Traveling the world has been an eye-opening experience in more ways than one. I have seen the most majestic mountains, the deepest turquoise seas, amazingly lush jungles, and vast desert sands. However, I also have seen devastating oil spills, deforestation, air pollution and waste-filled cities in third world countries. When I see these things I can’t help but to feel sadness and shame on how we treat Mother Earth, and somewhat helpless on what I can do to make a difference in protecting this nurturing planet that Gaia provided for us. I decided to do some research on ways that I can help and what I discovered blew me away! I learned that raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute. With our already over-populated planet and the growing demand for animal agriculture, I realized that I was part of the problem by the food I choose to put on my plate. If people decided to eat a plant-based diet, there would no longer be a need to destroy all of the land and harm the ozone layer from animal methane.
I love my dogs as if they are my children. I talk to them, I cuddle with them, and I even sleep with them sometimes. I look into their eyes and I see a soul, a sentient being that craves love, feels physical pain, and experiences sadness and fear. And I wonder why so many people love their pets the same as I, but don’t see other animals the same way?
I was visiting Cuba last year and as I was walking down the streets of Havana, enjoying my day, all of a sudden, I heard a screaming crying baby in dire pain. I was so startled and was trying to figure out where the baby was and if it was okay. Then, in the corner of my eye I noticed that it wasn’t a baby, not a human one anyway, but it was a man carrying a baby lamb, ready to slaughter it. It knew it was crying for its life. It was screaming in fear. I instantly bursted into tears in the middle of a crowded park. I couldn’t believe that sound, and I couldn’t believe that we do this to living creatures because we can, not because we have to. I was devastated for the rest of the day.
Then, I had another experience like that (but even worse) a few weeks ago, I was in Cambodia in a van driving through rural towns near Phenom Penh and saw the most horrific thing. Our van stopped at a light and next to us was a truck full of live pigs. They were all crying out, shaking and squealing, piled one on top of the other, being crushed to death. Their faces were so helpless and you could see that they were in sheer agony. But then, there was this one pig that I will never get out of my mind for as long as I live. This one was in the middle of the pile. He was shaking and his body was riddled with bruises, scrapes and sores. One of his eyes was bleeding on to the pigs below him. We locked eyes. I felt like if he could talk he would say, “please help me!” It shook me to my core. I felt my chest tighten, my stomach churned and my eyes began to well up. I wanted to jump out of the van and rescue them, but of course, I couldn’t do that. That would be crazy! But what if these were puppies? If these were puppies, not only myself, but I bet every single person on that van would be right behind me helping. Why is that I ask myself? A French girl sitting next to me looked over and once she noticed what I was witnessing, she screamed out! Her partner shielded her eyes and protected her from the gory sight. This is what we all do. This is why we can’t watch the documentaries that try to spread this awareness to the world. We don’t want to know the evil we are part of.
Do we think that if we don’t see it, it’s not happening?
The rest of my six-hour van ride I was full of sadness and thoughts running through my mind. Do lambs not have a soul? Do pigs not feel pain? Do chickens not hurt when their beaks are cut off? Does a mother cow not long for her calf taken away from her at birth? Do these animals not feel fear when they are going to slaughter? The answer is YES, they all do!
I know these are hard questions that nobody wants to admit are true. But they are. Most people like to rationalize that this is just how it is, without considering what it takes to get that food on your plate. But just because its culturally accepted and you were conditioned to think that way, doesn’t make it right. Slavery was accepted, was that right? And if you love your dog or cat, would you consider eating them if it was acceptable? They do in some countries. Why do we protect some species, but not others?
And most recently, why do we care so much about the elephants, but not turkeys, fish, goats, rabbits, geese? It feels very hypocritical to me and I can’t come up with a justifiable reason. “Because they taste good” doesn’t seem to be a legitimate reason for murder.
