2017 Essays

Out of India and On to China

Will Tuttle : November 10, 2017
We have just left India and are now beginning the next leg of our Vegan World Tour to Taiwan and China. What a memorable 12-day experience in India! We have created a brief video that provides an overview of our whirlwind lecture tour to 10 cities of India, bringing the World Peace Diet vegan message to many thousands of people through direct lectures and workshops, as well as through mainstream media and social media.As far as we can tell, this is the first time anyone has ever undertaken a national lecture tour in India promoting veganism, which in many ways is still in a fledgling stage in India. We are deeply grateful to Shankar Narayan, founder of India’s only national vegan group, The Sattvic Vegan Society, for working tirelessly with local groups to organize and promote the tour, and for traveling with us every step of the way. We’re also grateful to WPD facilitator and Hippocrates health instructor Philip Nicozisis for his support and participation, as well as to countless people who contributed to making the many events successful beyond our dreams.

It was encouraging that the mainstream media was remarkably positive and supportive of our efforts, and besides numerous articles in regional newspapers, we also had two favorable write-ups in the Times of India (the New York Times of India).

We learned a lot about the vegan movement in India, and about the many devastating effects of the three “revolutions” that have been sweeping through India over the past 60 years: the “Green Revolution” that increased the use of mechanized, oil- and chemical-based agriculture; the following “White Revolution” that increased the production and consumption of dairy products, and the more recent “Red Revolution” that has increased the production and consumption of animal flesh.

We are glad to see many Indian people working to return India to her spiritual and cultural roots with the “Vegan Revolution,” and are committed to helping however we can. One activist predicted that veganism will spread more quickly in India than in any other country, and we can see that this may be so, as Indian people increasingly remember their roots and are re-inspired by the ancient Indian teaching of Ahimsa: Nonviolence as the foundation of inner and outer peace and harmony.

We grateful that so many seeds have been planted in India during our visit, with lots of new vegans and even the launching of a new state vegan society in Gujarat, and new efforts to translate and publish The World Peace Diet in Hindi and Gujarati, as well as in Tamil.

We are delighted now to be in Taiwan for a few more days, giving presentations on both The World Peace Diet and also on our new book, Your Inner Islands. On Sunday we are heading to mainland China for nearly 3 weeks of daily lectures promoting vegan living, and as we have said before, the tremendous recent advances in vegan and ecological awareness in Taiwan and mainland China are enormously encouraging. Many Buddhist groups are educating the public about the benefits of both organic and vegan foods, and the governments and media are also cooperating in ways we can still hardly imagine in the West.

Prior to our lecture tour in India, we conducted a 2-week European vegan lecture tour to Spain, Switzerland, and England, and we are deeply grateful to the many helpers, angels, and organizers that all these events went so well. Part of our mission is to help local grassroots vegan groups grow and flourish, and it has been heart-warming to be able to contribute to the vegan movement in the trenches, as it were, and participate in the launching of the first annual VeganFest in Geneva, for example, as well as the first Vegan Trade Show in London and the first vegan event in Segovia.

Finally, we are doing our best to update everyone on our World Peace Diet Facebook Group and Facebook Page. You can also see details of our lecture schedule on our website. We are living in momentous times, and it’s heartening to see so many people working to make a positive difference in our world, starting with ourselves, our plates, and our relationships.

Don’t forget World Peace Diet Sundays. This reading of The World Peace Dietis open to all. If you would like to go deeper into the ideas in The World Peace Diet and also into the ideas in our books, Circles of Compassion and Your Inner Islands, join us in the World Peace Diet Facilitator Training Program.

OK – That’s it for now!

With thanks and love,

Will & Madeleine

Dr. Will Tuttle

PS – This short video helps elucidate the problem with wealth inequality in the U.S., which is even worse in countries like India. This video extends understanding to the political process that affects us all.

The Six Paramitas

Will Tuttle : September 27, 2017

By Dr. Will Tuttle

As we deepen our inquiry into the nature of our culture, and how we can best help liberate animals, our Earth, and ourselves from the harmful actions and attitudes causing conflict and destruction, we may begin to realize that the problem is not just other people. We ourselves are part of the problem also. How many people can we actually and substantively change for the better? Quite honestly that number is one.

Cow by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleThis is not to say that we can’t help move our world and other people in a positive direction, but rather to emphasize that this capacity is, paradoxically, a result essentially of our authentic efforts to move ourselves in a positive direction. Most of us, when encountering someone who would like to “improve” us will wisely act to block that effort. Thus, in the end, the most effective way to change others and the world is to endeavor to embody and exemplify in ourselves whatever changes we’d like to see in others.

Substantive positive personal change requires inner effort to question the obsolete and harmful attitudes living within us, to understand them, and to heal them through the effort to cultivate a higher and more inclusive and realistic awareness. We have all been wounded from infancy be being born into a herding culture based on the exploitation and abuse of the weak by the strong. In order to build a movement capable of transforming our culture, we are called to undertake the most challenging of all efforts: the effort to transform ourselves.

Grassroots vegan advocacy starts with us as individuals in our communities, endeavoring to become more aware and proficient in our understanding, and in our ability to communicate and cooperate with others. This is the indispensible foundation of the movement to liberate animals, and all of us, from the status quo culture of domination that steals and destroys the sovereignty of both animals and people.

