After 2 months or so since first starting to ease my way into this vegan diet, I have to tell you that I am done. I'm done fighting. I'm done fighting everything that goes along with this diet goddamn it. I'm done with all the resisting of urges, the wondering if I can do it, and the guilty thoughts like "hmmm, I could just sneak a taste of that cheese, I mean christ the moo-er is dead already." The thoughts of "oh who's going to know if I snap up that piece of sesame chicken that she left on her plate, no one's looking!!". Done I tell you. Done.
Done with those thoughts because they don't come up anymore... Done fighting the diet because it no longer feels like a fight! Not done with the diet silly, done with the fight!. Because there is no fight anymore, Its easy!!!
THAT'S RIGHT BABY, ERIC's GONE VEGAN AND HE AIN'T TURNING BACK!!!!!
heheh. sorry if i scared ya, that was all for dramatic effect people :).
Here's what's been happening.
• Those 10lbs I lost over the course of a two week period have remained off and no further significant weight loss or gain has occurred. Many people have said to me "but eric you didn't NEED to lose 10lbs". Well that's kind of you folks. I do feel much better without them.
• My appetite has remained markedly reduced. I love being able to actually stop eating when I feel like it. I did some searching online and found that this is a side effect that many vegans feel. One example can be found in this blog/video, where famous vegan Ellen Degeneres says to gorgeous vegan "House" star Olivia Wilde,
“But you fill up more with vegan stuff, don’t you find? So you can’t eat as much.”
Amazing, because I had thought I was just a dude with an insatiable appetite, but no longer. The truth is probably something more to do with dairy (or the hormones, pesticides or whatever other crap is in dairy)... I say that because I have been vegetarian before, but it had no effect on my appetite. The most drastic change in my new diet is the removal of dairy and so I believe that is probably what is causing my appetite to return to "normal".
The other thing that has been going on, as I implied in my opening paragraph, is that the diet is no longer hard for me. I'm finding it easy. I don't miss dairy or eggs or meat. I can't say that will be true for others. I would not have believed it would be true for me. It is true for me.
In today's blog i'm going to talk about the concept of "Karma". Some might be thinking, "ok eric, yeah yeah yeah, I know, you're gonna give me some new age crap about how eating animals is somehow giving me 'bad karma energy'. Dude, how far over the edge have you gone?". Ok, well yes, granted i'm a nutter. But i'm still a scientist at heart. (for those who don't know me so well, I was a bio major in college, worked at Cornell performing gene therapy in a research lab as my first job out of school, and through the years if you had asked me if there is a god, I would probably have said "yeah. science is god. or nature"). Ok, mr. "scientist", so how is "Karma" coming into play here? Well first let's define the word.
1. Action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.
Ok mr. "scientist", so how could eating meat possibly bring "inevitable bad results" upon me in this this life? (lets drop the idea of reincarnation for now). Well, as a starting point, lets examine what "bad things" occur when one does eat meat:
• 70% of crops grown in this country go directly toward feeding cows (not even getting into pigs and chickens). Yes, go back and re-read that one. 70% of every plant grown here goes to feeding cows.
• Partly as a result of this, cattle are responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases in the world, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together!!!
• The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has warned people that if you eat 50g of processed meat; the equivalent of just one small burger a day then your risk of bowel cancer is increased by 20 per cent.
• There are numerous studies that show that veggie diets can cut the risk of heart disease, stroke and certain cancers. Some of the most impressive data arises from a study of close to 2000 vegetarians over 21 years by the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsche Krebsforschungszentrum). The study's results: vegetarian men reduced their risk of early death by 50%! Women vegetarians benefit from a 30% reduction! 30% and 50% are quite impressive statements for those of you familiar with scientific studies of this sort.
• There are many other "bad" things that occur as a result of eating meat (i.e., it is often said that world hunger could be ended if the world reduced their meat intake by even a small amount because all those crops going to cows could go to people) but i'm going to stop here for now.