I have pretty unlucky genetics. I have cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and thyroid disease in my family. Most, I suspect, is due from poor diet and lifestyle. I am 45 years old and am fortunate to be in good health at this current time, but my goal is to continue prevention of these diseases through diet and exercise, and abstaining for alcohol and tobacco. Medical studies have proven, while no cure has been set in stone for diseases such as cancer, diabetes or even obesity, you can see the benefits of a plant-based diet are far superior than any other diet. Because whole food sources of plants contain no cholesterol, no processed ingredients, and no detrimental animal protein, they support the body on every single level. And I know what you will say next, “but where do you get your protein from?” You get it from soybeans, edamame, lentils, broccoli, peas, asparagus, kale, pumpkin seeds, spinach, sprouts, mushrooms, artichokes, nuts, tofu, temphe, seitan, quinoa, chick peas and so many more. That rationale is a myth and just an excuse to eat meat. And guess what? The animals that you think you need to eat to get protein from, get their protein from plants! I didn’t even mention the disgusting conditions that these animals are kept in. That’s a whole other topic! Many have infections and literal puss and cancer being cut off and removed before packaging. Yum!
I have always voted, ever since I was 18 years old, but it wasn’t until this last election, that I became heavily involved in activism on a whole. You may wonder what this has to do with choosing a plant-based diet? There are a number of reasons, but this was the most impactful reason why I made the connection to going vegan. I found myself going green in more ways than one. I learned about the Dakota Access Pipeline and how horrible it was for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and their people. Not only was the government illegally trying to take away their rightfully owned land, but the oil spills caused by the pipeline has contaminated their drinking water and destroying the Earth. How can I march in protest for protecting this land, when I’m contributing to destroying land somewhere else from animal agriculture for the meat I’m eating that day. It made no sense. One activist said, “You can’t call yourself an environmentalist if you aren’t vegan.” and in that one sentence I knew she was absolutely right! Another reason was because I think one of the main goals in activism is giving a voice to the voiceless. I want to be on the right side of history when it comes to the environment and the animal rights. There is no reason that we have to contribute to destroying either and those who understand this need to speak this truth, even if they are standing alone.
In 2012 I had what some would call a spiritual awakening. My entire life shifted. I knew that something inside me had changed forever and ever since then I have been on this path. It was the most life-changing experience I have ever had and though it has given me profound joy and improved, literally, every aspect of my life, the journey wasn’t easy, and still isn’t. Through the years I found myself being guided to completely stripping away my old self and transforming into my new self. This was hard to let go of an old identity that I once knew, but I realized that this was what I needed to do to help me through this process. I was so grateful for the love and support of my husband and as I evolved and changed, he did too. Lucky for us that we changed together, because more often than not, when things like this happen it makes couples grow apart. I can’t really compact the last five years of my transformation in a paragraph, but I will say that going plant-based is just one of my shifts in consciousness.
I meditate frequently. I try to every day. And in one of my deep meditations I came out of with the words, ” there is no path to enlightenment while contributing to the suffering of living beings.” This to me, was my Higher Self telling me what I already knew inside my heart. I have my karma to live with and I know that killing is wrong. If I wanted to continue to work towards becoming a spiritually enlightened being in this lifetime or the next, I could only truly do that by not eating animals any longer, (as well as numerous other life adjustments I’m working on). Just because I don’t kill my food by myself, I, in some regards hire a hit man to do my dirty work. Its simply unethical when comes right down to it.
In all religions and faiths one of the golden rules is DO NOT KILL.
Ahimsa definition: “do Non-harmfulness (harmlessness). To not wish harm to any living creature — not even to any lifeless object. Ahimsa is about the intent, rather than the action itself. It is an attitude of universal benevolence.”
If you are Christian, the Bible talks a lot about this subject. (Check out this video)
So, I’m wondering why do people who follow the teachings of the Bible break this rule, more than willingly, and with no remorse or guilt at all on a constant basis ?(some I know even gloat about it to me and mock me for my beliefs). This is in their rule book, not mine!
I know most are very good and compassionate people who have been conditioned to think that this is okay. All people have been. Its never actually dawned on most I’m sure. But maybe, just maybe with more people sharing this information, it could be a new way of thinking; for Christians, for Jews, for Buddhists, for Muslims, for atheists, for ALL people?
I’m not even Christian, but I think the Bible is a wonderful tool for people to live by. Do people think the rule “do not kill” meant, do not kill, well except if it’s a tasty animal? It really is an odd thing to me when I sit and contemplate about it. And btw, Daniel was the man!
