VEGAN INFORMATION It's been extimated that there are 3 million vegans: (eating animal-free diets for humane, environmental and/or health reasons)
According to the article, Earth-Kind Diet, by AngelMcNall, the single most powerful thing one can do is consider how our food choices affect the earth. There is no diet more earth-kind than a vegan diet.
One very important way is that vegan foods take only a fraction of the amount of water it takes to produce meat & dairy products. While it takes 25 gallons of water to produce one pound of wheat, it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. Using all this water processing livestock, we are depleting our supplies of fresh water.
Factory farms have now taken the place of small farms, where many animals can be raised at once. Obviously, with so many animals being raised for human consumption, there is a large amount of waste. Approximately 1 billion tons of waste is never recycled. Since most feedlots have no sewer systems, this waste piles up, and sadly, eventually runs off into fresh water, or seeps into the ground, raising nitrates in the water, to what could be, dangerous levels. These nitrates poison fish and any wildlife that depends on them for food. These sick fish can then end up as food for livestock; where the pesticide residues can build up in their flesh, and can then be tranferred and stored in human bodies by eating these animals. Nitrates and pesticide residues have been found to cause cancer in humans.
Seal life's dependence on fish for their own survival, and all the other sea creatures who accidentally get stuck in fisherman's nets are greatly affected, as Fisherman deplete 80-90% of a given fish population from our oceans.
Another alarming trend is the massive destruction of our forest land. At last 260 million acres of American forest land has been cleared to create crop land to raise feed for animals. The burning alone of our rainforests emits large amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, which contribute to the greenhouse effect, as does large amounts of methane gas attributed to the belching and manure of farm animals. These gases collect in our atmosphere, creating a thick layer of insulation around our planet.
More sustainable practices include organic farming, as the farm lands are often used and exhausted by continual use, and millions of tons of chemical fertilizers are used each year.
With at least 5,00,000 animals killed every hour in our country for food, and humans dying from diet-related diseases, humans may be making causes in their own lives that can create detrimental health effects.
THE FOLLOWING ARE THREE POWERFUL ARTICLESTHAT GREATLY INFLUENCED & ENHANCED MY DESIRE TO HONOR THE GREATNESS OF ALL BEINGS, AND THEREBY, MAKES ME PROUD TO BE A VEGAN.
The Oneness of All Life
By Shin Yatomi, Living Buddhism, December 2001
The idea that our lives are connected is nothing new. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny." Overtime, many wise teachers have continued to point out the dangers of our tendency toward a selfish detachment from others, we have failed to awaken to our shared humanity. Instead, we have clung to the diverse feelings of "us and them," based on superficial and artificial differences that have prevented us from honest and open dialogue. With war in the twenty first century occurring, some of us-maybe not many, but enough to make our presence felt, are starting to question our separateness from others. Connections to others can only be described as our sense of connection, life's dignity, or shared humanity. The idea of interconnectedness of all lives provides a fundamental solution to violence when it goes beyond mere abstract theory and becomes the basis of collective action.
The Buddhist approach to the problem of violence is based on the inner reformation of each individual, that is, an awakening to the supreme potential of Buddhahood, both within his or her life and within the lives of others. Shakyamuni (historical Buddha) was once asked, 'We are told that life is precious. And yet, all people live by killing and eating other living beings. Which living beings may we kill and which living beings must we not kill?' To this simple expression of doubt, Shakyamuni replied, "It is enough to kill the will to kill." Shakyamuni's response is neither evasion nor deception, but is based on the concept of dependent origination. He is saying that, in seeking the kind of harmonious relationship expressed by respect for the sanctity of life, we must not limit ourselves to the phenomenal level where hostility and conflict (in this case, which living beings it is acceptable to kill and which not) undeniably exist. We must seek harmony on a deeper level, a level where it is truly possible to 'kill the will to kill.' More than objective awareness, we must achieve a state of compassion transcending distinctions between self and other. We need to feel the compassionate energy that beats within the depths of all people's subjective lives where the individual and the universal are merged. The Buddha is said to have compassion for all living beings. If we are to kill our will to kill, our only choice is to ascend to a higher level of consciousness. We must develop wisdom to see other living beings and the environment as an extension of our own lives; and we must develop the compassion to feel the joys and sorrows of fellow human beings as our own. We must come to appreciate all living beings as a blessing. Even our sincere, yet feeble attempt to cultivate such a state of well being will, without doubt, dramatically reduce the suffering and misery caused by our will to kill.
With earnest prayer and dialogue, acknowledging that we all have goodness and evil within ourselves, promotes people's connectedness on the fundamental level of life's innate workings and further enables us to continue nonviolent engagement with arrogant, hostile people and eventually awaken their inner goodness. To grow deeper against our own prejudice, this nonviolent connectedness can become a global conviction that the most powerful leaders of the world cannot help but to follow.
