What is the best way to eat for the optimal health of yourself and Mother Earth? Can we really live without eating any animal products? Is vegetarian way of living really superior?
There are four reasons why people choose to eat vegetarian, including more strict vegan and raw vegan way:
- Health: Animal products (meat, fish, dairy, eggs) are loaded with saturated fat and very acid-forming, therefore bad for our health.
- Environment / Sustainability: Cows don’t convert all the energies they get from their feed to their meat. A big portion is used for them to stay warm and to move around. Eating lower on the food chain saves energy and is kinder to the Earth.
- Moral / Animal rights: It’s cruel to kill sentient animals.
- Spirituality: By eating plants, especially raw, our body detoxes and becomes more capable of spiritual growth. Ultimately, the most spiritual way to eat is not to eat, to live solely on Light.
This post is an invitation to further discussion on these points. I am no scientist, so what I have to say about point 1 and 2 are the result of my reading. I’m also not my lightbody yet, so what I say about point 4 is my best guess. It’s a very comprehensive post of over 3000 words, so you might want to bookmark for future reference.
Vegetarians and health
Many vegetarians claim they feel much healthier than they did when they were eating meat. Eating meat does come with risks, as we will see. And I’m glad these people are feeling well. However, the potential risk of vegetarian diet deserves attention, too.
I don’t intend to discourage vegetarian / vegan / raw vegan diet. But some articles I read that support vegetarian diet sound as if this is the only right way to eat healthy, and I do have a problem with this attitude. I think it’s important to see both sides and weigh the pros and cons carefully.
Unless you are developing into a new human (discussed later for point 4), there is a fair chance that you would suffer from nutritional deficiencies on a vegetarian, especially strict vegan, diet. The major problems are:
Vitamin B12: Only bacteria can produce B12. These bacteria live in natural soil and in animals’ guts. So plant foods don’t provide B12. It is believed you need to take B12 either through meat (assimilated by the animal to their system) or supplement. However, some insist humans can host the beneficial bacteria in our guts, too, therefore producing B12 right there. There is also an argument that animal based B12 is not very bioavailable because it is bonded with protein.
Vitamin D: Everyone, including meat eaters, are at risk of D deficiency if they are not getting sufficient sunlight. And if you don’t live in sun-blessed area, you probably don’t get enough sun in colder months anyway.
Calcium: Calcium controversy is huge. Some insist dairy is actually counter-effective because dairy is very acid-forming and causes the body to leach calcium from the bones to neutralize the acidity. Plants, especially dark greens, do provide calcium. However, it’s hard to get the recommended 1000 mg of calcium from plants alone. I played around on Nutritional Data website and found it takes 11 cups of kale to get the 1000 mg of calcium.
Further, how this number of 1000 mg got FDA approved is yet another mystery and controversy. We don’t really know if we need this much of calcium. Calcium supplementation don’t statistically show to lower bone fracture rate.
Iron: Another big controversy. Some say iron from plants (beans and dark greens) are not very bioavailable, some say plant iron is just fine and there is even a study that shows vegans get more iron than meat eaters.
Essential Fatty Acid: Human body cannot produce omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Usually omega 6 is not a problem. Unless you are on a super low fat diet, it’s easy to get enough omega 6. Omega 3 is a challenge, however. There are three kinds of omega 3 fatty acid: ALA, EPA, and DHA. Plants don’t have EPA nor DHA. Plant sources of omega 3 such as flax and chia provide ALA. Humans can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but the conversion efficiency depends on individual health and age. So vegetarians can be at risk.
Essential Amino Acid (protein): It’s indeed possible to have complete amino acid profile by plant sources alone. However, it’s easy to go short on Lysine, which is typically lacking in grains and nuts. (Beans and some seeds are rich in Lysine.) So we need to pay attention to food combination.
Greens and algae typically have complete or close to complete amino acid profile, but because they contain much water, you just have to eat a lot of them to cover the required amount of protein. For example, one cup of kale has 2.2 grams of protein. Each person’s protein requirement is different, but even for me (petite woman who is not into body-building), the daily requirement is supposed to be 40 grams. If I am to get all my protein from greens, I need to eat heaps of them.
The overall amount of bioavailable protein is another controversy. Many vegetarians insist cows get their entire protein by eating grass, but each animal has different digestive system. Cows have four stomachs to help break down the tough cell wall of plants. Humans have only one. Cows probably have different digestive flora profile, too, to further support their digestion.
