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veganism

Growing into My Animal Rights Activism and Spirituality

 

                                                             

Twenty five years ago on any given Saturday afternoon you could find me on the street corner of Martel and Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, standing behind a beige card table with stacks of anti-vivisection brochures, mostly on cosmetic and household product testing, photos of bunnies with their heads in sockets and their eyes being burned, the usual stuff. I was there representing LCA (Last Chance for Animals, a LA based animal rights organization) encouraging passer-bys to sign my petition and boycott Proctor and Gamble, and the like.

I don't know how I got there. Meaning, I don't know how I got involved in animal rights. There was no defining moment. No person or animal who inspired me. No book I read. No movie I saw. No revelation. Nothing. I don't even remember deciding to become a vegetarian at that time. I just made a sign and showed up at a protest that I somehow heard was taking place. It all happened organically, as if I had no choice but to be carried along the winds of destiny that was my life. It was what was supposed to be.

Growing up, we had tons of pets: unneutered and unspayed cats, constantly having kittens (gasp!), a dog, a bird. I loved them all. But I wasn't obsessed with them. I didn't like animals more than people. Though I do remember becoming abnormally distraught because my brother accidentally ran over a bird with the lawn mower. It wasn't love that ignited my passion, it was injustice. And maybe that is love. I don't know. At a young age, I knew something was unjust when it came to the treatment of animals. I'm a Libra, the sign of scales and justice, so perhaps it was bigger than me, after all.

My grandma worked in a slaughterhouse in Omaha, Nebraska where I was born. I remember the unforgettable stench of death wafting through the air. You could smell it on Omaha back then. It was like the whole city had B.O. The slaughter houses were smack dab in the middle of the town. Today they're hidden away, inconspicuously, on the outskirts, so consumers aren't reminded of the horrors behind the slaughterhouse walls, animals discreetly transported at night when no one can see them. Omaha was smellier back then, but more honest.

I spent formative years in Wisconsin, home of cheeseheads, dairy cows, and hunters, like my dad, who eventually became the Head Editor of the Agricultural Department at Kansas State University. (Go figure he'd have a vegan animal rights activist daughter.) It wasn't unusual to come home from school to find two huge deer hanging from the rafters in the garage, blood dripping from their beautiful majestic bodies into dark red puddles on the concrete floor below. I stepped around the blood, trying not to look at them, trying not to feel anything. We ate frogs, squirrels, fish, quail, rabbits, deer, anything he hunted. I hated it all. I didn't like meat except turkey. He never hunted turkeys. Had I grown up on McDonald's or Taco Bell or processed roast beef deli slices and hotdogs I may have loved meat. But I grew up on a different kind of meat. Meat that tasted like the dead animal it was.

The wind eventually shifted directions, and animal activism took a back seat to my first love, spirituality. I had begun Transcendental Meditation in childhood, and had already been a student of A Course in Miracles for four years by the time I was standing on Melrose. As I delved further and further into the teachings of the Course, I continued to eat vegetarian, phase out dairy products, leather, wool, down feathers, donate money to animal rights groups, and shop cruelty-free, but animal welfare was no longer at the forefront of my consciousness. A Course in Miracles was. I lived and breathed the Course for ten years. It somehow required all that I had. It wanted my full undivided attention. And I gave it to it. So much so that it led me to becoming a hypnotherapist.

Then, about four years ago, the winds of change began to blow again. They gently picked me up and set me down someplace I hadn't been before, somewhere between animal rights and spirituality. I'm no longer solely focused on one or the other. I am laser focused on both. My life isn't about animals or people, it's about animals and people. To me, it's all the same. There's really only one of us here and what we do to the smallest of us, we do to all of us. Likewise, when one of us heals, we all heal. I've come to realize that I had to tip those Libra scales one way and then the other in order to find my perfect balance. I now feel more equipped to tip society's scales toward healing and justice for ALL.


Vegetarianism and Blood/Body Types

The first part of this post is written by me as a lead in to Daniel Kucan's post which follows. 


