ON BEING VEGAN by Raquy Danziger
After being a quiet vegan for a long time, it is time for me to share my thoughts on the subject in the hope that it will inspire others to adapt a more ethical and healthy lifestyle.
Here are my reasons for being vegan:
I LOVE ANIMALS
This was the original reason that at the age of eight, I became a vegetarian. And twenty years ago when I realized that the dairy industry is just as cruel if not more so than the meat industry, I became a vegan.
Animals are wonderful, conscious beings who experience feelings just like we do: joy, fear, pain and love. They have personalities! They can see, hear and smell, have mating rituals, play games, love and care for their young, enjoy a good meal and a comfortable place to sleep and have friendships and attachments just like we do. Plus many of them make lovely companions!
If I lived in a place with a cow, chicken or pig and had enough vegetables to eat, it would never occur to me to take a knife and kill these animals for food. Therefore, how can I be justified in eating an animal just because someone else killed it and wrapped it in a nice neat package for me to buy?
I've heard many people say, “Man is the highest being and God put theses animals here for us to eat," so they feel justified in exploiting other living beings for selfish, indulgent and totally unnecessary eating pleasure. I would say something quite different: Yes, we are the most intelligent beings, and for that reason we are responsible for the peace and well being of every living thing on this planet.
I believe that if the act of slaughtering were not so hidden from society, many more people would be vegetarian. If you could not bring yourself to take a knife and kill an animal, or if even just seeing this act would deter you from eating the meat, you have a vegetarian spirit, and by eating meat, you are going against your true nature.
I will take it even further by saying that besides exploiting animals for meat and dairy, it is a crime to take a wild animal from its natural home and put it in a cage for any reason, including human curiosity. These innocent creatures are taken away from their families, closed up in tiny spaces, deprived of their freedom and made to live their lives as lonely prisoners just so that humans can come and look at them. There is a heartbreaking example of a dolphin who committed suicide after being in captivity in an amusement park. I can’t imagine any reason that would justify putting an animal in a cage.
“Non-violence 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
“I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.”
― Leo Tolstoy
I LOVE MY PLANET
We are the most intelligent species, so why are we destroying our own planet? What could be more important than preserving and protecting this paradise and all its inhabitants? Why do we create weapons that can destroy our entire planet? We are rapidly destroying and polluting the earth, making the water undrinkable and the air un-breathable.
The meat and dairy industries are responsible for much of the global warming and pollution we are seeing. If everyone turned vegan, the planet would be in a much healthier state.
“By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace Ecology
I LOVE MYSELF
I am 44 years old, have been a vegetarian for thirty-five years and vegan for almost twenty. If you look in my medicine cabinet you will find a bottle of vitamin C and a package of bandaids. That's it. I have tons of energy and engage in rigorous physical activity such as jogging and yoga on a daily basis. I spend most of my day seated in full lotus position. I have the stamina to drum and practice kemenche for hours every day. In fact, I have much more energy than most people I know, including those who tell me I should eat meat in order to be stronger. My body is more fit than many teenagers.
When you eat an animal who died in pain, fear and suffering, you are putting all of that energy into your own body. Therefore abstaining from meat feels cleaner on a spiritual level.
“It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.”
― Albert Einsein
I LOVE VEGETABLES
How many times have I heard, "I also love animals but I just cant give up meat?"
Vegetables and fruits can be delicious, nutritious, filling and quite satisfying.
There are thousands of simple ways of preparing vegetables in the most delectable way. For those who think the vegan diet is not rich enough, try tehina, avocados, and cooking things in coconut milk. You can get plenty of protein and vitamins from nuts and beans. If you are craving a meaty texture, there are ways of making mushrooms taste more meaty than meat! I'm not a big fan of meat substitutes, but they exist - things such as seitan, tofu or tempeh can have the texture and protein of meat.
Here’s an inspiring example of Don and Laura:
I hold drumming seminars several times a year where we all live in a big house together and drum. I think people attend for the food as much as for the drumming. Chef Rami prepares food that is all vegetarian and 90% vegan, including decadent desserts. Ironically Chef Rami is not vegetarian, but he sure can cook incredible vegetarian food!
Two years ago a heavyset couple in their 60's named Don and Laura came to the camp for the first time. They were worried about spending several days without meat. They were both on medication for blood pressure, diabetes and other things.
The next year they came back and we could barely recognize them. Don had lost 80 pounds, and Laura, something close to that. We were shocked at the difference and they explained that after the camp they became inspired to become vegetarian and almost vegan! They both looked twenty years younger and they were completely off all of their medication! Don actually thanked Chef Rami for saving his life!
In fact, many of the people who attend my retreats and see the potential of delicious vegetarian eating switch to being vegetarian or vegan after the camp!
Every person needs to draw their own line. But even becoming mostly vegan will be a huge benefit to the individual, the animals and our planet.
If anyone would like to transition to vegetarianism or veganism and needs advice, it would be my pleasure to give you a consultation. Please contact me with any questions.