I don’t practice or follow any dogmatic religion per say, I am more of a spiritual person than religious one, I do however, think all people should live by these rules. It’s what being a compassionate human being is all about. Here is a link to many more Biblical scriptures on the subject:Bible verses about vegetarianism
This is another one that might make people wonder how there possibly can be a connection to eating plant-based and feminism. Well, let me explain. If you don’t already know, I’ll fill you in on how we get our milk, cheese and all dairy products-cows that just gave birth. Now that is pretty obvious, I know, but were you aware that these cows are actually being raped by the farmers, getting artificially inseminated, and their babies are instantly stolen away from them the moment they give birth? The babies born aren’t allowed to bond with their mother or drink its own mother’s milk. If you watch any of these videos, you will see the mother cow anxiously trying to get to her calf. It is gut wrenching to see. So, not only is the female cow raped, then its newborn is taken away at birth, most have to experience these assaults over and over again until they are too old to produce milk. A lifetime of rape and torture for us to have milk, yogurt and cheese. In addition to the cruelty of these actions, many have puss-filled and painful inflamed mammary glands(mastitis), due to the horrible conditions of factory farming.
Furthermore, the sadness continues onto their babies. If their baby is a male, they are slaughtered after 18 weeks for veal. If it is a female, they look forward to the same atrocious life as their mom had.
These cows are also genetically altered to be able to produce more milk, pumped with antibiotics and hormones. Also note, that another myth that has been debunked is the flawed belief that milk is good for your bones. This is untrue. Milk actually depletes the calcium from your bones and can cause osteoporosis! Cow’s milk is the number one cause of food allergies among infant and children, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.
As a female I could not ever imagine that type of emotional and physical trauma. Learning this made me realize that when I was a vegetarian, thinking that I wasn’t harming animals by eating dairy products, that I was so wrong. I was still harming animals in more ways than one.
IT FEELS AMAZING!
Living a plant-based lifestyle for moral, environmental, health, spiritual and ethical reasons is great, but what is even better is how it makes you feel physically and emotionally. My husband and I both have more energy than we did before living this lifestyle. We also have lost 10+ pounds each, without even meaning to. We discuss how we sleep better, feel lighter, never weighed down from heavy fats and meats, and our regularity is something that we never thought would be talking about until we were in our old age. 😉 It’s such an amazing feeling knowing that we are nurturing our bodies by fueling it with plant-based nutrients, healthy proteins, fiber-rich carbohydrates and monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats(the good kind).
It also tastes so good! These days with companies like Beyond Meat, Gardein, Daiya, Tofutti, just to name a few, it’s so much easier to find protein substitutes and the plethora of nut milks, cheeses and yogurts is really impressive. Before these items were either unavailable or tasted terrible. Now, they are getting better every year and even meat industries are investing in these companies because they see its growth in popularity too. Leonardo DiCaprio has invested in Beyond Meat with his interest in fighting climate change. Man do I love that guy! And Whole Foods isn’t the only place you will find these yummy foods either. I have found these products in my regular local grocery store, Target and even Walmart!
And its fun! My husband and I have made it a hobby to “vegan-ize” meals we usually eat. We still eat spaghetti and meatballs, chili, fish tacos, burrito bowls, sushi, mandarin chicken, burgers, and the list goes on! Besides that, we also love finding new delicious recipes. Our favorite goto vegan recipe blog currently is The Minimalist Baker. She has the most flavorful recipes that only use minimal ingredients so its super easy as well!
After a day’s worth of cruelty-free eating, I can’t help but feel good in my soul too. Just knowing I didn’t contribute to this kind of suffering one more day is like a karmic cleansing for past regret. I am now more mindful of everything I put into my body. I hear it even helps you stay youthful, which wouldn’t be a bad side-effect either. The whole process of transforming to this lifestyle has been extremely empowering. I feel like I am living as a more compassionate, empathetic, globally conscience citizen and I’d love to see more people join me!
“The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” -Gandhi
Would you ever consider living a plant-based/vegan lifestyle? If so, contact me! I’d love to talk to you about this and give you tips I’ve learned to help you transition. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
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