Vegetarians and Vegans Unite!
I consider vegetarians to be "fellow travelers" along with vegans,
because to become a vegetarian or a vegan is to carry the campaign against
"cruelty to animals" to its logical conclusion.
And actually the arguments in favor of vegetarianism: animal cruelty and exploitation, economics, health, environmental concerns, worker's rights, etc., when carried to their logical conclusion, lead inevitably to veganism.
Let me show you what I mean:
1. Veganism and Noviolence:
Bruce Friedrich's political activism was nurtured by years of service in the Catholic Worker community. At the end of 1995, he sent me a copy of his essay, "Veganism and Nonviolence," which he said he distributed to members of the Catholic Worker community across the United States.
In his essay, Bruce wrote that many Catholic Workers like to think of themselves as nonviolent, but fail to recognize the violence that goes into a glass of milk and/or a hamburger.
After finishing his education at Grinnell College in Iowa, Bruce went to work for PETA. In a phone conversation around 1997, Bruce told me the size of the membership of PETA. I commented that PETA's membership is larger than the largest pro-life group, which was only 300,000 at the time.
Bruce noted wryly (or is it Riley?) that the members of the pro-life group are all staunchly pro-life, whereas not everyone who belongs to PETA is a militant vegan.
(According to Dr. Richard Schwartz, in his 2004 edition of Judaism and Vegetarianism, for example, 90 percent of American vegetarians consume dairy products and eggs.)
Bruce told me that Catholic vegetarians like Mary Rider and Father John Dear will admit in conversation, "I really should be vegan!"
The animal rights movement, which started out secular and nonsectarian, is now courting the religious community for inspiration, blessings, and support. Father John Dear, a vegetarian though not yet a vegan, wrote a pamphlet for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on vegetarianism and nonviolence, in which he condemns not just the killing of animals for food, but makes a passing reference to the way we obtain our milk and eggs.
When someone wrote in to the now-defunct Animals' Agenda, saying animal activists would love to have religion on their side, but instead encounter indifference or even hostility from religious folk, e.g., radio personality Dr. Laura Schlesinger, an orthodox Jew, saying, "After the Flood, all bets are off for the animals."
Dr. Richard Schwartz, also an orthodox Jew, wrote in to the Animals' Agenda in response, telling animal activists to follow the example of Bruce Friedrich, who highlights the humane and compassionate teachings of Jesus.
One of my disagreements with John Robbins' Diet for a New America, was that because it was clearly aimed at the political left, which sees even a secular human rights issue like abortion as a "choice," his book was subtitled, How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth.
In phone conversation with Bruce at the end of the '90s, I told him that at some point we (animal activists) will have to take a stand against animal cruelty as a moral absolute, just as cruelty to children is wrong. Ingrid Newkirk herself said:
"…having a car is not a fundamental right, whereas the right not to be abused is. For example, children have a right not to be used in factories. That right had to be fought for in exactly the same way we are fighting for animal rights now."
Pro-life feminist Juli Loesch wrote:
"Each woman has the right (to contraception)... But once a woman has conceived, she can no longer choose whether or not to become a mother. Biologically, she is already a mother... the woman's rights are then limited, as every right is limited, by the existence of another human being who also has rights."
Recognizing the rights of another class of beings limits our freedoms and our choices and requires a change in our lifestyle — the abolition of (human) slavery is a good example of this.
Are whites free to own slaves or lynch blacks?
No! Because of the civil rights movement, we've corrected that injustice.
Is domestic violence tolerated?
No! Because of the women's movement, domestic violence is unacceptable.
Should hate crimes against LGBTs be permitted under the guise of "choice"?
No! LGBTs have rights.
This isn't rocket science, but if animals have rights, then our freedoms and choices to commit crimes against animals are similarly limited.
"Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment," insists People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
As the animal rights movement continues to influence mainstream society, humankind is finally ending millennia of injustices against animals.
Bruce disagreed with me, when I said killing is wrong, period! He told me progressives find it empowering when you tell them the choice to save lives is in their hands. He quoted the Rush song, "Free Will":
"You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice..."
...and Bruce said to me, "You have a choice to commit murder..." !
Bruce, a Catholic, later went on to marry Alka Chanda, a Canadian Hindu and also a vegan activist, indicating a new level of Catholic-Hindu relations. (Michelle Renee Bean... I hope you're reading all this!)
2. Social Justice Reasons Carry Greater Weight Than Health Concerns:
Catherine Puglisi writes, "...it just blows my mind how so many people that have become Vegetarians/Vegans would still crave the taste of dead flesh, blood and meat... I imagine that the food industry is just catering to the meat lovers."
There is a certain logic to her argument. Would anyone abstaining from cannibalism want to try mock-human-flesh?
On the other hand, we were all raised as meat-eaters, and as I've said before, meat and dairy analogs provide us with familiar tastes --- WITHOUT THE CRUELTY.
The food industry might be "catering to the meat-lovers" but if it makes it easier for people to go veg and cruelty-free, like wearing fake fur and/or fake leather ("pleather") in place of real fur and leather, or replacements to animal experimentation, what's wrong with that?
I've heard that when margarine was first introduced due to war rationing during the Second World War, it was looked upon with suspicion. Now it's used all the time in place of butter, and people don't think twice about it. Similarly, if meat and dairy analogs are everywhere in supermarket chains, it will make it easier for people to transition to a plant-based diet.
I think we need to focus instead on the motivation behind going veg. The late Reverend Janet Regina Hyland (1933 - 2007), author of God's Covenant with Animals (it's available through People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA) once said to me in a phone conversation that Ingrid Newkirk (co-founder, PETA), an atheist, probably doesn't care if one goes veg for religious or secular reasons.
Well, that's true, but my own experience has been that there must be an ethical basis for one's veg*ism, otherwise one is likely to backslide. As an example, in the late '80s, I met a woman with San Diego Animal Advocates. She said when she first became a vegetarian, she was doing so for health reasons, and didn't think a piece of turkey at Thanksgiving would hurt her. But she said when she learned about animal rights, factory farming, the abuse of animals, etc... she said she won't touch a piece of meat, period!
Apart from animal rights, we have many powerful human rights and social justice arguments on our side: global hunger, global warming, the energy, environmental, population and water crises, worker's rights, etc.
As a Christian minister, Regina Hyland was put off by so-called "Christians" going veg for health reasons, but saying the Bible condones the mistreatment of animals, etc. When I told Regina in 1997 that Carol Crossed (now with Democrats For Life), a leader on the religious left, is a self-described vegetarian based on concern for global hunger, and involved with the Christian anti-hunger charity Bread for the World, Regina acknowledged that's a valid reason to go veg.
3. Carrying the Campaign Against "Cruelty to Animals" to its Logical Conclusion:
An article of mine which appeared in the November 2001 issue of the Stanislaus Connections (a monthly peace and justice newspaper out of Modesto, CA) read:
While Gene Roddenberry’s depiction of a vegetarian future in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" remains centuries away, the new millennium has already seen a series of stunning victories for animal rights. In North Carolina, a grand jury handed down the first ever felony animal abuse indictment against pig farmers. The Smithsonian canceled plans for a foie gras celebration due to pressure from many animal groups and celebrities.
In Europe, government Farm Ministers signed an agreement banning battery cages for hens (taking effect in 2012). A speech by the Queen of England in the British Parliament vowed to abolish fur farms. France became the final member of the European Union to ratify the Treaty of Amsterdam, recognizing animals as sentient beings capable of feeling fear and pain, and of enjoying themselves when well treated. (The EU must "pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals" when formulating policies on agriculture, transport, research and internal trade.)
In the U.S., President Clinton signed HR 1887, barring the Internet sale of "crush videos," in which animals are killed. New York passed a bill elevating intentional and extreme animal cruelty to a felony offense. New Mexico, Maryland, Maine, Virginia and Nevada enacted laws to allow courts to order psychological counseling for animal abusers. Tennessee, Louisiana and North Carolina enacted animal-friendly vehicle license plate programs to support spay/neuter efforts.
The National Institutes of Health banned the use of mice in monoclonal antibody production, saving the lives of up to one million mice each year, and admitted that animals feel "pain, distress or discomfort." Nationwide protests dramatically altered the Environmental Protection Agency’s HPV industrial chemical testing program, reducing the number of animals to be used from 1.3 million to 500,000, thus saving the lives and torture of 800,000 animals.
Colgate-Palmolive declared an "immediate and voluntary moratorium on all animal testing of its personal care products designed for adults and the ingredients used in those products." Mary Kay Cosmetics signed an agreement pledging not to use animals to test its products or to buy ingredients from companies that do, becoming the largest company to so pledge.
The New Zealand Parliament banned the use of all great apes in research, testing or teaching "unless such use is in the best interests of the nonhuman hominid" or his/her species. The nation of Slovakia banned all cosmetic tests on animals after a three-year campaign by Slovakian animal protection groups.
Pepsi withdrew its sponsorship of Mexican bullfighting events and ordered all its signs removed from bullfighting arenas. Sears ended its sponsorship of Ringling Bros. circus after a disastrous year of animal-related incidents, including the death of Kenny, a baby elephant. Montgomery, New Jersey Township passed an ordinance prohibiting electric prods at its annual rodeo. Johnson & Johnson, a top supporter of rodeos, dropped its sponsorship. Coca Cola has also dropped its sponsorship of rodeos and those who support rodeos.
Redmond, Washington’s City Council unanimously banned exotic animal acts. Alexandria, Virginia’s City Council voted to deny permission for Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus to perform there (they will now consider a complete ban on all circuses and animal acts). Estes Park, Colorado voters passed a ballot initiative banning the caging of animals for exhibition, thus defeating the proposed "plexiglass zoo" and also prohibiting zoos and most circus acts.
A Sacramento jury convicted two cockfighters of felony animal cruelty, marking the first time the California cruelty to animal statute was used to prosecute cockfighting promoters. Another Sacramento jury sentenced a pit bull trainer/dogfighting promoter to seven years in prison, the longest dogfighting sentence ever in the nation.
The Arizona Fish and Game Commission voted 3 to 2 on the side of animal protection advocates to ban the contest killing of coyotes, prairie dogs and other wildlife. The ban was overturned by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council but the Fish and Game Commission voted 4 to 1 to resubmit the rule for consideration. Southwest Airlines removed "Outdoor Life" magazine from its airplanes due to complaints from passengers about hunting articles. Oregon passed the strongest law in the country banning the "canned hunts" of exotic mammals in any enclosed area, irrespective of the size of the enclosure.
Hasbro and USAOPOLY agreed to stop manufacturing "Iditarod Monopoly," because it glorifies dog-sledding. The Hegins (Pennsylvania) pigeon shoot was permanently canceled after a 15-year campaign by animal protection groups and a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
San Diego and Houston banned "pound seizure" (stopped selling shelter animals to research laboratories). San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood, California, and Boulder, Colorado adopted new language referring to animal "guardians" rather than "owners," thus recognizing animals as companions and not property. Similar guardian amendments have been proposed in Chicago and Rhode Island.
Harvard and Georgetown law schools began teaching classes on animal law. The first Animal Law casebook was published. Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine became the first veterinary school to eliminate dog labs.
Congress substantially increased funding for enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act. Congress directed the National Institutes of Health in its appropriations bill to stop using animals from random-source "B dealers." Congress took the first ever vote on trapping with the House of Representatives voting overwhelmingly to ban leghold traps in National Wildlife Refuges; the Senate defeated the measure.
Major British supermarkets have withdrawn "exotic meat" from their shelves. Meat and dairy alternatives have become increasingly popular and are now readily available at supermarkets and restaurants in the U.S. and worldwide.
A nonviolent philosophy begins at breakfast.
To become a vegetarian or a vegan is to carry the campaign against "cruelty to animals" to its logical conclusion.
"I have no doubt," wrote Henry David Thoreau, "that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual development, to leave off the eating of animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came into contact with the more civilized."
The animal rights movement should be supported by all caring Americans.
4. The Arguments in Favor of Vegetarianism Lead Inevitably to Veganism:
I wrote that to become a vegetarian or a vegan is to carry the campaign against "cruelty to animals" to its logical conclusion. And actually the arguments in favor of vegetarianism: animal cruelty and exploitation, economics, health, environmental concerns, worker's rights, etc., when carried to their logical conclusion, lead to inevitably to veganism.
In a letter written to his friend H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw wrote about the strength-giving qualities of vegetarianism, concluding with a flippant appeal: "Renounce H.G.: abstain."
Shaw likewise propagandized vegetarianism in his preface to Androcles and the Lion, where he noted that flesh-eating athletes have suffered "the most ignominious defeats by vegetarian wrestlers and racers and bicyclists."
Anti-animal rights groups attempt to point out hypocrisy. It says online on November 10, 2007, that animal activists like PETA Vice President Mary Beth Sweetland, an insulin (tested on dogs, rabbits, and mice) dependent diabetic, "continue to enjoy the benefits of animal testing while supporting terrorist acts on the scientists who provide them."
George Bernard Shaw similarly belonged to the London Vegetarian Society and was severely criticized when an attack of pernicious anemia caused him to take liver injections. He replied to his critics: "Gland extracts are no more outside vegetarian diet than milk and cheese. Vegetarian diet is vital diet, vegetable diet is a different matter."
Dudley Giehl writes in his 1979 book, Vegetarianism: A Way of Life:
"In the year 1938, when he was 82 years old, Shaw developed pernicious anemia. He reluctantly consented to be treated with the liver injections prescribed by his doctor. Notwithstanding the fact that this was the only recognized means to cure pernicious anemia at that time, various members of the vegetarian community expressed disappointment with Shaw. Some, including Symon Gould, the associate editor of the American Vegetarian, regarded Shaw as an apostate.
A letter by George Bernard Shaw to Symon Gould of the American Vegetarian Party, in 1945:
"Please stop telling the blazing lie that vegetarians are free from disease. Ask Josiah Oldfield (if you have not heard of younger authorities) whether he can cure rheumatism, or arthritis, or cancer. I know of no disease from which vegetarians are exempt."
On the other hand, Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society said that his journey toward veganism began as a child, at the farm of his uncle George, where he realized animals don't exist for human beings:
"I was surrounded by interesting animals. They all 'gave' something: the farm horse pulled the plough, the lighter horse pulled the trap, the cows 'gave' milk, the hens 'gave' eggs and the cockerel was a useful "alarm clock" - I didn't realise at that time that he had another function too. The sheep 'gave' wool. I could never understand what the pigs 'gave,' but they seemed such friendly creatures - always glad to see me."
Donald Watson founded the Vegan Society in England in 1944, writing:
"We can see quite plainly that our present civilization is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilizations were built on the exploitation of slaves, and we believe the spiritual destiny of man is such that in time he will view with abhorrence the idea that men once fed on the products of animals' bodies"
In Leicester, England, Watson expanded his philosophy to object to any harm to living creatures. A committed pacifist throughout his life, Watson registered as a conscientious objector in World War II. It was at this time that he and his wife, Dorothy, decided on the word 'vegan' to describe his way of life, by taking the first three and last two letters of "vegetarian," - "because veganism starts with vegetarianism and carries it through to its logical conclusion."
5. Political Fortunes:
Are the political fortunes of the vegetarians increasing or decreasing?
Formed on July 28, 1947, the American Vegetarian Party (or AVP for short) represented, quite simply, vegetarianism. The party's presidential candidate in the 1948 election was Dr. John Maxwell, the 84-year-old owner of a vegetarian restaurant, and his running mate was Symon Gould, the associate editor of The American Vegetarian magazine.
The party had several major setbacks, notably their platform, which not only emphasized a ban on slaughterhouses, but also pressed for banning liquor, tobacco, and, surprisingly, medicine. In addition, Dr. Maxwell was English-born and therefore ineligible for office even if elected. Finally, the party did not receive the required number of signatures to reach the ballot... in any state. The good doctor was entirely dependent on write-in votes. By counting the number of vegetarians in the country, Maxwell and Gould estimated on around 5 million votes. They received 4.1 Maxwell quit the race after 1948.
Herbert C. Holdridge, a retired Brigadier General, peace activist, and national chairman of the U.S. Peoples Party, was nominated for President in 1952 with Gould for Vice President.
The second national convention was held in Chicago from 8/31 to 9/3/1951. . Holdridge printed the platform of the party, but in mid-1952 he withdrew from the race to run with his own party label. Daniel J. Murphy was substituted as the presidential nominee.
The 1956 national convention was held in Los Angeles, CA on 7/6/1956. Herbert M. Shelton, a leading raw foods advocate, was nominated for President with Gould again for Vice President.
In 1960, Gould was nominated as the party's presidential nominee with Chistopher Gian-Cursio for Vice President.
The last convention of the party was held in 1963. The ticket chosen for the 1964 election was Gould for President and Abram Wolfson for Vice President. When Gould died in late 1963, no alternate ticket was nominated, and the party dissipated.
Again: are the political fortunes of the vegetarians increasing or decreasing?
The "Vegetarian Summerfest 2004" (the 30th annual conference of the North American Vegetarian Society) in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, held July 21-24, 2004, brought longtime peace activist and Green Party member Bob Auerbach to initiate efforts at organizing a new national political party under the name "Vegetarian Party." This effort continued at Summerfest for several years. However, unlike the American Vegetarian Party in the 1960s, which tended to be supportive of United States military action, the 2004 organizers of the new Vegetarian Party were opposed to war and supported nonviolence.
In 2002 and 2004, Auerbach ran as the Green Party Congressional nominee from Maryland's 5th district, and in the November 6, 2012, general election, Auerbach is again on the ballot as the Green nomineee for Congress in the 5th district.
Auerbach and others who sought to organize the Vegetarian Party in 2004 had not intended it to act as an electoral rival of the U.S. Green Party. One contemplated scenario was that the U.S. Vegetarian Party might work as part of a coalition within the Green Party and/or other third party organizations in order to support candidates in local and state elections. No current statistical evidence supports the notion that the U.S. Green Party might serve as an organizing mechanism for vegetarians or vegans in the United States.
Political parties in the United States are formally organized under state election laws, so it is unclear how active a new Vegetarian Party, organized as a national-level membership organization, could be electorally. Nevertheless, recurring discussion among vegetarians of running a presidential ticket mentions such candidates as Dennis Kucinich, who has committed himself to the U.S. Democratic Party.
Again: I wrote that to become a vegetarian or a vegan is to carry the campaign against "cruelty to animals" to its logical conclusion. And actually the arguments in favor of vegetarianism: animal cruelty and exploitation, economics, health, environmental concerns, worker's rights, etc., when carried to their logical conclusion, lead to veganism.
6. Humans Are Suited for a Plant-Based Diet:
"The Comparative Anatomy of Eating", by Milton R. Mills, MD
(Dr. Mills is a graduate of the Stanford School of Medicine)
Which category are humans most suited for?
CARNIVORE: Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
CARNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HERBIVORE: Expanded angle
OMNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HUMAN: Expanded angle
*Jaw Joint Location*
CARNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HERBIVORE: Above the plane of the molars
OMNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HUMAN: Above the plane of the molars
CARNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side motion
HERBIVORE: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
OMNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side
HUMAN: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
*Major Jaw Muscles*
HERBIVORE: Masseter and pterygoids
HUMAN: Masseter and pterygoids
*Mouth Opening vs. Head Size*
CARNIVORE: Short and pointed
HERBIVORE: Broad, flattened and spade shaped
OMNIVORE: Short and pointed
HUMAN: Broad, flattened and spade shaped
CARNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HERBIVORE: Dull and short or long (for defense), or none
OMNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HUMAN: Short and blunted
CARNIVORE: Sharp, jagged and blade shaped
HERBIVORE: Flattened with cusps vs complex surface
OMNIVORE: Sharp blades and/or flattened
HUMAN: Flattened with nodular cusps
CARNIVORE: None; swallows food whole
HERBIVORE: Extensive chewing necessary
OMNIVORE: Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing
HUMAN: Extensive chewing necessary
CARNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HERBIVORE: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
OMNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HUMAN: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
HERBIVORE: Simple or multiple chambers
CARNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HERBIVORE: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach
OMNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HUMAN: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach
CARNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HERBIVORE: Less than 30% of total volume of digestive tract
OMNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HUMAN: 21% to 27% of total volume of digestive tract
*Length of Small Intestine*
CARNIVORE: 3 to 6 times body length
HERBIVORE: 10 to more than 12 times body length
OMNIVORE: 4 to 6 times body length
HUMAN: 10 to 11 times body length
CARNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HERBIVORE: Long, complex; may be sacculated
OMNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HUMAN: Long, sacculated
CARNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HERBIVORE: Cannot detoxify vitamin A
OMNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HUMAN: Cannot detoxify vitamin A
CARNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HERBIVORE: Moderately concentrated urine
OMNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HUMAN: Moderately concentrated urine
CARNIVORE: Sharp claws
HERBIVORE: Flattened nails or blunt hooves
OMNIVORE: Sharp claws
HUMAN: Flattened nails
7. Human Anatomy Shows We're Frugivorous:
Terrestrial vertebrates are classified into four orders: carnivores, omnivores, frugivores, and herbivores.
The frugivores (gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and other primates) have intestinal tracts twelve times the length of the body, clawless hands and alkaline urine and saliva. Gorillas and orangutans are completely vegetarian, whereas the diet of other primates is mostly vegetarian, occasionally supplemented with carrion, insects, etc.
Linnaeus, who introduced binomial nomenclature (naming plants and animals according to their physical structure) wrote: "Man's structure, external and internal, compared with that of other animals shows that fruit and succulent vegetables constitute his natural food."
One of the most famous anatomists, Baron Cuvier, wrote: "The natural food of man, judging from his structure, appears to consist principally of the fruits, roots, and other succulent parts of vegetables. His hands afford every facility for gathering them; his short but moderately strong jaws on the other hand, and his canines being equal only in length to the other teeth, together with his tuberculated molars on the other, would scarcely permit him either to masticate herbage, or to devour flesh, were these condiments not previously prepared by cooking."