Large non-profit organizations, unlike grassroots efforts, tend to be reductionist and authoritarian in nature. Ironically, herderism, the living core of our cultural mindset and root of our problems, is similarly reductionist and authoritarian, but in the extreme. (If we were born as cows or chickens, we would have no doubt of this.) Thus the large animal protection organizations exist ironically as products of the herding culture and tend to mirror and support its underlying mentality and way of functioning. These organizations compete with one another for funding, and operate under centralized hierarchical structures of authority. The living transformation of vegan awakening tends in their hands to be reduced to a commodity to be marketed by compliant leafletters and spokespeople whose job is to deliver a message that has been crafted by public relations “experts.” Such an approach is ironically an expression of the same mind-set that is creating the problem of animal exploitation in the first place. It tends to muffle the authentic creative voices of individuals who have unique talents and gifts to share.

Bobcats by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleThus, to continually invent and renew a movement for the liberation of animals, we are each called, as individuals, to embody as best we can the change we are working for, and diligently monitor and refresh our organizations to ensure they reflect this same spirit. While going vegan is a liberating, healing, and empowering step for us as individuals, and naturally helps heal and improve our interconnected society, it is not the last step. In many ways, it is the first step of a life where we awaken from being a mere culturally-programmed bio-robot, and step out of the prison of the imposed food narrative of disease and destruction and its many manifestations. Our journey beckons us to continue ever on, so that our inner world, like our outer behavior, ever more fully reflects our core values of respect, kindness, freedom, and harmony.

This is the real challenge we all face. It’s much easier and more tempting to blame others (such as political figures, financial elites, and so on) for our problems than it is to work with our internalized attitudes and wounds. And yet, it is only to the degree that we transform ourselves—so that our lives are radiant expressions of the message we would like others to hear—that we will experience our full potential to bring healing and positive change to our world. As the vegan movement becomes increasingly a movement of people who are authentically doing the inner work necessary to explore and purify our individual consciousness, our movement, through this, is becoming increasingly unstoppable.

Satyagraha, the “truth power” that Gandhi described, is ultimately triumphant, and the best way to spread truth is through embodying it so that we plant seeds of change naturally and effectively, with means that reflect the ends we envision. While we don’t try to change others, we can definitely do our best to plant seeds of positive change in others by making these changes congruent in ourselves, so our actions, words, values, thoughts, feelings, and gestures are all aligned within us and people sense this congruency.

How do we make these positive internal changes? With practice. Like with anything else, we become what we practice. The ancient wisdom traditions have many practices that have helped people heal and renew their minds and lives. These practices can be especially helpful for us in contributing to a vegan world of respect and kindness for all.

Horse by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleOne example is the Six Paramitas from the Buddhist tradition, also called the Six Perfections. Paramita in Sanskrit means “crossing over,” so these six Paramitas are qualities that we can cultivate every day to help us cross over to the other shore of greater awareness and freedom. Although the Six Paramitas is an ancient practice, some contemporary teachers have come up with the idea of practicing them by focusing on a different paramita on each day of the week. What follows is the Six Paramitas practice for the seven days of the week, with a short explanation for each one. It’s recommended to recite and contemplate each day’s paramita in the morning to help guide and focus awareness for the day.

Monday, The Day of Giving: Dana Paramita. Let us have all-pervading love, not only for people but for all sentient beings, and give of ourselves and our possessions freely and without regret, with a heart of lovingkindness. Let our giving be rooted in transcendent awareness, knowing the three elements involved are of one essence. Finally, let us remember that the teachings contain no greater wisdom than the wisdom of letting go. This is also called Dana. (Note: the three elements mentioned here are giver, gift, and receiver)

Tuesday, The Day of Ethics: Sila Paramita. Let us maintain standards of discipline, etiquette, and decorum so that our actions are honorable in every situation, and thinking of others always, let us be careful not to harm them in any way. Let us cultivate the natural integrity, diligence, and straightforwardness that fundamental aspects of clear seeing and real virtue.

Bee by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleWednesday, The Day of Patience: Kshanti Paramita. Let us treat all beings as the Buddha, seeing through the spell of appearance to the essential reality in which there is no fundamentally separate self. Let us remember that patience is humility, a basic acceptance of this present moment as the perfect unfoldment of life and love, and that it is also an accurate mirror of our present state of mind, and thus continuously bears great opportunities to grow in wisdom and compassion.

Thursday, the Day of Zealous Effort: Virya Paramita. Whatever is appropriate, let us perform it diligently and persistently push forward. Let us be aware of the Source of all energy and activity, and live in harmony with it.

Friday, the Day of Stillness and Stability of Mind: Dhyana Paramita. Let us function in tranquil one-pointedness of mind, free from agitation arising through the senses, and dualistic conceptions of this and that, self and other. Let us let go of tension and separateness, and realize the equanimity that is born of awakening to the truth underlying phenomena.

Saturday, the Day of Wisdom: Prajna Paramita. Let us act so that the mind is always pure and bright, and behave so that we are never uncertain about the rightness of our actions. By the brightness of inherent wisdom, let us dispel the delusion of separateness, and greed and hatred, which spring from ignorance about the real nature of sense objects.

Sunday, the Day of Service: Simultaneous Practice of all the Paramitas. Let us put all forms of wholesome action into practice, by rendering service to others and practicing generosity, loving speech, beneficial action, and cooperativeness. May lovingkindness and compassion emanate from our every thought, word, and deed, and bless all sentient beings, and may they all realize the original brightness of their minds and be instantly reborn in the Pure Land of clear seeing.