Theoretically, this is where juicing and blending come into. The nutrients become more available when the cell walls are broken in these processes, and you can eat much more vegetables this way. I said “can”. I don’t believe all vegetarians are eating plenty of vegetables to support their protein needs.
Health risks of eating meat
Of course, meat eaters who don’t eat enough vegetables face other kinds of potential deficiencies with vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzyme. If you are eating SAD (Standard American Diet), you are likely undernourished while you are getting more than enough calories in the form of saturated fat (read: cholesterol) and excessive protein, both are harmful to your system.
The problem of excessive protein intake isn’t getting enough attention. While we do need certain amount of protein to maintain our system, if you take more protein than you need for maintenance purpose, the excess has to be burned off. But protein doesn’t burn clean in our system like carbs and fats do. It produces nitrogen compound, which can be toxic, so the body has to process it through many chemical changes until it can be safely disposed in urine. It’s a lot of extra work for your body.
In addition, typical supermarket meat contains weird stuffs like residual antibiotics, growth hormones, etc. that were given to animals. They are fed really badly — remember the mad cow disease? Dairy and eggs are even worse than meat because these toxins are bio-concentrated. And we have contaminated the ocean so much that the fish come with mercury, PCB and other heavy metals.
Animal products also presents greater risk of bacterial and parasite growth.
Best food choices for your health
If you choose to eat animal products, be sure to chose organic. If you choose to eat fish, smaller fish that feed on plant plankton and whose lifespan is short are safer. And if you choose to go vegetarian or vegan, be smart with your food choices, combinations, and supplements.
I think it’s a good idea to get a blood work periodically to make sure of your nutritional health. Each person is different and what works for someone may not work for you. HOW you eat also affects your nutritional health.
Vegetarians and environment
Another reason people refuse eating meat these days is environmental concern. It’s more efficient to eat closer to the true energy source, sunlight. This means eating plants. If we can use the land to grow plants rather than animals, we are utilizing the resources better. This includes saving fossil fuels used in farming and water resource. Animals require a lot of water, again, most of which are used for the animals’ own sustenance. When we choose to eat plants, we are saving water.
Further, raising animals produces — waste. (Read: methane and other hazards to environment). In terms of carbon footprint, 18% of the world’s total greenhouse emission comes from meat production. Meat industry is a big player in climate change, more than transportation.
Best food choices for the environment
I do think many people eat too much animal products. If you are a meat eater, please review your meat / dairy intake level both for your own health and for the health of Mother Earth. Current level of animal farming is not really sustainable both for the resources and for waste management.
I don’t think, however, we need to completely end raising animals to protect the environment. Rather, I am dreaming of the old fashioned farm, or the way the indigenous people did farming, where animals, plants, and humans co-lived meaningfully, playing each role in the ecosystem.
I’d also like to point out the use of various chemicals in the conventional farming (pesticides, herbicide, etc) is harmful to the plants, land, and our water supply. If you care for the environment, please choose organic vegetables and fruits. And be diligent in checking the underside of your leafy greens — organic means there were bugs on the farm.
Vegetarians and animal rights
Many people choose not to eat meats for compassionate reasons. Killing sentient animals is cruel and against moral. If you don’t eat your pet, why are you okay to eat other animals?
While I agree killing is bad, I think moral has its limitations. Moral is certainly better than no moral. Being aware eating meat means killing animals and killing is essentially no good is better than having no moral about life and death. However, moral tends to be dogmatic and make people judgmental. Further, it keeps us from reaching to higher awareness. In this case, higher awareness means life consumes life and we are all — humans, animals, and plants — part of the ecosystem. It’s not the endorsement of killing, but tolerance of the consumption of other lives.
I mean, I wonder why there is no plant rights activists?
I was also informed we need some form of animal products to grow plants. Bone meal, manure, and worm castings are commonly used fertilizers. So even if you are not eating meat, you are benefiting from byproducts of animal farming or some animals / bugs are working for the soil.
Animals’ right in living conditions
In terms of animal right, I am more concerned how the farm animals are raised and then put down rather than if someone ever put them down for their consumption. Did you know conventional chickens never see sunlight nor breathe outdoor air for their whole life? From the time they hatch in the machine, they are kept in a crowded factory. Letting them move around is a waste of their food energy and it also increases their dark meat, which sells cheaper than white meat. I also heard chicken wings pinched to restrict their movement.
