• J Felix

The Vegan/Vegetarian Diet

Updated: Jan 2

Meditators develop insight and an aesthetic awareness that encourages positive and healthful lifestyle changes. For me, vegetarianism/veganism is a by-product of meditation.

To kill or cause to kill any sentient being goes against the precepts of most schools of meditation. That said, I respect those who hunt, raise, or fish their own food- which I'd do if driven by necessity. But I have choices. I choose a plant based diet. Refraining is an act of compassion, not only for other sentient beings, but for others and one's own well-being.

Compassion for all living things is the primary motivation behind my decision. How animals are raised today is appalling. Knowing this, lobbyists pushed for ag-gag legislation. A few states have laws that criminalize whistleblowers or the recording of operations. Why? If the public learned of how the meat it consumed was raised or slaughtered, habits might change.

13.6 million kilograms of antibiotics are used for livestock in the United States annually, to arrest the spread of diseases common in crowded and unhygienic factory farms.

Agribusiness is the largest contributor to climate change- more than all forms of transportation combined. Raising livestock is an inefficient use of limited resources. One acre of land can produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 53,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots, but only 250 pounds of beef. To produce one pound of beef takes 2,400 gallons of water. 55% of the fresh water used in the United States goes to animal husbandry, compared to 5% for private consumption. Globally, the figure is between 20-30%. The Venerable Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh cited a statistic claiming that if we in the West reduced our consumption of alcohol and meat 50%, we could end hunger. Small sacrifice to contribute to the well-being of others.

Eating meat, moreover, compromises one's health and well-being compared with a vegetarian or vegan diet. This is not intended as an informative guide, however. The research is abundant and readily available.

For a meditator seeking to purify the mind, a vegetarian/vegan diet is ideal. The choice is an act of compassion that grows out of practice. We are aware of what we eat, mindful of what we consume.

Vegetarian dishes aid in concentration and promote better health. After years of practice, we develop interoceptive awareness. We are aware of the effect food has on the quality of our moment to moment experiences.

It takes a strong will to discipline the mind. Controlling the appetites of the body is a way to strengthen one's resolve.

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