In conclusion, with this Six Paramitas practice, the idea is daily to recite and feel into the essential nature of the quality of mind and heart that is being evoked by this day’s Paramita, and to hold it in consciousness throughout the day as best we can. Gradually, and with persistent practice, all six Paramitas will begin to suffuse their healing presenceElephants by visionary artist Madeleine Tuttle into our awareness in all seven days. We begin to realize that vegan living, nonviolence, respect for animals and other humans, and spiritual liberation are all profoundly interconnected. As we endeavor to embody the universal principles indicated by the six Paramitas, we are working at the roots to help build a more kind and harmonious world for all.

(Paintings by Madeleine W. Tuttle)

 

Whenever We Eat Animal Foods, We Are Being Exploited

Will Tuttle : July 13, 2017

Dr. Will Tuttle

The most obvious and non-controversial characteristic of animal agriculture is that it is a system in which humans exploit animals for food. The vast majority of us go along with the internalized cultural narratives that justify this exploitation. We don’t realize that we are also being abused and exploited by the same system that is exploiting the cows, chickens, fishes, and pigs.

There’s basically one primary reason any of us eats animal-sourced foods: we do this because we’re following orders that were injected into us from infancy by well-intentioned people we trusted completely. This indoctrination is literally eaten in the most potent and pervasive of all social rituals, our daily meals. It’s important to understand that when we go to shops and restaurants and purchase animal foods, we are not only sustaining a system of exploitation of animals, we are also unwittingly fueling our own exploitation on many levels, and in feeding these foods to our children, we’re fueling their exploitation as well.

Let’s take cows as a profoundly relevant example. Cows are clearly designed to thrive on grass, but they are fed richer and more complex grains such as soy, corn, oats, wheat, and alfalfa in order to boost milk production in dairies and increase weight gain in beef operations. This causes cows digestive distress and leads ironically to the proliferation of the E. coli bacterial strains that are deadly to human consumers of undercooked hamburgers. However cow exploiters don’t stop with grains. Agricultural scientists discovered long ago that if cow feed is “enriched” with fish meal as well as the rendered flesh and offal of chickens, pigs, cows, dogs, cats, and other animals, this is even better than grain at promoting milk production and weight gain, and thus increased profits for the industries involved.

In sum, cows are fed foods that are not in their interest, but that are to the advantage of their exploiters. With us, if we are eating animal foods, it is precisely the same situation. Like cows, we are created and have evolved to thrive on the food for which we are designed, which in our case is whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Like cows, we can certainly eat other foods, such as animal flesh and mammary secretions designed for other species, and as in the case of cows, this harms our health on many levels, but the significant point is that it increases the profits of our exploiters, and so it continues. The animal exploiters have stolen the sovereignty of cows, and so the cows are powerless to eat anything but what the exploiters provide them. With both cows and humans it is remarkably similar. Exploiters provide the foods that they want the exploitees to consume to maximize their profits and power, and the exploitees dutifully comply. They encourage each other by their shared example, and additionally in our case, we ironically police each other to ensure compliance.

Farm Animals by artist Madeleine Tuttle The benefits to the exploiters in these situations are vast. The disempowerment and harm to the exploitees are equally vast. Let’s have a brief look at the consequences of this exploitation on five levels of our health.

First, our physical health. Being compelled from infancy to eat animal-based foods, we are more likely to develop cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, auto-immune diseases, dementia, and the other chronic diseases which fuel hundreds of billions of dollars of profits annually for the pharmaceutical-medical complex, and the banks and financial institutions in the background. This system, and the governmental, academic, media, and corporate complex that is tied in with it, requires a steady flood of reliably sick people. Feeding the population a diet based on animal foods that concentrate toxins accomplishes this. Most of the wealth generated concentrates in the hands of a powerful elite, while most of us endure economic injustices such as exorbitant medical costs that ravage our economy and well-being. Eating animal foods, we become unwitting cash cows for an aggressive medical-pharmaceutical complex.

Second, our environmental health. Animal agriculture is well recognized to be the single most environmentally devastating human activity, destroying forests, oceans, aquifers, soil quality, climate stability, and propelling the mass extinction of species through rampant habitat destruction. Here again, we are being exploited when we purchase and eat animal-based foods. Because animal-based foods require much more petroleum, land, fertilizer, pesticides, and water, we are paying powerful and polluting petroleum, chemical, and agribusiness corporations and financial institutions to not only devastate the precious air, water, soil, and life quality for ourselves and our children, but we are also funding their legendary political power to infiltrate and dominate our governmental, educational, legal, and media institutions. As a result, these corporations are even subsidized with billions of our tax dollars annually to damage the health of our ecosystems, which further erodes our physical health, increasing our disease rates and the profits to the medical complex and the bankers lurking in the background.

Third, our cultural health. Because animal agriculture is profoundly wasteful of oil, water, land, and food, we have chronic food shortages in our world, even though we grow more than enough food to feed everyone, if we ate plant-based food directly rather than feeding it to livestock. Food shortages are well recognized to be the primary driving force behind much of the conflict in our world, and together with this inevitable conflict, is the direct cause of refugees, social breakdown, and many forms of human trafficking. The very first word for war going back ten thousand years is the ancient word “gavyaa” meaning literally “the desire for more cows.” Economic injustice, war, hunger, domination of women, and the arising of a privileged ruling elite are all linked to the ancient invention of animal herding around which we still organize our society. Thus, instead of using our economic surplus to revitalize our ecosystems, rebuild our infrastructure, and assure adequate housing, food, education, healthcare, and opportunity for all, we use it primarily for subsidizing the wealthy military and medical complexes. We sacrifice our children in wars that benefit a ruling class that uses the media and other institutions to propagate narratives that justify and promote an agenda of violence. Eating animal foods, we are fueling continued harm to our cultural health as well as the ongoing exploitation of our children and of ourselves.