They are packed in filthy indoor, standing in their own feces. This horrible growing environment causes many diseases, so the chickens are fed with antibiotics regularly. Fast turnover means more profit, so in order to raise them quickly, they are also fed with growth hormone.
And when the day comes, these chickens are dunk in hot water alive. Factory farms don’t even bother to kill the chickens individually. They are drowned, which also wet their feathers, making it easier to handle.
I think, if we are to accept animal products as foods even occasionally, the animals must be raised in a more healthy, humane way. And when the time comes, they should be put down properly. A little prayer would be nice to show respect to the animals who are making the ultimate sacrifice to sustain our life. Traditionally some religions require priests to be present at slaughtering. I think this is a very wise way.
How to actualize humane animal farming
Also, in order for this kind of humane animal farming to happen, overall meat consumption need to be much lower. As long as we eat tons of animal products, there will be businesses that raise animals in quantity and speed, rather than paying attention to quality. Gluttony is a real problem, not occasional considerate consumption.
I’m not sure if refusing to eat meat helps to bring this humane animal farming to happen. Most animal right people just condemn any animal farming/ killing and don’t want to learn how we can improve animal farming. If the whole populations are becoming vegan, this is fine — absolutely no animal farming, period. We don’t need to worry about the way animals are raised and slaughtered. But as long as animal farming exists, we are better off paying attention to the reality of animal farming rather than condemning it.
Vegetarians and spiritual growth
This is a reason that is often implied but seldom explained properly. Often, it is discussed at the moral level in regard to compassion and animal rights, but this is not what I mean here by “spiritual growth”.
What I mean is, by eating “clean” foods, we can evolve into a new physical being that is highly developed spiritually as well.
We are spiritual beings in the physical body. So the condition of our physical body affects our spirituality, and vice versa. When we feed our physical body with clean foods that contain less toxins, our body gets to detox itself and start vibrating higher. This helps our spiritual growth.
On the other hand, if we put in foods that contain a lot of toxins, our body has to take care of them. Many people are hardly keeping up with this cleanup task because they eat so much and so much foods that leave a lot of toxins. When you fall behind the cleanup work, you get ill. There is little room for spiritual activities when you can hardly keep up with the maintenance work of your physical body.
Generally speaking, plant foods are cleaner than animal foods. In other words, plant foods are easier to digest and leave less problematic matter in the system. Plant foods, especially raw.
It’s essential to note that, from this perspective, ALL foods are taxing the body more or less. Even raw plant foods, say, an apple, take some work to digest and assimilate. It’s not a pure form of energy you can use immediately. Your system needs to work to unlock the energy from the matter, that is an apple. Not much cleanup work but still there are work to be done.
Some people, including some raw food enthusiasts, are starting to notice that they can actually live on much less foods than the conventional nutritional health recommends. They are developing to be a new kind of human, so to say. Their system is growing so clean that they are starting to assimilate the energy of Light.
They may not be a 100% breatharian yet, but they are getting part of their energy needs from Light, including sunlight. (I believe sunlight is part of the whole spectrum of light.) Breatharianism is a way to grow into lightbody, which is the ultimate goal of our physical and spiritual growth.
But, you may argue, “(fill in the name) is spiritual but (I heard) they eat meat.”
First of all, you don’t really know what they eat nor the level of their spiritual growth. For this reason, I’d rather not make a judgment about ANYTHING based on whether a well-known person is on one side of the dogma or not.
Second, notice this is not really a meat eaters vs vegetarians / vegans issue. The point is to clean up our system by eating less, and choosing cleaner foods for what we do still eat. Eating (raw) vegan diet is probably helpful, but I doubt if it’s the only way. If we still need nutrition from foods, then choose the best quality, least toxic foods, whether it is plant or animal based.
Where I am in the development
This topic of breatharianism and lightbody is something I am still researching and experimenting. I am not there yet — far from it. But I do know my body works according to a rule that is not quite covered by today’s nutritional science.
For example, I had a chicken sandwich the other day. Just a simple grilled chicken sandwich. I ate exactly the same other than this exception, the diet that kept me at steady body weight, or rather, that let me lose weight gradually. I gained half pound.
Nutritionally, this doesn’t make sense. In order to gain half a pound, we need about 1600 kcal. One pound = 454 grams.
Body fat contains about 20% water, so the real amount of fat in a pound of body fat is 363 grams.
1 gram of fat = 9 kcal.
363 gram of fat = 3267 kcal.
Therefore, to gain a pound of body fat, it takes 3267 kcal.
