Photo credit Heather Kennedy available on Flickr under Creative Commons.
I have been on and off short bursts of vegetarian / vegan / raw food diets in my life. The longest, 100% vegetarian dedication lasted for about a year. Nevertheless, I do understand the arguments about the slaughter of animals, bred for food in horrible conditions.
I also know that eating little or no meat will enhance personal changes for those who are willing to take them. This is not necessarily about the motivation or moral aptitude but the fact that a plant-based diet asks for a different type of digestion, providing body with different fuel. This, as a result, will lead to specific thoughts and emotions being awaken. Such a path is or might be beneficial for spiritual leaders, thinkers, writers and others who live from their thinking skills.
I know from my raw food journey that raw food has been very demanding to digest, against the initial expectations. While the arguments to eat unadulterated plants sound very compelling, our digestive system does not deal well with breaking up the cellulose walls of leafy greens. Raw food stirs raw emotions up, leading a person to deal with all kinds of feelings buried deep and perhaps dark. Not everybody is ready, or prepared to work on them in such an intensive way.
I personally believe that vegan/vegetarian/raw food diet is special and suitable for some people or perhaps at specific times in life to help with personal transformation or a learning journey. Despite the ethical arguments I don’t think that vegetarianism is for everybody. Some people do need grass-fed meat (or fish), not necessarily the muscle meat, but more importantly the organs such as liver, kidneys, gelatine broth made from bones and so on.
I know that the arguments in favor of vegetarianism / veganism seem sound for many intelligent people. At least, human omnivores/carnivores need to question their motives for indirect killing for food. I am also aware of studies, such as the China study, by Campbell and Campbell, which argues that cancer, heart attacks and other diseases are caused by animal protein. There are hundreds of various correlations presented in the book, but again correlations are not causations. There is also a strong criticism of the validity of this research, e.g. here. It may be useful to study both views.
I personally think that a diet rich in muscle meat may lead to health problems in a long term perspective. However, the situation changes dramatically when one eats a varied diet, including majority of fruits and vegs and a substantial amount of glycine (gelatin) or taurine available from organ meats. Offal is of course what poor people used to eat: lard, tallow and broth, and in generation after generation they have been healthier than the rich ones (who mostly ate muscle meat). When glycine is consumed in abundance, a person will enjoy a good health, I think. This asks for another post 😉
The choices between lifestyles and diets can easily lead to emotional disputes. This is not my intention is here. We all make choices based on what we find appealing, convincing or informative at the given time. As long as we develop and make progress long term, the choices make sense.
The point, however, is to be open-minded and think for yourself. It’s easy to subscribe to a dogma, especially when a particular choice becomes a daily habit or practice and we really want it to make it work. Once a choice is being made, say to be a vegetarian or omnivore, one can stick to this for decades. Yet, even good morals are not enough to justify a self-chosen perpetuation of the approach.
How do you know whether you have become dogmatic? When you feel very emotional about your choice and uneasy to respect others with their different choices.
My approach to life is to test everything. I periodically question my own assumptions and test them anew. Only then I can encourage good progress and shed the skin of beliefs which don’t serve me any longer. I do encourage you to test your beliefs too.
Since I am interested in health and nutrition I read many books on the subject. I know many people who are inspired to become herbivores, but I only know a few who did the other way around. I find it truly interesting when a long-term vegan/vegetarian starts to eat meat. There is usually a profound understanding or a new perspective when such a breakthrough takes place. And I’m all ears to learn Why.
Joey Lott is one of such people who:
After 17 years as a vegan, Lott knows all about the fear, shame, and guilt that can go along with wanting to quit being vegan. But having come out the other side, wiser and healthier, he shares his perspectives on life and what it really means to “do no harm.” With compassion and plain old good sense, this book will appeal to both your emotions and your intellect. As Lott points out, “we might seek to take our place in the cycle of life rather than trying to step outside of it,” which is precisely what veganism attempts to do.
If you are open to a fresh perspective on the both moral and health sides of veganism, I recommend you read his kindle book, Vegan Recovery. It is cheap, short and to the point. And above all, it may intrigue you if you have committed to the vegan/vegetarian path.
For me this book proposes an interesting view on ethics and life cycle, certainly the points which deal with killing animals. I am well informed about the benefits of eating a full spectrum of animal proteins, so the health concerns were never mine. I wonder what you will think.
Enjoy the book. Let it be inspiring!