Fourth, our psychological health. When, as children, we are compelled to sit at the table and eat animal foods that are harmful to our physical health, we are also being compelled to eat attitudes and beliefs that injure our psychological health. With every meal, we are being colonized psychologically in order to be malleable to the military-industrial-meat-medical-media complex. There are many dimensions to this, but to keep it brief, we’ll just look at a few, for example, the attitude of disconnectedness and desensitization that is imposed on us by being required as children to relentlessly eat animal foods. It’s well understood in systems theory that intelligence is the capacity for any system to make relevant connections and respond to feedback. Eating animal foods reduces this capacity and numbs our feelings both individually and collectively. We learn to stay shallow and avoid looking, listening, and feeling deeply. We avoid making the dreaded connection between what we are eating and what it took to get it on our plate. We are indoctrinated in daily meal rituals to repress our natural empathy and caring for others and this reduction of our cognitive and affective intelligence makes it comparatively easy for us to become gullible and uncritical consumers of narratives and products that reduce, harm, and enslave others and us. Our minds and bodies are also colonized by the poisonous attitude that beings are not beings but are rather mere commodities: material objects that we buy and sell by the pound. Upon reflection, this is shockingly debasing to others and to ourselves, but we both propel and consume this highly exploitive attitude with every meal, sowing seeds of our own exploitation. Finally, we are compelled to eat dairy, eggs, and meat products that require rampant abuse of animal mothers, their forced insemination and stealing of their babies and the destruction of their sacred mother-child bonds. We become easily exploited psychologically by causing and eating this trauma, repressing our feminine capacity, and feeding this to our trusting children. We eat products that are the embodiment of misery, fear, despair, insomnia, frustration, and chronic pain. The pharmaceutical industry’s most immense profits come from people buying drugs for precisely these conditions: despair, trauma, insomnia, depression, and chronic pain.

Fifth, and finally, our spiritual health. This may be the most severe exploitation of all. Every meal corrodes our basic connection with our true nature as eternal expressions of consciousness. By being required to repeatedly and ritually reduce other magnificent expressions of life to mere physical matter devoid of subjectivity and purpose, we sever our connection with the beauty, abundance, and enchantment of the living, interconnected web of life that is celebrating on this Earth. We have unwittingly become, in significant ways, an abusive scourge on this Earth that destroys and consumes as our life-purpose, both individually and collectively.

6a00d83451ccd169e201676357f90e970b-320wiOur innate spiritual wisdom and our purpose have been paved over and repressed, and as we become sick and addicted, our exploitation increases dramatically. A false purpose and set of narratives has been forced on us by the herding culture into which we are born: that we are here to exploit the garden and consume it. Other animals and ecosystems pay a steep price for our inability to free ourselves from being exploited, as do our children and we ourselves, ultimately.

The animal agriculture roots of our multi-dimensional exploitation have been invisible and unrecognized for too long. Now we can finally see and fully understand the dynamics involved. Being compelled from infancy to eat animal foods has created us to be a severely wounded population with drastically reduced capacities intellectually, emotionally, morally, and spiritually to fulfill our potential and create contexts that nurture justice, cooperation, creativity, freedom, joy, radiant health, and sustainability. Fortunately, this is beginning to change, and the momentum of our healing and awakening is increasing.

We can see two raging infernos on this planet. One is burning and destroying ecosystems, animals, societies, sanity, health, and our children’s future. The other is benevolent and is illuminating and incinerating the obsolete delusions perpetuated by our unquestioned exploitation of animals, and is revealing a new path to a doorway that leads to a positive future.

We will be free when we free others, and there is nothing physically holding us back from the evolution of respect, freedom, and harmony that is beckoning us. Whenever we eat animals foods of any kind—free-range, grass-fed, wild-caught, factory-farmed—it is all the same and cut from the same cloth: exploitation. Our exploitation ends when we awaken from the cultural program of exploiting other living beings and co-create a more aware plant-based way of eating and living, and understand the reasons behind this. Exploiting animals, we exploit and delude ourselves; freeing animals, we free ourselves.

Waste: The Defining Metaphor of Our Herding Culture

Will Tuttle : April 14, 2017

Dr. Will Tuttle

Compassionate Harvest by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleQuestion: What can we do about the problem of food waste in the world?

In the U.S., for example, according to the NRDC, about 40 percent of the food that is actually produced is thrown away and never eaten. This is 750 million pounds of food—about 240 pounds of food per person—wasted every year. While it’s heartening that some groups, such as Food Not Bombs, can capture a tiny percentage of this and share it with some hungry people, it’s tragic that we tolerate such waste in a world with millions of malnourished people. Underlying this food wastage is an even more serious problem: structural waste. Producing food uses 50 percent of all land and 80 percent of all fresh water, and this is due to the inherent inefficiencies of animal agriculture: we’re eating grain that’s first been digested and converted by animals. Compared to a vegan diet, the standard Western diet requires 11 times as much petroleum, 13 times as much water, and 18 times as much land.

Let’s look more deeply to explore some even more unrecognized wastage, and the driving forces behind our culture’s devastating and insidious orgy of waste.