In The Natural Diet of Man, Adventist physician Dr. John Harvey Kellogg observes:
"Man is neither a hunter nor a killer. Carnivorous animals are provided with teeth and claws with which to seize, rend, and devour their prey. Man possesses no such instruments of destruction and is less well qualified for hunting than is a horse or a buffalo. When a man goes hunting, he must take a dog along to find the game for him, and must carry a gun with which to kill his victim after it has been found. Nature has not equipped him for hunting."
According to Dr. Kellogg, "The statement that man is omnivorous is made without an atom of scientific support. It is true the average hotel bill of fare and the menu found upon the table of the average citizen of this country have a decidedly omnivorous appearance. As a matter of fact, man is not naturally omnivorous, but belongs, as long ago pointed out by Cuvier, to the frugivorous class of animals...
"The bill of fare which wise Nature provides for man in forest and meadow, orchard and garden, a rich and varied menu, comprises more than 600 edible fruits, 100 cereals, 200 nuts, and 300 vegetables—roots, stems, buds, leaves and flowers...Fruits and nuts, many vegetables—young shoots, succulent roots, and fresh green leaves...are furnished by Nature ready for man’s use."
Dr. Kellogg further notes that "the human liver is incapable of converting uric acid into urea," and this is "an unanswerable argument against the use of flesh foods as part of the dietary of man. Uric acid is a highly active tissue poison...The livers of dogs, lions, and other carnivorous animals detoxicate uric acid by converting it into urea, a substance which is much less toxic and which is much more easily eliminated by the kidneys.
"Flesh foods are not the best nourishment for human beings and were not the food of our primitive ancestors," observes Dr. Kellogg.
"There is nothing necessary or desirable for human nutrition to be found in meats or flesh foods which is not found in and derived from vegetable products.
"The human race in general has never really adopted flesh as a staple food," explains Dr. Kellogg. "The Anglo-Saxons and a few savage tribes are about the only flesh-eating people. The people of other nations use meat only as a luxury or an emergency diet."
Although writing in 1923, Dr. Kellogg’s words confirm a recent statement by the American Dietetic Association, that, "most of mankind for most of human history has lived on vegetarian or near vegetarian diets."
Flesh-eating animals lap water with their tongue, whereas vegetarian animals imbibe liquids by a suction process. Humans are classified as primates and are thus frugivores possessing a set of completely herbivorous teeth.
Proponents of the theory that humans should be classified as omnivores note that human beings do, in fact, possess a modified form of canine teeth. However, these so-called "canine teeth" are much more prominent in animals that traditionally never eat flesh, such as apes, camels, and the male musk deer.
It must also be noted that the shape, length and hardness of these so-called "canine teeth" can hardly be compared to those of true carnivorous animals. A principle factor in determining the hardness of teeth is the phosphate of magnesia content. Human teeth usually contain 1.5 percent phosphate of magnesia, whereas the teeth of carnivores are composed of nearly 5 percent phosphate of magnesia. It is for this reason they are able to break through the bones of their prey, and reach the nutritious marrow.
Zoologist Desmond Morris makes a case for vegetarianism in his 1967 book, The Naked Ape: "It could be argued that, since our primate ancestors had to make do without a major meat component in their diets we should be able to do the same. We were driven to become flesh eaters only by environmental circumstances, and now that we have the environment under control, with elaborately cultivated crops at our disposal, we might be expected to return to our ancient feeding patterns."
In The Human Story, edited by Marie-Louise Makris (1985), we read: "...recent studies of their teeth reveal that the Australopithecines did not eat meat as a regular part of their diet, and were mainly peaceful vegetarians, rather like...gorillas. The popular image of the murderous ape is now as extinct as the Australopithecines themselves."
Dr. Gordon Latto notes that carnivorous and omnivorous animals can only move their jaws up and down, and that omnivores "have a blunt tooth, a sharp tooth, a blunt tooth, a sharp tooth--showing that they were destined to deal both with flesh foods from the animal kingdom and foods from the vegetable kingdom...
"Carnivorous mammals and omnivorous mammals cannot perspire except at the extremity of the limbs and the tip of the nose; man perspires all over the body. Finally, our instincts; the carnivorous mammal (which first of all has claws and canine teeth) is capable of tearing flesh asunder, whereas man only partakes of flesh foods after they have been camouflaged by cooking and by condiments.
"Man instinctively is not carnivorous," explains Dr. Latto. "...he takes the flesh food after somebody else has killed it, and after it has been cooked and camouflaged with certain condiments. Whereas to pick an apple off a tree or eat some grain or a carrot is a natural thing to do; people enjoy doing it; they don't feel disturbed by it. But to see these animals being slaughtered does affect people; it offends them. Even the toughest of people are affected by the sights in the slaughterhouse.
"I remember taking some medical students into a slaughterhouse. They were about as hardened people as you could meet. After seeing the animals slaughtered that day in the slaughterhouse, not one of them could eat the meat that evening."
Author R.H. Weldon writes in No Animal Food:
"The gorge of a cat, for instance, will rise at the smell of a mouse or a piece of raw flesh, but not at the aroma of fruit. If a man can take delight in pouncing upon a bird, tear its still living body apart with his teeth, sucking the warm blood, one might infer that Nature had provided him with a carnivorous instinct, but the very thought of doing such a thing makes him shudder. On the other hand, a bunch of luscious grapes makes his mouth water, and even in the absence of hunger, he will eat fruit to gratify taste."
As early as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that: "A vegetarian diet can prevent 97% of our coronary occlusions."
More recently, William S. Collens and Gerald B. Dobkens concluded:
"Examination of the dental structure of modern man reveals that he possesses all the features of a strictly herbivorous animal. While designed to subsist on vegetarian foods, he has perverted his dietary habits to accept food of the carnivore. It is postulated that man cannot handle carnivorous foods like the carnivore. Herein may lie the basis for the high incidence of arteriosclerotic disease."
Keith Akers in A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983), responds to the argument that killing animals for food is natural:
"This is quite an admirable argument. It explains practically everything; why we do not eat each other, except under conditions of unusual stress; why we may kill certain other animals (they are, in the order of nature, food for us); even why we should be kind to pets and try to help miscellaneous wildlife (they are not naturally our food). There are some problems with the idea that an order of nature determines which species are food for us, but an examination of human history indicates the broad outlines of just such an order, though inhibitions against eating certain species may vary from culture to culture.
"The main problem with this argument is that it does not justify the practice of meat-eating or animal husbandry as we know it today; it justifies *hunting*.
"The distinction between hunting and animal husbandry probably seems rather fine to the man in the street, or even to your typical rule-utilitarian moral philosopher. The distinction, however, is obvious to an ecologist. If one defends killing on the grounds that it occurs in nature, then one is defending the practice as it occurs in nature.
"When one species of animal preys on another in nature, it only preys on a very small proportion of the total species population. Obviously, the predator species relies on its prey for its continued survival. Therefore, to wipe the prey species out through overhunting would be fatal. In practice, members of such predator species rely on such strategies as territoriality to restrict overhunting and to insure the continued existence of its food supply.
"Moreover, only the weakest members of the prey species are the predator's victims: the feeble, the sick, the lame, or the young accidentally separated from the fold. The life of the typical zebra is usually placid, even in lion country; this kind of violence is the exception in nature, not the rule.
"As it exists in the wild, hunting is the preying upon isolated members of an animal herd. Animal husbandry is the nearly complete annihilation of an animal herd. In nature, this kind of slaughter does not exist. The philosopher is free to argue that there is no moral difference between hunting and slaughter, but he cannot invoke nature as a defense of this idea.
"Why are hunters, not butchers, most frequently taken to task by the larger community for their killing of animals? Hunters usually react to such criticism by replying that if hunting is wrong, then meat-hunting must be wrong as well. The hunter is certainly right on one point--the larger community is hypocritical to object to hunting when it consumes the flesh of domesticated animals. If any form of meat-eating is justified, it would be meat from a hunted animal."
The myth that humans are naturally a predator species remains popular. "The beast of prey is the highest form of active life," wrote Nazi philosopher Oswald Spengler in 1931. "It represents a mode of living which requires the extreme degree of the necessity of fighting, conquering, annihilating, and self-assertion. The human race ranks highly because it belongs to the class of beasts of prey. Therefore we find in man the tactics of life proper to a bold, cunning beast of prey. He lives engaged in aggression, killing, and annihilation. He wants to be master in as much as he exists."
The fact that predators exist in the wild does not imply man must automatically imitate them. Cannibalism and rape also occur in nature. Robert Louis Stevenson, in his book In the South Seas, noted that there was no difference between the "civilized" Europeans and the "savages" of the Cannibal Islands.
"We consume the carcasses of creatures with like appetites, passions, and organs as our own. We feed on babes, though not our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear."
Studies indicate flesh-eaters have less endurance than do vegetarians, while vegetarians have two to three times greater stamina and recover five times as quickly from exhaustion. Most kinds of cancer, as well as heart disease, osteoporosis, kidney disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, hemorrhoids, diverticulosis, arthritis, gallstones and gallbladder disease are all preventable and/or treatable or a vegetarian diet.
In his 1975 book, Animal Liberation, Australian philosopher Peter Singer writes:
"Killing an animal is in itself a troubling act. It has been said that if we had to kill our own meat we would all be vegetarians. There may be exceptions to that general rule, but it is true that most people prefer not to inquire into the killing of the animals they eat.
"Very few people ever visit a slaughterhouse; and films of slaughterhouse operations are rarely shown on television...Yet those who, by their purchases, require animals to be killed have no right to be shielded from this or any other aspect of the production of the meat they buy.
"If it is distasteful for humans to think about, what can it be like for the animals to experience it?"
Peter Singer concludes in Animal Liberation that "by ceasing to rear and kill animals for food, we can make extra food available for humans that, properly distributed, it would eliminate starvation and malnutrition from this planet. Animal Liberation is Human Liberation, too."
In his 1987 Pulitzer Prize nominated book, Diet for a New America, author John Robbins writes:
"We do not usually see ourselves as members of a flesh-eating cult. But all the signs of a cult are there. Many of us are afraid to even consider other diet-style choices, afraid to leave the safety of the group, afraid when there isn't any evidence that might reveal that the god of animal protein isn't quite all it's cracked up to be. Members of the Great American Steak Religion frequently become worried if their family or friends show any signs of disenchantment. A mother may be more worried if her son or daughter becomes a vegetarian than if they take up smoking."
Dr. Milton Mills' "The Comparative Anatomy of Eating,"
www.vegsource.com/veg_faq/comparative.htm and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, www.pcrm.org argue persuasively that the optimum diet for humanity is a vegan diet. However, even if humans really were omnivores and not frugivores, the diet of natural omnivores is mostly (80 percent) plant food.
Humans are suited for a plant-based diet, but can adapt to flesh-eating if our survival depends on it.
8. The Primates Are Almost All Exclusively Vegetarian:
In his 1978 book, The Vegetarian Alternative, Vic Sussman writes:
"We are all mammals, but humans belong to the order Primates, suborder Anthropoidea, family Pongidae. Our immediate relatives are the great apes: chimpanzees, gorilla, orangutang, and gibbon. If we want to consult the animal kingdom for clues to our true nature, we should turn to the apes rather than to carnivores or herbivorous animals.
"Humans are not direct descendants of apes, of course; ape and hominid
branched off at some point within the last twenty million years, each going
in its own evolutionary direction. Precisely why and how that
branching occurred is still a mystery, but the divergence of man and ape
happened late enough -- perhaps within the last five million years,
according to some theories -- to leave definite links between humans and
apes (not monkeys).
"Humans and African apes, say physical anthropologist S.L. Washburn, 'are biologically so close as to be nearly inseparable in many essentials.'
"The DNA structures of human, chimpanzee, and gorilla are almost the same; the amino acid structures of hemoglobin (the blood's oxygen-bearing protein) are identical in man and chimpanzee; immunological studies show man, chimp, and gorilla alike with correspondingly wider differences between humans and other primates; the alimentary system, skeletal structure, and central nervous system in humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas are virtually identical. Almost every one of our organs correspond; we all share the characteristically mobile face and grasping hands...
"For a long time, vegetarian theorists used the startling similarities in man and ape as prima facie evidence that humans were vegetarian by design. Since our nearest relatives didn't eat flesh in their natural state, went the logic, neither should humans.
"The argument suffered a bit when Dr. Jane Goodall conducted her famous field studies of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. Dr. Goodall saw that chimps ate a diet of fruits, buds, leaves, seeds, larvae, termites, ants, honey, birds eggs, and fledgling birds.
"Her observation that chimpanzees ate flesh startled primatologists and vegetarians alike. Wild chimps had never before been seen eating flesh. Yet Dr. Goodall watched chimps kill and eat monkeys, infant bushbucks, bushpigs, and small baboons. Chimpanzees have also been known to kill and eat human babies. 'Horrible,' says Dr. Goodall, 'but understandable. Baby humans are no less appealing than baby baboons.'
"Besides, 'It should be equally horrifying to reflect on the fact that in a great many places throughout their range, chimpanzees are considered a delicacy by humans.'
"But chimps are hardly as rapacious meat eaters as the average North American. Dr. Goodall reported that the chimps she observed seemed to eat flesh only in cycles or crazes that were stimulated by an accidental or chance capture of prey. This incident then triggered a period of deliberate hunting and flesh eating.
"After a month or two, the craze seemed to wear off, the result of a 'satisfaction of [their] craving' or a loss of interest due to the difficulties of hunting. The chimps then returned to their staple diet of vegetation, insects and fruit.
"Such meat-eating crazes are infrequent, according to Dr. Goodall. The chimpanzees she studied only made about twelve kills a year. Nor do the Goodall observations prove that all chimps eat flesh. Vernon Reynolds, who carried out a similar study of wild chimps in Uganda's Budongo Forest, never saw them eating meat or using tools.
"The other of our close relatives, the gorilla, has an undeserved reputation for being a ferocious beast with a murderous temper. While a few gorillas may learn to eat meat in captivity, in their wild state, they are shy, peaceful eaters of plants and fruits. George Schaller, whose two-year study of mountain gorillas in East and Central Africa is described in The Year of the Gorilla, says, 'I never saw gorillas eat animal matter in the wild...no bird's eggs, insects, mice, or other creatures...even though they had the opportunity to do so on occasion.'"
Vic Sussman admits:
"Humans and chimpanzees are capable of flesh-eating, but nothing in their anatomy compels them to do so...
"Hunting may have been necessary for one group and rare for another, depending on the distribution of food and prey...
"The idea that our ancestors lived by their wits and weapons has an undeniably romantic appeal, however. How much more exciting to think of our antecedents as Pleistocenic Nimrods rather than as grubbers of roots.
"And which tales are more worthy of recounting around the sputtering campfire? Would our kin glorify the monotony of berry picking and the gathering of fallen fruit and nuts?
"Or would they regale each other with thrilling tales of stalking prey, danger, breathless moments, bravery, the savage power of beasts, and the magic forces governing a hunt's success or failure?
"Oral tradition may have contributed to an over-emphasis of hunting's significance, while minimizing the coequal or predominant importance of foraging.
"The full story of human evolution remains clouded. Anthropologists and paleontologists are constantly sorting through old and new evidence, discarding theories almost as fast as they devise them. They admit that speculation and hypothesis about our past far outweigh hard facts.
"How can we speak authoritatively about what we ate, when who we were is still largely unknown?" reams of material have been written about the habits of our ancestors, the Australopithecines, who roamed the African plains fourteen million years ago.
"Yet Australopithecine remains amount to only about a dozen bone fragments. Ramapithecus, an earlier hominid, is represented by only half a palate bone."
Humans are suited for a plant-based diet, but can adapt to flesh-eating if their survival depends on it.
Is refraining from unnecessarily taking the life of a fellow creature going above and beyond the call of duty?
Or is it morally equivalent to refraining from cannibalism, rape, or domestic violence?
And are humans the only species on the planet capable of making moral choices, practicing altruism, etc.?
"Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages."
--Thomas A. Edison, Harper's magazine
9. The Optimum Diet for Humans Contains Virtually No Animal Protein:
In The MacDougall Plan (1983), Dr. John MacDougall advocates a plant-based diet, high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, with no animal products, oil or salt. And no intoxication, either, which means no caffeine.
In his foreword to Dr. John McDougall's book, The McDougall Plan (1983), Nathan Pritikin writes:
"Vegetarianism has been advocated for thousands of years for religious, moral, and health reasons. Followers of this dietary concept were looked upon as strange, queer, or saintly, but their dietary advice certainly was not considered practical or necessary for the population.
"Recent authors and spokesmen for a vegetarian lifestyle have argued on moral and scientific grounds for their position. The McDougalls have proposed the first scientifically documented rationale for a vegetarian diet that I have seen.
"Don't confuse this plan with lacto-ovo-vegetarians, who use eggs and dairy products, or the many other 'vegetarian' plans that are not an all-plant food diet. This program is strict, and those who wish to follow it must be motivated to make a complete break with their life-long food habits.
"My dietary recommendations permit a maximum of three ounces of animal protein a day for the general population. For those with heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, I restrict animal protein to three ounces a week. In essence, my strict diet is practically a vegetarian diet, and I have personally been on it for over 25 years. As a former heart disease victim, I'm not interested in cholesterol clogging my arteries.
"Why would I recommend a diet different from any normal recommendation? Not enough scientific work has been done to tell us which dietary approach is best for human health. The McDougall plan does no harm and follows all of my guidelines except for the elimination of the small amounts of animal protein. Present scientific findings have not convinced me of any harm of eating small amounts of animal protein. Both dietary plans can coexist until future scientific studies establish new recommendations.
"For those who would like to follow a diet completely free of animal protein, the McDougall plan is the best that I have seen, both in practicality and scientific rationale. The plan, due to the extensive documentation, can be used by physicians and health professionals as a reference source.
"This book establishes vegetarianism as a healthful way of life based on the latest scientific data and should give comfort to those considering making this dietary change."
Santa Barbara, CA
August 24, 1983
10. Dr. John McDougall writes in his 1983 book, The McDougall Plan:
"In today's affluent societies, most people consume rich foods that historically were available only to aristocrats and royalty... What once was reserved for a few is now the only food available in our hospitals, school cafeterias, restaurants, and homes. Rich foods are so common that people forget that not long ago they were served as delicacies, and then only o the wealthy classes...
"'Rich' foods include red meat, poultry, eggs, fish, shellfish, cheeses, milk, oils, nuts, seeds, white rice, refined flour, processed foods, salt, and sugar. They were traditionally found in abundance on the tables set for festive occasions. The unfortunate reality is that, in one form or another, most westerners feast at each and every meal, twenty-one times or more a week...
"The diet that best supports health and healing for humans is a pure vegetable diet centered around starch foods with the addition of fresh fruits and vegetables. We will refer to this diet as a starch-centered diet and as a health-supporting diet...
"First the history of human diets tells of most people living successfully on a variety of starch-centered diets: rice for Asians, corn for Indians of North and Central America, bread and potatoes for Western Europeans, sweet potatoes in New Guinea, and various grains and beans in South America and Africa. Even in prehistoric, preagricultural eras, the diets of humans consisted largely of plant foods. Except for the wealthy few in these societies, people did not suffer from the diseases commonly found in affluent societies today.
"Prior to the Industrial Revolution, about one hundred years ago, and the subsequent large scale economic advancement of masses of people in western societies, diets were largely based on a variety of starches... This is still the case in developing countries today. The people living in these underdeveloped societies suffer mostly from illnesses caused by starvation and poor sanitation...
"Our evolutionary history clearly shows that humans developed primarily as herbivores (plant eaters), not as carnivores (meat eaters). Most of our teeth are flat for grinding grains and vegetables. They are not designed to tear apart raw meat. The residual canine teeth cited by some people to justify eating meat are in no way comparable to the teeth of true carnivores. Our hands are designed for gathering, not for ripping flesh. Our saliva contains alpha-amylase, and the sole purpose of this enzyme is to digest complex carbohydrates found in plant foods. It is not found in the saliva of carnivorous animals. Our intestine is long like that of other herbivores, in order to allow for the time needed to digest the nutrients found in plants.
"Carnivores have short intestinal tracts that rapidly digest flesh and excrete its remnants. Carnivores also have a great capacity to eliminate the large amounts of cholesterol consumed in their diet. Our liver can only process and excrete a limited amount of cholesterol, which leaves the excess to be deposited in our tissues. Also of interest is the observation that carnivores lap up water and cool their bodies by panting. Like other herbivores, we sip our water and perspire to cool our bodies.
"Like meats, dairy products are rich foods. The heavy consumption of these foods will result in the diseases common to affluent societies... After the age of four years, most people naturally lose the ability to digest the carbohydrate known as lactose found in milk, because they no longer synthesize the digestive enzyme, lactase, which lines the small intestine. This condition, known as lactose intolerance... is especially common among adult blacks and Asians, occurring in as many as 90 percent of these people...
"Dairy products are high on the food chain and therefore may contain unsafe levels of environmental contaminants. Even human mother's breast milk can contain dangerous amounts of these substances. An infant, being at the top of the food chain, gets the highest level of these environmental chemicals. The Environmental Defense Fund studied the breast milk of 1,400 women from 46 states. This study found widespread contamination of breast milk with pesticides. The levels of contamination were twice as high in meat and dairy-consuming women as in vegetarians. Because pesticides are concentrated in animal foods, the study advised 'women who expect to breast feed their babies to avoid meat, some kinds of fish, and high-fat dairy products.'...
"The dairy industry, in conjunction with the many nutritionists who believe in the healthful benefits of dairy foods, dwell on three issues to promote these products: calcium, Vitamin D, and fat content.
"The dairy industry attempts to sell us products based on our need for calcium, yet most people in the world have diets that contain no dairy products at all. In preindustrial Asian and African societies where milk is rarely consumed, the people have strong bones and sturdy teeth and escape diseases common to people in rich societies.
"The African Bantu woman provides an excellent example of good health. Her diet is free of milk and still provides 250 to 400 mg of calcium per day from vegetable sources, which is one-half the amount consumed by western women. Bantu women commonly have ten babies during their lifetimes and breast feed each of them for about ten months. But, even with this tremendous calcium drain and relatively low calcium intake, osteoporosis (thin, fragile bones) is essentially unknown among these women. It is interesting to note, when relatives of these same people migrate to the affluent societies and adopt rich diets, osteoporosis and diseases of the teeth become common...
