Sauropod is the name accorded to the largest animals to have ever walked on earth based on evidence of good fossil remains.
Meet Supersaurus, a genus (taxonomic rank) of sauropods.
And here’s another interesting fact that makes Supersaurus and the rest of the sauropods even more Super– they were plant eaters. Dinosaurs are long extinct but let’s talk about another species that is putting many animals into extinction – humans.
As a member of that species, I grew up in a vegetarian family where meat was never cooked at home but my parents gave their children the liberty to eat meat outside at restaurants. I never ate beef because my family is Hindu. Cows are accorded with the great distinction of being a divine abode of Gods as part of Hindu mythology and religion. Moreover, cows bestow us with milk and the many delicious foods originating from it.
India, as a secular state, prospers with a multitude of beautiful religions intermingling with each other and there is no doubt that many Hindus, in addition to people of other faiths, eat beef and other kinds of meat. Yet the irony is rather jaw-dropping that a country of over 900 million Hindus is also the world’s largest exporter of beef (since 2012).
Though I have never been very religious, I used to think that as a Hindu, eating chicken is fine so as long as I am not touching cow’s meat. Boy, was I foolish to think that! And though I intend to be no preacher of any ideology, my vegetarian stance on diet has allowed me to be in a more divine union or yoga with God, spiritually speaking.
As a child, I remember one family trip in particular. We chanced to visit France where my dad was scoffed by a local, “Go back to America!” because he was speaking English, albeit, in an Indian accent. The only vegetarian items available that we could order with our “phoren” accents and limited knowledge of French were ironically, french fries, and some customary bread and salad. My dad kept repeating the following line, “No meat! No meat!” which he still makes use of today in any new restaurant. I must admit that his line helped us from getting served any escargots as appetizers in France.
But that trip was 13 years ago. Today, all of humanity realizes the benefits of including more vegetables and fruits in our diet. Airlines, entertainment venues, and restaurants across the globe have begun catering to everyone’s peculiar dietary needs (many food related allergies stemming from processed GMO laden foods) and they have a variety of vegetarian options available on demand. A great number of cafes have cropped up that are purely vegan and organic in nature and continue to do very good business. And Jai gow mata, you are just in thyme!
Here’s a glimpse of the wondrous benefits of Mother Nature and her green cabinet of herbs.
2013 has been an eye-opening year in many ways till date. One of them includes becoming a permanent vegetarian. After tuning the spiritual antennas in equilibrium with my consciousness, I can no longer justify my actions to pick one animal that gets killed and eaten, while the other is worshiped or saved on account of a religion I was born into.
One question I asked myself is — How can I place more value, more love, and more respect for a pet versus the animal on my plate?
I had many friends and family question the reasoning behind “Why did you become a vegetarian?” as if the matter merited as much seriousness as changing my faith.
It’s a choice. It’s none of my business with regards to what you eat and don’t eat. It’s your body, hence your willful decision.
This picture depicts my answer quite beautifully.
Whenever I chance to interact with animals, whether it be a family pet or feeding crumbs of Indian bread to pigeons in my veranda (I assure you the roti is good to eat and I’m not contributing to the bird flu epidemic), I feel content to have overcome that monumental contradiction in my life.
We can only learn and advance with contradictions.
The faithful inside should meet the doubtful. The doubtful should meet the faithful. Human slowly advances and becomes mature when he accepts his contradictions.
~ Shams Tabrizi
The truth I have come to realize is that we are all connected together. All of life, whether it be human, plant or animal, deserves our equal respect.
Perhaps you are already a vegetarian because your family is vegetarian. Perhaps you are interested in becoming a vegetarian. In any case, here are some common myths associated with becoming vegetarian:
1) Not getting enough protein
“The problem isn’t that people, in developed countries, aren’t getting enough protein, it’s that they’re getting too much! Eating excessive amounts of animal protein has been linked to the development of endometrial, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. Nutrition experts estimate that most of us need between 0.8 and 1 gram of protein per day for every kilogram of body weight. While virtually all vegan foods contain some amount of protein, soybeans are protein powerhouses. Soybeans contain all the essential amino acids and surpass all other plant foods in the amount of protein that they can deliver to humans. Other rich sources of non-animal protein include legumes, nuts and seeds.”
