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Meat or No Meat

The foundations of diet

sheep1Before the 1960s, most New Zealanders grew up on the meat-based diet and since then, other ideas about diet and nutrition began to evolve.

From a spiritual standpoint and the tradition of yoga, vegetarianism became the preferred diet of spiritual seekers because vegetarianism is is a very old, tried and proven dietary practice that actually nourishes the body better than meat.

It is now becoming common knowledge that vegetarians and vegans live longer than meat eaters, and they also suffer from less disease. In terms of looking at vegetarianism, we can look at India where a large percentage of the population live very nicely on a vegetarian diet.

In New Zealand and other Western countries, the meat-based diet like so many other aspects of our society has more to do with economics than human well-being and the welfare of citizens.

With the advent of technology and social media, we are becoming more aware of the extent of violence and cruelty toward animals.  However one of the facts of life is that we cannot live without taking another life. To eat an animal, it must first be killed, but even plants are killed along with all the microorganisms that live within the ecosystem of the plant.

As we grew up habituated to a particular diet and belief system, the incentive to change one’s diet is often lacking because we are creatures of habit. When one is habituated to eating meat, then one’s entire lifestyle in fact hinges on that to a certain extent.

The people who have most successfully moved from meat-eating to vegetarianism are those who have had some life changing experience or epiphany. They have recognised the value of life to the animals themselves and seen that on an eco-social level, we can coexist more harmoniously. However not everyone is going to have this experience and there is some need for an unbiased and rational thought process.

Because meat is such a huge global industry, there are huge vested interests that want to actually expand meat consumption and increase animal production. In our shrinking world, this is already proving to be an ecological disaster as intensive agriculture destroys the land and waterways.

The oceans have already been severely overfished and we have come to a point where the ecosystem of planet Earth is approaching a point of total collapse, and yet if we were all to adopt a vegetarian diet, we could reconvert a large percentage of land back into forest.

There is a lot of talk in the media about global warming and increased levels of carbon dioxide, but no one talks about the fact that atmospheric oxygen levels are diminishing and as the human population increases, within the next 30 years we will have to learn to make do with much less of everything that we rely on for our very survival.

If all people in the world became vegetarian, we could comfortably produce enough food on less land area than is currently used for agriculture. With the advent of modern growing technology, there are already in-city vegetable farms feeding entire neighbourhoods. This has already been proven and the only real problem is people’s fear of change.

We are creatures of habit, we are addicted to our comforts and belief systems and lets face it, when we look out at the universe we live in, we don’t even know which way is up.

Some people still think that ignorance is bliss, but in fact we know that ignorance is a root cause of suffering and that by committing violence against animals, it becomes a little easier to commit violence against each other.

There used to be an argument that we needed to eat meat for protein, but thanks to some of our modern technology, we know there is just as much available protein in broccoli as there is in beef steak.

So it’s time for some rational thinking and a relaxation of old beliefs and habits. It is time to embrace a new paradigm, to not only reduce our dependency on meat but to change the way we live and treat the planet that is essential for our survival.

Some eminent scientists are predicting that life on earth will soon come to an end simply because human beings are destroying the planet. This action goes beyond eating meat, but meat is one of the key elements that fuels our aggression because in the process of killing, the animals feel fear and their bodies are flooded with adrenaline and other chemicals that dulls our brains and aggravates our temperament.

Yet aside from all the debates about what we should eat and how we should live, everyone fundamentally wants to be happy and to live in peace. If you can disregard some of the slanted publicity about India, this country sets a fine example as more than any other nation, it has produced more saints than any other, and in fact it was home to this planet’s very first civilisation.

In becoming vegetarian, we can look to India and we can also look to the vegetarian movement that has swept the world, because more and more people are turning away from meat in their struggle to recognise that they are an element of life within a grand living system.

Our memories are short and yet we need to remember that before colonialism that began 500 years ago, India and China were the world’s most civilised countries accounting for more than two thirds of the world’s GDP.

In China meat was used as a flavouring for meals and used sparingly. Consequently the population was generally healthy and guided by a philosophy or understanding of working in harmony with nature.

In India, spirituality and the understanding of life was very advanced with a large percentage of the population being totally vegetarian. Before the British and other European colonists arrived, India contained the world’s most advanced civilisation and despite the attempts of all invaders to destroy the culture, it has endured thanks to a lifestyle only made possible by vegetarianism and advanced thinking.

We must remember that the meat industry has no concern for human health and well-being, it’s all about money and unfortunately, capitalism now runs the world and is driving it to its complete destruction.

It is only by engaging in the political process, by voting in every election and becoming responsible for one’s own diet and lifestyle will change occur. By becoming less reliant on meat and moving toward a plant-based diet, you might not save the world but you may improve your karma and realise the true nature of your existence.

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