Half a pound, 1633 kcal.
A chicken sandwich cannot be 1633 kcal. What happened is my body had to dilute the toxins from the chicken sandwich (by the way, it was organic chicken) because it was too much to process at a time. So it retained a lot of water. I think my body does this because it is getting cleaner, therefore more sensitive to any incoming toxins.
Well, I guess I just uncovered the secret of weight management. When you eat, rather than just counting the calories, think about how easy and cleanly the food digest. Rather than trying to lose weight / body fat, think detox. ^_^
And how is my spirituality? Well, it’s hard to tell because I don’t have a point of comparison. I’ve been eating close to vegan for a year now. This chicken sandwich was pretty exceptional. And I don’t remember how my spirituality was more than a year ago. I think I was doing fine back then, but that is just my memory, not a fair comparison. And even if I am dong better, I don’t know if it’s the food or other spiritual practices I do that brought my growth.
Are you having a great start of the year? Keeping up with your new year’s resolution? Time is speeding up and I can hardly believe one twelfth of the year is already gone. (Photo credit)
January in review
My big goal of this year is to write a book on Akashic Records. This will be published in the old fashioned way in print. The starseed series will be incorporated in the book, with some additions and updates. So I’m putting extra effort in completing this series.
My another goal is to eat healthy and well. The Slow Down Diet that I reviewed was very influential to me. I want to pay attention not just to WHAT I eat but also to HOW I eat.
Fun & Challenges
This is the dilemma I face: When I was working in the corporate world, I wrote in the evenings and weekends. I love writing. I forget foods when I write. I can almost forget sleep when I write. I love to express my thoughts and feelings, and the possibility that my writing might help you is exciting.
Now that I work for myself, writing for this blog and the book is part of my life and work. I do what I love all day long — reading interesting books and blogs, writing my own, and doing Akashic Record Reading. Life is full of joy and fun, right?
Right. Yes. And a bit of no somehow. When I have so many things to do (again, all fun things I like to do), I’m a bit overwhelmed, and for a reason I don’t really know, the fun becomes a challenge, too.
Does anyone know how to keep the fun as fun? Do I need to introduce some dread so that fun can stand out as fun? Do I need to meditate more?
Be sure to check the book review of the controversial The God Delusion, by my friend Hunter Nuttall. I think the discussion in the comment section is very interesting, too.
My old post on meat eating vs vegetarianism still gets hot comments. While some people insist vegetarianism, or even stricter veganism, is good for health and environment, I found a few information that question this statement.
One is from someone who has been raw vegan for 15 years who found some deficiencies when he had blood test.
Another is a book called The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability. I haven’t read the book yet, but I read the review here and on Amazon. I find it interesting that we need some form of animal products to grow plants. I checked my bag of organic soil and it has earthworm castings. Other organic soil mix has chicken manure or bone meal. So what happens to the chicken afterwards? I bet they were either hens for eggs or meat chickens. And if vegans are committed not to eat even honey because they don’t want to force the bees to work, how do they feel about the earthworms that worked for the soil? The dogma of veganism to never harm any animals is very hard to sustain, I think. Even if someone is not eating any animal products, some animals are dying to grow their vegetables.
I don’t think this is a bad thing, however. All lives are in the big ecosystem, supporting one another. The problems happens when we reject this system. When I die, please throw the cremated ash in the ocean so the fish can benefit. The fish may end up on your dinner table or become fertilizer for the farm that grows your vegetable. This very Buddhism view sits fine in my mind and spirituality.
Word of month
“Laughter is a great way of letting go. . . Laughing releases endorphins and lowers stress hormones in our system. The other two activities that do the same are sex and meditation.”
– Lisa, aka Mommy Mystic
Well said. Let’s pick at least one of the three for our well-being.
This is all for today. Enjoy your weekend — the day is getting so much longer (in the northern hemisphere, that is )
Related reading: After I posted this article, I was informed about another great post about the problem vegans face, especially raw vegans. (HT: Gena) I think the whole discussion on vegan nutritional health is very interesting. Additionally, this part by Shazzie caught my eye:
“…many raw food enthusiasts who identify themselves as vegans are in fact not totally vegan. Whether it’s a free range organic egg or a little raw goat’s cheese once a week or some fish once a month, these people think of themselves as vegan and will tell you they’re vegan…This makes us wonder how many more who identify themselves as vegans are doing the same but not admitting to it.”
Ah. So there is honesty and awareness issue, too.