"Unprocessed vegetable foods contain sufficient calcium to meet the needs of adults and growing children. In fact, calcium deficiency caused by an insufficient amount of calcium in the diet is not known to occur in humans, even though most people in the world don't drink milk after weaning because of custom, lactose intolerance, or unavailability... In addition to the scientific and medical evidence against dairy products, we can observe the way milk is used by other animals. No other animal in its natural environment drinks milk after it is weaned. Furthermore, in nature no young animal drinks the milk of another species."
Dr. McDougall gives his readers a fictional narration from John Cross, a successful public accountant, to illustrate the health hazards posed by animal products:
"What am I going to do now? More important, how will my wife and children get along when I die? Sitting here alone in a hospital room leaves me plenty of time to worry about my future and theirs. This is my second heart attack in two years, and my doctor tells me I'll never survive another. There just isn't enough heart muscle left.
"My company is finally on its feet, and we're paying our bills on time after so many years of struggling and juggling. Forty-three years old is just too young to be falling apart, even though I've seen it coming. My blood pressure and weight have been going up steadily for the past five years, and the pills I take only cause other problems.
"It must be hereditary. Dad died of his first heart attack at forty-five. At least I've had some warning. But for what? I can't figure out anything I'm doing wrong. I've never smoked and I drink only at parties. After my first heart attack I started jogging, which helped me take off ten pounds. My wife Molly takes a lot of trouble to serve well-balanced meals to the family. I know I get enough protein and calcium with the chicken, fish, and milk she makes sure to give us. We have taken the advice of the hospital dietitian and cut down on salt and switched to margarine.
"If it's hereditary, what about Grandpa? He's got to be eighty-one, but he still works all day and has no trouble keeping up with his third wife, who's twenty-five years younger. He really doesn't take as good care of himself as I do. Grandpa was born and raised just north of the Mexican border. You'd never guess he's a gringo because all he eats are mounds of rice and beans with vegetables. You'd have to look pretty hard to find even a piece of chicken or fish on his plate. He looks terrific, but he must have some sort of protein or calcium deficiency. I used to worry about him a lot, and I've tried to make him drink milk, but it just makes him sick. He won't touch the hamburgers Molly tried making for him. He sure doesn't know what he's missing. If I could only be as lucky with my health as he is."
(Animal activists have said that the traditional Aztec diet, before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, was nearly vegan. A couple of years ago, when I was dating the beautiful Adeline Lopez, she said the traditional Mexican beverage, Horchata, is actually vegan, and differs considerably from the milk beverage found in the supermarkets.)
11. John Robbins' Pulitzer Prize Nominated Diet for a New America:
John Robbins’ Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987) makes veganism seem as reasonable and mainstream as recycling.
John Robbins writes in his 1987 Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America that historically, "mankind has eaten whatever it could find, or grow, or kill, or raise. Issues of what might be the optimum diet, and what the health consequences might be of various diets, were never studied in any depth. Such thoughts were a luxury to which we had not yet attained."
John Robbins writes:
"Because the question of what might be the optimum diet is an emotionally charged one for many people... I want to emphasize that what follows is the result of the most conscientious research, as reported in established and reputable publications such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the British Medical Journal, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Journal of Pediatrics, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the Journal of Immunology, the American Journal of Digestive Diseases, the British medical publication Lancet, and other sources of equal stature...
"Nutritional education is not just inadequate in contemporary medical schools; in most cases it's nonexistent... Said Dr. Michelle Harrison:
"'They had one lecture -- on a Saturday morning -- and it wasn't compulsory. I don't remember what was in the lecture, because I didn't go.'
"Only 30 of the nation's 125 medical schools have a single required course in nutrition... the average physician in the United States receives less than three hours of training in nutrition during four years of medical school...
"Thirty years ago, when many doctors smoked cigarettes themselves, it would have been pretty hard to elicit sound advice from them on the health consequences of smoking. Many doctors, in fact, recommended smoking to non-smokers as a way of dealing with social nervousness. It wasn't that these doctors were evil people, or lackeys for the tobacco industry. It was rather, that they hadn't been told anything in medical school about the relationship between smoking and major health problems.
"They lived in the same culture as everyone else, in which smoking was seen as totally legitimate. They saw the same advertisements as everyone else, which sold people on the pleasures and social advantages of smoking. In fact, a famous Camel cigarette commercial loudly trumpeted, "More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette," and made a point of linking good health with smoking their brand of cigarette.
"Today, a similar situation exists... Today's physician is exposed to the same propaganda promoting meat and dairy product consumption as the rest of us, and he hasn't the nutritional training that would enable him to evaluate these messages... Furthermore, the meat, egg, and dairy industries are particularly keen on 'educating' doctors with their biased views of nutrition.
"The Meat Board, for example, has presented a series of extremely expensive full page color ads in the Journal of the American Medical Association, presenting a nutritional slant that one nutritional authority, Dr. Kenneth Buckley, did not find at all impressive. He called it: '...slick and deceitful propaganda, coloring and twisting the facts in the most manipulative way.'...
"Not so very long ago ads like this would have been unnecessary. Everybody 'knew' meat was a healthy food to eat. But 25 years ago everybody 'knew' cigarette smoking was harmless...
"...It took a while for medical researchers to grasp the full implications of what was being learned, because the emerging truth rquired them to do a complete about-face from their well-entrenched assumptions.
"The meat, dairy and egg industries, meanwhile, were not exactly eager to support the researchers' new findings. They financed numerous studies which attempted to vindicate their products and discredit (the other side)...
"You might think that with the growing evidence indicating saturated fat and cholesterol as killers of more Americans than all the wars in our nation's history combined, the meat, dairy and egg industries would be hard-pressed to maintain control over our food and nutrition policies. But the cards are stacked. They may not have interests of public health on their side, but their lobbying groups and political action committees are well financed, battle-hardened veterans of political in-fighting.
"Opposing them are scientists and medical researchers whose skills don't lie in the political sphere, and who have little financial backing compared to what the industries provide their representatives. The fight is far from fair...
"In the battle, the industries who sell us foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol have produced multi-million dollar public relations campaigns, telling us brightly of 'the incredible, edible egg,' repeating that beef is 'nutrition you can sink your teeth into,' and reassuring us that 'milk does a body good.'
"They do not mention that these foods clog our arteries, and promote heart disease and strokes.
"Of course no advertising mentions the disadvantages of the product it promotes. But time and time again, these industries have drawn the ire of consumer groups, the courts, and medical researchers for their flagrant disregard of fact...
"In 1964, the heart specialist Dr. Paul Dudley White, renowned for his treatment of President Eisenhower's heart attack, went to visit the Hunzas of Kashmir, to see for himself whether the claims were true that these people lived to exceedingly old ages without any heart disease... Dr. White suggested a causative correlation between the Hunza's diet-style, which was almost pure vegetarian (vegan), and their astounding lack of heart disease.
"Scientists began to reason that if meat, eggs and dairy products were in fact the culprits they were beginning to appear, then it would be expected that lacto-ovo vegetarians, who do not eat meat, would have lower heart attack rates and lower heart disease mortality than meat-eaters. If this theory were correct, pure vegetarians (vegans), who consume no eggs, dairy products, or meat, would have even lower rates.
"Numerous studies were undertaken to find out if this might be the case. One of the largest studies of this kind was conducted at Loma Linda University in California, and involved 24,000 people. Reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this study found the heart disease mortality rates for lacto-ovo vegetarians to be only one-third that of meat-eaters. Pure vegetarians (vegans) truly impressive figures -- only one-tenth the heart disease death rate of meat-eaters.
"Other studies verified these findings. Lacto-ovo vegetarians suffer much less heart disease than do meat-eaters. And pure vegetarians (vegans) suffer much less than do lacto-ovo vegetarians...
"We have been made to feel that to do without these foods would be a severe deprivation and in the back of most of our minds there lives the belief, planted there unbeknownst to us by the Dairy Council, that milk is 'nature's most perfect food.' In fact, milk is nature's most perfect food for a baby calf, an animal who, with its four stomachs, will double its weight in 47 days."
John Robbins shows in easy-to-read language, with charts and graphs, that most of the degenerative diseases plaguing the affluent West are self-inflicted wounds, and are virtually unknown in other parts of the world…
…and migration studies show that when persons immigrate to the United States and begin eating animal products in excess, they’re plagued by the same diseases as everyone else. Genetics and heredity are not a discernible factor.
Cholesterol Content of Common Foods
Animal Food Plant Food
Cholesterol Content Cholesterol Content
(in milligrams per 100 gram portion) (in milligrams per 100 gram portion)
Egg, whole 550 All grains 0
Kidney, beef 375 All vegetables 0
Liver, beef 300 All nuts 0
Butter 250 All seeds 0
Oysters 200 All fruits 0
Cream cheese 120 All legumes 0
Lard 95 All vegetable oils 0
Ice cream 45
12. Health Advantages:
The health advantages of a vegetarian diet are well-known in the American medical community, but are just beginning to gain acceptance in mainstream society. The ethical, nutritional and environmental arguments in favor of vegetarianism have been well documented by author John Robbins in his 1987 Pulitzer Prize nominated book, Diet for a New America, which makes veganism seem as mainstream as recycling.
It’s healthier to be a vegetarian. During the period of October 1917 to October 1918, war rationing forced the Danish government to put its citizens on a vegetarian diet. This was a “mass experiment in vegetarianism,” with over three million subjects. The results were astonishing. The mortality rate dropped by 34 percent. The very same phenomenon was observed in occupied Norway during the Second World War. After the war, heavy consumption of meat resumed, and the mortality rate shot back up.
Studies done at Yale University by Professor Irving Fisher demonstrated that flesh-eaters have less endurance than vegetarians. A similar study done by Dr. J. Ioteyko of the Academie de Medicine in Paris found that vegetarians have two to three times more stamina than flesh-eaters and they take only one-fifth the time to recover from exhaustion.
In recent years, there has been widespread concern about osteoporosis, which is epidemic in America, especially among older women. The popular myth has been to solve the problem by consuming more calcium. Yet this doesn’t attack the root of the problem.
Osteoporosis is caused by excess consumption of protein. Americans overdose on protein, getting one and one-half to twice the protein than their bodies can handle. The body can’t store excess protein, so the kidneys are forced to excrete it. In doing so, they must draw upon calcium from the bloodstream. This negative calcium balance in the blood is compensated for by calcium loss from the bones: osteoporosis. The calcium lost in the bones of flesh-eaters is 5 to 6 times greater than that lost in the bones of vegetarians.
Excessive protein intake also taxes the kidneys; in America, it is not uncommon to find many over 45 with kidney problems. A strong correlation between excessive protein intake and cancer of the breast, prostate, pancreas and colon has even been observed.
It must be pointed out that meat, fish, and eggs are the most acidic forming foods; heavy consumption of these foods will cause the body to draw upon calcium to restore its pH balance. The calcium lost from the bones gets into one’s urine and often crystallizes into kidney stones, which are found in far greater frequency among flesh-eaters than among vegetarians. Studies have found that vegetarians in the United States have less than half the kidney stones of the general population.
The high consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol leads to artherosclerosis—more popularly known as “hardening of the arteries.” Plant foods contain zero cholesterol and only palm oil, coconuts and chocolate contain saturated fats. Lowering the cholesterol and fat intake in one’s diet lowers the risk of heart disease—America’s biggest killer.
As early as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that “A vegetarian diet can prevent 97% of our coronary occlusions.” Much has been said about the advantage of polyunsaturated fats as a means of lowering cholesterol in the blood. Unfortunately, this also has the adverse side effect of driving the cholesterol out of the blood and into the colon; contributing to colon cancer. The best way to prevent heart disease is to avoid foods high in fat and cholesterol.
Up to 50 percent of all cancers are caused by diet. Meat and fat intake are primarily responsible. The incidence of colon cancer is high in regions where meat consumption is high and low where meat consumption is minimal. A lack of fiber in the diet also contributes significantly to colon cancer.
Unprocessed plant foods are high in fiber and carbohydrates, while animal flesh has none. The highest incidence of breast cancer occurs among flesh-eating populations; meat eating women have a four times greater risk of developing breast cancer than do vegetarian women. There is also a greater risk of cervical, uterine, and ovarian cancer—all linked to diets high in fat. Men who consume large quantities of animal fat also have a 3.6 times greater risk of getting prostate cancer.
Diabetes is known to be treatable on a low fat, high fiber diet. Incidence of diabetes balloons among populations eating a rich, meat-based diet. Hypoglycemia is caused by the excessive consumption of meats, sugar and fat. Multiple Sclerosis is also treatable on a low-fat diet. MS is prevalent among populations where consumption of animal fats is high and is least common where such consumption is low. A brain tissue analysis of people with MS found a high saturated fat content.
Ulcers occur most frequently in diets which are acid forming, low in fiber and high in fats. Meat, fish, and eggs are the most acid forming of all foods, and animal flesh has no fiber and excess fat. Low fiber, high-fat diets are the principle cause of hemorrhoids and also diverticulosis—which affects 75 percent of Americans over the age of 75. Similarly, 35 percent of Americans are afflicted with some form of arthritis by the age of 35. Over 85 percent of all Americans over age 70 have arthritis, yet it is treatable on a fat free diet.
Excess cholesterol forms gallstones. Gallstones, as well as gallbladder disease and gallbladder cancer are usually found in people with low-fiber, high cholesterol, high fat diets. Hypertension is virtually unknown in countries where the intake of salt, fat and cholesterol is low. At the University Hospital in Linkoping, Sweden, even severe asthma patients were found to be treatable on a vegetarian diet. Flesh foods in America are also contaminated with coliform bacteria and salmonella. Healthier alternatives exist.
Author Keith Akers writes in A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983):
"It has been estimated that from 80% to 90% of all cancers are environmental in origin--whether these factors are chemicals such as asbestos, or 'bad habits' such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and meat consumption.
"This may surprise many who are under the impression that the causes of cancer are very mysterious, or that 'everything causes cancer.' The environmental causes of cancer are surprisingly well-defined, even when we lack the precise knowledge of how these causes operate. The evidence for this is the wide variation in rates of cancer throughout the world.
"Stomach cancer, for example, is becoming quite rare in the United States, though it was once much more common. On the other hand, colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer are much more prevalent in the United States and other Western countries where high levels of meat consumption are common.
"Heredity can be largely ruled out as a cause of cancer. When a person migrates from one area of the world to another, that person takes on the risk of getting whatever form of cancer is associated with the new area. Japanese who move to the United States have roughly the same risk of getting colon cancer as everyone else in the United states--not the lower risk that Japanese living in Japan have. The same has been found to be true for the other common kinds of cancer. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that cancer is due to heredity or some other random, uncontrollable fact of life. These migration studies, as they have been called, have been critical in our understanding of cancer.
"Dietary factors are not the only environmental problems that increase the incidence of cancer. Tobacco smoking is strongly related to lung cancer, for example. But dietary factors appear to be by far the most important--affecting even the smoker's chances of getting lung cancer...
"There is a lot of talk about cancer being caused by such things as environmental pollution, chemicals or additives in food, radioactive fallout, automobiles, or television. Aren't these things also part of the Western way of life? But the evidence does not support the idea that any of these are involved in cancer in any major way. With the exception of lung cancer, most cancers have been relatively stable in the United States for the past 30 to 50 years, but the use of pesticides, additives, automobiles, television, etc., has gone up dramatically since World War II. If these things cause cancer, then we should be seeing equally dramatic rises in cancer rates--but we haven't. Moreover, specific studies have failed to link increased use of pesticides or additives to increased cancer rates in the Western world. This doesn't mean we should be complacent or careless about pesticides or additives. It does mean that there is no demonstrated massive effect of such chemicals on cancer incidence, and that any such effect must be quite trivial when compared to the effects of diet on cancer.
"Alone of all the major cancers," Akers concludes, "lung cancer has risen sharply since World War II. But this is clearly related to the rise of cigarette smoking. The cancer-causing potential of pollution, TV, automobiles, and the rest, therefore, seems quite doubtful."
Vegan author John Robbins writes in his Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987):
"In 1971, President Nixon signed the Conquest of Cancer Act, thereby officially inaugurating what has become known as the 'War on Cancer.' Today, the war continues. Every day the National Cancer Institute spends over three million dollars. They are joined in the fray by organizations such as the American Cancer Society, which spends another million dollars a day.
"You might think that with so much money being spent, we'd be making progress. But the war on cancer isn't going very well. We aren't massacring the enemy; it's massacring us."
"Everyone should know the war on cancer is largely a fraud," says Dr. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner.
"The most common cancers--cancers of the lung, colon, breast, prostate, pancreas and ovary--together account for most cancer deaths," writes John Robbins. "The death rate from these cancers has either stayed the same, or increased, during the past 50 years. And the statistics for the less common cancers are equally bleak...
"Today, treating cancer is a huge business. Every 30 seconds another American is diagnosed as having the disease. Typical cancer patients spend over $25,000 to try to treat their condition, often exhausting savings that took a lifetime to accumulate. Sadly, they don't get very much today for their money. Every 55 seconds, another American dies of cancer...
"In 1976, the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, under the chairmanship of Senator George McGovern, convened public hearings on the health effects of the modern American diet. After listening to the testimony of the nation's leading cancer experts, McGovern was not particularly delighted with the war on cancer, calling it a 'multi-billion dollar medical failure.'
"At one point in the proceedings, McGovern pointedly asked National Cancer Institute director Arthur Upton how many cancers are caused by diet. The had of the largest cancer organization in the world replied, 'up to 50 percent.'
"McGovern was dumbfounded, 'How can you assert the vital relationship between diet and cancer,' he demanded, 'and then submit a preliminary budget that only allocates a little more than one percent of (National Cancer Institute funds) to this problem?'
"Dr. Upton responded sheepishly, 'That question is one which I am indeed concerned about myself.'"
With 1,400 Americans dying of cancer every day, the prestigious medical journal, Advances in Cancer Research concludes:
"At present, we have overwhelming evidence...(that) none of the risk factors for cancer is...more significant than diet and nutrition."
Dr. Gio B. Gori, director of the National Cancer Institute's Diet, Nutrition and Cancer program testified:
"Nutritional science is coming of age...No other field of research seems to hold better promise for the prevention and control of cancer and other illnesses, and for securing and maintaining human health...(the) dietary factors responsible (are) principally meat and fat intake."
Dr. Mark Hegstead, a nutritional scientist from Harvard University, similarly testified:
"I think it is clear that the American diet is indicted as a cause of coronary heart disease. And it is pertinent, I think, to point out the same diet is now found (guilty) in terms of many forms of cancer: breast cancer, cancer of the colon, and others..."
In the 1970s, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published a number of findings, in which it was found there is not a single population in the world with a high meat intake which does not have a high rate of colon cancer. Even the conservative journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science concluded:
"Populations on a high-meat, high-fat diet are more likely to develop colon cancer than individuals on vegetarian or similar low-meat diets."
"The largest cancer studies in medical history have been headed by Dr. Takeshi Hirayama, at the National Cancer Research Institute in Tokyo, where as many as 122,000 people have been monitored for decades.
"In one study, Dr. Hirayama and his co-workers investigated the risk of breast cancer for women according to their intake of meat, eggs, butter and cheese. The findings were not easy for the meat, dairy and egg industries to swallow. Those who consume meat daily face an almost four times greater risk of getting breast cancer than those who eat no meat.
Similarly, the more eggs consumed, the greater the risk of breast cancer. The more butter and cheese consumed, the greater the risk of breast cancer.
"We know today, with remarkable accuracy, which diet-styles promote cancer," concludes John Robbins. "But you wouldn't know it from the statements of the meat, dairy and egg industries. On May 7, 1976, John Morgan, president of Riverside Meat Packers, announced:
" 'We shouldn't jump to any conclusions and do something foolish just because some study seems to say something that we know from common sense isn't true. Beef is the backbone of the American diet and it always has been. To think that meat of all things causes cancer is ridiculous.'
"On March 13, 1982, John Morgan died of cancer of the colon."
14.Hormones from Meat and Milk:
In his Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987), vegan author John Robbins writes about the advantages of eating lower on the food chain (avoiding growth hormones in meat; pesticide residues accumulate in greater concentration higher on the food chain, etc.) in a chapter entitled America the Poisoned. He quotes Dr. Carmen Saenz in Puerto Rico:
"...a four-and-a-half-year-old girl with delicate coffee-colored skin, doelike brown eyes and almost fully developed breasts... She had an ovarian cyst...
"A one-year-old-girl... lies on the examining table with a ruler stretched across her chest to measure the diameter of her enlarged breasts...
"A five-year-old-girl... her breasts are as large and well-developed as a fourteen-year-old's... her mons veneris is covered with a scraggly tangle of pubic hair.
"This one had a well-developed uterus and... some vaginal bleeding..."
Dr. Saenz wrote in the Journal of the Puerto Rican Medical Association (February 1982):
"It was clearly observed in 97 percent of the cases that the appearance of abnormal breast tissue was... related to local whole milk in the infant group. At a later age (the culprit was)... consumption of local whole milk, poultry and beef."
When Dr. Saenz was asked how she could be sure the children were contaminated with hormones from meat and milk rather than from other source, she replied:
"When we take our patients off meat and fresh milk, their symptoms usually regress."
John Robbins writes: "Regulations regarding hormone use in livestock are not enforced as well in Puerto Rico as they are in the rest of the United States, and this partially explains the epidemic of prenatal sexual development... doctors in the U.S. are seeing earlier and earlier puberties in both boys and girls...
"Other countries are also experiencing the same trend. An English medical journal reported that hormone traces in the meat of chemically fattened livestock are causing British schoolgirls to mature sexually at least three years earlier than in the past."
In response to the abortion crisis, Dr. Richard Schwartz (author, Judaism and Vegetarianism) advocates a vegan diet to prevent young girls from maturing so quickly.
