By: Anthea Torr
I wonder how many people would still eat flesh if they had visited an abattoir or a battery chicken farm or even a fish farm? I think most would cringe with disgust and horror at the cruelty that these animals have to endure.
Nobel prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer was a late converter to vegetarianism, but became an avid promoter of the peace of a meatless diet. He said:
“Even if eating meat was shown to be good for you, I would certainly not eat it.”
Singer had little patience with an intellectual rationalisation for meat-eating:
“Various philosophers and religious leaders tried to convince their disciples and followers that animals are nothing more that machines without a soul, without feelings. However, anyone who has ever lived with an animal – be it a dog, a bird or even a mouse – knows that this theory is a brazen lie, invented to justify cruelty!”
I must say I heartily agree with him! Tolstoy advocated ‘vegetarian pacifism’ and was against killing even the smallest living thing such as an ant!
He believed that there was a natural progression of violence that inevitably leads to war, and wrote that eating flesh “… is simply immoral, as it involves an act which is contrary to moral feeling – killing.” Tolstoy believed that man suppressed the highest spiritual capacity – that of sympathy – and became cruel when adopting a diet that included meat.
The great Renaissance mystic Leonardo da Vinci said:
“I have from an early age, adjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I, will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.”
George Bernard Shaw said:
“While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”
I wonder how many people would still eat flesh if they had visited an abattoir or a battery chicken farm or even a fish farm? I think most would cringe with disgust and horror at the cruelty that these animals have to endure. Some animals are taken away from their mothers at a very early age, and kept in feeding units so small they cannot lie down or move around, they are pumped full of growth hormones, antibiotics and tranquillisers and then led off to the slaughterhouse, some dying before they even reach there.
The fear, anxiety and pain that these animals feel is an energy or memory that stays in their flesh and is stored in their cellular memory.
We as humans then take it on when we eat them. Calves selected for veal production are taken away from their mothers long before they would naturally choose independence. The trauma and feeling of loss for both the calf and the mother is too awful to contemplate. They are then fed on a diet of liquid food until they die a miserable premature death. This diet keeps the flesh white, which fetches a better price on the market.
Battery chickens live a life of misery, never getting to see the light of day. They are often kept on wire mesh instead of a solid floor to make it easier for farmers to keep the cages clean. As they are not by nature perching birds, their legs often become crippled as the wire cuts into their feet. Some resort to climbing onto the backs of their fellow creatures for relief from their pain and suffering.
As animals instinctively strive to be in the open air, free to move and enjoy nature as we do, they often become restless and frustrated when cooped up in crowded cages. Chickens will often peck at each other, resulting in farmers cutting off the tips of their beaks to prevent them from tearing each other to pieces and many a bird has to bear the agony of a bleeding and tender beak for the rest of it ‘life’ on the chicken farm.
Even if in some cases the scenario is not quite so bad, none are good enough to warrant our eating these fellow creatures for the sake of the palate or our so-called health. These cruel stories are endless as humans remain detached and on the whole unaware of the process involved in bringing them their neatly packed supermarket food, already killed, skinned and cleaned.
Health and the meatless diet
It seems so clear when we compare the physiology of humans to carnivorous animals, that we are not designed to eat meat. Dr Bernard Jensen, a leading authority and author on colon health, analysed some of the faecal matter that he removed from a patient’s colon and found that it was over 40 years old! Meat is fibreless and does not pass through our colon easily. It can get caught in the little pockets of our typically vegetarian colon, and there it stays rotting and causing havoc with our health. We don’t have a short smooth colon like carnivorous animals.
The meat industry has managed to creep insidiously into our belief systems, offering many clever reasons for flesh consumption. In so doing it has converted the masses and convinced us that we should be eating meat, and if we don’t we won’t be getting enough protein. This is simply not true. The protein from a vegetarian diet is not inferior.
“Never mind our physiology, it tastes nice and that’s a good enough reason,” is the distressing answer I often get! We have been lead to believe that vegetables and fruit are not a complete protein and therefore inferior. I wonder how the other numerous herbivorous animals such as elephants, giraffes, horses and cattle manage to grow to be such magnificent animals if they are eating inferior protein? “The idea that meat has a monopoly on protein and the belief that large amounts of protein are required for energy and strength are both myths.”
