Vegetarianism and Non-Violence

Food Picture


Ahimsa means non-violence. It is the first rule of moral conduct of the Yamas, according to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. As yoga practitioners, we try to adhere to this principle as much as possible; non-violence to ourselves, others and the planet. How does this relate to vegetarianism?

One of the ways to be kinder to ourselves and the planet is to start becoming aware of the ways that we poison ourselves and our surroundings. The following information may start to open a new way of thinking and bring light to a huge dilemma that we all are facing. It may be a bit disturbing to read, but it's time to open our eyes and look at a very real problem straight on.

By now, most of us know about the horrors of the meat and poultry industry. The Humane Society of the United States recently uncovered brutal practices in the meat industry that resulted in the recall of millions of pounds of meat, and the shutting down of a meat packing plant. But we only know certain parts and have not had it completely opened up for all to see. Some, if not all, of the facts that are available on large-scale farming agri-business are completely appalling.

Vegetarianism and Non-Violence


Let's start with just the fact that the production of meat is one of the greatest reasons for deforestation, which contributes to global warming. Trees convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The destruction of forests to make room for grazing cattle contributes greatly to the greenhouse effect on a worldwide scale.

Furthermore, methane gases resulting from these farming practices are contributing to global warming more than the carbon produced by cars, and in California's Central Valley, over 1,500 dairies generate more waste than a city of 21 million people.

America is swimming in animal waste and pesticides. The statistics are startling with regard to the fact that growers apply close to a billion pounds of pesticides and herbicides to crops that are used for both the animals and our consumption every year.

Vegetarianism and Non-Violence


Animals used for consumption are fed anywhere from five to fifteen pounds of vegetable protein for each pound they weigh. And all this happens in a world where millions go hungry and starve to death. One-sixth of an acre of land can produce enough crops to feed a vegetarian for a year, but over three acres of land are required to provide the grain needed to raise a year’s worth of cattle for the average carnivore.

The most horrific part is how the animals are treated prior to slaughter. They are kept in cages barely big enough for them to fit in. They never move, sustain many injuries, contract diseases, and as a result can barely walk when needed. Other practices regarding their handling are too disturbing to even mention in this article.

Another fact is that when an animal is stressed, suffers and is traumatized, the enzymes, uric acid, adrenaline, and fear changes the meat's chemistry into something close to toxic. This is in addition to the fact that hormones and antibiotics are injected into these sick and weak animals (which winds up in our bodies) just to keep them alive long enough to be slaughtered. Bacteria and salmonella run rampant at big agri-business farms, and the waste-sludge produced from thousands of animals pools into lagoons, which ultimately taints crops and gets into our water systems.

Vegetarianism and Non-Violence


There are many more disturbing and not so pleasant facts surrounding this issue. The good news is that people around the globe are starting to not only take notice, but are taking action to do their part in making changes in their lives and in their communities.

We need to help bring farming back to safer practices and get it out of the hands of the giant corporations. We also need a whole new way of looking at what we eat. We need to place healthy, non-toxic, sustainably-produced food on our plates and in our bodies.

Vegetables Vegetarianism and Non-Violence

Our diets can be full of high quality protein from vegetable and grain products that don't skimp on taste. Vegetarianism is growing quickly and there are so many fabulous recipes and ways to make eating a celebration! Free range animal products should be the only things stocked in our shops, at an affordable price. Products from grass-fed animals contain more nutrients and grazing helps preserve some of the most beautiful and highly valued landscapes in the world and protects some of the most significant carbon stores; permanent grassland.

We must actively choose to support organic and sustainable farming operations. Our survival and the welfare of the planet is hanging in the balance.

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