If I were told that in order to live a long healthy life I would have to eat meat, I wouldn’t do it. If I were told that it would make me feel better and look better, I wouldn’t do it. If I were told that it was for my blood type or my body type, I wouldn’t do it. If I were dying and someone said that I just might live if I ate meat, I still wouldn’t do it. Lucky for me, researchers have found that the healthiest diet for human beings is a vegetarian diet. Not for some human beings, but for all human beings.

Studies show vegans and vegetarians live 6-10 years longer than meat eaters. They’ve also found incidents of cancer and heart disease and strokes and diabetes and Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis and high blood pressure and a whole host of other serious health issues are significantly lower in vegetarians and even lower still in vegans than in meat eaters. Yet, none of those are the reasons I am vegan. Those things are just the proverbial icing. Nice side effects. Bonuses.

The reason I wouldn’t eat meat even if it were the best thing for me is the same reason Gandhi didn’t drink cow’s milk on his deathbed when doctors ordered him to do so or die—because most of the meat and dairy we consume is a product of horrific cruelty. And I have always known with everything that I am that what isn’t good for an animal isn’t good for me. And that’s good enough for me. I don’t need to hear someone rattle off the health benefits. I’m sold on pain and suffering. I hear that and I’m out.

When people say, “I can’t be vegetarian because it’s not for my blood type.” I want to say, “What blood type is that? Cold-blooded?” I’m astounded that we care more about a fad diet than years of sound evidence that clearly states NOT eating animals is the healthy way to go. I’m even more shocked that we care more about this diet than the fact that millions of animals are suffering in silence, hidden away from our protected eyes and ears.

Dogs and cats and horses all have different blood types within their breed. And some horses don’t “have to eat meat” while other horses are better off with plants. All horses eat the same—on all seven continents. Just like all cows. And gorillas. And elephants. And so on. It should also be noted that horses, cows, gorillas, and elephants are four of the strongest animals in the world, and they’re herbivores!

Human bodies are not elite bodies. The human body isn’t more of a miracle than a cat’s body. We’ve just decided it is. With varying degrees, generally, all of these bodies have the same needs: food, sleep, water, sex, and activity. They all have hearts and lungs and a sense of smell and sight. In fact, our human body is often slower, weaker, and less agile than many animals. So what makes us think the human body is so much more special than a horse’s body? How much better could our bodies be if we have astoundingly higher rates of disease than animals’ bodies? What makes us believe that we are the only species of bodies that have to eat differently among us? 

I contend that all human bodies need the same fundamental diet, just like all other animals left to their own devices would eat the same things within their breed. As studies continue to show, ALL human bodies live longer, healthier lives on a plant based diet. In a later post I will write about how the human body is most similar to herbivores (teeth, intestines, without claws) and radically different from carnivores. We have not always eaten meat, we have been conditioned to eat meat. As the ADA (American Dietetic Association) says, “Most of mankind for most of human history has lived on a vegetarian or Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.”

Today as I was mulling over this whole blood type theory, and the myth I think it is, it dawned on me that there was only one person I should turn to to get another opinion—my whip smart, funny, thoughtful, vegan, animal rescuer, super fit, ex-physical trainer, television personality from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and now star of HGTV’s Desperate Spaces, friend: Daniel Kucan.

Here’s what he sent back. (Scroll down to see his post.) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks for taking the time to be a guest blogger, Daniel. I still believe in astrology though. 

 

The Magick Behind "Eat Right 4 Your Type"
and the Difference Between Thinking and Believing
by Daniel Kucan


My first guest blogger and I couldn't be more happy to have him! None other than Daniel Kucan, television personality from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and HGTV's "Desperate Spaces." (The above post explains why I asked Daniel to give us his take on this subject.)

There are all sorts of stories that I wish were true. There are fairy tales, urban legends, creation stories, pseudo-scientific theorems, all manner of folksy bits of wisdom that appeal to me on a sort of mythic, dramatic level. Or, and I find this aspect of myself even more disturbing, I occasionally find myself believing an inscrutable story because it speaks to my prejudices and predispositions; I often make the conscious decision to believe something because it is useful as evidence to support a position upon which I have already made a choice.

I believe it is this exact same principal that makes people believe in astrology. It’s lovely for a complete stranger to tell us “you have a lot of unused potential” or that “you will soon experience a big change.” In my opinion, we believe these things because we want to.