What about developing countries, you ask? It is fair to say that the poorest of the poor don’t get adequate protein, let alone food, leading to high levels of malnutrition. A simple, nutritious and affordable diet of beans or lentils along with staple of rice or bread in their diet can counter that as long as the government funds are properly allocated and meal schemes, ethically implemented. We don’t need Mosanto to mess with our soy, milk and the rest of our crops. Barring man-made toxicities from the environment, you are also less likely to see a poor man suffer from (rich man) diet related illnesses of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and many forms of cancer which makes one wonder how developed our food eating habits have really become.
Caveat: Virtually 90%+ of the soybean in US is genetically modified so please take care to consume only non-GMO soy. You can get your Omega 3s from flax seeds, healthy protein from beans and lentils and all your fixes of vitamins, fiber and nutrients directly from vegetables. Check for the following label(s) to identify pure organic produce at your local food market.
2) Concern about Building Muscle on a Vegetarian Diet (Especially For Men)
Let me present you with a photo of a 35 year old Indian actor by the name of Vidyut Jamwal, who quit eating meat roughly 10 years ago.
“After I switched to being a vegetarian, everything in my life changed. Every good thing is happening. I really mean it because I saw transformations in my body, my mind. I could feel the connectivity between my brain and my body. That’s the only reason that was very selfish. After that I started evolving with my physical ability. I realized that I am more agile, faster,” the PETA supporter/actor was quoted as saying in an interview.
Now unless you are Micheal Phelps and intend to consume 12,000+ calories in a single day, then you should be fine getting sufficient protein to build muscle from a vegetarian diet. There are also many options for vegan based protein formulas in supermarkets that help athletes build a great bod.
3) Lack of Food choices as a Vegetarian
Don’t pity me because I don’t eat meat. I have plenty of awesome food choices to select from like mango salsa, black bean and lentil soups, thai red, yellow and green curries, idli sambhar, spinach quiches, veggie noodles, fruit smoothies, pesto and avocado panini, just to name a few. Desserts are even more splendid unless you want some of Rachel Green’s meat pudding.
If you have grown up on a diet of animals, then you may not be as aware of the plethora of options available to eat as a vegetarian. Contrary to popular belief, there is more to a life of a vegan or a vegetarian than just a measly salad or as my Indian counterparts would say, “ghaas-phoos.” And no, I don’t chew my food like a cow grazes on a field. I would “moo” about more food options but that would take an “udder”ly long time.
4) Animals are meant to be reared for human consumption
As humans, we don’t have the authority to exercise such injustice against animals. Then again, we have plentiful instances of human rights violations so it is difficult to expect similar justice for animals when they are accorded with a lower status than humans.
Some common phrases from people who find becoming vegetarian an impossible task:
1) “I like my pet dog/cat. I would never eat those animals, but turkey and bacon? Gobble gobble!”
If animals don’t make such a distinction between each other, why are we?
2) “Chickens are meant to lay eggs, cows are meant to give milk etc. There are so many animals reared in farms, might as well (ab)use them for our own good, right?”
If I had a cow in my backyard and treated her with utmost respect and love, I would be grateful to take care of her, her calves and receive the gift of her milk. But the milk industry has become so cruel to cows that my best bet is to avoid purchasing milk products at the supermarket and replace it with coconut milk and other nutritious varieties. As far as meat is concerned, did it ever occur to you that the thousands of acres of farmlands used to grow crops to rear animals raised solely for meat can go towards food production to lessen the severity of food crisis? For more info on the topic of global warming and meat consumption, please see : http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/global-warming.aspx
The Food Industry just like any other industry works on profit so if more humans desire meat, more meat will be made available at the cost of an animal’s health by feeding them a substandard, low-cost diet. (Humans do the same when they eat fast food). And then to appease the world hunger problem, companies like Mosanto (former manufacturer of agent orange and DDT) will come along to genetically modify the very DNA of our grains and crops to increase yield when the problem can be averted by reducing meat consumption and demanding organic produce in the first place. As one Anonymous post once said, “So as long as there is profit in war, there will be no peace.” I sincerely believe in merit based capitalism as long as ethics are maintained in for-profit domains and I am all for application of ethical science in our food as long as the scientific practices are not anti-nature (natural cross-pollination/hybridization as a form of good science vs synthetic genetic modification as a form of bad science defended by flawed, biased studies undertaken by Mosanto itself)
3) “I cannot give up meat because it is too damn delicious!”
Want to know the real reason that stops us from quitting meat?