Meditation helps to balance the body, mind, and spirit. It allows you to be who you really are — the spiritual being in your body. Consequently, meditation brings various benefits such as improved health, clearer mind, better performance in your personal and career life, and even psychic development.
There are many techniques and approaches in meditation. In this article, I’ll introduce you to the basics of meditation so you can start it right now. (Photo credit)
1. When & Where: Choose the time and place you can enjoy quiet solitude. First thing in the morning is a great idea — it starts your day right. Meditating when the stomach is full may be difficult. But of course, meditating any time is better than not meditating.
2. Position: There are two basic positions, open position and closed position, and various variations of each.
To meditate in open position, choose a firm stable chair. You want to keep your lower back straight while you meditate, so reclining chairs and soft sofas are no good. Office chairs with wheels are not recommended, either. A firm upright chair or bench is good. Adjust the height or use foot rest so that you are sitting with your knees at the right angle and your feet comfortably landed on the floor. Think of ancient Egyptian figures.
To meditate in closed position means you sit on the floor. You don’t have to do the lotus or half-lotus position. You can just put one leg in front of the other. It helps you to use a firm pillow under your butts, but not under your legs, so that your butts are plopped up to the height of your knees. Some yoga stores sell “meditation pillows” for this purpose, but any firm and large pillow works. It helps you to relax your leg joints and to keep your back straight.
In both cases, you want to keep your upper body upright and straight, but relaxed. Place your hands comfortably on your lap without stretching your shoulder joints. There are many hand gestures used in meditation, as you see in Buddhism arts, and each has different effects, but for now, let’s just place your hands palms up and form circles with your thumb and middle finger.
Be sure to loosen up your belt. Tight underwear are no good, either. Close your mouth and keep the tongue touching to the ceiling in your mouth. It probably helps you to close your eyes even though there are techniques to keep them “half-closed”.
3. Breathing: Now breathe in to the count of four, hold, then breathe out to the count of four, hold, and breathe again. This breathing patten helps you to bring your focus to breathing. It also regulates the breathing — the point is to take about the same time breathing in and out and to have a short period of holding in between. You only need to count your breath for a few minutes. As you progress in your meditation practice, you will notice your breathing slows down naturally, and this is very good. It means your body is getting adjusted.
I tried to count my breathing to share as a reference. I cannot count right when I’m meditating — I can only check my watch right after meditation, and as soon as I do this, I can feel my breathing start to speed up a bit. But just as a reference, I think I breathe about 3 times a minute when I meditate. On good days, maybe 2.5 times a minute.
4. Mindset: But don’t force yourself to do this. Don’t force yourself to achieve anything in meditation. Just be. The various benefits may happen, but chasing them is counterproductive.
Most of the time, we operate from our head. By not thinking anything particular, we give rest to our logical mind and let our soul come through. When thoughts try to distract you in meditation, don’t fight it. Fighting and trying to push away your thoughts only gives energy to the thoughts and let more thoughts come to you. Just gently let them go. Notice that you are noticing the thoughts — you are not your thoughts, the true you (your soul) is noticing your thoughts — and sit quietly there without chasing them. This way, they will go away. And yes, more thoughts will come to you, almost constantly, but keep releasing your thoughts.
5. Experience: As you get more experienced in meditation, you will reach a quiet state of no thoughts and no words. At this point, trust whatever happens in your meditation is good. Let your soul be in full control rather than judging with your mind.
Also, because meditation is about both body and soul, you may experience physical change while meditating. For example, your body might start swaying without your intention. If the movement is too much and uncomfortable, stop. But if it’s a gentle swaying, let it do what it needs to do. You may also see unusual vision or sense your spirit guides around you. I also heard men get election due to increased blood flow, but I haven’t made sure about this.
6. Closing: Don’t force yourself to meditate, say, for 30 minutes. Just meditate for the length of time you are comfortable with. 10 or 15 minute meditation is great.
When you want to end your meditation session, don’t suddenly get up. Gently come back to this world, open your eyes, maybe shake your hands gently, and then get up.
7. Additional ideas: You may like to do the visualization of self-protection at the beginning of meditation session. Visualization of a grounding cord, stretching from your first chakra to the center of the Earth, is also helpful.
I like the simple and open-ended meditation I just described, but if you want to do more extensive visualization, that is fine. Just don’t overload it and make meditation yet another project in your life.
Do you meditate? Please share your experience in the comment. Thank you.