|A GREEN DIET|
Among the major religions of the world, Buddhism ranks first in promoting peace and respect for life. For more than 2,500 years, not a single drop of blood has been shed or anyone killed in the name of Buddhism. The Buddhist emperor Ashoka (3rd cent BCE) was the most celebrated ruler of ancient India because of his love, tolerance and benevolence to the people and animals. The Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetan Buddhism, was awarded the 1989 Nobel Peace Price for conducting a peaceful struggle to regain Tibet's independence from the Chinese invaders whom he still calls "brothers". Wherever Buddhism flourishes, we can see love, tolerance and compassion.
Although the monks of certain forms of Buddhism are not vegetarians, the Buddha’s teachings lead, logically, towards vegetarianism, firstly, because of Compassion, one of the Four Perfect Virtues (Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Appreciative-Joy and Equanimity). How can we go on eating meat when we think about the suffering and agony of animals at the hands of butchers? Moreover, according to the concept of Rebirth, those butchered animals might have been our relatives in previous lives.
Many people think God created other kinds of creatures to serve mankind, so it is alright for us to eat them. This is a case of "might is right", but it is totally unjust and unreasonable. We know that even the tiniest creatures, like ants, have a fear of death. Animals suffer, can love and help each other and other species. They also have families and societies as we do. If God exists, He would not have allowed animals to be treated this way while proclaiming universal love and justice. Animals therefore should have the right to live safely in their natural environments and not be subject to man's exploitation.
Modern science has learned that many animals suffer and have a form of intelligence similar to ours. And in many cases, their senses are much more acute than ours. For example, a German shepherd has a sense of smell 40 times more sensitive and a sense of hearing at least 10 times more acute than ours. The biologist Richard Serjeant in his book 'The Spectrum of Pain' writes: "Every particle of factual evidence supports the contention that the higher mammalian vertebrates experience pain AT LEAST AS ACUTE AS our own. Apart from the complexity of the cerebral cortex (which does not directly feel pain) their nervous systems are ALMOST IDENTICAL to ours and their reactions to pain REMARKABLY SIMILAR...". Concerning the structure and function of the human brain compared to other animals', scientists have also found that they: "...differ in fewer ways than we may think, the similarities are greater than the differences. A dog, for example, has the same states of activity as man, its EEG patterns being almost identical in wakefulness, quiet sleep, dreaming and daydreaming. As for the chemistry of the central nervous and endocrine systems, we know that there is no difference in kind between human and other animals. The biochemistry of physiological and emotional states (of stress and anxiety, for example) differs little between mice and men".
Those who look down on animals and condone the mistreatment and exploitation of them, will know that they are so wrong when they learn of the loving-kindness, the gratitude and the intelligence of animals in the following true stories:
In Greyfriars Square in Edinburgh, Scotland, stands a monument erected by the townspeople in honour of a little terrier named Bobby for his teaching them a precious lesson about gratitude. The stray dog, Bobby, was often hungry and had to scrounge through garbage to survive. In the village, a dying old man named Jock felt sorry for Bobby and bought the little fellow a meal, just some scraps, at a local restaurant. That's all he could do for the poor animal. When Jock died shortly thereafter, little Bobby followed the mourners who carried his body to the grave. After the burial, he stayed at the spot and refused to leave although people kicked and threw stones at him. From then on, Bobby stayed by the grave, day and night, braving bad weather to honour the memory of the man who had been kind to him. He briefly left the gravesite only once each afternoon, and went back to the old restaurant where he had met Jock, to scavenge something to eat. Whatever he got he would solemnly carry back to the grave and eat there. The first winter, Bobby had no shelter, huddling underneath tombstones when the snow was deep. By the next winter, the townspeople were so touched by his brave and lonely vigil that they erected a small shelter for him. Bobby stayed there until he died 14 years later and was buried alongside the man whose last gesture of kindness he had honoured with such devotion.
