Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Spirituality of Veganism

I love hearing people’s success stories about switching to a vegan diet … how they lost the weight that had chained them down for years, or overcame their battle with diabetes or cancer by turning to a whole-foods, plant-based diet.

But more than those stories, I love to hear how people feel – perhaps for the first time in their lives – that they have found spirituality through their diet.  I am one of those people. 

While it may sound far-fetched that spirituality can come from your diet, it actually makes perfect sense.  When you start learning about the vegan diet, you’ll eventually learn about how the animals we call “food” essentially live their lives in concentration camps called “factory farms.”  The cruel and inhumane conditions that only end for these animals upon their slaughter touch in many of us a deep-rooted sense of humanity that we may not have known existed.  A sense of what’s right and what’s wrong springs forward, and we know beyond a shadow of doubt that we will never again contribute to the senseless cruelty and death that befalls millions of "food" animals every year.

And as we go forward into this new vegan life, many of us realize over time what has really happened … that we have come to recognize the preciousness of life – all life in its many forms – and we become a steward of life.  We realize that some greatness, call it God or whatever you want, runs through all life equally, and a human is not “better than” or “worthier than” or “more important than” a dog, a cow or a chicken.  We may have more cognitive abilities, but it doesn’t make us any more worthy of life. 

Interestingly, reverence for life is at the heart of Buddhism, which tells us that no sentient being should have to suffer, and that our mission on earth is to reduce the suffering of others.  Christianity, Judaism and Islam have love and peace at the heart of their doctrines – how better can one show love and peace to another creature than to choose not to let it live an entire life of hell, just for your lunchtime pleasure? 

So, whether we go vegan for health reasons, animal cruelty reasons or environmental reasons, many of us discover perhaps the best benefit of all – one that we never expected in a million years – that we have found God through our choice of diet.  We see it in the eyes of a cow, feel it when we pet a sheep, hear it in the peep of a baby chick.  And we know we have come home, to a place where love is at our core.

“Wings cannot carry you to God.
Only love can carry you there.”
~ Rumi

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! My thoughts exactly! There is no way a truly conscious person can justify the unnecessary suffering and pain for the sake of appetite. Loving and protecting those who are voiceless and vulnerable is the start of choosing a higher path. A path of compassion and caring without which any pretense of spirituality is just simple hypocrisy.