Richard notes that in Asian countries where animal products are rarely consumed, the onset of puberty in girls occurs later in life, like around age sixteen or seventeen. He suggests this would prevent young girls from becoming pregnant at an early age, when they are not prepared to have a baby, etc.
I commented to Richard that his argument reminded me of Judy Blume's book from the early '70s, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, which describes (among other things) tween girls awaiting their first menstruation.
I noted as well that Richard was sidestepping the debate in abortion over the possible rights of the unborn (the way some Christians ignore the rights of animals when it comes to vegetarianism and focus only on the health aspects)!
15. The Nutritional Data Continues to Mount:
From Dr. T. Colin Campbell's The China Study to the recent DVD Forks Over Knives, the growing body of evidence indicates that the optimum diet for humanity is a vegan diet:
The following points and facts are excerpted from Please Don't Eat the Animals (2007) by the mother-daughter writing team of Jennifer Horsman and Jaime Flowers:
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."
"Each year, the meat industrial complex abuses and butchers nearly nine billion cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens, and other innocent, feeling animals just for the enjoyment of consumers. Each year, nearly 1.5 million of these consumers are crippled and killed prematurely by heart failure, cancer, stroke, and other chronic diseases that have been linked conclusively with the consumption of these animals. Each year, millions of other animals are abused and sacrificed in a vain search for a 'magic pill' that would vanquish these largely self-inflicted diseases."
---Alex Hershaft, PhD, president, Farm Animal Reform Movement
When analyzing 8,300 deaths in the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany among 76,000 men and women in five different, large studies, researchers concluded that vegetarians have a 24 percent reduction in death from heart disease.
Similarly, in the famous Oxford Vegetarian Study, where 6,000 vegetarians were compared with 5,000 meat-eaters over nearly two decades, scientists found that the rate of death from heart disease was 28 percent lower in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.
One study analyzed eighty scientific studies in leading medical journals. The analysis found that vegetarians had lower blood pressure, and were less likely to suffer from stroke, heart attack, and kidney failure.
A large German study of nearly 2,000 vegetarians found that deaths from heart disease were reduced by over one-third, and that heart disease itself was far less than that of the general population.
Another large study examined the coronary artery disease risk of young adults ages 18 to 30 and vegetarians were found to have much higher levels of cardiovascular fitness and a greatly reduced risk of heart disease.
"The process of gradual blocking of the coronary arteries begins not in adulthood but in childhood...and the main cause of this arteriosclerosis is the steadily increasing amount of fat in the American diet, particularly saturated animal fats such as those found in meat, chicken, milk and cheeses. If there was another disease that caused half a million deaths a year, you can be sure that the public would be acutely aware of the danger, and that the cure or prevention would be universally practiced."
--Dr. Benjamin Spock, author, child expert
"I don't understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives."
--Dr. Dean Ornish, author, Reversing Heart Disease
Stroke is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer. Vegetarians have a 20 to 30 percent reduced risk of having a stroke. Stroke, like heart disease, is associated with diets high in saturated fats, and the vegetarian diet is naturally low in these fats.
The Oxford Vegetarian Study found cancer mortality to be 39 percent lower among vegetarians when compared with meat-eaters. The European Prospective Investigation of Cancer found vegetarians suffer 40 percent fewer cancers than the general population.
Studies have shown that decreasing a woman's animal fat intake can reduce the chances that she will die from breast cancer. A large-scale, long-term study in the Netherlands found a powerful connection between the amount of animal fat consumed and the rate of prostate cancer. A review of a dozen studies found dietary fat strongly correlated with prostate cancer.
Ovarian, uterine, and endometrial cancers have all been shown to be strongly correlated to the amount of animal fat in one's diet, and vegetarian women have significantly lower rates of these cancers.
"The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all the natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined."
--Dr. Neal Barnard, Executive Director, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
"Vegetarians have the best diet. They have the lowest rate of coronary disease of any group in the country. They have a fraction of our heart attack rate and they have only 40 percent of our cancer rate."
--William Castelli, MD, Director, Framingham Heart Study
"Human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings..."
--Dr. William Roberts, editor-in-chief, American Journal of Cardiology
Les Brown of the Overseas Development Council calculates that if Americans reduced their meat consumption by only ten percent per year, it would free at least twelve million tons of grain for human consumption--or enough to feed sixty million people.
16. There Must Be a Moral or an Ethical Basis for One’s Vegetarianism, Otherwise One is Likely to Backslide, and Return to Flesh-Eating:
The health arguments aren't enough to keep one committed to vegetarianism. The nutritional data keeps changing, which causes opponents of animal liberation to react with amusement.
Opponents of animal liberation liken it to a scene in Woody Allen’s 1973 movie, Sleeper, in which a natural food faddist, unwittingly placed in suspended animation, wakes up two hundred years into the future, to find that what he’d thought would be the wave of the future, didn’t happen…
…the foods that were thought to be unhealthy in the 20th century were found to be health-supporting in the 22nd century.
In the ’70s, Dr. Tarnower’s Scarsdale Diet had a vegetarian option which was practically vegan, as dairy products were excluded. But Dr. Tarnower permitted diet sodas without restriction, which nutritionalists now are saying should be consumed less frequently.
Peter Singer (author, Animal Liberation) himself admits his Introduction to Keith Akers’ A Vegetarian Sourcebook:
“Despite all the books on vegetarianism, there is a need for a thoroughly reliable sourcebook covering all the main arguments for being a vegetarian of one sort or another. There cannot be a definitive book that will do this for all time, for new medical evidence keeps coming in, and the ecological situation and the treatment of farm animals are gradually changing.”
Keith Akers in A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983), similarly said:
"It becomes a question of your money or your life. We may eventually acquire, through sheer technological prowess, the ability to cure or at least cope with these (degenerative) diseases, but we'll have to pay for it, and pay dearly (health care costs).
"And it is all so unnecessary. For the most part, we know what causes heart disease; we know what causes cancer. Through dietary reform we could probably cut the incidents of heart disease and cancer by 60% to 80%...
"Meat in particular, and animal products in general, have three nutritional disadvantages: they contain too much fat, they contain too much protein, and they contain no fiber at all... Carbohydrates, which are the primary constituent of most whole plant foods, are almost entirely absent in most animal products... only milk has significant amounts of carbohydrate.
"And the carbohydrate of milk is in a form -- lactose -- which is unusable by much of the world's population, which cannot digest it after infancy. Lactose provides no fiber and is nutritionally equivalent to table sugar...
"Some vegetarians may be somewhat offended to find that dairy products and eggs are... part of the nutritional problem. Eggs, milk, cheese, meat, fish, and fowl, all have about the same high quantities of fat and protein and about the same dearth of fiber.
“Almost any vegetarian diet is an improvement over the typical Western diet, but the best diet of all would also eliminate refined and processed foods, as well as most (if not all) animal products — in short, a total vegetarian (vegan), whole foods diet. This is a fairly radical claim, and one which should not be accepted uncritically…
"Actually, none of these is a'minor' disease. All are widespread and cause a lot of physical suffering. Broken bones, arthritis, kidney stones, gallstones -- many accept these things as inevitable parts of getting old. They need not do so. These afflictions are all largely brought about by a diet too high in fat and protein, and too low in fiber.
"A vegetarian diet -- especially a total vegetarian (vegan) whole foods diet -- is low in fat and protein, and high in fiber, and would greatly reduce the incidence of all these diseases."
John Robbins spoke in Solana Beach, CA in July 1989, where he said he’d recently appeared on the television talk show Geraldo… indirectly indicating just how mainstream his vegan views in Diet for a New America really are!
John Robbins said the evidence continues to mount: autopsies on heart patients show saturated fat and cholesterol as the problem — not spinach and tofu!
And that a diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, moderate in protein, and low in cholesterol is health supporting.
The Atkins diet (popular in the early '00s) went against the mounting evidence, although the real intent of the Atkins diet was not good health but quick weight loss.
When Dr. Atkins passed away, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) said his death was indicative of the dangers posed by the Atkins diet.
At the World Vegetarian Day festival at Fort Mason in San Francisco, CA, in September 2000, Elliot Gang, a writer for the now-defunct Animals’ Agenda said advocating vegetarianism for health reasons is comparable to saying, “Rape is wrong, because you might catch venereal disease.”
No. In each case the moral reason is the real reason to abstain. Because we live in such a narcissistic society, it’s not surprising people are won over by the health arguments first.
It’s comparable to the bumper sticker which reads:
“Don’t Drink and Drive. You Might Hit a Bump and Spill Your Drink.”
Again: there must be a moral basis for one’s abstaining from meat, fish, fowl, etc., just like abstaining from cannibalism, because otherwise it’s very easy to backslide and return to flesh-eating.
As an example, in the late ’80s, a woman volunteering with San Diego Animal Advocates, said when she first became a vegetarian, she was doing so for health reasons, and didn’t think a piece of turkey at Thanksgiving or Christmas would hurt her. But she said when she learned about factory farming, animal abuse, etc. she won’t touch meat, period!
Again, a moral or ethical basis must be at the heart of one’s vegetarianism. The nutritional data keeps changing…
…But as an ethic, vegetarianism (not harming animals), like pacifists or pro-lifers, has stood the test of time and has served as the basis for entire religious traditions. (Buddhism, Jainism, Pythagoreanism, and possibly early Christianity all immediately come to mind.)
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada's comments in the Bhagavad-gita suggest he was advocating consuming dairy products as an alternative to the cruelty involved with eating meat.
Srila Prabhupada writes in his purport to the Bhagavad-gita (Chapter 16, verse 3):
"Ahimsa (nonviolence) means not arresting the progressive life of any living entity. One should not think that since the spirit spark is never killed even after the killing of the body there is no harm in killing animals for sense gratification. People are now addicted to eating animals, in spite of having an ample supply of grains, fruits...
"There is no necessity for animal killing. This injunction is for everyone. When there is no alternative, one may kill an animal, but it should be offered in sacrifice.
"At any rate, when there is an ample food supply for humanity, persons who are desiring to make advancement in spiritual realization should not commit violence to animals. Real ahimsa means not checking anyone's progressive life.
"The animals are also making progress in their evolutionary life by transmigrating from one category of animal life to another. If a particular animal is killed, then his progress is checked.
"If an animal is staying in a particular body for so many days or so many years and is untimely killed, then he has to come back again to that form of life to complete the remaining days in order to be promoted to another species of life.
"So their progress should not be checked simply to satisfy one's palate. This is called ahimsa."
Srila Prabhupada comments on Bhagavad-gita Chapter 17, verse 8:
"Milk, butter, cheese and similar products give animal fat in a form which rules out any need for the killing of innocent creatures. It is only through brute mentality that this killing goes on. The civilized method of obtaining needed fat is by milk. Slaughter is the way of the subhumans. Protein is amply available through split peas, dahl, whole wheat, etc."
Srila Prabhupada's words indicate that milk products must be obtained nonviolently: "killing innocent creatures" is a "brute mentality" and slaughtering animals "is the way of the subhumans."
Thus, veganism is not ruled out. Indeed, veganism would appear to be a logical conclusion of (or at least consistent with) Srila Prabhupada's teachings on nonviolence.
Dairy products, however, are not forbidden, either -- but they must be obtained humanely!
This might make sense if the dairy products were obtained humanely, and dairy products differed considerably from meat, with its saturated fat and cholesterol, lack of fiber and complex carbohydrates. In reality, the same arguments that convince meat-eaters to go vegetarian can be taken a step farther and convince meat-eaters and vegetarians to go vegan.
Can children be raised without cow's milk?
YES! Half the world's population (blacks and Asians in particular) are lactose intolerant, and can't digest milk after infancy. Dr. Michael Klaper has written books on vegan nutrition, pregnancy, and childbirth, beginning with Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple from 1989.
17. Environmental Considerations:
In the Central Valley of California cows generate the same amount of fecal waste as a city of 21 million people, much of which goes untreated and pollutes waterways.
Dairy products, like other animal products, are obtained through modern agribusiness and factory farming, and the issues of animal cruelty, the health hazards caused by eating higher rather than lower on the food chain, as well as the energy and environmental concerns are not avoided by switching from one commercially produced animal product to another.
One of the earliest books subject of vegetarianism and the currrent environmental crisis is A Vegetarian Sourcebook by Keith Akers (1983). Describing the environmental damage caused by raising animals for food: topsoil erosion, deforestization, loss of groundwater, etc. as well as the economic inefficiency and waste of energy and resources in raising animals for food in an age of exploding human population growth, Keith Akers foreshadowed John Robbins' Diet for a New America (1987), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
In A Vegetarian Sourcebook, Keith Akers writes:
"Using grasslands for livestock agriculture creates great environmental problems, which greatly limit its usefulness. Grazing systems require ten times more land than feedlot agriculture, in which animals are simply given feed grown on cropland. Grazing systems have to be extensive in order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of overgrazing--which renders a piece of land unsuitable for any purpose.
"Overgrazing and the consequent soil erosion are extremely serious problems worldwide. By the most conservative estimates, 60% of all U.S. rangelands are overgrazed, with billions of tons of soil lost each year. Overgrazing has also been the greatest cause of man-made deserts.
"Even if we grant grazing a role in a resource-efficient, ecologically stable agriculture, milk should be the end result, not beef. Milk provides over 50% of the protein and nearly four times the calories of beef, per unit of forage resources from grazing.
"'When only forage is available, then egg, broiler and pork production are eliminated and only milk, beef, and lamb production are viable systems,' state David and Marcia Pimentel, scientists and authors of Food, Energy and Society. 'Of these three, milk production is the most efficient.'
"An ecologically stable, resource-efficient system of grazing animals for human food could not be anything faintly resembling today's livestock agriculture. It would be a smaller, decentralized, less intensive system of animal husbandry devoted to milk production."
This is what the Vedas (Hindu scriptures) say as well: an acre of land, a cow and a bull, and you're all set! The Vedas also warn that when a population is sinful, their land becomes a desert...and overgrazing does lead to topsoil erosion, which in turn leads to desertification.
So it might be possible to have animal agriculture (devoted solely to milk production) on a small scale -- like in Krishna Consciousness. Rural farm communities like Gita-nagari, New Talavan, and New Vrindavan. But the rest of the world's population, in the billions, will have to be vegan.
Animal activists quickly point out that man is the only species that drinks the milk of another species. The animals have been enslaved or domesticated to make this possible. The cows have been bred over the centuries to produce more milk than their calves can consume.
And animal activists quickly ask: if cow's milk, intended for baby calves, is the perfect food for human beings, why is it half the world’s population (blacks and Asians in particular) are lactose-intolerant, and cannot digest dairy products after infancy?
Environmental devastation, rather than abortion or war, is the most visible manifestation of the collective karma for killing animals by the billions.
Vegan author John Robbins provides these points and facts in his Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987):
Half the water consumed in the U.S. irrigates land growing feed and fodder for livestock. The water that goes into a 1,000 lb. steer could float a destroyer. It takes 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat, but 2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat. If these costs weren't subsidized by the American taxpayers, the cheapest hamburger meat would be $35 per pound! Subsidizing the California meat industry costs taxpayers $24 billion annually. Livestock producers are California's biggest consumers of water.
Huge amounts of water wash away livestock excrement. U.S. livestock produce twenty times as much excrement as the entire human population, creating sewage which is ten to several hundred times as concentrated as raw domestic sewage.
Animal wastes cause thrice as much water pollution than does the U.S. human population; the meat industry causes thrice as much harmful organic water pollution than the rest of the nation's industries combined.
Meat producers, the number one industrial polluters in our nation, contribute to half the water pollution in the United States. Every tax dollar the state doles out to livestock producers costs taxpayers over seven dollars in lost wages, higher living costs and reduced business income. Seventeen western states have enough water supplies to support economies and populations twice as large as the present.
Overgrazing of cattle leads to topsoil erosion, turning once-arable land into desert. We lose four million acres of topsoil each year and 85 percent of this loss is directly caused by raising livestock. To replace the soil we've lost, we're destroying our forests. Since 1967, the rate of deforestation in the U.S. has been one acre every five seconds. For each acre cleared in urbanization, seven are cleared for grazing or growing livestock feed.
One-third of all raw materials in the U.S. are consumed by the livestock industry and it takes thrice as much fossil fuel energy to produce meat than it does to produce plant foods. A report on the energy crisis in Scientific American warned:
"The trends in meat consumption and energy consumption are on a collision course."
"All Things Are Connected" is the concluding chapter to vegan author John Robbins' Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987) It begins with a quote from (reincarnationist) Christian mystic Edgar Cayce:
"Destiny, or karma, depends upon what the soul has done about what it has become aware of."
HInduism Today described John Robbins a modern-day Siddharta. He was heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune. He renounced it at an early age, traveled to India and opened a yoga ashram in Canada with his wife Deo. His son Ocean Robbins founded Youth for Environmental Sanity (YES!) in the early '90s, while he was still in high school, and is also dedicated to promoting veganism.
John Robbins is a secular author, writing with spiritual eloquence:
"At the present time, when most of us sit down to eat, we aren't very aware of how our food choices affect the world. We don't realize that in every Big Mac there is a piece of the tropical rainforests, and with every billion burgers sold another hundred species become extinct. We don't realize that in the sizzle of our steaks there is the suffering of animals, the mining of our topsoil, the slashing of our forests, the harming of our economy, and the eroding of our health.
"We don't hear in the sizzle the cry of the hungry millions who might otherwise be fed. We don't see the toxic poisons (pesticides) accumulating in the food chains, poisoning our children and our earth for generations to come.
"But once we become aware of the impact of our food choices, we can never really forget. Of course, we can push it all to the back of our minds, and we may need to do this, at times, to endure the enormity of what is involved.
"But the earth itself will remind us, as will our children, and the animals and the forests and the sky and the rivers, that we are part of this earth, and it is part of us. All things are deeply connected, and so the choices we make in our daily lives have enormous influence, not only on our own health and vitality, but also on the lives of other beings, and indeed on the destiny of life on earth.
"Thankfully, we have cause to be grateful--what's best for us personally is also best for other forms of life, and for the life support systems on which we all depend."
18. Veganism Is Direct Action!
"A diet that can lead to heart attacks, cancer, and numerous other diseases cannot be a natural diet," writes Keith Akers in A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983). "A diet that pillages our resources of land, water, forests, and energy cannot be a natural diet. A diet that causes the unnecessary suffering and death of billions of animals each year cannot be a natural diet."
I understand there are conservative Christians who fear vegetarianism...which is kind of like being afraid of nonsmoking, nondrinking, or recycling. Ronald J. Sider of Evangelicals for Social Action, in his 1977 book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, pointed out that 220 million Americans were eating enough food (largely because of the high consumption of grain fed to livestock) to feed over one billion people in the poorer countries.
A pamphlet put out by Compassion Over Killing says raising animals for food is one of the leading causes of both pollution and resource depletion today. According to a recent United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow, raising chickens, turkeys, pigs, and other animals for food causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, trucks and other forms of transportation combined.
Researchers from the University of Chicago similarly concluded that a vegetarian diet is the most energy efficient, and the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by not eating animal products than by switching to a hybrid car.
"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation."
--Union Nations' Food and Agriculture Association
Nearly 75% of the grain grown and 50% of the water consumed in the U.S. are used by the meat industry. (Audubon Society)
Over 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to grow grain for livestock. (Greenpeace)
It takes nearly one gallon of fossil fuel and 5,200 gallons of water to produce just one pound of conventionally fed beef. (Mother Jones)
Farmed animals produce an estimated 1.4 billion tons of fecal waste each year in the U.S. Much of this untreated waste pollutes the land and water.
The following points and facts are excerpted from Please Don't Eat the Animals (2007) by the mother-daughter writing team of Jennifer Horsman and Jaime Flowers:
"A reduction in beef and other meat consumption is the most potent single act you can take to halt the destruction of our environment and preserve our natural resources. Our choices do matter: What's healthiest for each of us personally is also healthiest for the life support system of our precious, but wounded planet."
--John Robbins, author, Diet for a New America, and President, EarthSave Foundation
One study puts animal waste in the United States to between 2.4 trillion to 3.9 trillion pounds per year. The United states produces 15,000 pounds of manure per person. This is 130 times the amount of waste produced by the entire human population of the United States.
A 1,000-cow dairy can produce approximately 120,000 pounds of waste per day. This is the functional equivalent of the amount of sanitary waste produced by a city of 20,000 people.
A 20,000-chicken factory produces about 2.4 million pounds of manure a year. Poultry factories are one of the fastest growing industries throughout Asia.
One pig excretes nearly three gallons of waste per day, or 2.5 times the average human's daily total. One hog farm with 50,000 pigs in France produces more waste than the entire city of Los Angeles, and some pig farms are much larger.
Factory farm pollution is the primary source of damage to coastal waters in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Scientists report that over sixty percent of the coastal waters in the United States are moderately to severely degraded from factory farm nutrient pollution. This pollution creates oxygen-depleted dead zones, which are huge areas of ocean devoid of aquatic life.
Meat production causes deforestation, which then contributes to global warming. Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, and the destruction of forests around the globe to make room for grazing cattle furthers the greenhouse effect.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations reports that the annual rate of tropical deforestation has increased from nine million hectares in 1980 to 16.8 million hectares in 1990, and unfortunately, this destruction has accelerated since then. By 1994, a staggering 200 million hectares of rainforest had been destroyed in South America just for cattle.
"The impact of countless hooves and mouths over the years has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways, and sub-division developments combined."
--Philip Fradkin, in Audubon, National Audubon Society, New York
Agricultural meat production generates air pollution. As manure decomposes, it releases over 400 volatile organic compounds, many of which are extremely harmful to human health. Nitrogen, a major by-product of animal wastes, changes to ammonia as it escapes into the air, and this is a major source of acid rain. Worldwide, livestock produce over 30 million tons of ammonia. Hydrogen sulfide, another chemical released from animal waste, can cause irreversible neurological damage, even at low levels.
The World Conservation Union lists over 1,000 different fish species that are threatened or endangered. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 60 percent of the world's fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. Commercial fish populations of cod, hake, haddock, and flounder have fallen by as much as 95 percent in the north Atlantic.