We recently learned that every year in the U.K., over a million lambs die of hypothermia. Because of the popularity of lamb for Easter dinner, ewes are forcibly impregnated earlier than would be natural, so their babies are born early in the year, assuring that these lambs can be profitably fattened up in time for the Easter slaughter. The million or so baby lambs that shiver and freeze to death in the icy February winds of the British Isles are just a cost of doing business and are considered an acceptable level of waste by the industry, and by our society. Dying by freezing to death is excruciating, and similar suffering and death is inflicted on baby lambs (and virtually all other types of farmed animals) in many parts of our world, including North America and Europe.

We understand that this abuse and waste of millions of baby lambs is just a drop in the ocean we humans relentlessly inflict on literally trillions of animals annually, primarily through our desire to eat them. Millions of newborn male chicks are suffocated or macerated annually by egg producers as waste byproducts of an industry that exploits females, and a similar fate awaits millions of calves in the dairy industry. In the fishing industry, “bycatch” is the euphemism employed to refer to millions of tons of fishes, turtles, dolphins, whales, and seabirds trapped in nets or on hooks, and discarded, dead, back into the ocean as non-target species. Underweight juvenile pigs are killed and discarded as waste by industry. Ranchers, farmers, fishers, and their agents, such as the infamous USDA Wildlife Services agency, poison, trap, shoot, and destroy millions of wild animals yearly, including coyotes, mustangs, bears, bobcats, raccoons, rabbits, deer, otters, seals, dolphins, cormorants, swans, and many more.

This rampant destruction of animals who are seen as mere disposable waste or as throwaway impediments is devastating on many levels, and follows inexorably from the essential core of our culture. Although it is not discussed openly, we live today in an industrialized herding society. Our world is fundamentally organized around herding animals, confining and killing them in both large-scale and small-scale operations, and trapping and killing them in fishing operations. The consequences of this radiate into every dimension of our public and private lives.

Underlying all this, and all of animal agriculture, is the central practice and attitude of reducing beings to mere objects, and hard-heartedly viewing them as useable and wasteable commodities. Wastefulness is the invisible and defining characteristic of animal agriculture, and thus of our society today. Animal agriculture glorifies and revels in waste. It is based on disrespecting beings, and on killing, using, and throwing them away. Where is this “away?Turtles1 by visionary artist Madeleine Tuttle

The embarrassingly gross inefficiencies of animal agriculture are deliberately obscured, dismissed, and denied in our herding culture, but it’s nevertheless becoming obvious that eating animal-sourced foods is devastatingly wasteful to our oceans, rainforests, rivers, aquifers, fossil fuel supplies, air quality, climate stability, wildlife, and ecosystems, as well as to our physical, emotional, and cultural health. For example, in the U.S., livestock produce 116,000 pounds of waste (feces and urine) every second, over 3.5 trillion pounds annually, polluting air, rivers, and oceans, destroying soil and climate health, and killing wildlife and people. Animal agriculture is an engine of waste. It wastes water, petroleum, land, and massive quantities of grain and legumes that could feed starving children, whose lives are similarly wasted by this practice that wastes the lives of the billions of birds and mammals, and trillions of fishes who are consumed by our voracious appetites.

This waste is a form of violence and it takes many interconnected forms: the waste of vital resources, the waste of starving people’s lives and the war, misery, and conflict this causes, the waste of the animals themselves who are eaten only to directly contribute to the wasteful disease epidemics of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity, autoimmune disease, dementia, and other maladies that cause more massive wastage of money, drugs, lives, time, energy, and resources. Looking more deeply, we see that our abuse of animals not only wastes their precious lives and health, and their purposes. We reap what we sow, and we inevitably find our lives, our health, and our purposes tend to be wasted in many ways as well.

This orgy of waste is obvious everywhere, and yet it is eerily invisible. We are suffocating in our pollution, and this physical waste is the outer manifestation of a deeper inner pollution that propels us to waste the opportunity of our valuable human life in pursuits that lead to more bombs, prisons, hospitals, and asylums. The desperation of the masses of our brothers and sisters who are seen as expendable commodities mirrors the desperation of the freezing lambs, the crushed male chicks, and the terrorized coyotes and mustangs. All are mere waste in the ongoing economic engine driven by the mentality of animal agriculture—the mentality of disrespect—that wasted the West and will reduce our inner and outer landscape to an utter wasteland if we don’t wake up soon.

Chickens by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleVegan living is the essential antidote to this mentality of disrespect of others and oneself. I remember learning in the Zen meditation center about the importance of doing ones’ best to minimize waste, and to respect everything, especially food. We took just two vegan meals daily, and every grain of rice that we put into our bowls, we were obliged to eat. There was no “away” to throw that grain of rice. We made an effort to practice mindfulness in eating, walking, and sitting. When we needed some water, we learned to take only what we needed, and underlying everything was the idea that we are dependent on others and that they are worthy of our respect and gratitude. These others include streams, clouds, forests, fields, reefs, animals, humans, past and future generations and, ultimately, all living beings. We are interconnected with all life, and life is sacred. This can become clear to us when our minds become quiet through the practice of looking deeply and mindful awareness.

Like the abused animals we have been compelled to eat from infancy in this herding culture, we are all exploited. The same system that would waste their lives and opportunities would waste ours as well. Ironically and predictably, in this system, those of us who are the most extremely wasteful become the elite, with the highest status and wielding the most control. Thus the system churns on, relentlessly destructive and wasteful of everything it touches.

