By confining and killing animals for food, we have brought violence into our bodies and minds and disturbed the physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions of our selves in deep and intractable ways. Our meals require us to eat like predators and thus to see ourselves as such, cultivating and justifying predatory behaviors and institutions that are the antithesis of the inclusiveness and kindness that accompany spiritual growth.
Because of herding animals, we have cast ourselves out of the garden into the rat race of competition and consumerism, ashamed of ourselves. It is this low self-esteem that drives the profits of corporations enriching themselves on our insatiable craving for gadgets, drugs, and entertainment to help us forget what we know in our hearts, and to cover over the moans of the animals entombed in our flesh. The choice is set before us at every meal between the garden of life or the altar of death and as we choose life and eat grains and vegetables rather than flesh, milk, and eggs, we find our joy rising, our health increasing, our spirit deepening, our mind quickening, our feelings softening, and our creativity flourishing.
Photo: Briana Franco
From one grain spring hundreds, thousands, and millions of grains, each of which has the same potential. How do we respond to this existential exuberance of life bursting with more life? Our response depends on our food!
Universally, we feel a sense of wonder and joy upon entering a lovingly tended organic garden. It exudes beauty, magic, delight, and blessedness, and we instinctively feel grateful and blessed in the presence of the gifts we receive so freely from forces that accomplish what we can never do: bring forth new life from seeds, roots, and stems. And universally, we are repulsed by the violence and sheer horror and ugliness that are always required to kill animals for food, and at a deep cultural level, we feel ashamed of our relentless violence against animals for our meals.
We can transform this culture we live in, and which lives in us, by transforming our own motivations and exemplifying this to others. We owe this to the animals. In the end, we are not separate from others, and we each have a critical piece to the great puzzle of cultural awakening to contribute, and our success and fulfillment depend on each of us discovering this piece and presenting it persistently. As Albert Schweitzer said, ‚ÄúOne thing I know. The only ones among you who will find happiness are those who have sought, and found, how to serve.
Photo: Briana Franco
‚ÄúWe need never look for universal peace on this earth until men stop killing animals for food. The lust for blood has permeated the race thought and the destruction of life will continue to repeat its psychology, the world round, until men willingly observe the law in all phases of life, ‚ÄòThou shalt not kill.‚Äô‚Äù ‚Äì Charles Fillmore, ‚ÄúThe Vegetarian,‚Äù May 1920
This is the wonderful news! Each and every one of us can help transform our culture in the most effective way possible: by switching to a plant-based diet for ethical reasons and encouraging others to do the same. This is veganism, which is a mentality and lifestyle of radical inclusion and compassion, and it is the antidote to our culture‚Äôs sickness, going to the hidden root of our dilemmas. It is the beckoning revolution that will make peace, sustainability, and heaven actually possible on this Earth. It‚Äôs wonderful, because it is not difficult! Anyone can go vegan today and help transform our world with every meal. We can each be the change we want to see in the world and bring forth the benevolent transformation we all yearn for in our hearts.
Photo: Briana Franco
The ancient wisdom ever holds: Violence begets violence. As we sow, so shall we reap. Now is the time to sow seeds of understanding, patience, and inner reflection, and to truly live more simply, encourage a more plant-based diet, and work to transform our culture, with a view toward caring for all the humans on this beautiful earth, all the precious creatures here, and all those of the future generations who depend upon us to be responsible for our actions. As Gandhi said, ‚ÄúThere is enough for everyone‚Äôs need, but not for everyone‚Äôs greed.‚Äù
As people learn more about the consequences of eating animal foods, we see increasing numbers of individuals and groups acting creatively to raise consciousness about this, thus helping to eliminate the roots of hunger, cruelty, pollution, and exploitation.
Food Not Bombs, for example, organizes volunteers and food donations to feed disadvantaged hungry people organic vegan food in over 175 cities throughout the Americas, Europe, and Australia. It is intentionally decentralized and web-like in its approach, with autonomous local units organizing their own compassionate operations.
The worldwide followers of Ching Hai, a noted Vietnamese spiritual teacher with students numbering in the hundreds of thousands, have set up vegan restaurants in many cities and contribute vegan food, clothing, shelter, and aid to disaster victims, prisoners, children, and the elderly in countries around the world.
These are but two encouraging examples of the vegan revolution of compassion, justice and equality taking firmer root in our culture and in the world.
As far as taste goes, those of us who follow a plant-based diet invariably report that we discover new vistas of delicious foods that we hardly knew existed. Plant-based cuisines from the Mediterranean, Africa, India, East Asia, Mexico, and South America all offer delicious and nutritious possibilities. As our taste buds come back to life, we discover more subtle nuances of flavor, and as our hearts and minds relax and rejoice in supporting more cruelty-free foods, the foods become increasingly delicious. Due to the mind-body connection, they also become more nutritious as we begin to enjoy partaking of the attractive and regenerating fruits and herbs of our earth. Mindful eating is the essential foundation of happiness and peace.
Eighty percent of grain grown in the U.S. and about half the fish hauled in are wasted to grow billions of animals big and fat enough to be profitably slaughtered, or to produce dairy products and eggs at the high levels demanded by consumers. And over ninety percent of the protein in this grain turns into the methane, ammonia, urea, and manure that pollutes our air and water. A conservative estimate is that the amount of land, grain, water, petroleum, and pollution required to feed one of us the Standard American Diet could feed fifteen of us eating a plant-based diet.