In reading this book, I hope that you’ve garnered some important ideas about why it makes good sense for your health and for the environment to live a vegetarian lifestyle. But there’s another, very important reason: eating meat is, for lack of a better word, immoral.
All animals are living creatures with thoughts and emotions. They feel pain, just like you do. Vegans and vegetarians believe that animals are sensitive beings, not just things to be grown and slaughtered as we see fit. Vegans follow the strictest lifestyle in this regard and, even if you’re not yet ready to take that path, it’s worth considering the choices they make. Vegans don’t eat anything from animal origin, including meat, eggs, dairy products, and honey. They don’t wear leather or wool, and they don’t use products made by companies that experiment on animals. They “walk the talk,” as the saying goes, living by their principles and eschewing all products that involve the death and suffering of animals.
Every year, billions of animals—sensitive, sentient beings that feel intense pain and suffering — are transformed into food products in a world where we can very easily get all the nutrition we need from plant foods. Their misery is completely unnecessary. We do not need to kill animals to live, we kill animals simply because we believe we have the right to do so. Vegans and vegetarians can’t stop these atrocities from happening, but they can refuse to participate in the process.
It’s no coincidence that many of the world’s great religions have espoused vegetarianism as part of the journey to enlightenment. There are stories of great spiritual leaders who had the road in front of them gently swept as they walked so that they wouldn’t accidentally step on an insect on the road. Some spiritually advanced Yogis have evolved their morals to the point where they can’t bear to swat a mosquito. The progress of moral values is a long evolution, begun when a small minority of people adopted values which would eventually be adopted by the rest of society. If you have natural empathy for animals and if you can’t bear to eat their flesh, then live by the courage of your convictions; display your feelings and empathy for animals by refusing to contribute to their suffering.
Beautiful Inside and Outside
Eating a vegetarian diet will help you live longer, as you’re avoiding foods that create free radicals in your system which hasten the aging process. You’ll look younger longer because of this, and your skin and hair will glow with good health. But the biggest beauty benefit is the one that comes from within—the radiance that comes from living an ethical, more spiritual life.
You don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. You don’t even have to believe in any sort of divine power. But take a moment to think about the connection between the great religions and respect for animals.
There’s a reason that so many people who are concerned about man’s warring nature are also vegetarians. When you are conscious that animals have souls—that they’re alive, and conscious, and feel pain— how can you kill them unnecessarily? If you believe that animals think and feel and suffer, then you believe in the soul and, therefore, that all living things are spiritual in essence.
On a more pragmatic note, animals are tortured in terrible ways in slaughterhouses. Pigs scream in fear, often dropping dead due to heart attack because of the terror they experience on the killing floor. The adrenalin produced in these animals’ bodies when they’re under such intense stress permeates every part of them, producing toxins that are passed on into the animal products that nonvegetarians consume. People who eat meat produced under such conditions can’t help but be affected by them—and they, in turn, interact with the people around them while these substances are in their own bodies.