The greatest contribution we can make to our world today is to question the invisible mentality of waste that permeates our culture and attitudes, and move to a vegan way of living, both in our external actions, and in our inner attitudes. Going vegan is the single most potent way to dramatically reduce our environmental footprint and to treat the disease of wastefulness that defines the culture into which we were born. Every vegan is not only saving the lives of thousands of animals yearly, but also the lives of trees, forests, rivers, and oceans, and of hungry people and future generations.

It’s essential to understand and do our best to embody vegan values of respect for others and ourselves. Traveling and putting on lectures promoting vegan living, Madeleine and I have been to our fair share of vegan potlucks and meals over the years, and while they are delicious and inspiring, it is somewhat heartbreaking to see people take vegan food and then casually throw it away because they took too much. As vegans, we are called to demonstrate vegan living in every aspect of our lives as best we can, as respect and non-wastefulness of resources. This is the essence of the teaching, and brings freedom and joy into our lives, and empowers us to be an effective example for others.

How much more heartbreaking it is to see people taking nonvegan food and nonchalantly throwing it away, without respect for the being who gave her precious life for that so-called food. I have met vegans who are so dismayed by this that they ask if perhaps they should eat this flesh and cheese in order to respect the exploited animal, and the huge quantities of grain, water, petroleum, and toxic chemicals required in the production of this “food.” Just as it’s essential to see that nonvegan foods are not actually food at all, but violence, it’s essential to see that waste is not just waste. It’s an explicit and harmful form of violence.Farm Animals by artist Madeleine Tuttle

Here is the liberating and inspiring paradox: by practicing respect and conservation, we don’t experience deprivation but rather a greater sense of appreciation and abundance, and a heightened sensitivity to the beauty and bounty of life around us. Vegan living is the path to abundance for everyone, where with awareness we can co-create harmonious and equitable relations and fulfill our purpose on this Earth. Thanks for caring, and for questioning the toxic mentality of waste injected into all of us by our obsolete herding culture. A more conscious world is yearning to be born. It’s up to each of us.

Taking the Second Step

Will Tuttle : February 28, 2017

Taking the Second Step

By Dr. Tuttle, in Alliance for Animals Magazine

Compassion, Truth & Healing

Will Tuttle : February 11, 2017

Compassion, Truth & Healing

in Living Aloha Magazine by Dr. Tuttle

 

Inspirations from China and Asia

Will Tuttle : January 23, 2017

By Dr. Will Tuttle

What can we learn about veganism and world peace from the ancient cultures of eastern Asia? During our recent four-week lecture tour to China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Singapore, we received abundant inspiration and insight from these cultures. One of the most striking characteristics of these Asian cultures that we experienced, particularly with the vegan advocacy groups with whom we worked, was their healthy cooperativeness. It’s a bit hard to actually describe, but every day in a variety of ways I was struck, and at times awestruck, by the natural way the people had of working together harmoniously and productively.

 

China: The Cradle of Veganism1.004

For example, before Madeleine met up with me in Taiwan, I spent two weeks in China, giving about 20 lectures in twelve different cities in those fourteen days (Beijing > Guangzhou > Chengdu > Kunming > Xian > Taiyuan > Shenzhen > Hong Kong > Shanghai > Hangzhou > Haining > Xiamen). It was a grueling schedule for the three of us, (including Dr. Li Yu, the lecture tour organizer, and Jade Zheng, the interpreter), with flights nearly every day, and yet the cooperativeness, harmony, and enthusiasm of the event organizers and participants made it all heart-warming and joyful. Even when we arrived at 11:00 p.m. at an airport, there would be a delegation of local vegan advocates with big smiles, warm greetings, and a large bouquet of flowers to welcome us. The actual lecture events ran unusually smoothly, and day after day, night after night, the auditoriums and lecture halls were filled to capacity with enthusiastic attendees. It was common for me to sign a hundred or even several hundred books afterward, with long lines of people all working together graciously to make the many signings and photo-ops flow cheerfully and efficiently.

mmexport1478792436998It is a feeling that’s hard to describe and that seems unfortunately a bit missing in the West. For me, there was a palpable sense of connectedness displayed that seemed rooted in centuries of working together to achieve common aims. There was also a sense of respect that I found touching and inspiring. It’s manifest in many of the cultural gestures and basic ways of doing things. Most of the meals we shared, for example, were at a table with a large round revolving server filled with a variety of dishes. The custom is for all of us to be continuously mindful of everyone else as we turn the rotating disc to access the foods we’d like, and to be sure that others are also able to get what they would like. Another example, whenever we present someone with something, for example, a book, a business card, or a gift, both people involved always extend both hands simultaneously, holding the object in both hands and receiving it with both hands as well, usually with a slight bow or nod. Again, there is a feeling in these traditions that cultivates a sense of respect for each other and for all the elements in the act of giving.

food1Regarding the actual practice of vegan living, it was refreshing to be in cultures where people easily understood the spiritual dimension of vegan living, and relished speaking and hearing about it. This again seems to be somewhat missing in the West, and is I believe a result of the wounding and hardened materialism inflicted on us here by centuries of animal exploitation and abuse. I realized that in China I was arguably in the actual birthplace of veganism as a philosophy and way of life. When we trace the roots of vegan and vegetarian living, we are drawn ineluctably back to Vedic India and the ancient yogic and Jain traditions that emphasize ahimsa, or nonviolence toward all living beings, as the foundation of inner peace and social harmony. Still today, India is the most vegetarian-friendly country in the world, but the tradition of eating dairy products and owning and enslaving cows for this is profoundly intertwined with Indian culture. Because of this ubiquity of dairy consumption, the vegan movement in India is still relatively young and small, though it is rapidly growing.