I have no doubt that it’s this exact same phenomenon that explains why the “Eat Right 4 Your Type” fad diet is being accepted as even mildly valid. The blood type diet is advocated most famously by naturopathic physician Peter D’Adamo. (Anyone rational should have huge issues with the term “naturopathic physician” anyway. It is exactly as oxymoronic as “creation science,” but that’s a subject for a different article.) D’Adamo’s thesis is that, as human beings evolved, they moved throughout different parts of the planet and developed certain dietary requirements based on the locations in which they now found themselves. Since blood type also seems to coincide with certain geological locales, D’Adamo links these two things and “presto!”, he can now magically tell you what you should be eating.

And it’s really that simple, and really that magical. While there is a certain appeal to the notion that those of us with ancestral ties to the Himalayan Mountains should be eating foods that were plentiful there, there is no scientific justification for this at all. There have been no peer reviewed studies to support this theory, and in fact, D’Adamo himself hasn’t published any studies, although he claims to be conducting them. Likewise, anyone with even a fair understanding of evolution knows that the timeline proposed by D’Adamo doesn’t provide nearly enough time for this to have occurred. 

The other fly in D’Adamo’s ointment is that, sometimes, people do get really sick. What happens then? What happens when someone has been eating right for their blood type, and they get an infection and develop kidney disease, or they smoke and are stressed out and they have a heart attack? Now, they have to change their eating habits in order to minimize their risk of further damage. But their blood type HASN’T CHANGED, only their dietary restrictions. There is NO EVIDENCE linking blood type and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. 

The most preposterous bit of hokum is when D’Adamo claims that eating wrong for your blood type can cause blood agglutination, where the red blood cells start to stick together and clot. Blood agglutination kills people. It is not caused by eating the wrong kind of toast, or eating too many grains when I should be having a starch. 

The question is further clouded by a particularly pernicious turn in the dietary advice D’Adamo suggests. More than half the country is type O, and the diet given for type O is a completely reasonable, healthy, well balanced one. Anyone who was to follow this diet, would almost certainly lose weight and feel good. Since statistically more than half the people reading the book and following that diet will get good results, good testimonials are a sure thing. 

I am not so cynical as to suggest that D’Adamo has done this on purpose, but it wouldn’t surprise me either. Book sales are books sales, after all. 

I have a particular disdain for this type of pseudo-science. It plays on our romantic notions of uniqueness and our craving for history and ancestral ties. It’s a beguiling fairy tale to be sure, but until someone can do a double blind study that statistically proves it, it’s a fairy tale nonetheless. But quackery like this also relies on the idea that, as long as it makes emotional sense, then we will accept it as truth. 

Let’s be honest. If no one had proven that the Earth moves around the sun, then I wouldn’t believe it. It just doesn’t make emotional sense. I believe, deep down, that the Earth is the center of the universe, even though it’s completely, demonstrably false. Or flying; I don’t for a second believe that an airplane can fly. An airplane is like a gazillion pounds of metal and polyester, it can’t possibly fly. But I know that it will. It is this conflict between what we “think” and what we “believe” that provides a platform upon which folks like D’Adamo can build their “science.” 

I refuse to seek answers grounded in irrationality. I demand to look beyond my prejudices, my simplistic, emotional demands. Simply because something pulls at our emotional strings or makes sense in a mythic way, does not make it science, and I refuse to base my ethical decisions upon it; and you probably shouldn’t bet your health on it.


12 Keys to Life

1. Do not be guided by fear.

There is nothing more detrimental than making decisions out of fear.

2. Seek not to be loved, but to be loving.

My clients are generally single men and women in their thirties and forties. And most of them are unhappy. The rest of my clients are in relationships, and guess what? They’re unhappy too. So who’s happy? Well, I know a few and their happiness has nothing to do with a partner or lack thereof. We have been programmed to believe that if we just find the right partner our problems will be solved. But I’m sorry to say it is an illusion. Sure, you can be fulfilled with a partner but you can also be fulfilled without one. What you seek is within. Everyday my prayer is the same, “Help me become more loving.” Let go of the need to be loved and seek instead to be loving. Only then will you find true fulfillment.