While it is being digested, most protein breaks down into its constituent amino acids, which are reconverted and used by the body for growth and tissue replacement. Only eight of the 22 amino acids cannot be synthesised by the body itself, and these eight ‘essential amino acids’ are found in abundance in non-flesh foods.
Furthermore, our bodies store amino acids, so if we don’t get a complete set of amino acids in one sitting we will have stored all we need anyway: a bowl of brown rice and mung beans gives us all the amino acids we need! During the process of converting grain to meat, 99% of the carbohydrates, 90% of the protein and 100% of the dietary fibre are lost! As early as 1961 the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that 90 – 97% of heart disease, a half of the cause of deaths in the USA, could be prevented by a vegetarian diet. In 1990 the British medical journal The Lancet reported similar findings. There have been numerous links between cancer and the consumption of meat. In 1990 Dr Walter Willet, who conducted the largest study of diet and colon cancer in history said:
“If you step back and look at the data, the optimum amount of meat you eat should be zero!”
Another area of grave concern is the nitrosamines formed when secondary amines, prevalent in beer, wine, tea and tobacco to mention a few of the many sources, react with chemical preservatives in flesh products. Nitrosamines are labelled “one of the most formidable and versatile groups of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) yet discovered.” A shocking animal study carried out by Dr William Lijinsky of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in which nitrosamines were fed to animals, found that after 6 months every single animal (100%) had cancer! Numerous other potentially hazardous chemicals are present in flesh products. According to Gary and Steven Null in their book Poisons in Your Body, besides tranquillisers, hormones and antibiotics, some 2700 hazardous chemicals have been identified in animal products. The process starts way before birth and continues long after death!
These drugs will all be present in the products when you eat them. Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are the chemicals used as preservatives to slow down the putrefaction in cured meat and meat products. They are also used to give meat its bright red colour by reacting with pigments in the blood and muscle. Without them the meat would turn the natural grey-brown colour of dead meat very quickly. Excessive amounts of these chemicals can be fatal. Mistakes have occurred where too much has been added in the factory and people have died of poisoning!
Even small amounts can be hazardous and warnings have been given by the United Nations fao/who Expert Committee on Food Additives that “Nitrates should not on any account be added to baby food.”
“The margin between safe and not safe is very small. Because of the filthy, overcrowded conditions that the animals are forced to live in, disease is rampant.”
The Food and Drug Administration in America estimates that the use of antibiotics saves the meat farmers $1.9 billion a year, giving them sufficient reason to overlook the potential health hazards and the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are passed on to meat eaters. Further poisons such as urea and uric acid are present in the meat from the trauma of being slaughtered. These join with the animal’s blood to contaminate the flesh further.
In 1972 the United States Department of Agriculture reported that inspected carcasses passed inspection after diseased parts had been removed. Examples were nearly 100,000 cows with eye cancer (it is not surprising they did not want to see) and 3,596,302 cases of abscessed liver.
Chickens with airsacculitis, a pneumonia-like disease that causes pus-laden mucus to collect in the lungs, are allowed to be sold so long as the chickens” chest cavities are sucked clean with air suction guns. During this process the air sacks often burst and pus seeps into the meat.
The mad cow disease phenomenon comes as no surprise! Man’s greed and total lack of reverence and compassion is the underlying cause – it is not surprising that nature has retaliated in such a way. Over 1 million people in the uk have now adopted a vegetarian diet as a result of this outbreak. Our “instant, convenient and detached” lifestyles allow for little thought or understanding of the violent and cruel ways these gentle helpless creatures are being subjected to.
A peaceful diet
Peace on earth can only be attained if we ourselves live peaceful lives, and how can we be peaceful if we are eating food that is fundamentally violent. Every year in America alone, about 134 million mammals and 3 billion birds are slaughtered and very few people make any connection between this killing and the meat on their tables.
Many great thinkers have adopted a vegetarian diet, such as Henry David Thoreau, who said:
“I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.”
Ethical considerations have attracted many of the world’s greatest personalities. Pythagoras, famous for his contribution to geometry and mathematics, told of the many ‘innocent foods’ available to man, and said that:
“Only beasts satisfy their hunger with flesh, and not even all of those, because horses, cattle and sheep live on grass.”
He ate bread and honey in the morning and raw vegetables at night. He would pay fishermen to throw their catch back into the sea. Leonardo da Vinci, another vegetarian, wrote:
“He who does not value life does not deserve it.”
French philosopher Jean Rousseau was an advocate of natural order and he observed that meat-eating animals are generally more cruel and violent than herbivores.