A dolphin named Pelorus was probably the most selfless animal in the world. For many years, he volunteered to guide ships through the French Pass, a channel through the D'Urvilles Islands off New Zealand. This dangerous channel is full of rocks and has extremely strong currents. It had been the site of literally hundreds of shipwrecks before the intervention of Pelorus the dolphin. Pelorus' work was so regular and reliable that all ships reaching the entrance would look or wait for him to appear and guide them safely through the channel. There is no telling how many human lives Pelorus thus saved. Then one day, a drunken passenger on a ship named the "Penguin" drew a gun and shot at him. The crew was furious and came close to killing the "stupid" man when they saw Pelorus swimming away with blood pouring from his body. In the next few weeks, Pelorus disappeared and ships had to negotiate through the channel without help. But one day, the dolphin reappeared, apparently recovered from his wound. Pelorus had probably forgiven the human species because once again he proceeded to guide ship after ship through the channel. But when the "Penguin" showed up again, the dolphin immediately disappeared and the people on board her never saw him again. For a number of years thereafter, Pelorus continued to escort ships through the French Pass, except for the "Penguin". Ironically, the "Penguin" was later wrecked as it sailed unguided through the French Pass, and a large number of passengers and crew were drowned.
On May 28th, 1978 four fishermen in a boat were saved by a group of dolphins when they became lost in a dangerous sea-region full of sharp rocks, off the coast of Dassen Island in South Africa. The fog was so dense they could not see where they were going. While they were frightened, a group of dolphins appeared and began nudging and pushing their boat along a course known only to them until it reached safety in the very bay they had set out from early that morning.
Yvonne Vladislavich would give you quite an argument if you tell her that animals are not intelligent and do not have souls. In June, 1971 Yvonne was aboard a yacht that exploded and sank in the Indian Ocean. She was thrown into shark-infested waters, utterly frightened. Three dolphins came to her rescue. One proceeded to buoy her up while the other two circled around to guard her from shark attack. The three dolphins continued to keep her afloat and protect her until she drifted to a marker about 200 miles away and was safely rescued by humans, then they swam away and disappeared.
A dog named Taffy stood resolutely in the centre of a highway and barked wildly to stop all traffic and save the life of his little master, Randy Saley, 2 years old, who had strayed and was playing at the centre of the highway.
In 1975, a desperate shipwreck victim off the coast of Manila saw a giant turtle come to her rescue. After letting her climb on to its back, the turtle stayed on the surface for two full days without food, a thing turtles never do in nature. When human rescuers finally appeared, the turtle left her, circled the area twice and finally disappeared. People thought the woman had stayed afloat on an oil drum when they first found her, not knowing she had been saved by a selfless turtle. Ironically, this species of turtle was not considered an animal and was not protected by the law. They are sought after to make into a delicious soup and turtle steaks for the wealthy.
Are pigs filthy and stupid creatures? In fact, their IQ is even higher than dogs and they are not filthy as we would like to think. They just love to wallow in the mud to cool down and protect themselves from flies or mosquitoes. If treated well, pigs are clean, friendly and playful creatures. Some people now begin to raise pigs as pets, not for meat. A couple of years ago, major newspapers in the US carried a story and a photo of Carol Burk, her 11 year-old son Anthony Melton and the pet pig Priscilla. While they were swimming in Hudson Lake, Anthony strayed too far from shore, panicked and began to sink. The pet pig Priscilla sensed the danger. She rushed into the water and swam out to Anthony, let him hold her leash and together they safely swam to shore, while Carol watched helplessly and awe-struck.