3. Pick a spiritual path.

And stick to it. All of our problems would disappear if we committed to daily spiritual practice. Truth is simple. You can read about this in an earlier post.

4. Read great writers and philosophers.

Studying people who are smarter than us is crucial because there is nothing more important than knowing we may not be right. Here are some books I like.

5. Listen to music.

Crank up one good song a day. Start with this video of Unity by Trevor Hall featuring Matisyahu

6. Clean yourself up

Release your past. Heal your addictions. Let go of debilitating emotions. And don't spend a ton of time and money trying to do it. Go through my $1.99 hypnosis MP3 downloads on a wide variety of topics and begin healing today! 

7. Surround yourself with people who can teach you.

This is easy and the pay-off is huge. Wise people push you. They hold you accountable. They don’t necessarily coddle you, they elevate you. There’s a reason a lot of enlightened people have gurus. Every smart person had a teacher.

8. Give away what you don't need.

Good feng shui and good karma. Your home, your closet, your office--it's all a  reflection of your mind.

9. Maintain integrity.

Your self-respect is all you’ve got. Treasure it.

10. Become vegan.

Becoming vegan is like volunteering. That's how I see it. There seems to be a sacrifice involved but it’s really a gift that comes back to you a hundred-fold. I have not experienced a single choice that has had such beautiful and far-reaching effects, not only in the world, the environment, and the animal kingdom, but in my own life and body as well. Start small. Educate yourself on what you're eating and where your "food" comes from. Check out Go Veg to get started.

11. Don't procrastinate.

The world awaits your gifts. We need your vision, your talent, your perspective, your ideas. I guarantee you, depression is inevitable if you don't apply yourself. Reread number 1.

12. Be of service.

Adopt a pet, or a child. Volunteer. In the least, smile and say hello to those you pass along your way. If there is no love or joy in your life it can only be because you are not giving love or joy.

All of these keys have one thing in common: they are challenging. In this world of complacency and complicity, we have gotten lazy. And it shows. I understand the pull towards indolence, I fight it on a daily basis, but it is a battle that must be fought. It is only through challenging ourselves that we heal, that the world become a better place, and that we achieve greater things. If not you, who? You are the who we are waiting for.


Gandhi's Greatest Regret? Milk.

My copy of Gandhi's autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth arrived a few weeks ago and Holy Cow! I have a newfound appreciation for Mahatma. I knew he was a vegetarian (oh, and that in his spare time he liberated India from British rule and single-handedly established the civil disobedience movement) but I had no idea he was the central figure in pioneering the animal rights crusade in India.

Do you know what this spiritual and political leader writes as the greatest "tragedy of my life"?

That he ever drank milk.

You see, Gandhi had made a lifelong vow never to drink a cow's milk due to "the torture to which cows were subjected by their keepers." He gave it up after vacationing at vegetarian Leo Tolstoy's home in which a discussion ensued about the harmful effect of drinking cow's milk.

From then on Gandhi eschewed animal products and considered nuts and fruit the optimal diet. He attributed this dietary choice to his very healthy and fit life. However, in 1914 he contracted a serious illness that dropped him near death's door. The attending physicians told Gandhi he would die if he didn't follow their strict order and drink a glass of cow's milk, which was a popular treatment back then. Gandhi compromised and drank goat's milk.

Gandhi's wife, Kasturba, had made a similar vow. As did their sons. She and Gandhi proclaimed they would rather die than drink cow's milk. And they meant it. Total radical nonconformists.

I haven't had a glass of milk since my mom had to pour it for me, but I was surprised at Gandhi's staunch stance on cow's milk when facing death. Then, there wasn't much information. You'd have thought he would've listened to the doctor. Then again, there wasn't dairy industry propaganda hypnotizing the masses into thinking it's healthy either. Today it's super easy to abstain from milk with all the more nourishing substitutes.

Gandhi knew the truth. The whole "milk does a body good" thing is a lie. It's a marketing ploy. It's their dirty secret. They don't care about our bodies. I always feel sorry for those celebrities with the idiotic milk mustaches who are oblivious to what they're promoting. (Oops, I'm veering into previously blogged territory.....)