mmexport1479276531511However, with the coming of Bodhidharma from India to China in the fifth century, bringing the Indian Buddhist teachings to a culture that never historically enslaved cows for milk or flesh, we find the genesis of a vibrant and authentically vegan culture in the Buddhist monasteries and temples that sprang up in China in the ensuing years. Over the centuries, these meditation centers became in many ways the cultural, spiritual, intellectual, and artistic hubs of Chinese culture, especially in the Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties. The China discovered by Marco Polo was far more advanced and refined than relatively primitive medieval Europe, and the demand for and interest in Chinese porcelains, arts, and culture helped spur Europe toward its Renaissance.

mmexport1479561711952It was in these ancient Chinese Zen temples where we find one of the earliest and most robust flowerings of vegan culture that persists to this day in many of the Buddhist centers of China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam. The monastic residents of these communities refrained from eating any animal-based foods or wearing leather or silk, and did it as part of their spiritual practice of ahimsa, which is the ethical foundation of today’s veganism. In fact, it was in these centers that the first plant-based meat analogs were created by the temple cooks, such as seitan. Although the monks and nuns lived on healthy regimes of rice, vegetables, fruits, beans, and tofu, affluent patrons would visit on special occasions, and to please them at their vegan feasts, the cooks invented the first faux pork, fish, duck, and chicken from plant-based ingredients. This living tradition of course continues to this day, and it has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the food industry, bringing plant-based meat, cheese, and other alternative products to millions of people.

mmexport1479561709261It seemed to me that the enthusiastic crowds that attended the lectures throughout China intuitively understood that vegan living has its roots in the ethical and spiritual practices of compassion, contemplation, and direct insight into the interconnectedness of all expressions of life. And refreshingly, they understood that there is no conflict between spiritual practice and the scientific research demonstrating that shifting to plant-based ways of eating and living would be dramatically healing not only for our Earth’s ecosystems but also for our society, as well as our bodies and minds. In fact, about six months prior to my Chinese lecture tour, the Chinese government, based on these findings, had mandated a fifty percent reduction in meat consumption in China. When I mentioned this to the Chinese audiences, and told them I hoped that the U.S. government would eventually be similarly wise, there was always hearty applause.

mmexport1479806030714The entire lecture tour in China seemed to be blessed. No flights were delayed or luggage lost, and we were frequently able to find a few unoccupied rows at the back of the planes so we could squeeze in some sleep between events. And then there was Jade! Finding talented and simpatico vegan interpreters for the lectures in every city loomed as a huge challenge. After the first two lectures in Beijing, this was obvious, but when we landed in the second city, Guangzhou (Canton), we met Jade Zheng who was not only a remarkably gifted interpreter, but extraordinarily helpful in every way, so Dr. Yu wisely decided to invite her to travel with us for the entire tour, which she thankfully was free to do, and she assisted in countless ways.

One tDSC_5588hing she didn’t have to interpret for was my piano music, and Dr. Yu had fortuitously required all lecture venues to have a piano on the stage, and I found that the unique power music has as a universal language was especially well received among the Chinese (and all the Asian) audiences. Veganism is in many ways an expression of a heart that has opened, and—while words, images, and examples are primary catalysts in opening hearts—rhythms, melodies, and harmonies have remarkable capacities in this regard as well.

 

The World Peace Diet Project

The lecture tour kicked off what we are calling the World Peace Diet Project in China. With 1.3 billion people (compared to .3 billion in the U.S.), China obviously plays a critical role in the global vegan movement. I learned how quickly veganism is growing in China, supported by young people as is usual, but also by elders and traditionalists as well as by the government, science, and the media. In most cities, besides my lecture presentation on the World Peace Diet approach to vegan living, Dr. Yu would also give a lecture on the nutritional benefits of plant-based eating, and we would end with a panel on the stage where we’d be joined by local vegan activists, educators, filmmakers, restaurateurs, and entrepreneurs. It was illuminating to see the wide range of creative and grassroots approaches to spreading the vegan message all over China.

foodI also had remarkable opportunities to visit vegan restaurants and businesses. For example, in Guangzhou, one of the lectures was sponsored by a vegan products company, and when we toured their offices I was pleasantly surprised to discover that their business was booming and they had recently expanded to occupy an entire floor of a downtown skyscraper. Everyone in the business seemed to be under thirty and thriving in the company’s creative atmosphere. Later in the tour we visited a vegan baked goods factory in the Shanghai area that was similarly impressive. All the workers even came in on a Sunday to be there when we visited. Another remarkable discovery was a thriving vegan restaurant in Haining that had launched through local grassroots investment: over 130 local residents had invested in the restaurant by purchasing an equal share (the equivalent of around $3,000 I believe) and through this cooperative effort, they had created not just a thriving vegan restaurant, but a community gathering place treasured by many people.

Ma ChuoIn Hong Kong the local vegan group created a successful vegfest around our lecture presentation with lots of booths and vendors, and this was done in some other cities as well. In Xiamen we met a particularly inspiring fellow: Master Ma Chuo. He has made a vow to bring the vegan message to every city in China, a daunting seven-year task that he is accomplishing, every day hitchhiking with a hundred-pound pack filled with vegan literature he distributes as he speaks in schools and cultural centers. Now in year five of his seven-year adventure, he radiates joy and vitality, an ageless and beautiful person dressed in the traditional white garments of a wandering Taoist who brings kindness and awareness wherever he goes, planting seeds of peace throughout China, with a vow to do the same in India when China is completed.