Are chickens cowardly and stupid? We know roosters are beautiful and powerful creatures, and that they are ready to fight until death if necessary. Mother hens have been famous since olden times for their exemplary care of their young. They always bravely defend the chicks against eagles' claws. Recently, a naturalist conducted some experiments on the hens to determine if they are as stupid as many people think. He gave a hen some guinea-fowl eggs. These were small, hard-shelled and completely different from chicken eggs, but the hen did not refuse to tend them. Was she really stupid not recognising the difference? When the chicks hatched, the mother hen was not perturbed or angry by the fact they were not chickens. Again through stupidity? After brooding the chicks for a few days, one day mother hen took them into a bush where she scratched in an ants' nest for the white pupae. Then she clucked to the chicks to feed them on the white pupae, instead of feeding them on the ordinary mash given to them before. We should know that although chickens in nature never eat white pupae, guinea fowls do because it is their natural food. How could mother hen know her adopted chicks need such a diet? The naturalist cannot answer the question, unless he admits that mother hen was finely tuned to reality and understood the need of her young of a different species. In another occasion, the mother hen was given some duck eggs. She tended and hatched them, and was not surprised at all when the ducklings emerged. She cared for them as if they were her own. But one day, mother hen did a very unusual thing: she went up a plank across a stream, stood there clucking and inviting the ducklings into the water. Obviously she knew her young were not like her and needed to swim. After all, a mother hen is not stupid at all!
People who usually watch animal programs on TV may probably have come across a touching story about a selfless wild duck. This mother duck saw a hungry hyena from afar approaching her nest where she was brooding her young. She immediately left the nest, rushed to the vicinity of the hyena. Then she rolled and limped frantically on the ground, feigning injury to lure the hyena away from her young. This selfless and intelligent act cannot be attributed to the mere instinct of a "stupid animal". In similar dangerous circumstances, some humans are incapable of such an appropriate action.
Naturalists recently have learned that ants and bees have well-organised societies. Each one has a role to play and they usually perform their tasks well and harmoniously. A worker-bee for example will return to the hive immediately after it discovers a patch of flowers. Then it performs a special "bee dance" to inform other workers about the exact direction to the spot. Some species of ants surprisingly know how to cultivate crops and raise "milking cows". They capture aphids, bring them to their nests. Then they feed and protect those aphids, even care for their eggs, and gather the sweet fluid, called honeydew that they excrete. These highly complicated and refined activities cannot be attributed to mere animal instincts. These small creatures obviously have a form of intelligence just as humans do.
In reality, there are thousands of documented cases of friendly dogs helping and saving human lives which are probably more touching than the Rin Tin Tin and Lassie stories on the screen. For "man's best friend", nobody can say they are not intelligent and loving creatures. As a result, in Western countries, dogs and cats are loved and respected. Unfortunately for animals raised for food (cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, etc), their fate is a sorry one, all because we have a habit of eating meat.
A canary named "Bibbs" and a cat lived in a house with a lonely old woman named "Aunt Tess". Late one night, the old lady got out of bed, tripped and fell unconscious to the floor, near to death. Bibbs, the canary, saw its mistress in great danger. Although it had never been out at night before, Bibbs managed to escape and fly directly to the house of the old lady's nephew, which was a few hundred metres away. It beat its wings frantically against the window glass to raise the alarm. The lady's nephew finally woke up, opened the door and went out to see what had happened. The canary however had become exhausted and sadly fell dead near the window sill. Thanks to its sacrifice, Aunt Tess was taken to hospital in time and survived. Who say birds are not intelligent and loving creatures? The canary had given its own life to save its mistress!
Dolphins have been known to guide stranded whales back to sea, to care for and protect calving whales against shark attack.
Animals have proved they deserve to be our "little" brothers and sisters, they resemble us in more ways than we think. Regrettably, because of the habit of eating meat, man has become the deadliest creature on Earth and has caused other animals untold sufferings.
Let us now discuss this habit of meat eating. Is it as healthy as many people believe or are led to believe? Science has found that man is basically a vegetarian by nature, for the following reasons:
Human teeth are designed mainly to chew vegetables and grind seeds and nuts. We do not have many sharp canine teeth or incisors like the carnivores.
Human saliva is mostly alkaline, not acidic as in carnivores.
The human stomach secretes much less acid than carnivores.
The human bowel is much longer, puckered and pouched, with many twists and sharp turns. In contrast, the bowel of a typical carnivore is much shorter, smoother and follows a straighter path.
