note that simply changing animal foods for starches is a step forward, but as you advance your sensitivity you will be drawn to other improvements in your diet. “The 80/10/10 Diet” was a hint in that direction, but for now, focus on the step that is in front of you.