I’m not talking about the kind of ego that upholds our self-interest to act on our intellect. I wouldn’t describe that as ego, but as having the conviction in our own strengths to make a difference in the world without, simply put, taking any cow dung from negative ideologies and remarkably fake and ignorant people.
4) Now some of you may say- What good can becoming a vegetarian do? We can die from possibly anything today because toxicities and calamities are everywhere — from the hormones and diseases in our meat and milk, from the GMOs infested seeds in our wheat and pesticides in our veggies, from the aspartame of our (die)t sodas, from our pharma drugged water supply, from road accidents, from natural disasters, from the polluted thoughts in our mind etc.
True. But prevention and action to change trumps it all. Else, why would we look both ways before crossing the road?
5) If you ever get a humorous justification from a non-vegetarian friend like this…
Here’s my logical response inspired from a lecture by Professor Bryant at Rutgers University:
An apple falls naturally to the ground for our consumption. When you eat the apple, you do not kill the tree that bore the fruit because the tree has the gift to grow more apples naturally. When you eat meat, you kill the animal before consumption.
(Professor Bryant- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Bryant_(author)):
Three Gunas of Ayurveda
In the human context, guna usually refers to the quality of the mind and character of a person. That is, whether they are calm, gentle, patient and tolerant (sattvic), passionate, spontaneous, greedy, materialistic, exploitative and focused on sense gratification (rajasic), or ignorant, lazy, insensitive and deceitful (tamasic). All three types of guna are present in everyone, and each may be displayed in different contexts. People can alternate between gunas depending on the environmental context and their diet, as well as phase of life and other factors. This is because the guna of food consumed, and the surrounding social or physical environment directly influence the mind guna. Just as the five elements are present and may alternate in predominance depending on the environment, the various gunas may dominate in particular circumstances. As human beings, our objective is to increase our sattvic guna by choosing to eat and do those things that are also sattvic in nature. The quality of the food we eat, and our environment, are therefore crucial to maintaining mental health.
The reason why I talk about these three gunas is because we all have the capability to achieve the sattvic guna and move away from rajasic and tamasic gunas.
I’ll provide two examples of friends who moved from sattvic to rajasic and vice versa.
1) My friend felt that he needed to become more aggressive to succeed in his workplace. His kind, benevolent nature would not allow him to be more competitive as what he conceived of himself as a gentle, animal-loving vegetarian so he resorted to eating meat. Turns out that little experiment worked and he continues to eat meat (and other undisclosed habits) occasionally in his effort to maintain his competitive mindset.
2) Another friend chanced to visit a poultry farm where she got a firsthand peek of the cruel fashion in which chickens are slaughtered. Essentially, a butcher pulls a chicken out of its compact cage, much to the animal’s fear and reluctance. Why do you think all the chickens huddle up to one corner of the cage? To be as far away from the individual who intends to kill it. She imagined herself in the position of those animals and realized that she was no different from them for she would have acted the same way. Needless to say, she doesn’t eat meat anymore.
A Short Note on Health and Vegetarianism
Ayurveda (Ayur-life; veda-knowledge) teaches us that when we eat meat, we absorb the fear, the animosity, the anger, the bitterness and all such negative emotions from the animal itself hence deviating us from a sattvic guna to the lower denominations of gunas.
The world is seeing a rise in diet-related illnesses which are preventable and curable through an increase in the uptake of organic fruits and vegetables. And Mother Nature has provided us with the best pharmacy in the world.
There a multitude of causes to care about in the world and it is difficult to actively support a cause or adopt a new one when we may be reeling with our own problems at home. Regardless, above all issues, we should care about our environment for we completely depend upon it for our existence.
Humans can never come above the environment.
No one is suggesting you make a one man army to clean the River Ganga all by yourself but simple acts such as recycling, reducing plastic consumption, removing meat from your diet, taking public transportation when and where possible, can all make a lasting change, especially coupled together with the rest of the world. Other simple tips, unrelated to relinquishing dietary meat, is reducing plastic by installing a water filter at home and carrying a steel case water bottle and for the women– using environment friendly pads can make significant difference in the waste landfills build up for our future.
It is your choice to accept or reject what I say. Don’t quit eating meat because I provided some information or PETA had a celebrity you like who turned vegetarian. Do it because you want to. Do it because you feel good to make your own impact. Do it because you want to better the balance of natural systems inside and outside of your body.