Unlike Gandhi's day, we now know milk does a body no good. Well, we know if we research the people who are researching it. Milk is being targeted for all kinds of ailments, certain types of diabetes and cancer, even mental illness.

I've always had really strong fingernails that grow too fast. I guess they're noticeable because people have commented on them over the years. I tell them it's because I don't drink milk. I heard early on that drinking milk causes calcium loss.

Humans are not meant to digest cow's milk. It's too hard on our system and forces the human body to produce a gastric acid to break down the milk. The body then steals calcium from our bones to neutralize the acidic environment left behind.

Studies are revealing that--are you ready?--consuming milk causes osteoporosis! Countries where people have very little dairy intake rarely see cases of osteoporosis. We're not often told that green, leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds are high in calcium. The most calcium rich food? Dried herbs!

Also, milk (unless organic, and even organic isn't immune to its problems) is laden with antibiotics and growth hormones, which researchers link to the cause of young girls developing more quickly and getting their periods, thus pregnant, at an earlier age.

There's a really interesting study on the effects of the Americanization of the Japanese diet. (By Kagawa, published in Preventative Medicine, 1978.) Before 1946, Japanese did not consume milk. After that, milk and dairy became staple foods.

In 1950 the average person in Japan ate 5.5 pounds of milk and dairy products. The average girl was 4'6" tall and weighed 71 pounds. She began menstruation at 15.2 years old.

In 1975 the average Japanese consumed 117.4 pounds of milk and dairy products. The average girl had grown 4 1/2 inches and gained 19 pounds! And she started menstruating at 12.2 years old! Keep in mind, this is not due to calcium but growth hormones.

This study was done 34 years ago. Frightening to think what these numbers are now.

Some researchers are linking the rise in breast cancer to the copious amount of dairy products we now consume. It's a fascinating topic. And serious.

You know something's wrong with this milk picture when the Director of the Department of Pediatrics at John Hopkins University School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief at the John Hopkins Children's Center, Frank Oski, MD, writes a book and calls it Don't Drink Your Milk.

I didn't make the choice to not drink milk for health reasons. Though that would definitely be a factor if I were making the decision today. And I didn't give up milk because of the industry's calamitous impact on the environment, which would absolutely convince me today.

I don't drink milk because it's meant to fatten up calves, not me. (We are the only species to drink another species milk.) I don't drink milk because I find the idea disturbingly repugnant and, did you know, it's full of white cow pus. Uh-huh. No one says that in their ads.

Mostly, I don't drink milk, like Gandhi, because of the cruelty dairy cows are subjected to--constantly being impregnated to produce milk, having their babies immediately torn from them, chained to a cage day in and day out, never seeing the light of day or breathing fresh air, hooked up to a milk machine that painfully tears their udders.

The way I see it, what isn't good for an animal isn't good for me. It's going to have an effect. Somehow, someway. Lovelessness is going to show up, asking us to pay up. It always does.

To learn more: NOT MILK

Here's a list of my favorite dairy replacement foods.


The Really Inconvenient Truth

I glanced at the latest cover of Vogue with Cameron Diaz and next to her name was the headline “Queen of Green.” I scratched my head: How can a woman who goes on national talk shows telling us plebeians how to change our light bulbs to be more “green”, which I had just seen her do, not understand that by consuming meat (she is quoted as saying she “loves” hamburgers, and they are her “weakness”) she is contributing to the single greatest cause of environmental destruction on the planet? Animal agriculture—the number one industrial polluter. I mean, how can I know that information and a woman who teams up with Al Gore to support environmental initiatives not know that? Clearly she’s done her homework, right? Where’s the disconnect?

Forgive me Cameron Diaz, I am just trying to make sense of this. I’m sure you are a lovely well-meaning person, and maybe you’re just feeling your way through becoming more conscious in the public eye. That can’t be easy. Perhaps you really don’t understand the extent to which you hinder the progress of your own environmental efforts each time you declare your love for hamburgers in the press to all those devoted fans following in your ecological footsteps. You’re not the only one.