The United States and Europe lose several billion tons of topsoil each year from cropland and grazing land, and 84 percent of this erosion is caused by livestock agriculture. While this soil is theoretically a renewable resource, we are losing soil at a much faster rate than we are able to replace it. It takes 100 to 500 years to produce one inch of topsoil, but due to livestock grazing and feeding, farming areas can lose up to six inches of topsoil a year.
Livestock production affects a startling 70 to 85 percent of the land area of the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union. That includes the public and private rangeland used for grazing, as well as the land used to produce the crops that feed the animals. By comparison, urbanization only affects 3 percent of the United States land area, slightly larger for the European Union and the United Kingdom. Meat production consumes the world's land resources.
Half of all fresh water worldwide is used for thirsty livestock. Producing eight ounces of beef requires an unimaginable 25,000 liters of water, or the water necessary for one pound of steak equals the water consumption of the average household for a year.
The United States government spends $10 million each year to kill an estimated 100,000 wild animals, including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, badgers, bears, and mountain lions just to placate ranchers who don't want these animals killing their livestock. The cost far outweighs the damage to livestock that these predators cause.
The Worldwatch Institute estimates one pound of steak from a steer raised in a feedlot costs: five pounds of grain, a whopping 2,500 gallons of water, the energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline, and about 34 pounds of topsoil.
Thirty-three percent of our nation's raw materials and fossil fuels go into livestock destined for slaughter. In a vegan economy, only two percent of our resources will go to the production of food.
"It seems disingenuous for the intellectual elite of the first world to dwell on the subject of too many babies being born in the second- and third-world nations while virtually ignoring the overpopulation of cattle and the realities of a food chain that robs the poor of sustenance to feed the rich a steady diet of grain-fed meat."
--Jeremy Rifkin, pro-life AND pro-animal author, Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture, and president of the Greenhouse Crisis Foundation
According to the editors of World Watch, July/August 2004: "The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future--deforestization, topsoil erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease."
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, similarly says in the February 1995 issue of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future (a peace and justice periodical on the relgious Left): "...the survival of our planet depends on our sense of belonging--to all other humans, to dolphins caught in dragnets to pigs and chickens and calves raised in animal concentration camps, to redwoods and rainforests, to kelp beds in our oceans, and to the ozone layer."
Les Brown of the Overseas Development Council calculates that if Americans reduced their meat consumption by only ten percent per year, it would free at least twelve million tons of grain for human consumption--or enough to feed sixty million people.
The number of animals killed for food in the United States is nearly 75 times larger than the number of animals killed in laboratories, 30 times larger than the number killed by hunters and trappers, and 500 times larger than the number of animals killed in animal pounds.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is challenging those who think they can still be "meat-eating environmentalists" to go veg, if they really care about the planet.
peta2 is now the largest youth movement of any social change organization in the world.
peta2 has 267,000 friends on MySpace and 91,000 Facebook fans.
A few years ago, PETA was the top-ranked charity when a poll asked teenagers what nonprofit group they would most want to work for. PETA won by more than a two to one margin over the second place finisher, The American Red Cross, with more votes than the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity combined.
“If anyone wants to save the planet,” says Paul McCartney in an interview with PETA's Animal Times magazine from 2001, “all they have to do is stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty. Let’s do it! Linda was right. Going veggie is the single best idea for the new century.”
19. The dairy industry is big business:
Frank A. Oski, MD writes in his 1983 book, Don't Drink Your Milk:
"...my daughter had been taught at home that people don't need cow's milk and, in fact, that for many people it was actually harmful to their health. This information came as a surprise to her teacher who, I suspect still believes I'm living on the lunatic fringe of society.
"Being against cow's milk is equated with being un-American. It is easy to understand this view, which is inspired mainly by the advertising practices and political pressure of the American dairy industry...
"This advertising has been remarkably successful. One dollar of every seven spent for food in the United States goes for the purchase of milk and milk products. Each person in this country consumes, on the average, 375 pounds of dairy products each year. These items make up the second largest food expense, ranking behind only the combined expenses for meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. Eighteen million cows in the United States tell us by their rotund reality, 'The dairy industry is big business.'
"This agglomerate carries solid political punch: from it, one of every seven members of Congress receives support for re-election. Milk producers' cooperatives exert legislative pressures to artificially maintain high prices for milk; they benefit from many state and federal laws, and tax their farmer-members as much as five cents per hundred pounds of milk produced to continue all forms of milk promotion...
"The fact is: the drinking of cow's milk has been linked to iron-deficiency in infants and children... and the possibility has been raised that it may play a central role in the origins of atherosclerosis and heart attacks. Among physicians, concern has been voiced about the potential hazards of cow's milk, that the Committee on Nutrition of the prestigious American Academy of Pediatrics, the institutional voice of practicing pediatricians, released a report entitled, 'Should Milk Drinking by Children Be Discouraged?' Although the Academy's answer to this question has (as of this writing) been a qualified 'maybe,' the fact that the growing concern about this product, which for so long was viewed as sacred as the proverbial goodness of mother and apple pie."
Dr. John McDougall writes in his 1983 book, The McDougall Plan:
"To date, research points clearly, consistently, and overwhelmingly to rich foods in the form of meats, dairy products, eggs, sugars, processed foods, and refined grains, and to lifestyle practices involving smoking, alcohol, caffeine, as the major causes of death and disability. The money interests behind these industries aren't looking for more damaging research to expose the dangers of their products. Not surprisingly, a great deal of money is actually pumped into research projects that attempt to disclaim health hazards and, in fact, insist that their product (be it cigarettes, coffee, cream, or sugar) is good and good for you.
"Research completed over the past eighty years not only supports the role of diet and lifestyle in the cause and prevention of disease, but clearly shows that most of these same diseases can be treated more effectively by removing the causes than by using any of the drugs and surgical practices available today...
"The prevailing misconceptions about health and nutrition do not only cause illness; they promote it. They continue to exist because of one-sided, profit-oriented messages that attest to the advantages of a particular product and ignore the hazards...
"The dairy industry has one of the most successful advertising messages around. With their well-orchestrated campaign they have convinced dietitians, doctors, and parents that milk is nature's most perfect food and that poor health will be the inevitable result of a diet that fails to provide generous amounts of dairy products. The possibility of developing some vague illness imagined as 'dietary calcium deficiency' haunts those not consuming milk and milk products. However, calcium deficiency of dietary origin is a myth and is virtually unknown in humans, even though most people in the world do not consume any milk after weaning. The whole truth is that dairy foods are the most harmful of the traditional four food groups. They are high in fat, protein, and environmental contaminants and deficient in fiber and carbohydrate.
"Large industries have great influence in high places. They are government subsidized when their profits go below a certain point, even if the reason for failure is that people won't buy their products because of health hazards. Witness the tobacco agriculture industries that receive financial backing from the government even though they are highly profitable and even though the Surgeon General of the United States formally warns the cigarette buyer against smoking in a statement printed on each package.
"The dairy and neat industries are presently suffering from a depressed market as a direct result of increased public awareness. Officials of the U.S.government, which was founded on the principles of freedom of information, actually have suppressed printed material intended to improve health because of the material's potential harmfulness to business. Food lobbyists had little trouble convincing the Department of Agriculture to abandon publication of a relatively noncontroversial pamphlet -- Food/2 -- which recommended ways to reduce fat and cholesterol in the American diet by discouraging meat, poultry, dairy, egg, fat, and oil consumption.
"In spite of the obvious health benefits of a meatless diet, many people feel uneasy about becoming vegetarians. Some people have a prejudice that associates vegetarianism with hippies, Indian gurus, and others on the radical fringe of society. There is a lingering belief that plant eaters are socially unacceptable. But this is not the case. Many outstanding and famous people have been vegetarians:
Show Business and Models
Hal Ashby, DeDee Benrey, Christie Brinkley, Peter Brook, Betty Buckley Jeff Conway, Lindsay Crouse, Patty "Reagan" Davis, Sandy Dennis, Donna Douglas, Samantha Eggar, Pat Elliott, Marty Feldman, Tom Fiorello, Pegeen Fitzgerald, Doug Henning, Gemma Jones, Judy Kahn, Carol Kane, Audrey Landers, Cloris Leachman, Patrick MacNee, Pamela Sue Martin, Doug McValley, Donna Mills, Belinda Montgomery, Cary Nosler, Marcia Pearson, Joe Regalbutto, Susan Richardson, Fred "Mister" Rogers, Barbara Rush, Renee Russo, Flavia Sayner, Angela Schauss, William Shatner, Conrad Sheehan, Stella Stevens, Twiggy, Dee Wallace, Leslie Ann Warren, Carl Weathers, Dennis Weaver, Gwen Welles, Gretchen Wyler
Authors and Writers
Paavo Airola, Piers Anthony, Janet Barkas, Brigid Brophy, John Christopher, E.F. Esfandiary, Stephen Gaskin, Frances Goulart, Lois Gould, Dick Gregory, LaDean Griffin, Joy Gross, Hans Holzer, Laura Huxley, Jill Johnson, Susan Smith Jones, Jane Kramer, R.D. Laing, Jim Mason, Colman McCarthy, Michael Medved, Malcolm Muggeridge, Scott and Helen Nearing, Robert Nozick, Gary Null, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Peter Singer, Norman Walker, David Wallechinsky, Andrew Weil, Ann Wigmore
Sigfried Bauer, Horace Blackley, Jim Brewer, Roger Brown, Amby Burfoot, Peter Burwash, Andreas Cahling, Austin Carr, Dave Cash, Ernest Conners, Sheldon Deal, Tim Gallwey, Ron Gleason, Gary Fanelli, George Hackenschmidt, Connie Hawkins, Anton Innauer, Alan Jones, Jim Kaat, Killer Kowalski, Peter LaCook, Edwin Moses, Howard Mudd, Chip Oliver, Eric Ostbye, Masutatsu Oyana, Johnny Pack, Bill Pearl, Paul Powell, Stan Price, Murray Rose, Campy Russell, Dave Scott, Ralph Siegel, Ralph Sampson, Aad Steylen, Neal and Warren Walk, Bill Walton, Gogen Yamaguchi
Marty Balin, David Bateau, Jeff Beck, Gerry Beckley, Stephen Jo Bladd, Philip Bloom, Chuck Burgi, Gary Byrd, Captain and Tennille, Johnny Cash, David Cassidy, Joey Castle, Margot Chapman, the Delfonics, Donovan, Jonathan Edwards, Michael Franks,"Supe" Granda, David Green, John Hall, Pete Hamill, George Harrison, John Hartman, Lauren Hitchcock, Steve Howe, Michael Jackson, Trish Michaels, Graham Nash, Richard Perry, Michael Pinder, Artimus Pyle, Terry Riley, Johnny Rivers, Pepe Romero, Todd Rundgren, Graham Russell,Carlos Santana, Boz Scaggs, Fred Schneider, Chubby Checker, Alice Coltraine, Sir Clifford Curzon, Dave and Ray Davies, Al Jardine, Kraftwerk, Mike Love, Francisco Lupica, John McVie, Ravi Shankar, JoJo Smith, Maurice White, Paul Winter, Gary Wright
Louisa May Alcott, General William Booth, the Buddha, Clement of Alexandria, Charles Darwin, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Ralph Waldo Emerson, St. Francis, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, Horace Greeley, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the Dalai Lama, John Milton, Sir Isaac Newton, Ovid, Plato, Plutarch, Alexander Pope, Pythagoras, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Seneca, George Bernard Shaw, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Upton Sinclair, Socrates, Rabindranath Tagore, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Voltaire, H.G. Wells, John Wesley, Ellen G. White
Other Famous People
Rukmini Devi Arundale, Sai Baba, Yogi Bhajan, Gypsy Boots, Porter Briggs, Eileen Caddy, Cesar Chavez, Sri Chinmoy, Ram Dass, Rennie Davis, Moraji Desai, Paul Fleiss, Uri Geller, Jack Goodall, Rabbi Schlomo Goren, Ida Honorof, Rep. Andrew Jacobs, Maharaj Ji, Da Free John, Kenneth Kaunda, Krishnamurti, Paul McGrego, Swami Muktananda, Henry Nunn, Elizabeth Claire Prophet, Bhagavan Shree Rajneesh, Satchidananda, Frank Serpico, Kirpal Singh
20. In nature, no young animal drinks the milk of another species:
Frank A. Oski, MD writes in his 1983 book, Don't Drink Your Milk:
"Most lay persons are not aware that the milk of mammalian species varies considerably in its composition. For example, the milk of goats, elephants, cows, camels, yaks, wolves, and walruses show marked differences, one from the other, in their content of fats, protein, sugar, and minerals. Each was designed to provide optimum nutrition to the young of their respective species. Each is different from human milk.
"In general, most animals are exclusively breast-fed until they have tripled their birth weight, which in human infants occurs around the age of one year. In no mammalian species, except for the human (and the domestic cat), is milk consumption continued after the weaning period. Calves thrive on cow's milk. Cow's milk is for calves.
Dr. John McDougall writes in his 1983 book, The McDougall Plan:
In addition to the scientific and medical evidence against dairy products, we can observe the way milk is used by other animals. No other animal in its natural environment drinks milk after it is weaned. Furthermore, in nature no young animal drinks the milk of another species.
In his 1987 Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America, vegan author John Robbins shows in easy-to-read language, with charts and graphs, that most of the degenerative diseases plaguing the affluent West are self-inflicted wounds, and are virtually unknown in other parts of the world…
…and migration studies show that when persons immigrate to the United States and begin eating animal products in excess, they’re plagued by the same diseases as everyone else. Genetics and heredity are not a discernible factor.
Comparison of the Milks of Different Species (excerpted from Diet for a New America)
Species Percent of Calories as Protein Time Required to Double Birth-weight
Human 5 percent 180 days
Mare 11 percent 60 days
Cow 15 percent 47 days
Goat 17 percent 19 days
Dog 30 percent 8 days
Cat 40 percent 7 days
Rat 49 percent 4 days
21. By purchasing milk from the commercial dairies, we ARE slaughtering
cows, even if unintentionally and indirectly.
At a forum on religion and animals held at the San Diego Krishna temple in early 1988, vegan animal activist Tricia Fernatt (who I think is a lay person in Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship) brought up the issue of animal cruelty in modern factory farming, especially the dairy industry, and that supporting the dairy industry supports the production of veal, beef, etc.
Temple president Badri Narayan dasa (Robert Morrill) said, "We're aware of it," and that the long-term strategy for Krishna devotees is to establish rural farm communities where the cows are protected.
So even the leaders in the Krishna Consciousness movement are aware that by purchasing milk from the commercial dairies, we ARE slaughtering cows, even if unintentionally and indirectly...
22. There's a difference between purchasing a product that's cruelly made, versus purchasing a cruelty-free product from a business that sells cruelty-free products alongside products cruelly made:
Pro-choicers point out that abortion is only a small part of Planned Parenthood's services, but we don't see pro-lifers patronizing Planned Parenthood for contraceptives, pap smears, etc., and saying they support Planned Parenthood in all areas except abortion.
23. Vitamin B12:
If you're willing to accept the scientific data implying veganism is risky, will you likewise accept the scientific data showing veganism to be preferable to lacto-ovo-vegetarianism (see above), just as you'd like meat-eaters to accept the scientific data showing vegetarianism to be healthier than meat-eating?
Keith Akers writes in A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983): "There is no question that lacto-ovo-vegetarians easily obtain enough vitamin B-12; dairy products and eggs are generous suppliers of vitamin B-12. The controversy pertains only to those who live on plant foods and do not eat any animal foods at all--the 'total vegetarians' or 'vegans.'...The evidence shows, however, that there are numerous sources of vitamin B-12 other than animal foods, and that vitamin B-12 is not a particularly difficult vitamin to get. In short, the Great Vitamin B-12 Controversy, like the protein controversy, is largely generated by lack of information concerning already available research data.
"Only incredibly small quantities of vitamin B-12 are thought to be needed in the diet. According to the National Research Council, 3 micrograms daily will meet the body's requirements. but Victor Herbert, a noted authority on the subject, puts the requirement at 0.1 micrograms, making even the National Research Council's microscopic figure 30 times in excess of the actual need."
"Vitamin B-12 has been found in rainwater and in many plant foods. In small quantities, Vitamin B-12 has been found either in or on various foods such as the roots and stems of tomatoes, cabbage, celery, kale, broccoli, leeks, and the leaves of kohlrabi. An ounce of the roots of leeks, beets, and other vegetables will provide 0.1 to 0.3 micrograms of B-12, which is more than a day's requirement.
"There are other plant foods which provide 'massive' quantities of vitamin B-12--'massive,' that is, in relation to human requirements for the vitamin. These include nutritional yeast, tempeh, seaweed, algae, kelp, and fermented soy sauces. The human liver can store vitamin B-12 for years, so once it is ingested from one of these sources, one can go for long periods of time without having to worry about a source of B-12."
Dr. John McDougall similarly writes in his 1983 book, The McDougall Plan:
"When you avoid all animal products you may need to add a source of Vitamin B12 to your diet. Vitamin B12 is necessary for your nervous system and blood. Without adequate amounts of this vitamin in the body, anemia and degeneration of the nerves can occur. Most cases of B12 deficiency seen by doctors are not caused by lack of this vitamin in the diet, but rather by the inability of the intestine to absorb the B12 that is present in the foods consumed. This occurs when the stomach or the small intestine is removed or diseased. However, very rare cases of B12 deficiency have been attributed to all-vegetable diets that lack concentrated animal sources of B12.
"Vitamin B12 is produced only by microorganisms such as bacteria and algae, not by plants or animals. The original source of the B12 needed by all animals is the microorganisms found naturally in their mouths and intestines and mixed with their food. Animals that eat other animals take in B12 that is present in the flesh. Bacteria found on plants provide an additional small dietary contribution.
"Our daily requirement of B12 is less than one-millionth of a gram. For most people, this amount can be supplied easily by the millions of helpful microbes found in our mouths and intestinal tracts. Among westerners Vitamin B12 stores in the human body exceed the daily requirement by a thousand-fold. Since the body accumulates at least a three-to-eight-year supply of this vitamin, intake can occur sporadically without the risk of developing a deficiency. When any B12 is present in the diet, large quantities are absorbed efficiently. Taking Vitamin C supplements and smoking may increase the need for Vitamin B12.
"Fewer than thirty cases of B12 deficiency attributed to vegetarian diets have been described in the medical literature, and most of these may actually be the result of unrecognized disease of the small intestine and stomach. This problem is seen so rarely that when a single case is found it receives national publicity in the lay press and medical journals.
"If you wonder why any deficiency might be present in a diet that seems so well suited for our nutritional needs in all other ways, one explanation is that until recently our natural living conditions allowed for a large consumption of microorganisms. Since the discovery of the disease-producing capacity of germs by Louis Pasteur during the late 1800s, we have been trying to eradicate microorganisms from our environment by thoroughly washing our foods, cooking utensils, and hands. Antiseptics, antibiotics, and ultraviolet light treatments have been used in attempts to sterilize our surroundings. Unfortunately, many helpful and necessary microbes have also been removed, and this naturally occurring B12 source has been reduced to a level where, on a very rare occasion, a person might develop a B12 deficiency.
"To avoid the unlikely possibility of a B12 deficiency, we recommend the addition of a nonanimal source of B12 in certain situations. Fermented soybean products such as tempeh, natto, miso, some soyu-tamarisauces, microorganisms such as algae, nutritional yeast fortified with B12, and sea vegetables such as kombu and wakame can be excellent sources."
Humans are not strictly herbivorous. The human body can't break down cellulose, the principle component of plant foods (though it does serve a purpose as dietary fiber). That's the reason we can't graze or live on grass. Anatomically, we resemble the other primates (frugivores), whose diet is mostly vegetarian. We're meant to live mostly, if not entirely, upon plant foods. Only vitamin B-12 cannot be obtained from plant foods.
Predators are found in nature, but so are cannibalism and rape. Killing other animals for food, in this sense, really is an ethical issue, not a "dietary" issue.
John Robbins, author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated Diet for a New America (1987), says that vitamin B-12 is found naturally around us: on the dirt on a carrot pulled out of the ground, in rainwater, etc., but we live in a sanitized society, removed from nature.
24. If milk is so wonderful, why is it half the world's population is lactose-intolerant (blacks and Asians in particular)?
Lactose-intolerance IS a biological phenomenon.
Frank A. Oski, MD writes in his 1983 book, Don't Drink Your Milk:
"In many other parts of the world, most particularly in East Asia, Africa, and South America, people regard cow's milk as unfit for consumption by adult human beings. If we are to judge by general mammalian standards, their tastes are not peculiar; Americans' and Europeans' tastes are. Despite our notions, it is not the Chinese and Africans who differ most markedly from the norms of nature.
"Cow's milk, like all milks, contains three basic ingredients -- sugar, fat, and protein. These three substances are suspended in water that also contains a variety of minerals and vitamins. Each of the three basic ingredients of cow's milk has now come under scrutiny as a cause of problems in human nutrition...
"The majority of people in this world over four years old are, in fact, 'lactose intolerant!'... Prior to 1965 it was assumed that absence of lactase in the intestinal tract was an unusual disorder seen in some infants as a result of an hereditary abnormality; either that or it occurred in association with other diseases of the intestinal tract. It was in that year that investigators at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine first observed that 15 percent of all whites and nearly 75 percent of all blacks tested were unable to digest lactose.
"Surveys of the world populations were begun and we now know that far more people are unable to digest lactose than are able to digest it. Sometime between the age o one and a half and four years most individuals gradually lose the lactase activity in their small intestine. This appears to be a normal process that accompanies maturation. It occurs in most mammals shortly after they are weaned. Humans just behave like other animals in this regard...