Ok so there are some bad things that result from meat eating without even mentioning the ethical issue of whether it is right to cause animals such suffering. Can we come up with some "inevitable good results" that come from eating meat?: I've been racking my brain for a while, and the only thing I can come up with is pleasure. Can you think of something else that doesn't ultimately boil down to pleasure? I can't. Not that pleasure isn't important. Of course it is. Some might say "what about nutrition?" and that is a myth. We don't have to eat meat as humans, and if we do (like if you would argue that we need that miniscule amount of B12 from meat even though it is available from vegan sources) we certainly don't need to eat very much of it. So long as we have a diet of varied fruits and vegetables, we will get the nutrition we need. So it comes down to pleasure. I love pleasure as much as the next guy, but it does seem like, at least to a degree, we're sacrificing our own health and the health of our planet for pleasure. And this is without even going into the ethics of whether it is right to allow animals to suffer so much.
So there's that. That's karma as I see it. You make a "bad" action, and inevitable "bad" things result. Don't even have to get into mystic voodoo shit.
And now, to get a little more "new age-y" and "out there" as a further argument for the "bad karma" of eating meat... In my last blog I spoke a bit about how when you get into certain philosophies or get into meditation you become better able to exist with the mad rush of thoughts that so often dominate our minds and often make us unhappy. And I also spoke of how when that mad rush is not such a focus, that the natural human compassion that is in us all perhaps is more free to come forth. I'm not saying you sit down for 5 minutes and become mother theresa, no. Perhaps its much more subtle than that, but something happens. This has been my experience. I'm just much happier overall for having gotten into the stuff. And so maybe I started taking a little more time to empathize, and put myself in the "shoes" of a factory farm animal. When we are not allowing our compassion to come forth, perhaps our compassion gets a little blocked up. A little atrophied. If we are not allowing ourselves to feel compassion for an animal, then who else are we not feeling compassion for? If we cannot take a moment to try and imagine ourselves as an animal, existing in a hell zone, then who else can we not imagine as ourselves in a hell zone? If our compassion is not being exercised, could it also be that maybe we aren't allowing ourselves the compassion for our neighbor, or god forbid our enemies? How about compassion for ourselves? As we live in this era of such war and ruinous greed, it makes me wonder. It makes me wonder if this "bad karma" that might result from turning a blind eye to our own innate compassion isn't a very real thing. This innate compassion that I believe anyone would experience if they would allow themselves to watch a video of a "behind the scenes" at a factory farm and actually allow themselves to imagine what it might feel like to be that animal. It makes me wonder if there aren't some "inevitable bad things" that result from this shunning of our own compassion. From this "lack of exercise" of our compassion. I'm not saying this is true, i'm just saying I wonder... Sometimes when I tell someone that the movie "Fresh" played a big role in my becoming vegan they say "oh, god no, I don't want to see that film!" as they smile and shudder. As if to say they don't want to see the horror show they assume it must be, but would you please pass the chicken wings?. This says to me that we are shunning our compassion. That we know we won't like what we see, so we turn away from it and choose to ignore our own truth for the sake of grasping to and preserving our pleasures. At what cost?
Again, I'm not saying that we should all be vegetarians necessarily. I think it would be great to simply eat less meat, and to support meat that was raised and slaghtered humanely. Perhaps the "bad karma" comes simply from the excess of it. I don't know.
After writing this paragraph, I discovered some quotes from Albert Einstein that speak to this issue:
"Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind." - Albert Einstein
Could Einstein be referring to "human temperment" in the same way I am referring to our compassion? (yes I just compared my own thoughts to Einstein's :)
and pythagoras, math god and the father of greek philosophy...
“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love." -- Pythagoras
and finally Einstein again,
"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the 'Universe', a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate 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." - Albert Einstein
So yes, bacon does taste good. It is up to us to decide how good. I would argue that we might make that decision having first allowed ourselves to fully witness all the facts.
I'll finish up with a video a friend sent. Now this video is NOT a horror show. Its a short, touching, cute story that takes place on the streets of our fair new york city not long ago. I recommend you watch! :)
“Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others: we are burial places! I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.” --- Leonardo da Vinci
“People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times. “
-- Isaac Bashevis Singer
"All the arguments to prove human superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering, animals are our equals."-- Peter Singer
The photo in today's blog is ©2009 Eric M