Therefore in theory, human vegetarians, because they follow nature, can be healthier and longer-lived than meat-eaters. But in reality, are they healthier? Many people still believe vegetarians risk lack of proteins, iron, etc., thus making their bodies weak and prone to disease. But this fear is unfounded, because according to the latest research on nutrition:
The human body only needs about 2.5 to 10 percent protein in the total calorie-intake to survive and function normally. With a normal vegetarian diet, we can easily get enough protein for the body, as long as the diet can provide the amount of calories needed. In fact, very few vegetarian diets are lacking in protein, so this should not be a worry. Even the National Academy of Sciences in the US acknowledges that: "There is little evidence that muscular activities increases the need for protein...Pure vegetarians from many populations of the world have maintained... excellent health".
Legumes contain plenty of vegetable protein that is more digestible for the body. For instance, soy beans contain 35 pc protein, 37 pc fat and plenty of calcium.
Fibre (needed by the bowel), vitamins and minerals abound in fruits and vegetables, except vitamin B12 that exists only in very small quantities. John Robbins in his book 'Diet For a New America' recommends that vegetarians should take vitamin B12 supplements for total peace of mind.
Then why do some people feel lethargic when they eat a vegetarian diet and feel stronger and better when they revert to a meat diet? It could be for one of the following reasons:
Their diet is too poor or abnormal. For example, the people of West Africa who survive mainly on the cassava root (only 2 pc protein), people who eat only fruit (fruitarians) may lack adequate protein.
Their bodies need more time to adjust to a no-meat diet. Usually, you have to make a gradual change from meat to vegetables.
The psychological effect is too strong, those people believe eating meat is healthier and they do not find vegetables attractive at all. This is the Placebo Effect, which can distort the outcome considerably.
People with particular health problems such as acidic stomach, B12-lacking anaemia, etc. can also have difficulty in becoming vegetarian. Of course, such problems should be rectified first.
Recent experiments on physical endurance have proved that:
Vegetarians have about 2 to 3 times the endurance of meat-eaters.
Their recovery time from a state of exhaustion is 5 times shorter.
In sports and track and field, vegetarians have also gained high levels of achievement and set records that have made the meat-eaters green with envy:
Dave Scott of Davis, California, is regarded as the greatest triathlete of all time. He won the Ironman Triathlon of Hawaii 4 times (including 3 times in a row) while no one else has ever won it more than once. In 3 years running, Dave broke his own records in three consecutive events: swimming 2.5 miles at sea, cycling 112 miles and running 16.2 miles. Dave is a vegetarian.
The athlete Sixto Linares did not perish after 14 years of being a vegetarian, as his parents had been afraid he would. In 1985, Sixto broke the world triathlon record by: swimming 4.8 miles at sea, cycling 185 miles and then running 53.4 miles non-stop, all in one day.
Robert Sweetgall of Neward, Delaware is one of the world ultra-distance walkers. In 3 years, he has walked a distance greater than the 24,900 miles circumference of the Earth. Robert is a vegetarian for ethical reasons, he said: "...there is enough food on Earth for us not to have to kill animals to eat". After walking a 10,600-mile perimeter around the US, he set out on a loop that would take him through parts of all the 50 states, via about 20 million footsteps within the next year.
Edwin Moses, regarded by many as the most respected athlete in track and field in the world. The Olympic Gold Medallist won the 400 metres hurdles over an eight years period and never lost a race. He was awarded the "1985 Sportsman of the Year" by Sports Illustrated. Edwin Moses is a vegetarian.
Paavo Nurmi, called "the Flying Finn", set 20 world records in distance running, and won 9 Olympic medals. He was a vegetarian.
Australian swimmer Murray Rose won 3 gold medals in the Olympic Games 1956 in Melbourne when he was only 17. Four years later, at the 1960 Olympiad, he became the first man in history to retain his 400 metres freestyle title. He later broke his own world records for the 400 metres and 1,500 metres freestyle. Considered as the greatest swimmer of all time, Rose has been a vegetarian since the age of 2.