Prevalence of Lactase Deficiency Population Group in Healthy Adults
Bantus 90 percent
Thais 90 percent
Filipinos 90 percent
Greek Cypriots 85 percent
Japanese 85 percent
Taiwanese 85 percent
Greenland Eskimos 80 percent
Arabs 78 percent
Ashkenazic Jews 78 percent
Peruvians 71 percent
American blacks 72 percent
Israeli Jews 58 percent
Indians 50 percent
Finns 18 percent
American whites 8 percent
Swiss 7 percent
Danes 2 percent
"It is natural to lose the lactase activity in the gastrointestinal tract. It is a biological accompaniment of growing up. Most people do it. All animals do it. It reflects the fact that nature never intended lactose-containing foods, such as milk, to be consumed after the normal weaning period. If loss of the enzyme lactase is the usual pattern of development, then those individuals who retain the capacity to digest this sugar after infancy might, in the American slang, be called 'milk freaks.'...
"The fact that many individuals are lactose-intolerant helps to explain a cultural myth concerning the healing properties of yogurt and cheese. When milk is made into yogurt by incubating it with a bacterial stock, much of the lactose is broken down into glucose and galactose. Similarly, when cheese ripens, much of the lactose is also converted to simple sugars. These substances can now be tolerated by individuals who would be otherwise intolerant of whole milk."
Again, lactose-intolerance IS a biological phenomenon. Boiling the milk, making preparations like cheese, yogurt, etc. it's edible even for the lactose-intolerant.
Fair enough. But then veganism is NOT unnatural, either, if it requires taking Vitamin B12 supplements!
If taking Vitamin B12 supplements is unnatural, then so is preparing milk so that even the lactose intolerant can digest it.
Adventist physican Dr. John Harvey Kellogg insists that "cookery is no part of Nature’s biologic scheme, and hence the fact that man is able to eat and digest cooked meat is no more evidence that he is carnivorous or omnivorous than the fact that he can eat and digest cooked corn is evidence that he is to be classified with graminivourous animals, like the horse, which are eaters of raw grains."
Raising tame or domesticated animals for food does not occur in nature. One could argue, therefore, that if "preying" upon these animals for "food" in this manner is "natural," then the humane and ethical treatment of these animals is equally natural. Agriculture, cookery, transportation, refrigeration, etc. do not occur in nature, either.
This is also an argument against the raw food faddists who argue that cooking food is unnatural. While the argument that heating foods destroys certain enzymes might be valid, again: agriculture, cookery, transportation, refrigeration, etc. do not occur in nature, either.
25. Perfect Questions, Perfect Answers:
Srila Prabhupada had to work with whatever resources were available to him. Sannyassis (Hindu monks) aren't supposed to preside over weddings, nor initiate women, child-marriage and polygamy are prohibited in the West, etc.
Srila Prabhupada gradually introduced his disciples to the tenets of Bengali Vaishnavaism.
Srila Prabhupada opposed his disciples buying store-bought cheeses, saying they should make their own cheeses. So it's possible at some point Srila Prabhupada would have opposed purchasing milk from the commercial dairies, too.
26. Time, Place and Circumstance:
Srila Prabhupada said to his disciples in Iran, where fresh vegetables were unavailable, that they could continue to use frozen vegetables for their offerings, because otherwise their sankirtan, their preaching program would be finished.
Again, Srila Prabhupada preached according to time, place, and circumstance. Srila Prabhupada said the perfect way to cook food is over a cow dung fire (which is fine for agrarian India, rather than the industrialized West!), but a gas stove will do, and is preferable to an electric stove.
I mentioned that to Jesse Horner at a Sunday Feast in the early '80s, and he was worried: "...do you think this food was cooked over cow shit?!"
27. Debate over companion animals:
Domestication of animals is artificial, and some animal rights activists do oppose pet ownership in theory. Columnist Colman McCarthy writes against pet ownership.
Noting the philosophical distinction between animal welfare (the belief that humans may own animals as property and use them for human ends such as labor, milk, nonfertile eggs, wool, or companionship, as long as they are accorded respect and ethical treatment) versus animal rights (the secular moral philosophy that animals exist for their own reasons and were not made for humans any more than blacks were made for whites or women for men), and the real-world politics of compromise, Maureen D. Koplow observes:
"Let’s really admit the truth about spaying and neutering dogs and cats. Pragmatically, it’s the only possible way to control companion animal overpopulation. But it is an animal welfare solution. No true believer in animal rights can condone this gross interference in one of the most primal aspects of any animal’s essence.
Until the middle of the 20th century, it was not uncommon for parents or guardians to sterilize any mentally handicapped humans in their custody, in order to prevent them from reproducing... like spaying and neutering animals. Ms. Koplow’s logic is sound.
Harming or killing other animals for food, "sport," or clothing, or even owning other animals as property must become as unthinkable to us humans as owning other human beings as property.
Should farm animals like cows be driven into extinction? In the late '80s, San Diego Animal Advocates had a table at Koby's Swap Meet, selling animal rights and environmental t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, petitions to be signed, etc. One of the t-shirts with an environmental message said, "Extinction is forever." I think the quote came from Jonathan Schell's book from the early '80s, The Fate of the Earth, which helped launch the Nuclear Freeze movement.
In carrying the campaign against "cruelty to animals" to its logical conclusion, animal rights would return most sentient species to the wild, outside human civilization. Animal activists could, however, reconcile the secular moral philosophy of animal rights with the human desire to enjoy relationships with other animals by concluding that any and all domesticated animals, incapable of surviving in the wild without human intervention, are part of our society and must therefore be accorded rights and ethical treatment. Any and all animals coexisting with humans must possess the same kind of constitutional rights we now extend to human children or the mentally handicapped.
This is analogous to our protection of children, who are dependent upon their parents up to a certain age, or the right-to-life argument that the unborn child must be given protection because it is dependent upon its mother and cannot survive on its own.
(The secular moral philosophy of animal rights and the human desire to enjoy relationships with animals [pets] are therefore not necessarily mutually exclusive.)
28. The pro-lifers won't take you seriously unless you're strictly vegan:
Steven Rosen (Satyaraja dasa) may have written in his 2004 book Holy Cow about the Hare Krishna contribution to vegetarianism and animal rights, but as early as 1990, pro-lifers in San Diego dismissed any connection between Krishna Consciousness and the modern, secular animal rights movement, by bringing up the contentious dairy issue.
If vegetarianism and veganism were merely about "fitting," or following a peculiar set of "dietary laws," why would pro-lifers be offended by pro-choice vegetarians and vegans?
They're offended because they know vegetarianism is about the animals' right to life, and thus these pro-choicers appear to value animal life over human life under some circumstances.
Why would they ask in jest if it's wrong to kill plants, unless it's understood people go vegetarian because they believe it's wrong to kill animals?
Why would they bring up the thoroughly debunked myth that Hitler was a "vegetarian" if not to discredit vegetarianism as a nonviolent philosophy towards humans and animals alike?
Leonardo Da Vinci, Count Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony, George Bernard Shaw, Percy Shelley, etc. were all vegetarian, and none of them were Jewish!
On the other hand, Adolf Hitler thought Albert Einstein's scientific discoveries were mere "Jewish science," and thus not applicable to gentiles. This is the mentality of meat-eating Christians toward vegetarianism, which they regard as a sectarian dietary restriction (like keeping kosher), rather than as a universal ethic for all mankind (the animals' right to life, like abstaining from cannibalism). Meat-eating Christians are as bigoted as Hitler.
(Ironically, many liberals see the abortion issue as sectarian: if you're not born again, Catholic, Evangelical, Fundamentalist, etc., you don't have to be pro-life.)
Pro-lifers dictate to mainstream American society that it's wrong to kill the unborn, but react with disbelief ("God!") when told by others it's wrong to kill animals.
Why does it have to be one-directional?
If they claim they "cover" or "do unto others..." how can they possibly object to others telling them not to kill animals?
In 1990, when some Christians tried to preach to me, I told them that I distinguish between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of Paul. Rather than get into a debate with them about the history of Christianity, I told them that I respected them for their piety, and merely asked them to include the animals in their ethics, like they have learned to do with blacks and/or the unborn.
Shortly thereafter, I asked Sarva Satya dasa, a fallen Prabhupada disciple who really ought to step down and serve in the laity, "Why aren't the Christians becoming vegetarian?"
All Sarva could say was, "This country (the United States) wasn't founded by Christians."
Pythagoras warned: "Those who kill animals for food will be more prone than vegetarians to torture and kill their fellow men."
"When we turn to the protection of animals, we sometimes hear it said that we ought to protect men first and animals afterwards...By condoning cruelty to animals, we perpetuate the very spirit which condones cruelty to men."
George T. Angell, founder of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said, “I am sometimes asked, ‘Why do you spend time and money talking about kindness to animals when there is cruelty to men?’ I answer: ‘I am working at the roots.’”
"The vegetarian movement," wrote Count Leo Tolstoy, "ought to fill with gladness the souls of all those who have at their heart the realization of God's Kingdom on earth."
Animal advocacy has a long history within Christianity. Christians today should support animal rights as they support civil rights and/or protection of unborn children.
Abortion and war are the collective karma for killing animals. The peace and pro-life movements will never succeed until the slaughterhouses are shut down. By killing animals, peace and pro-life activists are only thwarting their own cause.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, worshiped worldwide by millions of Vaishnavaite Hindus (myself included) as a saktyavesa-avatar (or empowered representative of God), briefly mentioned the killing of unborn children in 1974, when discussing the institutionalized killing of animals in slaughterhouses:
"Who are these children being killed? They are these meat-eaters. They enjoyed themselves when so many animals were killed, and now they're being killed by their mothers.
"People do not know how nature is working. If you kill, you must be killed. If you kill the cow who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you. Yes. The mother becomes the child, and the child becomes the mother."
In a 1979 essay entitled "Abortion and the Language of Unconsciousness," contemporary Hindu spiritual master Ravindra-svarupa dasa (Dr. William Deadwyler) explains Srila Prabhupada's words in terms of a secular slippery slope argument, familiar to pro-lifers:
"A (spiritually) conscious person will not kill even animals (much less very young humans) for his pleasure or convenience. Certainly the unconsciousness and brutality that allows us to erect factories of death for animals lay the groundwork for our treating humans in the same way."
Animals are like children. If you can't see toddlers as persons, how will you ever see zygotes and embryos as persons?
In the March 1982 issue of Back to Godhead, another contemporary Hindu spiritual master, Srila Hridayananda dasa Goswami (Dr. Howard Resnick), comments on this shortcoming of the anti-abortion movement:
Insisting that human life begins at conception, the anti-abortion movement seeks to shock us into the awareness that abortion means killing--killing a human being rather than an animal, a bird, an insect, or a fish.
"Thus although the movement calls itself 'pro-life,' it is really 'pro-human-life.' Its fudging with the terms 'life' and 'human life' reveals a disturbing assumption: that nonhuman life is somehow not actually life at all, or, if it is, then it is somehow not as 'sacred' as human life and therefore not worth protecting....If the pro-life movement can become part of a broader struggle to recognize the sacredness of all life...then undoubtedly it will attain great success."
No lay practitioner of bhakti-yoga nor ordained (initiated) with lifelong vows can take a stand against the killing of the unborn without simultaneously taking a stand against the killing of animals for food, clothing, sport, etc.
In the April 1995 issue of Harmony: Voices for a Just Future, a peace and justice periodic on the religious left, Catholic civil rights activist Bernard Broussard similarly concludes:
"...our definition of war is much too limited and narrow. Wars and conflicts in the human kingdom will never be abolished or diminished until, as a pure matter of logic, it includes the cessation of war between the human and animal kingdoms.
"For, if we be eaters of flesh, or wearers of fur, or participants in hunting animals, or in any way use our might against weakness, we are promoting, in no matter how seemingly insignificant a fashion, the spirit of war.'"
The "might makes right" mentality that makes abortion possible begins with what we humans do to other animals.
29. Convincing Pro-Lifers to Go Vegan:
How many pro-lifers have G. Gordon Liddy, Senator Robert Smith (R-NH), Bob Dornan of California, Manhattan congressman Bill Green, and other Republican friends of PETA convinced to go vegan?
My gripe is with the so-called "liberals" who have trouble seeing abortion as a human rights issue. I wrote The Liberal Case Against Abortion not only to convince fellow liberals (like myself) to see abortion as a secular human rights issue, but to convince pro-lifers (on the left, anyway) to embrace animal rights, that we can't end abortion until we cease to kill animals... to bring animal rights issues into the political mainstream.
I don't know if The Liberal Case Against Abortion convinced any pro-lifers to go vegan. When Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman wrote their diet book, Skinny Bitch, "a no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous," the vegan community was ecstatic, thinking it would bring veganism into the mainstream.
Their book advocates a purely vegan diet and includes sections on factory farming and animal cruelty. In addition to advocating a vegan diet, the authors also say that one should avoid alcohol, caffeine, chemical additives (such as aspartame and refined sugar. Sources are frequently cited throughout the book, a large number of which point to vegan websites.
But even on Salon.com, a liberal website, Skinny Bitch was dismissed as "a thinly disguised vegan manifesto," causing me to comment in response, "What's wrong with a vegan manifesto?"
30. Changes in the name of piety or in the name of sense gratification?
Srila Prabhupada was once asked by his sannyassi (monk) disciples if the morning prayers could be changed, so that instead of listening to a recording of Yamuna devi (a female) sing the "Govinda" prayers, they could listen to a recording of Srila Prabhupada singing the very same prayers.
Srila Prabhupada was reluctant to change an established order, even in the name of piety (monks not wanting to listen to a female singer), what to speak of making changes merely for the sake of sense gratification!
So, we have to ask, if a change is to be made, is it based on time, place, and circumstance, in line with the system of checks and balances, sadhu (saints), sastra (scripture) and guru (spiritual master)?
Or is it based on sense gratification?
The apostle Paul (a former Pharisee) taught a completely different theology than that of the synoptic Jesus. Was it based on piety, or sense gratification?
The scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus claimed, "have neglected the weightier matters of the Law; justice and mercy and faith." (Matthew 23:14,16-23; Luke 11:42, 20:45-47)
This is painfully obvious when contrasting Paul's pronouncements on the Law with those of Jesus.
The most-repeated argument against biblical vegetarianism I've gotten from Christians is that they claim they are no longer under Mosaic Law, because the apostle Paul referred to his background as a former Pharisee and his previous adherence to Mosaic Law (with its dietary laws, commandments calling for the humane treatment of animals, etc.) as "so much garbage." (Philippians 3:4-8)
Nothing in the synoptic gospels suggests a break with Judaism. Jesus was called "Rabbi," meaning "Master" or "Teacher," 42 times in the gospels. Jesus' ministry was rabbinic. Jesus related scripture and God's laws to everyday life, teaching by personal example. Jesus engaged in healing and acts of mercy. Jesus told stories or parables -- a rabbinic method of teaching.
Jesus went to the synagogue (Matthew 12:9), taught in the synagogues (Matthew 4:23, 13:54; Mark 1:39), expressed concern for Jairus, "one of the rulers of the synagogue" (Mark 5:36) and it "was his custom" to go to the synagogue (Luke 4:16).
Jesus called himself "Son of Man." The prophet Ezekiel was addressed by God as "Son of Man." (Ezekiel 2:1) In Hebrew, "son of man" ("ben adam") was a synonym for "man." Psalm 8:4 uses it in plural. Simon (Peter) referred to Jesus as "a man certified by God." (Acts 2:22)
Both John the Baptist and Jesus were considered prophets by the people. (Matthew 11:9, 21:11, 21:26, 21:46; Mark 6:15, 11:32; Luke 7:16, 7:26, 9:19, 24:19; John 4:19, 6:14, 7:40, 9:17)
Jesus placed himself in the tradition of the prophets before him. (Matthew 13:57; Mark 6:4; Luke 4:24, 13:33; John 4:44)
Jesus frequently compared his ministry to the ministries of Noah, Lot and Jonah. (Matthew 10:15, 11:24, 12:39-40, 16:4, 24:37-39; Luke 10:12, 11:29,32, 17:26-29,32)
Jesus began his ministry by teaching the multitudes not to "give what is sacred to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine." (Matthew 7:6) Dogs, like swine, were considered foul and unclean by the Hebrew people. (Deuteronomy 23:18; I Samuel 24:14; II Kings 8:13; Psalm 22:16,20; Matthew 7:6; Luke 16:21; Revelations 22:15) These words were used by the children of Israel to describe the neighboring heathen populations.
When sending his disciples out to preach, Jesus instructed them not to go to the gentiles, but to "go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 10:5-6) When a Canaanite woman asked Jesus to heal her daughter, he replied, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel...It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." (Matthew 15:22-28)
Jesus regarded the gentiles as "dogs." His gospel was intended for the Jewish people.
Even the apostle Paul admitted that the gospel was first intended for the Jews, and that the Jews have every advantage over the gentiles in this regard (Romans 1:16, 3:1-2).
When a scribe asked Jesus what is the greatest commandment in the Torah, Jesus began with "Hear O Israel, the Lord, thy God, is One Lord." This is the Shema, which is still heard in every synagogue service to this day.
"And you shall love the Lord with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength...And you shall love your neighbor as yourself," Jesus concluded.
When the scribe agreed that God is one and that to love Him completely and also love one's neighbor as oneself is "more important than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices," Jesus replied, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-34; Luke 10:25-28)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus himself said:
"Do not suppose I have come to abolish the Law and the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill...till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittle pass from the Law till all is fulfilled. Whoever, therefore, breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven...unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)
Jesus also upheld the Torah in Luke 16:17: "And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest portion of the Law to become invalid."
Nor do these words refer merely to the Ten Commandments. Jesus meant the entire Torah: 613 commandments. When a man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, "You know the commandments." He then quoted not just the Ten Commandments, but a commandment from Leviticus 19:13 as well: "Do not defraud." (Mark 10:17-22)
Jesus' disciples were once accused by the scribes and Pharisees of violating rabbinical tradition (Matthew 15:1-2; Mark 7:5), but not biblical law. At no place in the entire New Testament does Jesus ever proclaim Torah or the Law of Moses to be abolished; this was the theology of Paul, a former Pharisee who never knew Jesus, but who used to persecute Jesus' followers. Paul openly identified himself not as a Jew but as a Roman (Acts 22:25-26) and an apostate from Judaism (Philippians 3:4-8)
Sometimes Christians cite Matthew 7:12, where Jesus says "Do unto others..." and this "covers" the Law and the prophets.
But Jesus was merely repeating in the positive what Rabbi Hillel taught earlier.
Hillel was asked, "What is Judaism?"
He replied: "What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. That is Judaism. All the rest is commentary."
No one took Hillel's words to mean the Law had been abolished -- why should we assume this of Jesus?
If Jesus *really* came to abolish the Law and the prophets, Simon (Peter) would not have resisted a divine command to kill and eat both "clean" and "unclean" animals (Acts 10), nor would there have been a debate in the early church as to what extent the gentiles were to observe Mosaic Law (Acts 15).
When Paul visited the church at Jerusalem, James and the elders told him all its members were "zealous for the Law," and that they were worried because they heard rumors that Paul was preaching against Mosaic Law (Acts 21).
None of these events would have happened had Jesus really come to abolish the Law and the prophets!
Jesus not only repeatedly upheld Mosaic Law, he justified his healing on the Sabbath by referring to commandments calling for the humane treatment of animals!
While teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, Jesus healed a woman who had been ill for eighteen years. He justified his healing work on the Sabbath by referring to biblical passages calling for the humane treatment of animals as well as their rest on the Sabbath. "So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham...be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" Jesus asked. (Luke 13:10-16)
On another occasion, Jesus again referred to Torah teaching on "tsa'ar ba'alei chayim" or compassion for animals to justify healing on the Sabbath. "Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" (Luke 14:1-5)
Jesus compared saving sinners who had gone astray from God's kingdom to rescuing lost sheep. He recalled a Jewish legend about Moses' compassion as a shepherd for his flock:
"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? Who among you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?
"And when he has found it," Jesus continued, "he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home,he calls together his friends and neighbors saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'
"I say to you, likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Matthew 18:11-13; Luke 15:3-7,10)
Paul, on the other hand, said if anyone has confidence in Mosaic Law, "I am ahead of him" (Philippians 3:4-8).
Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who said he did not come to abolish the Law and the prophets?
Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who said whoever sets aside even the least of the laws demands shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19)?
Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who taught that following the commandments of God is the only way to eternal life (Mark 10:17-22)?
Would that mean Paul places himself ahead of Jesus, who said that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest portion of the Law to become invalid (Luke 16:17)?
Paul may have regarded his previous adherence to Mosaic Law as "so much garbage," but it should be obvious by now that JESUS DIDN'T THINK THE LAW WAS "GARBAGE"!
If Christians revere Paul's words over those of Jesus, then "Christianity" really is "Paulianity". Bertrand Russell referred to Paul as the "inventor" of Christianity.
I'm not saying Christians should all be circumcised and following Mosaic Law. The Reverend Andrew Linzey, the foremost theologian in the field of animal-human relations and author of Christianity and the Rights of Animals (1987), rejected such an approach in a 1989 interview with the Animals' Agenda.
I'm merely saying that Christianity for the past 2000 years has been based on a misunderstanding. Christians aren't really following Jesus. They're following Paul.
Even if Paul's teachings displace Jesus' few Christians today are following Paul. Is their faith weak?
Paul quotes Jesus as having said to him three times, "My grace is sufficient for thee." (II Corinthians 12:8-9) Christians sometimes misinterpret this verse to mean they're free to do as they please—ignoring the rest of the New Testament, and (especially) Jesus' and Paul's other teachings.
The apostle Paul taught his followers to bless their persecutors and not curse them (Romans 12:14), to care for their enemies by providing them with food and drink (12:20), and to pay their taxes and obey all earthly governments (13:1-7). He mentioned giving all his belongings to feed the hungry (I Corinthians 13:3), and taught giving to the person in need (Ephesians 4:23). He told his followers it was wrong to take their conflicts before non-Christian courts rather than before the saints. (I Corinthians 6:1)
In I Corinthians 7 we read:
"It is good for a man not to touch a woman, but because of prevailing immoralities, let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband.
"The husband must render to his wife the obligations that are due her, and similarly the wife to her husband...
"Do not deprive each other, except by mutual agreement for a time to devote yourselves unhindered by prayer; and come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you on account of your lack of self-control."
(This suggests regulated or restricted sexual activity, even within marriage!)