Jennifer Aniston wants us to take five-minute showers; yet as a meat eater does she not know that one hamburger requires the water equivalent of 40 showers? She is adding to not only the biggest waste of water on earth by consuming meat, but she's also contributing to the greatest source of water pollution! And she wants me, a vegan, to take a 5-minute shower? Okay. Sheryl Crow is now publically asking us to use one square of toilet paper per bathroom visit; yet she dines on beef—talk about a waste of natural resources. Julia Roberts is also “Green,” apparently she drives a bio-diesel car; yet I turn on the television and see her grilling hamburgers with George Clooney. And I ask myself, “Do they just not know?” Is that even possible?

And Al Gore! C’mon. Seriously? The King of Green gave us The Inconvenient Truth, a documentary about a planet on the verge of self-destructing from global warming; yet as a carnivore, he partakes in the very act that creates more greenhouse gases than all transportation. I couldn’t bear to see his movie. (And I still haven't.) I was certain there wouldn’t be a whisper of whistle-blowing on meat production as the PRIMARY cause of global warming due to de-forestation, gas emissions, land degradation and air and water pollution. WTH, man?

How could this inclusive documentary be so shortsighted? He needs to make another one and get it right this time and call it:

The Really Inconvenient Truth: What I Didn’t Want to Tell You Because I Would Have to Fundamentally Change and I Would Have an Up-in-Arms Animal Agriculture Industry Breathing Down My Neck.

I can’t imagine it’s because these famous, well-connected spokespeople are not educated in their cause of choice. So what is it? Is it a fear that no one will see their movies if they really speak the truth? I get that. I’m pretty sure at least one of my three blog readers won’t be back. Or is it because it’s just a little too inconvenient for them to relinquish their hamburger?

“To consider yourself an environmentalist and still eat meat is like saying you're a philanthropist who doesn't give to charity.” Howard Lyman, former fourth-generation Montana cattle rancher and now vegan activist.

It isn’t an easy choice to give up meat. We’ve been hard-wired to believe we need it. And we’ve been duped by a meat industry heavily invested in programming us to remain under its spell. It’s easy to recycle water bottles, switch out lightbulbs, and forgo plastic bags. No one really needs plastic bags. That isn’t that inconvenient.

This isn’t about expecting everyone to be a vegan. (Though, I’m not gonna lie, it would be nice!) My friends will vouch for my mum acceptance of their ominvore ways. But if you are speaking from a celebrity platform of knowledge meant to enlighten the ignorant masses, then we expect you to know what you’re talking about. We can handle the truth. What we (and the environment and animals) don’t need are half-truths and easy truths. Sure, driving eco-friendly cars and recycling are helpful, but they side step the hard choice. The far-reaching decision that challenges our lives from a very deep soul residing place and asks us to think way outside ourselves (and our appetites) and reconsider how we live on this planet, and the choices we make.

When we do make that decision what we find is that the once derived "pleasure" of eating a hamburger dismally pales in comparison to the fulfillment of knowing we are making the single greatest impact a human being can have on the healing of the environment, and dare I say the world.

Not every celebrity activist can be Thom Yorke. I’m coming to accept that. That’s my lesson. But I believe in time, they’ll all catch up to him.

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” Albert Einstein

A few facts worth chewing on:

  1. 500,000 animals are slaughtered in the United States every HOUR for meat

  2. 100 acres of land produce enough beef for only 20 people, whereas those same 100 acres can produce enough wheat to feed 200 people.

  3. 440 million tons of grain are fed to cattle each year, while 500 million people starve to death in poor countries.

  4. One child dies of malnutrition every 2.3 seconds. If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 10%, one hundred million people could be fed using that freed up land.

  5. Half of the world’s rainforests have been razed for cattle grazing for beef. Most of these rainforests are in poor countries, and the meat is exported to wealthy countries like the United States. Half of Central America’s rainforests have been deforested to provide the U.S. with meat.

  6. 90% of the plant and animal species on earth live in the tropics, some of which have yet to be identified. Every day more of these species are brought to extinction as a result of Americans eating meat.

  7. High levels of pesticides, tranquilizers and antibiotics commonly used in livestock enter your bloodstream when you consume meat. Of all the antibiotics used in the U.S., 55% are given to livestock.

  8. It takes 14 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat but it takes 2,500 gallons to produce ONE pound of beef. If taxpayers did not subsidize these water costs, beef would cost $35.00 a pound.