How can we rest when animals are suffering so severely and in need of our aid?

DSC_5533In China we were also able to reach millions of people through interviews and recordings distributed by the media and online. The momentum of the vegan movement in China seems to be rapidly increasing, and it was heartening to see how the World Peace Diet holistic approach to veganism resonates naturally with vegans in China. Some explained to me that in the Chinese language, the word “vegan” is difficult to express precisely, and some are saying “world peace diet” instead of “vegan diet” and “world peace living” instead of “veganism.” The yearning for world peace is universal and profound, and it’s connecting increasingly with veganism in China, and as we saw next during the following week, in Taiwan as well.

 

Taiwan: The Vegan Pioneer

Taiwan is, it seems, the most vegan country in the world. Not only are there more than a thousand vegetarian and vegan restaurants on this little island, there is a booming vegan movement as well as a strong organic movement. This was encouraging to experience after being in China, where it is still difficult for many to access organic foods. The widespread vegan and organic awareness in Taiwan is due primarily to the Buddhist temples and organizations that form the heart of Taiwanese culture, and have millions of adherents. The Mahayana Buddhist tradition is vegan in its foundations, and so the general feeling in the populace is that eating meat is somewhat questionable. Dairy tends to be more popular, because it is a relatively recent arrival and is also not obviously causing harm to animals in peoples’ minds.

TurkeyFortunately there are many Buddhist and other groups such as the Meat-free Monday group working to educate the populace about the health, environmental, and ethical problems with dairy production. Because there is little land for large-scale animal agriculture, there is virtually no industry opposition to these educational efforts, and the government, as in China, is less corrupted than in the U.S. and Western countries through the typical massive infiltration and lobbying by animal agriculture, fast food, chemical, pharmaceutical, defense, and banking interests, all of whom profit from these foods, and the disease and war they cause.

The Clean Life Foundation, a nondenominational spiritual group that promotes meditation, yoga, and clean living, organized our lecture tour in Taiwan. They were effective, creative and enthusiastic in their efforts and our tour in Taiwan was delightful. The first event was a press conference that attracted all the major media, featuring an enormous turkey made completely out of fruits and vegetables in honor of Thanksgiving. Additionally there were creative dances inspired by animals and short speeches about the environmental and cultural benefits of vegan living. Later in the week, we participated in a second similarly successful press event in a hotel in a different city, and this one featured a vegan-inspired fashion show created by one of the most respected fashion designers in Taiwan.

Fruit girlsBesides speaking at these press events that brought the vegan message to a nationwide audience, we delivered lecture presentations in remarkably well-organized venues in several cities. The lecture in Taichung drew over 700 people, and we also had the opportunity to present workshops and concerts (piano and flute) and for Madeleine to give a vegan cooking class at a local restaurant. We met a team opening the world’s first completely vegan large-scale hotel, and participated in an evening showcasing the creative vegan advocacy efforts of Taiwanese children and teens. Visiting several vegan restaurants and bakeries and discussing strategies and possibilities with local advocates, we got an uplifting glimpse into the broad and deep progress being made in promoting vegan living in Taiwan, propelled by the youth, and also by the religious and spiritual organizations that promote meditation, kindness to others, and respect for all life.

NDSC_5578The Clean Life Foundation, like quite a few other spiritual groups, offers courses that help people live more mindfully and plant seeds of peace, joy, and health in their lives. We also visited the Tzu Chi Foundation, a movement of over ten million people, founded by the Buddhist nun and meditation master Cheng Yen, which assists people worldwide with food and disaster aid. We were especially honored to be able to meet the elderly and iconic Cheng Yen personally and thank her for her terrific work, and to present her with the Chinese version of The World Peace Diet.

 

Vietnam, Singapore, and Hawaii

The next stops were Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and in Vietnam we were impressed both by the dedication of the vegan activists, and also by the difficulties they face in not being allowed by the government to put on public events or gatherings without special permission. Additionally, we were told that there is a massive advertising campaign underway in Vietnam to promote dairy products to the people, with ads and articles appearing constantly in the media about the benefits of milk and cheese. As everywhere in Asia, we were treated with tremendous kindness, and the lecture events were well attended and pianos were provided.

NIMG_2308Besides the main lecture event in Singapore, which was beautifully organized and well-attended, we had the opportunity to speak and concertize in the Canadian-sponsored international school there, and share the vegan message with the youth, who seemed genuinely interested and open. With Singapore, the most westernized of all the countries we visited, we were transitioning to the final leg of our lecture tour: three weeks in the Hawaiian islands of Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai. Again, we were encouraged to see the progress being made in Hawaii through the dedicated efforts of local activists on all three islands. We delivered two World Peace Diet Facilitator Training Retreats as well as a well-organized series of lectures, gatherings, and concerts, and by the end of our time in Hawaii, our hearts were filled with inspiration and gratitude.

Being able to coBanyan group1ntribute to this movement, and to work together with other grassroots activists in communities throughout Asia and the Pacific, is an honor and fortuitous opportunity. Animals, ecosystems, workers, hungry children, and future generations are in dire need of a complete transformation in the way we live, eat, and relate. We have seen, embraced, laughed, wept, and worked with the kindred spirits in countries, cities, and villages throughout this planet who share the world peace vision of respect for all life. This vegan movement is bigger than all of us, and yet it needs all of us.

Thanks to you, and to all who hear the call, for contributing your unique wisdom and effort to help unfold this global transformation that now, more than ever, is essential.

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