Why I'm A Vegetarian
By Dapo F. Asaju, Vegetarian Times, 1985
The following was written by Dapo F. Asaju, who was born November 16, 1961 in the state of Kwara, Nigeria, West Africa. He was a university graduate, who was currently on a National Youth Service scholarship in the department of religion, University of Ilorin, Nigeria. At the time, I was already a vegetarian. As noted in my book, For The Love Of Football, my desire to become a vegetarian, stemmed from my desire to honor & respect all beings.
The excerpts from this letter expressed my positive life change in becoming a vegetarian, and while Dapo lived in Nigeria, West Africa, and I was living at the time in New York, through all these years I have kept his letter, and have felt a comraderie that has no geographical bounderies. I share a bit of Dapo F. Asaju's letter proudly with you.
"I was born and brought up in an extended African family whose regular nutrition is far from exclusively herbivorous. I grew up eating meat, fish, eggs, etc. Although I realized that I was not following my 'destined path' by doing so, I felt there was little I could do to change or choose my diet during my largely dependent early life. Since some African societies had considered abstinence from blooded creatures and their products, with dependence on solely vegetarian diets as esoteric path, it could also be considered good or evil. It took a good deal of tolerance, endurance and dialogue before I could bring my friends and relatives to understand and accept my new way of life.
While some people may believe it impossible to drastically change one's nutritional attitude and preference in favor of vegetarianism, I have always nurtured the challenge that, insofar as humans are said to be the highest of creatures, endowed with intelligence, self control, and free will, it's amazing that we cannot exercise discipline and self control with regards to animals.
Certainly it is a detriment of personality if one cannot reason well, and execute decisions based on moral, spiritual and medical grounds, regardless of societal influences and inclinations. On moral and humanitarian grounds, I strongly believe that it is not right for humans to forcefully and violently take the life of an animal just to satisfy one's selfish desires. Animals possess the same essential life giving components as humans, and the same sense of feeling as well. It is my belief that all beings were created to perform separate functions, live peacefully, reproduce, and die naturally, except in the case of undesigned accident. It is not right for us to kill animals just because we can overpower them. Is it because they cannot communicate their feelings in human language that we continue to kill them? Pricking our body with a pin is just an estimate how an animal feels under the knife.
What has brought us to the point where we are indifferent to killing animals, yet mourn hysterically the death of a fellow human. We keep certain domesticated animals as pets,while others are maltreated, killed and their flesh consumed. What moral reason can we give for taking the life of an innocent and harmless animal. Listen to the cries and watch the dying efforts of slautered animals to realize that legalized killing of animals is the crudist manifestation of human injustice. The world must learn to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's. and leave to the animals what is inherently theirs. We must learn not to expect fairness and blessings if we do not give the same as a matter of right to lesser creatures.
Do not kill; do not be party to violence. Vegetarianism is a beautiful and easy to adopt alternative. It is inexpensive. You need only common sense, discipline, and good will. I believe a total vegtarian lifestyle should also encompass holiness, discipline, love and selflessness."
Vegetarianism and World Peace
By Steve Kretzmann, September 1985
Vegetarianism and world peace-many people think these ideals may be unrelated. As a proponent of both, I have come to believe that world peace cannot be achieved exclusive of the widespread acceptance of vegetarianism, (a fundamental building block in our evolution toward a peaceful world).
While some may consider peacework as something done outside our personal lives and living environment. Yet our eating habits are one of the most political actions we take on a daily basis. What my dollars buy at the supermarket, food co-op, restaurant or health food store is the way of approving or disapproving of the way in which goods are produced for consumption.
Many studies have shown that the incidence of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases are much lower among vegetarians than the general population. There is increased public awareness of the countless abuses perpetrated upon animals for human convenience; thus there is an increasing number of vegetarians.
Beyond these issues, virtually every aspect of meat production raises serious global, ecological questions. For example, in Central America, vast areas of the tropical rainforest are being cleared to make room for cattle ranches. The animals whose natural habitats are being destroyed are facing extinction as a result. Additionally, the overgrazing of land by cattle causes the topsoil to wash away. The vast majority of the beef produced is exported to supply North American fast food restaurants. Local food prices then rise because the farmland is used to feed the animals, not the local people. It is well know that livestock agriculture requires the use of far more resources than plant agriculture.
It's been found that in the United States, more than 90% of all agricultural land is used for the production of animal products. It is increasingly clear that the meat based diets of the United States and other relatively privileged countries continue at the expense of the vast majority of the world's population. Modern farming technology is rapidly depleting precious natural resources. Since the 1900's, U.S. agriculture contrary to most of the rest of the world has been using more fossil fuel energy than it produces in food energy. Livestock agriculture is up to a hundred times more energy-intensive than plant agriculture. In addition, one pound of meat requires up to 6,ooo gallons of water to produce, compared to 250 gallons for a pound of rice, and only 60 gallons for a pound of wheat. Not only does livestock agriculture place heavy demands on fresh water supplies, it is a major contributing factor in water pollution. Vegetarianism affirms a desire for a world free of practices which aggressively exploit the environment, people less fortunate than themselves, and the animals. All actions in the direction of a less consumptive lifestyle are positive, life-affirming steps toward a better future for all.