"I say this by way of concession, not as a regulation. I wish all were as I am (celibate), but each person has his own gift from God, the one in this direction, the other in that.
"To the single and the widows, I say that it is good for them to remain as I am (celibate); but if they cannot restrain their passions, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to be consumed by passion.
"To the married couples I command -- not really I but the Lord -- that the wife must not leave her husband; and in case she does separate, she must either stay single or make up with her husband. And the husband must not divorce his wife.
"...if the unbeliever wants to separate, let there be separation..."
(Jesus forbade divorce, except in the case of unfaithfulness. And here we see Paul forbidding divorce, except in the case of an unbeliever demanding separation!)
"Regarding the unmarried I have no divine injunction, but as one who has received mercy from the Lord to be trustworthy, I give my opinion... it is good for a person to remain in his present situation.
"Are you united to a wife? do not seek release. Are you unattached to a woman? Do not seek a wife. But in case you marry, you do not sin; nor does the unmarried woman sin if she marries...
"The single person is concerned with the Lord's affairs, how to please the Lord, but the married person is concerned with things of the world, how to please his wife; he has divided interests.
"The unmarried woman or the virgin is interested in the Lord's affairs, that she may be dedicated to Him in body and spirit; but the married woman is concerned with things of the world, how she may please her husband."
"I mention this for your own good, not to throw a rope around you but to promote proper behavior and undisturbed devotion to the Lord."
Paul repeatedly attacked sexual immorality.
"This is God's will—your sanctification, that you keep yourselves from sexual immorality, that each of you learn how to take his own wife in purity and honor, not in lustful passion like the gentiles who have no knowledge of God." (I Thessalonians 4:3-5)
Paul told his followers not to associate with sexually immoral people (I Corinthians 5:9-12, 6:15,18). He condemned homosexuality (Romans 1:24-27) and incest (I Corinthians 5:1).
"Make no mistake," warned Paul, "no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians 6:9-10 [NEB])
Paul condemned wickedness, immorality, depravity, greed, murder, quarreling, deceit, malignity, gossip, slander, insolence, pride (Romans 1:29-30), drunkenness, carousing, debauchery, jealousy (Romans 13:13), sensuality, magic arts, animosities, bad temper, selfishness, dissensions, envy (Galatians 5:19-21; greediness (Ephesians 4:19; Colossians 3:5), foul speech, anger, clamor, abusive language, malice (Ephesians 4:29-32), dishonesty (Colossians 3:13), materialism (I Timothy 6:6-11), conceit, avarice, boasting and treachery. (II Timothy 3:2-4)
Paul told the gentiles to train themselves for godliness, to practice self-control and lead upright, godly lives (Galatians 5:23; I Timothy 4:7; II Timothy 1:7; Titus 2:11-12). He instructed them to ALWAYS pray constantly. (I Thessalonians 5:17)
Paul praised love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, fidelity and gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23). He told his followers to conduct themselves with humility and gentleness (Ephesians 4:2), to speak to one another in psalms and hymns; to sing heartily and make music to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)
Paul wrote further that women should cover their heads while worshiping, and that long hair on males is dishonorable. (I Corinthians 11:5-14) According to Paul, Christian women are to dress modestly and prudently, and are not to be adorned with braided hair, gold or pearls or expensive clothes. (I Timothy 2:9)
Christians often ignore the New Testament as a whole, and focus only on one of Paul's statements to justify their hedonism. The late Reverend Janet Regina Hyland (1933 - 2007), an evangelical minister, a vegan, and author of God's Covenant with Animals (it's available through PETA), said they're quoting Paul out of context. Paul, she observed, was very strict with himself:
"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." (I Corinthians 9:27)
Regina Hyland said further that this verse indicates it's possible for one to lose one's salvation (a serious point of contention among born agains!).
Christians who focus only on II Corinthians 12:8-9 MUST be quoting Paul out of context, because otherwise it doesn't make any sense: on the one hand, Paul is warning that drunkards, thieves, homosexuals, etc. will not inherit the kingdom of God, and on the other hand he's saying if you call on Jesus three times... you can do whatever you want?!
Why, then, did Paul give moral instructions throughout his epistles in the first place?
Boy, not all Christians are pro-life! Couldn't pro-choice Christians cite "three times..." to justify their right to abortion?!
The traditional interpretation of II Corinthians 12:8-9 is that Paul had a "thorn" in his side, and asked the Lord what to do about it. The response was simple: "My grace is sufficient for thee." This was a response to a specific problem, not a license to do as one pleases, or why else would Paul himself have given so many other moral instructions throughout his epistles?
Reverend Frank Hoffman, a retired pro-life vegan Methodist minister, and owner of the www.all-creatures.org Christian vegan website says he agrees with the traditional interpretation.
On the other hand, there is change in the name of social progress.
In 1990, Rankin Fisher, a former Missionary Baptist minister, who happens to be gay, told me homosexuality must never be driven underground, as if I have some authority within Krishna Consciousness. I don't! I'm just a lay person. Despite my pleas, for example, our temples haven't even gone vegan.
Steven J. Gelberg (Subhananda dasa) wrote an essay about leaving Krishna Consciousness wherein he stated that the treatment of women was abysmal.
In the '80s, when one of the college preaching programs consisted almost entirely of men, I suggested some women preach as well. San Diego temple president Badri Narayan dasa thought it was a good idea, saying, "We dont want them (the students) to think this is the Hare Krishna Men's Club."
When another devotee, Jivananda dasa asked, "Why not send the women out to preach, without any men?"
Badri said lightheartedly, "Because then, they'll think we're a convent!"
There is an ISKCON Women's Ministry, addressing sexism within Krishna Consciousness, including issues like domestic violence.
There's GALVA, the Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association as well.
Similarly, as I commented online on the devotee website, www.chakra.org in May 2006 on vegan ethics: To what extend Krishna Consciousness is compatible with a modern secular democracy is beyond the scope of this short essay. I'm just a lay person. The leaders in the Krishna Consciousnss movement are going to have to determine how to respond to social progress, be it women's rights or animal rights.
31. We Can't Imitate Krishna's Pastimes:
Krishna loves butter and dairy. Krishna is not a vegan.
Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and He can do as He pleases. But that doesn't mean we can!
Krishna dances with the gopis (milkmaids) at midnight, whereas if any of us dances and/or has loving affairs with young, underage girls and/or married women at midnight it would be scandalous!
Srila Prabhupada said Krishna proved His omnipotence by engaging in pastimes none of us can imitate, like lifting Govardhan Hill, or showing His Universal Form to His disciple Arjuna. Srila Prabhupada said on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, Krishna was 125 years "old" (the term "incarnation" is a misnomer, as God has a spiritual body and never ages) but looked like a young boy of sixteen. Srila Prabhupada said if you claim you're God, prove it by first lifting a hill, or show your universal form.
Srila Prabhupada made a similar statement about Jesus. Speaking with Bob Cohen, a Peace Corps worker in India who later became his disciple, Prabhupada said Jesus taught "thou shalt not kill," but if Jesus ate meat, then he contradicted himself (Srila Prabhupada refrained from saying Jesus was a hypocrite).
But Srila Prabhupada said that if Jesus commanded his followers not to kill, then they should follow that commandment strictly, regardless of Jesus' own behavior, thinking, "...he has asked me not to kill..."
Srila Prabhupada said, "We cannot imitate the isvaras (Sanskrit for controllers, or deities)."
Lord Krishna's pastimes took place in a previous yuga, or age, 5,100 years ago. Lord Chaitanya Himself quoted the scriptures when listing acts which are forbidden in Kali-yuga.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter similarly writes:
"Are we ashamed to recall that Abraham had two wives because in today’s Western world he would be called a bigamist? Vegetarianism is a response to today’s world.
32. Stick to Orthodoxy:
Krishna loves butter and dairy. In email exchange with a religious vegan in the late '90s, she claimed the great spiritual leaders, teachers, prophets, incarnations of God, in all the world's religions throughout history were all vegan. I pointed out that Krishna was a butter thief, not a margarine thief. She claimed Krishna stole "spiritual butter," whatever that means.
And just as we wouldn't like people of other faiths misinterpreting our scriptures, that's another reason I made it a point to stick to orthodoxy: Scripture, theology, church history, secular history, the writings of the early church fathers and the lives of the saints (Catholicism) and religious reformers (Protestantism), current trends in animal liberation theology, etc. when writing They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy, especially when examining incidents like the multiplication of loaves and fishes, or whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal or a meal shared with his disciples on the Day of Preparation for Passover, etc.
(Christians use intellectually and theologically dishonest arguments like "three times..." whereas I make it a point to stick to orthodoxy, repeat scholars and theologians more knowledgeable than I verbatim, etc. and still the other side accuses me of having created a work of fiction, like Jesus Christ Superstar!)
In his 1987 book Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions, Steven Rosen (Satyaraja dasa) favorably refers to Jesus' teachings on nonviolence as "supremely pacifistic," to convince Christians to think of extending their precepts of nonviolence to animals... even though as Vaishnavas we are not absolute pacifists.
A vegetarian interpretation of Scripture IS possible, but it's kind of like an anti-capital punishment interpretation of Scripture: it will appeal to progressives. And, sure enough, it's the progressive Christians who are responding to animal rights. (Steven Rosen himself was interviewed about his book in 1987 on WBAI, progressive radio in New York City.)
My book, They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy, was published in 2003. (I'm grateful to have become a published author before turning 40.) Similar to Steven Rosen's Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions, the book discusses animal rights and vegetarianism in the Western religious traditions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Baha'i faith, Pythagoreanism and neo-Platonism. Bruce Friedrich of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wrote the preface, and the late Reverend Janet Regina Hyland (author, God's Covenant with Animals--it's available through PETA) wrote the foreword.
When I gave a talk on religion and animals at a San Francisco Vegetarian Society potluck in February 2001, I told the audience that I deliberately chose to focus on the Western religious traditions, because for too long, the stereotype of "religious vegetarians" is that they are all followers of Eastern religions, believing you might be reincarnated as a cow in your next life if you're not careful. (This drew a chuckle from the audience.) I wanted to show that the Western religious traditions also support the vegetarian way of life.
The book has been endorsed by Jewish and Christian clergy. The purpose of They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy is two-fold: to bring animal rights and vegetarianism into the mainstream (churches and synagogues) and to provide animal activists with inspiration and support for their own activism.
There are all kinds of fictitious "gospels" floating around, like the Aquarian Gospel, the Gospel of the Holy Twelve, the Essene Gospel of Peace, etc. Some of these "gospels" depict Jesus as a vegetarian, others say he traveled to India, or that he taught reincarnation (I believe reincarnation IS compatible with Christianity--on an abstract, theological level).
Mainline churches aren't about to take these "gospels" seriously. And with good reason. The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, for example, was received by seances and mediums in 19th century England! There's a book by Swedish New Testament scholar, Per Beskow, entitled Strange Tales About Jesus, where he effectively debunks these "gospels."
In a review of Steven Rosen's Food for the Spirit: Vegetarianism and the World Religions which appeared in a 1988 issue of Vegetarian Times, secular scholar Keith Akers implied Steven Rosen (Satyaraja dasa) was being intellectually and theologically dishonest in bolstering the case for Christian vegetarianism by referring to these fictitious gospels.
When I wrote They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy, I made it a point to stick to orthodoxy: Scripture, theology, church history, secular history, the lives of the saints and religious reformers, etc. -- and leave all "strange" elements behind. I sent a copy of my book to Per Beskow, and he acknowledged that I have not written a "strange tale," but he didn't think I provided enough compelling historical evidence to demand that Christians be vegan. He admitted, however, that his area of expertise is historical, not theological. The book has gotten a very positive response from Christian vegetarians and vegans, of whom I have the deepest respect.
Norm Phelps, Spiritual Outreach Director for the Fund For Animals, has endorsed the book, saying the animal rights movement will never succeed until we have religion on our side. Reverend Frank Hoffman, the retired vegan Methodist minister and owner of the www.all-creatures.org Christian vegetarian website, gave the book a glowing review in Veg-News shortly before the book's publication. He wrote to me, "For a non-Jew and a non-Christian, you have a remarkable grasp of Biblical interpretation." Rachael Price, a born again Christian, has endorsed the book.
The animal rights movement--like the civil rights movement-- could use the inspiration, blessings, and support of organized religion, which was the reason I wrote They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy, and sent hundreds of copies to clergy and lay people alike across the theological spectrum. Matthew Priebe, a Bible-believing Christian, and author of Animals, Ethics and Christianity, endorsed They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy, but could tell right away that my approach to biblical scholarship was secular and academic.
He said They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy might influence liberal Christian denominations, such as Methodists, Episcopalians, and Unitarians, but that I would run into problems with biblical literalists and fundamentalists. I'm hoping that isn't the case. I'm hoping Jews, Christians, Muslims and Bahai's from all walks of life will join us. It's time to end animal slavery.
Sandy Kirschberger (we were matched on a vegetarian dating website, VeggieConnection.com) emailed me from Simpsonville, SC in the fall of 2006:
"I wonder if it could be divine intervention that lead us to be communicating with each other because I have been praying for some time now for more understanding about the whole animal rights and religion thing. Maybe this book will help in that area. I am sure that it will also arm me with some valuable information that I will be able to use while doing my KFC demos, especially since I am living in the 'Bible belt.' I have had a few people try and challenge me on the Christian aspect. I need to be prepared for future discussions."
I sent her a copy of my 2003 book on religion and animal rights, They Shall Not Hurt or Destroy. And on October 16, 2006, she wrote:
"I'm so glad you sent me a copy. I am finding your book to be probably one of the most interesting books that I have read, and I mean that sincerely. I definetly put it in the same category as Peter Singer's 'Animal Liberation'...
I had no idea the Bible... really supports a vegetarian and a humane treatment of animals lifestyle.
"With all of this known. I wonder why it is that no church or synogogue that I know of has forbidden killing animals for food. Could it have something to do with the political ties that I often suspect that many of todays churches and synogogues may have with agribusiness and corperations? Which is one of the many reasons that I do not go to church anymore. It seems to all just be a big business. Men in suits trying to sell something, like as if God is a car or a house. I am curious what your thoughts are on that?
"As I am sure you can see, I am really getting a lot out of your book so far and this is all just from one chapter. It must have taken a long time to do all the research on it. How long did the whole process take you? Do you ever think of writing anymore books?
"I also really like what Bruce Friendrich wrote in the preface of the book.
"As I said before, it is such an amazing coincidence that I was really looking for some answers in regards to all of this. I probably could not have gotten the book at a better time. I was almost going to order the book 'Dominion,' that I have heard some mixed reviews on, but I suppose I can hold off on that now."
And on November 21, 2006:
"I was actually just reading your book before I decided to put it down to write to you.
"I really enjoyed chapters 2, 3 and 4.
"It is so interesting how you point out that the Bible seems to depict John the Baptist as a vegetarian and that Jesus seemed to be quite heavily influenced by him.
"As well as that, you have also pointed to a multitude of evidence that would almost clearly indicate that Jesus more than likely followed a vegatarian diet.
"I heard the quote,'mercy and not sacrifice' before, but I was not really quite sure what it meant. I had no idea that it was referring to animal sacrifices and burnt offerings and I also did not realize that part of the reason that Jesus knocked over the tables in the temple was to do with the selling of animals for slaughter, sacrifice and consumption.
"This really makes me think of some churches around here, one in particular, that I seen advertise, on the local TV, for some kind of wild game expo thing that they were doing, where people were to bring to the church birds that they hunted and killed and I guess they were planning on doing some kind of big cookout. This was a couple of years ago now, of course, I was so disgusted that I tried to call the church to say something but I never got an answer. There is so much unbelievable ignorance around here. It is actually very scary.
"You also point out the clear possiblity that Jesus may have been an Essene, who were strict vegetarians.
"As well as this, there is also the story of how Jesus told Simon, when they were on the lake to drop his net and he wound up bringing up a tremendous amount of fish. I however, did not realize that the fish wound up back in the lake. It seemed that this action may have been more of an example of how from that point on they would be catching men.
"It is also really fascinating how you explain the various different versions of the story of the fish and the loaves. Some versions indicate that only the bread was distributed and other accounts would indicate a more symbolic meaning behind the entire story. And of course, there is always the possiblity that fish was only added, as a symbol to enhance the miracle when making copies of the Bible.
"And I guess that so far from my reading of your book one of the most compelling evidences that Jesus may have been vegetarian is when you point out the story of the last supper and how the crucifixion took place on the same day and that this brings about several different arguments. One being, that it would make no sense that the crucifixion took place on the Sabbath, since jewish laws would forbid such a thing from taking place on that day, which would then indicate that the last supper was not a passover supper with lamb, as I and many others have been lead to believe. Still then leading to the possibility that Jesus may have been a vegetarian.
"My heart broke when you mentioned the extraordinary coincindence that Jesus died at the same time that countless innocent lambs were killed for the Passover supper, depicting the analogy of Jesus being the lamb of God, as with almost everything I had read so far in your book, I again had no idea of what that actually meant, however it makes perfect sense now and reading this actually left me speechless!
"I am also so happy that you covered I Timothy 4:1-3. This is the one verse that people just love to use to defend meat eating on a biblical level. As you say, the word 'meat' had several different meanings throughout the bible. The word 'flesh,' is the more accurate description as the word we have come to know as 'meat' today. Therefore, all verses containing the word 'meat' must be used in the context that it was meant.
"I often noticed throughout the Bible myself the clear association with the animal world and it really makes perfect sense that the Bible does indeed have a message of compassion toward animals. Very sadly, however, this message does not get taught in todays western religious traditions. Even in the past, when I went to the different churches that I have attended ( I have attended many different sects within the christian religion, including, catholic, born again, and baptist) I don't think I once heard a single prayer for an animal.
"Do you think that the churches will ever come around to a more humane approach to animals? Just as they eventually did regarding slavery?
"I understand that the new pope denounced factory farming. I wonder, however, if he still eats meat.
"I think the hardest ones to convince would probably be these backward baptist and born again christians that I unfortunately live around. Some still think that slavery is alright. At least that is what some man told me when I was doing a KFC demo once, he came over to tell me that I should not be trying to help the animals, that instead I should be protesting an abortion clinic. He told me that God does not care about animals and that I was just wasting my time and when i tried to explain to him that at one time slavery was considered alright, he told me that it is still alright according to God.
"It is these types of people that I believe will never see things differently, completely closed minded and like I said, incredibly ignorant.
Anyway, I am really enjoying your book, as I am sure that you could tell. I hope this book will reach a lot of people because I know that it has the power to really change peoples lives.
"In reference to you mentioning the bay area. Not only did I visit San Francisco but I have also been to Oakland. I liked it there. Unfortunately, I just thought that it was just so expensive.
"Maybe one day in the future I will take another vacation there and maybe we can finally meet.
"Peace - Sandy"
In a 1991 essay, "The Bible and Killing for Food," Reverend Andrew Linzey writes:
"...it often comes as a surprise for Christians to realize that the modern vegetarian movement was strongly biblical in origin. Inspired by the original command in Genesis 1, an Anglican priest, William Cowherd, founded the Bible Christian Church in 1809 and made vegetarianism compulsory among its members.
"The founding of this Church in the United Kingdom and its sister Church in the United States by William Metcalfe, effectively heralded the beginning of the modern vegetarian movement.")
According to Reverend Marc Wessels, "The most important teaching which Jesus shared was the need for people to love God with their whole self and to love their neighbor as they loved themselves. Jesus expanded the concept of neighbor to include those who were normally excluded, and it is therefore not too farfetched for us to consider the animals as our neighbors."
33. There Are Differing Views Among Hindus:
Rascal "Christians," unable to follow their own Scriptures (e.g., the biblical command against fornication) will point out that Guru Maharaj Ji of the Divine Light Mission in the early '70s had a girlfriend, and differed considerably from Srila Prabhupada in this regard, as Srila Prabhupada was not only opposed to sex outside of marriage, but opposed to the keeping of boyfriends and girlfriends as well. (If we want these things, we'll have to have a formal laity, like other mainstream religious denominations... otherwise, we look like hypocrites!)
(Ironically, conservative Christian "anti-cult" groups are quick to denounce the Divine Light Mission as a cult!)
Fair enough, But then they have to accept that there are differing views among Hindus!
As a political position, for example, Dr. Deepak Chopra favors an end to the drug war, and is on the Board of Directors of the Drug Policy Alliance.
When I told Anantarupa dasa that Morrissey, the former lead singer of the Smiths, and perhaps the world's only celibate vegetarian rock star is rumored to be gay, he said, "If he's celibate, who cares?"
Anantarupa dasa went on to comment that in the world of rock stars, like Hollywood celebrities, if you haven't got a girlfriend, everyone assumes the worst.
Amara Das Wilhelm of GALVA writes:
The historical approach to homosexuality within Vaishnava Hinduism is quite opposite from that of the Abrahamic faiths. Whereas the latter punished homosexuality harshly in ancient times but has since softened its stance, Hinduism has no history of persecuting homosexuals until after the arrival of Islamic and British (Christian) influence. Ancient Vedic texts mildly discourage homosexual behavior for brahmanas or priests but do not criminalize it for the common citizen. On the contrary, Vedic texts describe homosexual citizens serving as dancers, artisans, barbers, house attendants and prostitutes well within the purview of ancient Vedic society.
This comes as a surprise to many Hindus who are at present accustomed to condemning homosexual people and excluding them from both family and society. It has also become a custom among Hindus to force gay and lesbian offsprings into opposite-sex marriages, even though this is expressly forbidden in religious codebooks such as the Narada-smriti. Vedic medical texts like the Sushruta Samhita declare homosexuality to be inborn (discussing it only in chapters on embryological development) and texts concerned with human sexuality (the Kama Sastra) refer to homosexuals as a “third sex” (tritiya-prakriti) with both masculine and feminine natures. Thus, while Abrahamic faiths have been forced to abandon ancient codes and beliefs in order to accommodate gays in modernity, Vaishnavas need only abandon imported misconceptions and refer back to their ancient past.
