Most people in the western world have grown up in an environment so rich in meats and animal products that the concept of not killing to eat is almost alien. However, those of us who have lived in India and walked through the streets where vegetables are sold all around, find it absolutely normal to have a vegetarian diet that contains no meat or eggs whatsoever.
The food industry in USA and other leading western countries has been highly dependent on sale of meat and dairy rich items. A lot of research seems to be ‘targeted’ at somehow proving that vegan and vegetarian diets might be ‘nutritionally deficient’ and might even pose a ‘health risk’ stating that meats and dairy items contain more protein, vitamin B12 and calcium. These researches do not mention that an excess of any vitamin, protein or mineral can be harmful and our consumption of meat rich or dairy rich foods need to be controlled due. Can we always be certain that the intention of research studies to discourage vegan diet, is not motivated by fear of change and financial reasons especially that of the meat and poultry intensive businesses who would want to maintain their commercial success?
Even by a simple observation we can see that severe health issues such as heart disease and cancer are linked with our modern lifestyle that includes factory processed, excessively fried and meat or dairy rich diet. Clearly we all need a diet that does not kill us.
At the same time we can see the significant pain we are putting animals through simply to feed our human population merely because of our habits and taste which can simply be transformed through time and effort for a very positive cause of animal welfare. As an intelligent and evolved specie, we can easily adapt to a diet that does not kill others and tastes absolutely delicious too.
Spiritual humans are likely to take on vegetarian and vegan diets for some very important reasons:
- Compassion: Those who meditate and develop compassion are less likely to want to kill or harm other beings for the sake of their own health or survival. Such individuals try to research and use their intuition in discovering diets that cause as less harm as possible, for example consuming plants and plant based foods. Plants naturally release their ripe fruits and regrow their leaves and stems once harvested. Consuming vegetables and fruits causes significantly less harm than consuming animals who lose their life once killed for food. Vegans also wish to not harm cattle and poultry by respecting the needs for freedom and health for all specie and not just humans.
- Health: Meditation is all about observing yourself. By observing their body and their own reactions to various foods through meditative living, those who are on the spiritual path are more likely to discover what suits them through personal intuition instead of merely following the often biased research statistics. We might find that our stomach and overall body reacts much better to juicy fruits and vegetables than meat or dairy rich foods processed in factories. We also experience more relaxation in our bodies and our minds leading to healthier life. Plant based foods are naturally high in fibre and help us require less intake of food than what we need, as well as keep our digestive system clean and clear. Plants contain plenty of vitamins and minerals and carbohydrates, less harmful fats and a good amount of water that helps us feel naturally healthy and abundant with energy.
- Environment: Growing plants and trees for fruits and vegetables is great for our planet and seems to puts less stress on our resources than the meat and poultry industry. We all can do with more oxygen, soil, water and more food for the world and switching to a plant intensive diet helps us in going green and conserving our natural resources. Significantly less land is needed to grow plants than to feed cattle. When we promote plant foods we are likely to reduce global warming rather than cause more of it through harmful gases released by cattle farming. Increasing our consumption and hence demand of fruits, nuts and vegetables, especially organically grown without harmful pesticides or chemicals, is a great way to protect our world from global warming and industrial pollution.
Some of the reasons vegan diet in particular has been criticised are:
- Proteins: Those who claim that plant based diets are not rich in protein are not considering that most vegetarians consume legumes such as dal, nuts, peas, beans and other protein rich foods such as broccoli to a substantial quantity in foods.
- Calcium: It is not just milk but green leafy vegetables that are a significant source of calcium in our diet.
- Iron: Women especially require healthy amounts of iron in diet, and these can be found easily in vegan foods.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Plant based sources of this nutrient are equally or more effective than fish based.
4. Vitamin B12: Neither plants nor animals are capable of independently producing Vitamin B12 which is only created by bacteria found in the digestive system. Vitamin B12 is excreted out of our bodies and not required in high quantities. Supplements and fortified foods are rich vegan sources of Vitamin B12.
5. Vitamin D: The only way of obtaining this vitamin seems to be through daily exposure to natural sunlight or through supplements and fortified vegan foods.
Looks like it is absolutely possible to remain healthy without killing ourselves or others!