Bill Pickering of Great Britain is also a vegetarian. He set the world record for swimming the English Channel. Then, incredibly at the age of 48, he set a new world record for swimming the Bristol Channel.
US Marine Corps Captain Alan Jones of Quantico, Virginia was struck by polio when he was five years old. Now a vegetarian, Alan could be the fittest man on Earth by amassing a record of physical accomplishments unmatched by any human that ever lived. He holds the world record for continuous sit-ups (17,003 times). In a 15-months period, he accomplished possibly the most remarkable array of physical achievements ever attained by a human being:
Lifted a 75-pound barbell over his head 1,600 times in 19 hours.
Made 3,800 basketball free throws in 12 hours, with 96 pc hit rate.
Swam 500 miles in 11 days, down a river to the ocean.
Skipped rope 43,000 times in 5 hours.
Skipped rope 100,000 times in 23 hours.
Swam 68 miles in a swimming pool without a sleeping break.
Swam half a mile in zero degree Celsius water without a wet suit.
Performed 51,000 sit-ups in 76 hours.
Besides strength and endurance, vegetarians also enjoy health and longevity more so than meat-eaters. Take for example the Hunzas, who live in the Himalayas in Northern Pakistan. Meat and dairy food intake accounts for only about 1.5 pc of their diet. "They work and play at 80 years of age and beyond -- most of those who reach their 100th birthday continue to be active, and retirement is unheard of. The absence of excess protein in their diets engenders slow growth and slim, compact body frame. With age, wisdom accumulates but physical degeneration is limited so the senior citizens of these remote societies have something unique to contribute to the lives of others. They are revered". Similarly, the Vilcambas who reside in the Andes of Ecuador, the Abkhasians who live on the Black Sea in the Trans-Caucasus region of the USSR, also have the highest life expectancies in the world. These groups, although scattered in different parts of the world, have one thing in common: they are vegetarians or near full vegetarians and all enjoy health and longevity.
Let us now discuss the economic side of vegetarianism. According to economists, to provide food for a vegetarian we need 0.167 acre (700 square metres) of cultivated land, compared to 3.25 acres to provide food for a meat-eater by the US standard. In other words, for the same acreage required to provide food for meat-eaters, we can provide food for almost 20 times more vegetarians. Moreover, the saving on water and fuel is also tremendous:
We need only 300 gallons (1360 litres) of water daily to provide food for a vegetarian compared to 4,000 gallons (18000 litres) for a meat-eater.
"Even the best of animal enterprises examined returns only 34.5 % of the investment of fossil fuel in food energy, whereas the poorest of five crop enterprises examined returns 328 %" -- US research -- These figures prove undeniably that vegetarianism is a much more economical way of life, a way of life that can make the Earth greener and alleviate world famine on a massive scale.
Let us now look at the meat-eaters. Do they have any advantages over vegetarians? Many people still think animal protein is superior to vegetable protein, based on the fact that laboratory rats raised on animal protein grow faster than rats raised on vegetable protein. But this concept is now obsolete because more thorough examination shows that the meat-eating rats are also less healthy and shorter-lived than the vegetarian ones. Nowadays, excess animal protein and fat intake is the biggest killer in the industrialised nations in the world, where people eat mainly meat and other animal products (milk, eggs, butter, cheese, etc). They generally suffer the following diseases:
Heart attacks and strokes caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and high-blood-pressure. The cholesterol in meat and fat tends to deposit on the arteries wall, reducing their openings and thereby reducing the supply of blood to vital organs of the body. In severe cases, those arteries can be blocked or ruptured, causing heart-attack or stroke. In 1970, in the US, 38.3 % of all deaths were caused by heart-attacks, 10.5 % of all deaths were caused by strokes. The figure is frightening.