The modern debate over homosexuality in Vaishnavism has only recently begun and gay-friendly organizations such as the Gay And Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA-108) lag quite a bit behind their Judeo-Christian counterparts. While some Vaishnava sects and leaders do in fact fully accept gay peers and disciples (particularly in the West), too many still remain ignorant and homophobic. This has subsequently kept many gay Vaishnavas in the closet, afraid to come out to their family or co-worshipers and with some instances of gay suicide as well as gay-related “shame killings” reported.
My own personal experience as a gay Vaishnava, however, has been much less tragic and thus I am hopeful Vaishnavism will once again embrace gender-variant people. After converting and moving into a Hare Krishna ashram at the age of seventeen, I came out to my peers only a few months later and with no ensuing difficulties. Ultimately, essential Vaishnava teachings of all-inclusiveness, compassion and bodily transcendence should compel practitioners to overlook all bodily differences and embrace the soul of every being. This can be accelerated with a little education and sincerity on all sides.
This article originally appeared on NewStatesman.com.
And there are vegan Hindus, like Vaidya Priyanka of Aum Ayurveda, who comes from a seven hundred year lineage of female Ayurvedic teachers.
In Her 2008 book, Yoga and Vegetarianism, Sharon Gannon, who attended Catholic school till the sixth grade, and now follows a deeper spiritual tradition, advocates veganism:
"In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali presents an eight-step plan for liberation called raja-yoga. The first step is yama, which means restraint. It consists of five ethical guidelines regarding how yogis should treat others, all of which clearly support a vegetarian diet. The first yama Patanjali gives is ahimsa, or nonharming... Stop perpetuating violence and it will cease...
"Billions of animals are killed every year for human consumption after living confined in horrible conditions on factory farms and enduring untold extremes of suffering. This fact alone is good reason for any yoga practitioner to adopt a vegetarian diet.
"Meanwhile, from the individual health perspective, a vegetarian diet has been proven to prevent and even reverse heart disease and cancer, two of the leading causes of human death in our world today.
"The terrible toll that eating meat, fish, and dairy takes on our planet's air, water, soil, and whole ecosystem is another reason for yogis, who have traditionally cultivated a close relationship with nature, to consider vegetarianism... Extending compassion towards animals purifies our karmas, creating an internal state of being conducive to enlightenment."
According to Sharon Gannon, the single most important part of one's yoga practice is the strict adherence to a vegetarian diet--a diet free of needless cruelty, harm, and injustice. Gannon offers truth and wisdom from a tradition of spiritual practice thousands of years old and explains how to apply these practices to our modern lifestyles.
Along with David Life, she is the creator of the Jivamukti Yoga method, a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. Blessed by her teachers Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati, Swami Nirmalananda, and SriK.Pattabhi Jois, she is a pioneer in teaching yoga as spiritual activism. Vegetarianism is a core principle of the Jivamuki Yoga method.
Gannon is the author of many books and the producer of numerous yoga-related DVDs and music CDs. She is the recipient of the 2008 Compassionate Living Award. Vanity Fair gives her credit for making yoga cool and hip.
Shankar Narayan of the Indian Vegan Society writes:
"I always believed there is a connection between not eating meat/milk and our spiritual advancement as we have developed the habit of exploiting animals for over a million years.
"A spiritual guru, based in Bangalore, was recently introduced to me. After a while I spoke to him (a lacto-vegetarian) about cruelty in milk. He not only immediately stopped use of milk but also wrote to all his followers about milk. He even forwarded me the replies of his followers who also followed his suit.
"Another religious guru Sri Rahaveshwara Bharathi Swami with large base and following is also saying that keeping cows is not for milk. Sri Sri Ravishankar of Art of Living with worldwide reach also (one of his followers told me) says in his literature that milk is to be avoided. Maybe there is a link between these two cases and our Indian Vegan Society efforts in reaching the message of veganism to them.
"In addition, Jain spiritual leader Sri Chitrabhanu also advocates veganism and converted many of his followers to veganism.
"Well, the spiritual movement is turning vegan. I wish the vegan movement also turns spiritual so that we have a solid platform. For me veganism is more than not using animal products, see my veganism at
34) Is Veganism Being "Fanatical" About Nonviolence or Just Being Realistic?
Like vegetarianism for ethical reasons, that's the reason people go vegan, too. Because cows are abused and killed in the production of dairy through modern factory farming.
a) A pamphlet from the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (www.ffacoalition.org) entitled This AIN'T Old MacDonald's Farm says:
99% of ALL animal products come from factory-farmed animals.
b) Action For Animals
"In order to produce milk, a cow must have a calf. Cows used for dairy are repeatedly impregnated, often on what the industry calls a 'rape rack,' to keep their milk production high. The cows are milked by machines multiple times a day, often live in filthy concrete stalls or crowded barns, and suffer from diseases such as the udder infection mastitis. After only four to six years of their natural twenty year lifespan, they are worn out and sent to slaughter. The cows are packed into trucks for often long rips to slaughterhouses. In winter, they may freeze to the sides of the truck; in summer, they may die from dehydration or heat stroke. At slaughterhouses, they are shot in the head with a high-powered steel rod called a captive bolt gun. If that doesn't kill them, they are skinned and dismembered while still alive.
"One of a cow's female calves will replace her mother in the milking herd; the rest of the calves will likely be sold for veal. Calves used for veal are stolen from their mothers just days after birth and chained by the neck in crates. They are fed an iron-deficient formula to keep their flesh pale, making them weak and unhealthy. After twelve to sixteen weeks they are slaughtered. The veal industry is just one of the heartbreaking results of the dairy industry."
c) Another Action For Animals pamphlet entitled How You Can Help Animals says:
"On most dairy farms, cows live in concrete stalls or filthy sheds and are milked by machines three times a day. Like humans, cows must have a baby to produce milk, so they are repeatedly impregnated on a 'rape rack.' After only four to six years of their natural twenty year lifespan, they are worn out and sent to slaughter. Some are so sick they cannot even walk.
"Consuming dairy products -- even organic -- supports the veal industry. Without a supply of calves from dairy farms, most veal farms would not exist. The calves are taken from their mothers just days after birth so their milk can be sold to people. Mother cows often cry for days for their missing baby. On veal farms, the calves are chained by the neck in crates. When the calves are just twelve to sixteen weeks old, they re slaughtered...
"Cows raised for meat, or who are no longer profitable for dairy are killed when they are the equivalent of teenagers. During transport to slaughter, many animals die from dehydration, heat stroke, or stress. After being forced off the truck with electric prods, they are shot in the head or shackled upside down by their hind legs and have their throats slit. If this does not kill them, they are skinned and dismembered while still conscious...
d) Friends of Animals (www.friendsofanimals.org) writes:
"Cheese and milk represent tremendous disrespect and hurt, and there is no reason to think it is less than that which goes into the processing of flesh. Artificial insemination is used at most dairy farms; most of these farms have no need for males, who are sent off at an early age to the veal producer. Dairy cows are forced to produce youngsters for the owners each year. So they'll continually produce milk, Holstein and Jersey dairy cows endure repeated pregnancies (which go for nine months, as ours do).
"Drink milk, and veal happens. Most dairy calves will be cutlets. These cutlets-to-be are confined to restrict muscle growth, deprived of iron to stay pale. But just for four months: their age at death. A new trend involves converting to group housing; but without their parents, calves are nervous and competitive. They are tethered around meal time to control aggression and stress.
"The eating of cheese automatically results in the production of veal. Most cheeses contain rennet, an enzyme complex that coagulates the milk, causing it to separate into solids (curds) and liquid (whey). The rennet is taken from the stomach lining of unweaned calves. These stomachs are also a product of veal-making. So most cheeses contain flesh from animals as well as animal milk.
"If a gaze into the dairy case reminded us of the calves carted away forever from the cows (who, farmers admit, cry for their young), we'd understand the reality of cheese, cream, and milk. Picturing the veal calf strengthens the resolve of many vegans to say no to that cream or cheese...
e) In their 2013 book, The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat?, Hope and Cogen Bohanec debunk the myth that it's possible for animals to be humanely raised for food, or even for animal by-products (milk, eggs, etc.). They write:
"To produce a profitable dairy product, the well-being of the animal will have to be compromised in some fundamental ways, no matter how humane an operation claims to be. Mammals do not produce milk unless they are pregnant or have recently been pregnant. 'Alternative' dairies still have to keep the cows pregnant every year to produce the maximum amount of milk, far more than is natural for their bodies. This is most always accomplished through artificial insemination, performed by invasively inserting a long metal device called an inseminating gun into the cow's vagina. At the same time, the rancher inserts his other arm in her rectum, almost to his shoulder, to manipulate the vaginal wall with his hand for insemination. This violation must be at the least uncomfortable, and is likely a painful and frightening experience for a young cow.
"Being constantly pregnant year after year puts a strain on the cow's body, and her health will suffer from the intense exploit. In so-called humane dairies, calves are still taken from their mothers at birth. This is perhaps the greatest grief any living being could suffer, evidenced by how the mother and calf will often mourn sorrowfully and forcefully protest the separation, especially if there has been any time allowed for them to bond As a result, the calves are typically taken away immediately at birth to prevent bonding. A strong connection forms between a mother with her unborn offspring, and to have the baby taken away directly after birth creates a state of extreme psychological trauma. Why is it that dairy products tear apart bovine families and have the calves grow as orphans, without the love or comfort of a mother? It's because they cannot have the calf drinking the sellable product.
"Usually, after calves are taken away from their dairy cow mothers, the baby females are chained outside, regardless of weather conditions. Isolated from the other calves and without the care of their mothers, they are kept like this, alone and frightened, chained and unloved. Once old enough, they experience their own violation, in the form of artificial insemination, so they can become pregnant and begin to lactate, the sole purpose of their lives at the hands of their human captors. Ironically, the milk that should be going to nourish a baby calf is instead sold as a human product, and consumers are so dazzled by idyllic pictures of rolling pastures and grazing cows that they never see the horrible mistreatment of the animal behind the mammary secretions they consume.
"Male babies born to a dairy-producing mother are nothing more than a waste product of the dairy industry. They obviously cannot produce milk, so keeping these adorable and gentle creatures around to consume their mother's milk, their natural food, is simply not cost effective. That would be 'wasting' the milk the producers could otherwise sell. So, like their sisters, male calves will be ripped from their mothers at birth, never to know their comfort and security. They will never frolic in a field, the birthright of all baby ruminants. Even at the supposedly best commercial operations, like American Humane certified Clover Dairy they still have to get rid of the baby males, sending them to auction just one week after birth, for veal, or to be raised for low-quality beef, most likely not on an alternative operation...
"About one third of veal calves, the undesired male (and some female) babies of the dairy industry, are kept in tiny crates, where they can't turn around or lie down comfortably. They are tethered by the neck, can barely move, and have been put on a liquid diet that doesn't have adequate iron, so it keeps their muscles underdeveloped and their flesh white and tender. Others are in small group pens, longing for their mothers, and unable to run, play, or feel the sun or wind on their bodies. After just about twenty-two to twenty-four weeks of misery, these babies are slaughtered for veal. Many people recognize the cruelty of killing baby cows and won't eat veal, yet they continue to ingest dairy, not knowing the intimate connection between the industries. One supports the other and there is extreme cruelty in both.
"Through selective breeding, a modern dairy cow can produce about ten times as much milk as her ancestors did generations ago. Milk yield per cow increased by 95 percent from 1950 to 1975 and grew an additional 76 percent from 1975 to 2000. Dairy cows are now producing more milk than was ever intended by the natural design specifications of their bodies....
"A dairy cow is not offered a retirement plan. Humane or not, modern dairy production is terribly taxing on her body, and it is just not profitable to keep her around when she is not producing as much milk as the younger cows, the daughters she will never nuzzle or care for. After about three lactating cycles, her milk output wanes, and she will be sent to slaughter and be sold for ground beef and other low-quality meat products. Many fast-food hamburgers are made from 'spent' dairy cows. With a natural lifespan of about twenty years, they are killed in the human equivalent of their preteens. Even on the so-called 'humane' farms, a few favorites may be 'retired,' but it is not profitable to feed them if they are not producing, and most will go to slaughter. It is impossible for a farm to create a truly humane environment -- wherein families are allowed to stay together, express their normal behaviors, and live out their natural life spans -- and make a profit. A viable business model cannot avoid the inherent cruelties of dairy production. The only way to be truly humane is a widespread cultural shift away from consumption of animal products."
f) The Bohanecs quote Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, author of several vegan cookbooks, on dairy production:
"Because a cow's life is only as valuable as the offspring and amount of milk she is able to produce, when she is no longer profitable (i.e., when the costs to feed, medicate, and shelter her exceed the revenue derived from her milk output), she is sent to slaughter. Whether she is used on a small farm, organic farm, family-owned farm, artisan farm, or whatever-it's-called farm, she is sent to slaughter. Whether the milk is labeled organic, whole, pasteurized, unpasteurized, raw, lactose-free, low-fat, 2%, 1%, skim, fat-free, or natural, she is sent to slaughter. There is no such thing as a slaughter-free dairy."
35. Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself:
Jesus said the basis of all real religion is to love God and love one's neighbor (other living entities).
Is the basis for our vegetarianism eating only foods which are offerable, or is the basis for our vegetarianism compassion for other living entities, the ethical treatment of animals, etc.?
Does compassion for other living entities naturally arise from one's devotion to God?
Or is nonviolence toward other living entities merely an indirect side effect of devotion to God (e.g., by offering all of one's food to the Lord, one is automatically at least a vegetarian, refraining from killing animals for meat, etc.)?
Devotees of Krishna and Hindus in General Should Consider These Points:
a) Srila Prabhupada has written, "If people are to be educated in the path back to Godhead, they must be taught first and foremost to stop the process of animal-killing."
b) Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 - 1534) made vegetarianism central to the sankirtan (“God-praise”) movement when He brought up the subject of meat-eating with the Chand Kazi of Navadvipa, a local Muslim ruler, learned in the Koran. And Srila Prabhupada followed our Lord's example by repeatedly bringing up the subject with people of other faiths ("Thou shalt not kill").
c) In a purport from the First Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada writes: "It is nonsensical to say that the killing of animals has nothing to do with spiritual realization."
d) In his purport to the Srimad Bhagavatam 6.10.9, Srila Prabhupada writes:
"One cannot continue killing animals and at the same time be a religious man. That is the greatest hypocrisy. Jesus Christ said, 'Do not kill,' but hypocrites nevertheless maintain thousands of slaughterhouses while posing as Christians. Such hypocrisy is condemned..."
e) Srila Prabhupada even candidly told a Catholic priest in London in 1973, that, "Animal-killers cannot understand God. I have seen this. It is a fact."
f) Elsewhere Srila Prabhupada has written:
"If one kills many thousands of animals in a professional way so that other people can purchase the meat to eat, one must be ready to be killed in a similar way in his next life and life after life. There are many rascals who violate their own religious principles. According to Judeo-Christian scriptures, it is clearly said, 'Thou shalt not kill.'
“Nonetheless, giving all kinds of excuses, even the heads of religions indulge in killing animals while trying to pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society brings about unlimited calamities; therefore occasionally there are great wars. Masses of such people go out onto battlefields and kill themselves.
“Presently, they have discovered the atomic bomb, which is simply waiting to be used for wholesale destruction." (Chaitanya Charitamrita, Madhya 24.251, purport).
g) "To be nonviolent to human beings and to be a killer or enemy of the poor animals is Satan's philosophy. In this age there is enmity towards poor animals, and therefore the poor creatures are always anxious. The reaction of the poor animals is being forced on human society, and therefore there is always the strain of cold or hot war between men, individually, collectively or nationally." (Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.6).
h) The Srimad Bhagavatam quotes King Pariksit as having said, "only the animal-killer cannot relish the message of the Absolute Truth." And Srila Prabhupada himself said in conversation with Christians, "If the Christians want to love God, they must stop killing animals." Srila Prabhupada taught that nonviolence is the first principle in spiritual life (Letter to Bhakta das, August 3, 1973).
Srila Prabhupada not only opposed killing animals for food, he also opposed dissection, animal experimentation and killing animals for "sport."
i) In the Lilamrita, for example, Satsvarupa Maharaja records an incident where an Indian graduate student tells Srila Prabhupada he is studying biology. Srila Prabhupada responds: "...poor frogs!" His challenge to the dissectors and vivisectors: "Would you give your body to science for the advancement of knowledge?"
Similarly, in a 1976 interview, when the editors of Back to Godhead told Srila Prabhupada:
"...Another point in the Declaration of Independence is that all men are endowed by God with certain natural rights that cannot be taken away from them. These are the rights of life, liberty, and..."
Srila Prabhupada immediately interjected: "But animals also have the right to life. Why don't animals also have the right to live? The rabbits, for instance, are living in their own way in the forest. Why does the government allow hunters to go and shoot them?"
The editors of Back to Godhead told Srila Prabhupada: "They (America's founding fathers) were simply talking about human beings."
Srila Prabhupada replied: "Then they have no real philosophy. The narrow idea that my family or my brother is good, and that I can kill all others, is criminal.
“Suppose that for my family's sake I kill your father. Is that philosophy? Real philosophy is suhridam sarva-bhutanam: friendliness to all living entities.
"Certainly this applies to human beings, but even if you unnecessarily kill one animal, I shall immediately protest, 'What nonsense are you doing?' "
Srila Prabhupada’s words above debunk the argument that because animals are not part of our “human family” (whatever that means) we have no duties toward them.
j) On numerous occasions, Srila Prabhupada taught that even rodents and insects have rights, and (like Pythagoras) he even opposed the unnecessary destruction of trees.
These facts indicate that devotees of Krishna are vegetarian out of compassion for animals, and not merely because meat, fish and eggs are unofferable to Lord Krishna.
k) It is a significant fact that Srila Prabhupada did not reject any of his fallen disciples, as long as they did not return to flesh-eating.
Like Lord Chaitanya's dialogue with the Chand Kazi, this underscores the importance of vegetarianism to the sankirtan movement.
l) If Srila Prabhupada's only concern was merely that his disciples merely abstain from rajasic and tamasic foods in the lower modes of nature, like onions, garlic, mushrooms, vinegar, etc. (i.e., follow a peculiar set of "dietary laws"), because of the possible effect such foods might have on their consciousness, or because they are unofferable to Lord Krishna, he would not have opposed killing animals for sport, nor would he have opposed dissection, nor animal experimentation.
Nor would Srila Prabhupada have repeatedly said that if the karmis (nondevotees) want to eat meat they can wait until the cows (and other animals) die of natural causes, before eating them. ("Slaughterhouse Civilization," Back to Godhead, 1979).
It's clear Srila Prabhupada was morally opposed to taking the life of a fellow creature. These facts and points indicate devotees of Krishna are vegetarian first and foremost out of nonviolence toward and compassion for animals.
I've said before: Srila Prabhupada said that if the general mass of people want to eat meat, they can wait until the animal dies of natural causes. The eating of carrion, or animals that died of natural causes, is forbidden in Jewish and Islamic dietary laws, nor can animals that died of natural causes be offered to Krishna, either.
Srila Prabhupada told his disciples in India if they were in a position where they couldn't offer their food to just go to a vegetarian restaurant.
Srila Prabhupada opposed dissection, animal experimentation, etc. which have nothing to do with diet, eating, or food.
When told so many of his disciples had fallen, were taking drugs, having illicit sex, etc., Srila Prabhupada asked, "Are they eating meat?"
When told they weren't eating meat, Srila Prabhupada said, "Then they are still my disciples."
Srila Prabhupada did not ask, "Are they still offering their food?", nor, "Are they abstaining from onions, garlic, mushrooms, vinegar, etc., too?"
When Srila Prabhupada brought up the issue of vegetarianism with people of other faiths, he framed it in terms of the animals' right to life and moral opposition to killing, not as a dietary restriction. He did not ask Christian clergy, "Why are you eating onions and garlic?", but rather, "Jesus Christ said, 'Thou shalt not kill.' So why is it that the Christian people are engaged in animal killing?"
Srila Prabhupada himself said:
"If you love your neighbor as yourself, then why this ‘civilization’ which claims to be Christian, is slaughtering so many animals, and why they are constantly slaughtering each other in wars, in the streets? Jesus says you will not kill...and my spiritual master is giving love of God, he is giving love of God to the world."
---Srimad Bhagavatam lecture, 1971
Even if you argue that love of God (offering Krishna His favorite foods) takes precedence over love of one's neighbor (other living entities) does this justify killing one's neighbors (the cows) in the name of religion?
I remember in high school, when he was going through his atheist phase (or perhaps agnostic by then) Ben Tansey told me he'd asked a Christian, "If God asked you to kill, would you kill?" (a popular question asked of persons believed to be under the sway of a cult leader: would you kill for him?)
The response was: "God would not ask me to kill."
And this justifies Christian vegetarianism, too, as Satyaraja writes, Jesus' teachings are "supremely pacifistic."
On the other hand, the Bhagavad-gita takes place on a battlefield, with Krishna ordering Arjuna to kill his kinsmen.
And Srila Prabhupada considered the Sikhs to be kshatriyas (warriors) even though the Sikh religion permits abortion in the first trimester.
If you accept the premise that the factory-farmed cows are blessed if their milk is offered to Krishna, you can't oppose cow-killing as violence, without admitting that you're committing violence too, but it's sacred violence, or violence in the name of religion.
To many, this is reminiscent of the generals in Vietnam saying, "We had to destroy this village in order to save it."
In the '70s, Srila Prabhupada was speaking with a couple of Indian gurus, a Sikh and a Jain. Srila Prabhupada spoke favorably of the Sikhs, as principled warriors. The Jain spiritual master tried to bring some balance into the conversation by bringing up ahimsa (nonviolence). Srila Prabhupada said, "Here in the West, there is himsa (violence) only."
"Things undreamt of are daily being seen, the impossible is ever becoming possible. We are constantly being astonished these days at the amazing discoveries in the field of violence. But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of nonviolence."
We can see this with regard to animal rights. In the late '80s, nearly everyone with San Diego Animal Advocates was a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, with a few vegans. Now, veganism is the norm within the animal rights movement, with a few raw food faddists, while the average American is still trying to understand: "Be Kind to Animals: Don't Eat Them."
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