The poet Shelley was a committed vegetarian, as was the famous Russian author Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy advocated ‘vegetarian pacifism’ and was against killing even the smallest living thing such as ants! He felt, as do many others, that there is a natural progression of violence that leads inevitably to war in human society. Tolstoy wrote that eating flesh
“… is simply immoral, as it involves an act which is contrary to moral feeling – killing.”
Tolstoy believed that man suppressed, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity, that of sympathy, and became cruel by adopting a meat diet.
Mahatma Ghandi, a vegetarian and one of the greatest apostles of non-violence of the 20th century, stated that:
“spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.”
Surely we have to question the wisdom of this habit, which is nothing less than an act of violence against the creatures sharing the Earth with us, creatures that do not have the ability to protect themselves or to communicate with us. Is it not time to think deeply with our hearts about our actions? If we choose a peaceful diet, we will be choosing harmony for our bodies, and our minds will become stiller and closer to God.
Vegetarianism and religion
Traditionally avoidance of meat has been a part of religious practice in nearly all faiths. Although there are some prescriptions for eating meat in the Old Testament of the Bible, it is clear that a vegetarian diet is the ideal. In Genesis (1:29) we find God proclaiming:
“Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the Earth, and every tree, in that which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed: to you it shall be for meat.”
And in Genesis (9:4) meat is directly forbidden:
“But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it.”
Later in the Bible major prophets also condemn eating meat. According to Isaiah (66:3) the killing of cows is particularly abhorrent:
“He that killeth an ox is as if has slew a man.”
In the story of Daniel it is recorded that while imprisoned in Babylon he refused to the meat offered by his jailers!
Many Christians find references to Christ eating meat in the New Testament. However, close study of the original Greek manuscripts shows that the vast majority of words translated as ‘meat’ are trophe and brome, and other words that simply mean ‘food’ or ‘eating’ in the broadest sense. The original Greek word translated as ‘meat’ is phago, which means only ‘to eat.’ The Greek word for meat is kreas (flesh), and it is never used in connection with Jesus. No passage in the New Testament refers directly to Jesus eating meat!
Interestingly, the prophet Isaiah said about Jesus:
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.”
It is interesting to note the direct relationship between eating the right foods and choosing a way of life that is not ‘evil’ but is filled with peace and harmony.
Leonard Orr, the maestro of physical immortality, in his wonderful book Breaking the Death Habit describes his experience of the fire ceremony:
“It was a beautiful ceremony and it got me up early in the mornings as it was performed at 5am. But I didn”t get the meaning or point of it. I couldn’t feel anything. The truth was that I was still too dead to feel it. I had been a meat-eater my whole life, and I could not feel spiritual energies very finely. If I could feel the energy of the Spirit, I would have already given up meat-eating – dead animals in the body deaden our spiritual sensitivities.”
We are what we eat and there is no getting away from it.
Leonard Orr goes on to say:
“You can eat meat for 25 – 50 years before it kills you through heart attack or cancer – getting rid of the physical and energy body pollution faster than we take it in, is what I call the spiritual purification game. The more we win this game on a daily basis, the more often we can live in the Spirit, and the more control we have over our lives. When we loose the spiritual purification game, we move towards ageing and death.”
An excerpt from For the Common Good, a book written by World Bank economist and philosopher John B Cobb, says it all so clearly:
“If a simple and healthful change in eating habits along with localisation of most food production and a major shift toward organic farming were to take place over the next generation, food production and distribution could be weaned from their current heavy dependence on fossil fuels. In the process, the enormous suffering now inflicted on livestock would be greatly reduced.”
It may be an idealistic way of looking at things, but it’s so appealing and fundamentally true. If people worldwide adopted a vegetarian diet, there would be fewer sick people and our planet would be far healthier. There are 800 million hungry people in the world today, and every two seconds a child dies of malnutrition. Sixty million people die every year in developing countries from starvation. This need not be the case if people lived consciously and adopted a vegetarian diet.
We need to go beyond the culture of eating animals and transform our thinking to a level of consciousness that allows us realise that we are not separate from each other, from animals or the earth. The presumption that we are superior and dominant and therefore separate, giving us the right to use and abuse all for the sake of a self-centred indulgent lifestyle, has to change if we are to live in peace and ascend to a God-centered consciousness.
Published with the kind permission of Biophile
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