Cancer in various body organs (colon, breasts, cervix or uterus, prostate, ovaries, lung, liver, etc.). Medical statistics have shown there is a strong correlation between the cancer rate and the amount of animal protein intake. For example, the colon cancer rate in meat-eaters is very high, the suspected cause being putrefying meat in the bowel that is designed mainly to handle vegetable waste. The US has one of the highest death rate from cancers (17.2 %) and the lowest life expectancy in the industrialised world, probably because its average animal protein and fat intake is among the highest. On average, about 1,400 people die of cancer every day in the US!
Osteoporosis (severe bone-loss), arthritis and gout, kidney damage, because of excessive protein intake. Meat, fish and eggs are the highest acid-forming foods. If the blood becomes too acidic, the body has to draw the alkaline calcium from the bones to balance the pH, in case the calcium absorbed from food is inadequate. So, the osteoporosis rate is very high among meat-eaters, although their calcium intake is usually high from dairy foods. In the US, most women reaching the age of 65 have lost about a third of their bone structure. Also, meat-eaters risk developing kidney stones or kidney damage due to the excessive amount of calcium and protein rejected through the kidneys.
Diabetes, due to excessive blood-fat making the body insulin less effective in regulating blood sugar. Diabetes can lead to dangerous complications such as heart failure, blindness, gangrene of the limbs. Diabetics can greatly improve their condition by adapting a diet with very little fat and no sugar.
Asthma caused by allergy to dairy foods. In fact, milk is NOT the perfect food as advertised. Whole cows' milk contains about 49 pc fat, 15 pc protein and can contribute greatly to cholesterol-related diseases like heart-attack, stroke,...not to mention the fact that it contains also a considerable amount of pesticide. Milk has proved not able to prevent or to stop osteoporosis as its protein content is high and its calcium to phosphorus ratio is much lower when compared to vegetables. Moreover, the lactose in milk is hard to digest for most adults, especially among Asians.
Multiple Sclerosis is probably related to excessive protein and fat intake. More than 250,000 Americans are suffering from MS disease and the number is rising each year. To the orthodox Western medicine, MS is a hopeless disease because within 10 years from the onset, the patients can become seriously and permanently crippled by the disease, and there is nothing we can do to help them. In fact, recent experiments have proved that a diet with very little fat, little protein supplemented by vitamin A, C, D and B-complex not only can stop but also improve the conditions of MS patients. Researchers have also noted that breast-fed babies grow into adults with less MS suffering rate than babies fed with cows' milk. The suspected cause is that human milk contains about 5 times more Linoleic Acid (needed for the nerve cell) than cows' milk.
Sexual aberrations like precocious puberty, sexual perversion, etc. can be caused by hormones mixed in animal feed. Today animal products (meat, eggs, milk, etc.) contain considerable amounts of artificial hormones used to promote growth or increase reproductive rates, which can cause growth abnormalities, especially in children.
Viral infections, because the body immune system has been damaged by toxic chemicals (mostly pesticides). Many strains of highly resistant viruses have evolved as a result of the overuse of antibiotic drugs in animals. Many sulphur drugs and antibiotics, once considered wonder drugs, have greatly lost their potencies. Deadly infections (like AIDS, new tuberculosis, salmonellosis, etc.) are occurring at an increasing rate, causing much concern for the authorities.
Toxic chemical poisoning: For productivity gain, today farmers are using huge amounts of pesticides or insecticides on their fields, chemical antiseptics and insecticides in their animal feed lots and batteries and on the animals themselves. These toxic chemicals, plus the animal wastes and toxic wastes from cities and industries, are heavily poisoning our environment and no creature on Earth is left unaffected. These poisons tend to accumulate in the fat-molecules of the body and can get into the milk or eggs of the animals. In the US, "Meat contains about 14 times more pesticides than do plant foods, dairy products 5.5 times more". We can imagine what these foods do to our bodies if we eat them. According to the 1976 US statistics in Michigan, the breast-milk of 96% of American mothers contains considerable amounts of highly toxic chemicals such as DDT, PCB's, dieldrin, heptachlor, dioxin, etc. and is unsafe to feed to babies. These toxic chemicals are also responsible for many birth defects, brain retardation, childhood cancers, genetic diseases, sterility, etc. In 1987, about 25% of American college students are sterile, compared to 0.5%c in 1952 (only 35 years ago). The accelerating trend is frightening for the future of the human species.
