- You feel better physically after you eat.
How do you feel an hour after eating a cheeseburger and an ice cream cone? Compare that with how you feel after a salad with fruit and nuts? Vegan food is generally lighter. You experience fewer incidences of “food coma” and a bloated stomach.
- You feel better emotionally after you eat.
Most of us realize, at a partially conscious level, that an animal had to die if we’re eating meat. And most of us care at least a little, whether we openly admit it or not. So after a vegan meal, you experience a little less emotional and cognitive dissonance.
Why vegan and not just vegetarian? You might want to consider the truth about what happens to dairy animals.
- You feel better intellectually after you eat.
Well, assuming you know some things about the environmental impact of animal agriculture (including dairy farming!), when you eat vegan meals you know you’re doing something dramatically good for the world.
- You feel better energetically after you eat.
This one might be a little far out for some to understand. But basically, when you eat animals you’re also consuming the energy of that animal. And typically, that energy is suffering, misery, and anguish, caused by their treatment as the mere property of a farmer or corporation. When you eat the animal, you are making that energy a part of yourself.
- Vegan you feels healthier.
Animal foods are not necessary for health, and in fact they cause a lot of problems, especially when consumed at such high levels as has become standard. A well-balanced vegan diet, consisting of mostly whole plant foods and not too much processed junk, and paying attention to a couple basic health ground rules (such as supplementing vitamin b12), is a great way to maintain a healthy weight, a healthy immune system, and tons of energy.
- Vegan you is healthier.
Think you need meat for protein? Think again. In fact, animal protein has been linked to increased risks of diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis, and a host of other diseases of affluence. Think you need milk for calcium? Again, it’s a myth. Worried about heart disease? Not on a plant-based diet. In fact, it may be reversable by going vegan. Ever heard of trans fats? They’re in both meat and dairy, and they’re avoidable on a healthy plant-based diet. The jury is still out on whether vegans live longer, but it’s safe to say that you probably will be happier in your old age without a disease of affluence.
- Vegan you is nicer.
Being nice to the innocent animals is a strong step towards better understanding human relationships. When you’re in the habit of shutting down thoughts about where your food comes from, it’s difficult to be sensitive to the full impact of your words and deeds as they affect those around you. By going vegan, you can begin to relax into being nice — it just comes naturally.
- Vegan you is more sensitive.
Once you’ve gone vegan, you may begin to open up to a more compassionate side of yourself. Soon you may find this goes beyond compassion towards animals, and you feel more compassionate towards your fellow humans as well. This is big. I’m talking about world peace here.
- Vegan you is smarter.
That’s right. I said smarter. When you’re blocking out certain thoughts because they’re uncomfortable—say, the ones about where your food comes from— you are actively suppressing a part of your mind’s natural ability to think. Remove the blockade, and you can think more creatively and clearly.
- Vegan you is happier.
Once you’ve opened the door to your compassion, you’ve begun to allow yourself to feel. Feeling is the process of experiencing your emotions. The more you let yourself experience all your emotions, the greater your capacity for experiencing each one is. In this way, allowing yourself to feel seemingly “subtle” (or repressed) compassion increases your capacity for joy. This aspect is difficult to understand except by experiencing it. Why not give it a try? (or perhaps you prefer the Oprah version)
In a word: ahimsa.
Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence towards all living things. Adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle is one of the strongest statements of ahimsa a person can make, wherein one refuses to participate in any action which is connected to violence towards a living being.
Not all yogis are vegan. However, those that are not tend to gloss over the teaching of ahimsa, or insist (incorrectly) that adopting a vegan diet would be himsa (harmful) towards oneself. One prominent school of yoga that puts forth veganism as the true statement of ahimsa is the Jivamukti school. Many others gloss over or do not understand the immense suffering caused by the dairy industry, and so recommend a vegetarian diet that includes milk.
Ron Paul is apparently not a vegan. However, he understands the principle of ahimsa, at least as it applies to politics:
One rule you have to follow: and that is, in order to make the world a better place, you have to reject the notion that you use violence and force to do it. You have to do it through persuasion. If we want to change the world, if we want to change the Middle East, if we want to change Africa, you do it by spreading ideas and through persuasion. But the most important thing we do is do our job here, set an example, so others would want to emulate us, and that should be our [goal].
– Ron Paul (from this video)
There’s a reason for all this. It’s not just because somebody handed down the rule of ahimsa from on high. The reason to follow ahimsa is because it works. In the realm of politics, if you try to make the world a better place by force and occupying other countries, you get the “blowback” effect, namely, you create resentment and anger towards the occupying country. In the realm of inner peace and meditation practice, you cannot find peace on the inside without living peacefully on the outside, i.e. a vegan lifestyle.
There is a funny idea out there that intelligence is a heirarchy: There are more intelligent beings and less intelligent beings. This idea is just a harmless idea on it’s own. But, sometimes it’s combined with the idea that the “more intelligent” beings ought to dictate to the “less intelligent” beings how to live their lives. Before we accept this notion, it’s worth stepping back a minute to see what sort of ground we’re standing on with our notion of “more intelligent.”
How much effort does it take to grow a bushel of corn? You have to plow the field, plant, maybe water if your area is dry, weed, and harvest. After a year’s tending, you might get 150 bushels on an acre of land.
How much effort does it take to grow a cow? First, you have to grow maybe 500 bushels of corn to feed to the cow. Then you need to come up with around 8000 gallons of water to feed to the cow. Then, you are faced with the task of tending to all the needs of your growing cow until it is large enough to kill for food.
Why go to all the extra effort when it’s not necessary?
Come on people, let’s get lazy and eat plants.