  9. 85% of the four million acres of topsoil lost each year is due to raising livestock. In order to make up for this loss, we destroy forests. Since 1967, the rate of deforestation in the United States has been one acre every five seconds. For each acre cleared in urbanization, seven are cleared for grazing or growing livestock feed.

  10. Each time you replace a meat meal with a vegetarian one, you save at least 2.5 pounds of greenhouse gases.

  11. Reducing meat consumption by 20% (1 1/2 days per week) is the equivalent of switching to a hybrid car.

  • I gathered and saved these facts through various sources over two years ago. I tried to locate the proper sources but haven't had much luck. Some of the information came from the following website.

To learn more: CHOOSE VEG

This article was reposted at two very cool green websites: THE GREEN DOVE and Australian site PSYCHED IN STILETTOS. Thanks, ladies!


Widening the Circle

A girlfriend of mine pleasantly surprised me with an unexpected visit last week. She was on her way to Mexico for a conference and during a layover found out it had been cancelled due to swine flu. She rerouted her trip to the next warmest place, LA. She’s a psychologist, considers herself a hardcore scientist with “complete faith in mainstream science. If it hasn’t been proven, it isn’t true.” Need I mention she’s also an atheist? I’m none of those things. I enjoy an easy-to-digest book on quantum physics as much as the next layman, but I’m as skeptical of science as she is of spirituality. And I believe in a power greater than myself—a source of love. I call that God.

Nevertheless, my gorgeous friend and I do share plenty of common ground. For one, we’ve both been vegetarians for twenty years. She told me that one day she knew in her twelve year-old little heart it wasn’t right to eat animals and stopped. We also share a yen for hot weather, sunshine and swimming pools, so we hopped in the car and headed to Palm Springs. As the warm desert air breezed through the open windows and Kansas panted in the back seat, we got on the topic of spirituality, namely how “unspiritual” she is. I told her it didn’t matter whether she was spiritual or not. It only mattered if she felt something was missing.

She confided that one of her favorite childhood past times was trying to communicate with animals—squirrels, cats, dogs, and birds—but they never communicated back. I suggested that she can never really know they weren’t communicating. We laughed at the idea that perhaps it was the animals that told her not to eat them. I said, “To me, the definition of spirituality is really simple. It’s oneness.” She thought about it and replied, “That’s an interesting way of defining it.” I said, “And you exemplify that. I think you’re much more “spiritual” than you think.” She said, “Well, I do view the world as one interconnected organism.” Spoken like a true scientist.

Truth is true. As I understand it, all minds are joined. As she sees it, the world is an interconnected organism. The only thing true is that we are one. Nowhere does my energy end and yours begins. Einstein said separation is an “optical delusion of consciousness.” Well, here, I’ll just find his whole quote.

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

Everything is moving towards oneness though it may not always appear that way. This is true in our own lives as well as in the collective consciousness. There could be no Obama without Bush. Oneness doesn’t require that we perceive it in order for it to be true. As Einstein said, it’s very difficult to be aware of it. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t happening or that it’s a free pass to sit around. On the contrary, we all have a unique and active role in the unfolding of that creation. Each of us has a special part to play in the “task” of healing. In fact that’s kind of what I was trying to say in the previous post.

My friend arrived at the understanding of connectedness through science. I came to it through more spiritual means of study. Someone else may learn it through worldly travel and another through volunteer work. Or golf. It doesn’t matter. We will all end up in the same place. My friend and I were brought together by the swine flu, and even that—swine flu—can be a means for shaking the sleep of separation from our eyes. Anything can be used to help us understand our oneness if we choose to see it that way.

We must change our worldview, as Einstein said, not only for the healing of the world but also for our “inner security.” The cruelty inflicted on a pig in a cage kills us as well. The child neglected by his or her parents and let down by a broken foster care system hurts us too. The question then isn’t how you reach that conclusion. The more important question is how you begin to experience everyone and everything as yourself. For quantum physics attests they are literally a part of you, only your “optical delusion” blocks that awareness. The answer lies in widening your circle of compassion. Within that is the liberation we all seek and the knowingness that there really is only one of us here.