Mankind is paying a high price for its taste buds and the industries of death are confusing the minds of consumers by hidings facts and creating misconceptions about nutrition. But first let us discuss the unbelievable suffering of animals raised for food. For financial gain, some people have committed cruelty at a scale unimaginable. Each year, billions of animals are detained in modern farms, stripped of all their rights to live in their natural environment. They are fattened in the shortest possible time to be killed in the meat-packaging factories, or exploited for their ability to provide milk and eggs and later, when exhausted they have to meet their fate at the hands of the butchers. On these modern farms, the animals are kept in a completely artificial environment, in space so small the chickens have to be de-beaked, the pigs' leashes have to be cut off, so that they cannot hurt and cannibalise each other in a crazed frenzy. In the Provimi method of veal raising, the baby calves are removed from their mothers immediately after birth. Then they are kept chained in stalls so tight they can hardly move, and fed a no-iron diet to induce anaemia so that they can gain more of the pinkish white meat that consumers appreciate. In such conditions, the products from these poor sick animals usually contain, in addition to the hormones and pesticides, their fear and anger in the form of harmful endocrine chemicals. No wonders these products have proved disastrous on the consumers' health.
Each day in the US alone, about 9 million animals (chickens, pigs, cow, sheep, etc.) are slaughtered. Imagine what the number would be for the whole world. We can say animal blood has flowed as rivers and their bones would stack up as mountains from our deadly habit of eating meat. In the meantime, billions of acres of jungle have been cut down to grow animal feed and turn into Mac Donald's hamburgers. Millions of tons of pesticides have peen sprayed on our lands and in our air. For financial gain, people are stupidly poisoning our food, our land, even the air we breathe. The Earth's resources are being wasted on a grand scale, while in the world 40,000 children die of starvation each single day. Each year, about 1,000 species of animals become extinct as their environments are destroyed. The Earth is becoming arid because of soil erosion, its rivers and oceans slowly poisoned by animal wastes and toxic chemicals. Typhoons, floods (and earthquakes) are becoming more frequent due to the destruction of the precious tropical jungles. The ozone layer in the stratosphere is getting thinner, the Green House effect is becoming a more serious threat. And what we humans get in return? Millions of people died of heart disease, cancer and other degenerative diseases, due to excessive meat and fat intake. Along with our poisoned environment, the cells in our bodies are slowly dying. The future of humankind is very bleak if we cannot stop the deadly habit that is destroying the Earth, its animals and the lives of humans ourselves.
Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Peace Prize winner, strongly believed that: "Any religion which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion... Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace".
The Indian Chief Seattle, when it was suggested that he sell his people's land to the white men, posed only one condition: "The white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man. All things are connected". Before such wisdom and eloquence, dare we say he was an ignorant savage and we are now more civilised than he was?
We should have the courage to discard wrong theories and wrong dogmas, no matter where they come from. Let us face the fact that mother Earth and our own very existence are in danger, and the greatest contributing factor to this is our habit of eating meat. We can most certainly improve the situation and our own plight by returning to Mother Nature, putting ourselves among other living things in the spirit of love and mutual help. By returning to a green diet, we can diminish the suffering of other species, save the resources (top soil, water, fuel, etc.) of the Earth, protect our environment (from the deadly trend of self-poisoning) and be able to help the needy people of the world. Like John Robbins, we have a dream in which the Earth is greener, world-famine is totally eradicated, peace reigns everywhere and all other animals rejoice because finally man has dropped his butcher's knife.
The green diet is certainly the one for a more-civilised humankind and a much better world.
[ Compiled by Tri Huynh of Sydney, Australia, based on John Robbins' book "DIET FOR A NEW AMERICA", and revised by Abhinyana. ]