Ahimsa Trinity Article

/Ahimsa Trinity Article
Ahimsa Trinity Article2018-12-27T14:36:26+00:00

The Ahimsa Trinity of Animal Rights, Human Health, and Ecology.

by Yogini Kaliji 

It is an interesting time we live in. We often feel we have progressed far in civilization through science, technology, religion, and basic ethics. Yet, the question of being a vegetarian still arises. Fortunately, in the west, there is more information available now on the benefits of a vegetarian diet. The benefits often focus on diet and now research has proven that vegetarian diet enhances health and greatly lessens the chance of disease. But is our health alone the reason for being a vegetarian?

Animal Rights

The animals, our younger brothers and sisters, are like humans in so many ways. Our closest relatives share over 98 percent of our DNA. And most important, the Atman, divine soul, abides in these bodies. The non-human animal feels love, so what more needs to be said? They have feelings, emotions, attachments, and desires. They are parents, brothers, and sisters to other beings. People call them pets when they live in their home but call them meat when they consume them. Our stomach is not to be graveyards for their corpse no more than a human should be consumed for the same purpose.

Vegan Chicken tiger loveThe choice in what one chooses to eat is a statement of personal ethics and understanding of suffering. There isn’t a reason for the consumption of non- vegetarian food beyond lack of knowledge, past programming and / or lack of compassion. If one chooses to take the life of these precious beings then there should be honesty in approach. Do not conveniently go to the supermarket and find the animal wrapped in a plastic container. Go to the animal while alive and look into their eyes, into their soul, and see if you can take its life through killing it yourself. Few would do this. This is a great injustice to take the life of an innocent being. Yet, many seek the pleasures of their taste buds without truly realizing what they are doing. In actuality, the taste buds do not crave this. The animal in most cases has been dead for a considerable length of time before it reaches the dinner table. The corpse needs to be invested with various taste enhancements to be rendered to eat, mostly from vegetarian sources.

If one truly wishes to consume our animal friends then visit a slaughterhouse. Learn about the horrific processes that take place. The cruelty is unsurpassed. All great religions have their core teaching based in ahimsa, non-violence; yet, how many practice this? When we speak about the pros and cons of vegetarian diet, ahimsa should be the first concern relating to the non-human animals. These loving beings didn’t take birth to be consumed by man. They are on their evolutionary journey even as humans are.

 Vegetarian classification

There are three classifications regarding vegetarians. All three groups avoid meat, fish, and poultry. Lacto-ovo vegetarian includes eggs and dairy products. Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products. Vegans (pure vegetarians) eat a plant- based diet only. In following the ahimsa principles, vegans do not eat honey, nor wear any animal products such as leather, wool, or silk unless it is obtained without any discomfort or harm. They also avoid household products and cosmetics that have been tested on animals. There are many vegan conscious products easily available. Scientific research has proven that the vegan diet is the healthiest, reducing the greatest risk of disease. This diet also provides the most compassion for the animals and ecology. Changing to a vegetarian diet would save more than 100 innocent beings per year.

Taking into consideration the suffering that the dairy cow, calves, egg-laying hens, chickens, and sea creatures are subjected to by the food industry, we can begin to understand why the vegan lifestyle is the true ahimsa diet.

Briefly defined are the conditions of the following vegetarian animals that are exploited within the factory farms.

The Dairy Cow and Calf

Those who choose a vegetarian lifestyle are often aware of the immense suffering that takes place in the slaughterhouse. However, few are aware that the commercialization of the dairy industry brings enormous suffering to the mother and her calf.

The cows are kept in a factory environment where space is limited. To maintain a steady flow of milk, the cows are artificially inseminated leaving them without rest between the pregnancies. Their udders are hooked to an electronic milking machine that causes intense pain. Some spend their entire lives standing on concrete floor. They rarely see the light of day.

Cows naturally make enough milk to meet the needs of their calves (around 16 pounds a day). Yet, the genetic manipulation, antibiotics, and hormones are used to force each cow to produce more than 18,000 pounds of milk a year (an average of 50 pounds a day).

cow-kissing-calfWhile female calves are slaughtered or added to the dairy herd, the male calves are often taken from their mother on the day they are born, or no later than 7- days passing. Cows are loving mothers who even take turns babysitting for each other. Cows cry for weeks after losing their calves. They have been known to jump fences in search of their lost child. Witnessing the intense longing and sounds of sorrow for their young, would surely awaken most to their cause.

Veal is a direct by-product of the dairy industry as the male calves are raised for the veal market. In the veal factories, the calves are chained and kept in tiny crates. They cannot even turn around or lie down comfortably. This limitation of movement is to create muscle atrophy to create tender meat. As vegan author, John Robbins states, “The veal calf would actually have more space if, instead of chaining him in such a stall, you stuffed him into the trunk of a subcompact car and kept him there for his entire life.”

Inside these crates, the calves stand on wood-slat flooring that is drenched in their urine. This often results in respiratory problems and chronic pneumonia, requiring the veal farmers to inject antibiotics into the calves.

While the milk is being taken from the cows, the young calves are semi-starved, living on a liquid-based, iron-deficient diet for about 4-months. This is to deliberately keep the calves anemic in order to produce light-colored meat. And finally the innocent calves are sent to the slaughterhouse and later served in higher priced restaurants.

Cows have a lifespan of about 25 years and can produce milk for eight or nine years. However, the reproductive problems make the cows so weak that by the age of four or five years old they are sent to the slaughterhouse. Then people consume the flesh of these sick, tortured cows.

Kaliji with cowsCows are family oriented. They form lasting friendships, sometimes life-long relationships. Yet, are only allowed to graze for 2 months with their family and friends before taken to the factory farms where they are treated like a milking machine.

If one wants to consume dairy products, even though it isn’t necessary for human health, find out the source of the milk. Then choose based on ahimsa. We must protect the cow. But not only the cow, all animals in creation should be given equal protective treatment.

The Hens, Chickens, Turkeys

Soon after birth and without painkillers, the beaks of the laying hens and turkeys are removed with a hot blade. Factory farmers do this to decrease the effects of the aggression caused by the overcrowded cages. It is so severely crowded that the hens are unable to even flap their wings. Frustrated, the birds often attack one another. To reduce the overcrowding, the factory farmers amputate turkeys’ toes and mutilate their beaks. This causes cruel, painful conditions that make walking and eating very difficult.

vegan baby chickenThe chickens and turkeys are fed growth-promoting hormones and antibiotics. Their legs and organs are unable to support this enormous weight, leading to disabling bone and joint problems. Prior to taking to the slaughter, with difficulty they are caught. They are pulled from their wire battery cages often resulting in ripping off their wings, legs, and feet. The birds are then crammed into crates during the transportation to the final destination. Again they are pulled from the crates then shackled upside down onto automated metal racks. The birds are stunned in electrified baths before their throats are slit and some are still alive as they are immersed in tanks of scalding water while being de-feathered. And this people choose to eat? Often people drop red meat then substitute chicken. Chicken meat is not lean; there is one teaspoon of saturated fat per ounce of chicken.

Egg-laying hens live a similar life crowded in wire ‘battery cages’ stacked one on top of another. They, too, live a life of pain and misery. Being that only female chickens lay eggs, male chickens are of no use to the egg industry. They are gassed, crushed, and are often discarded in trash bags to suffocate. Besides, the chicken eggs are also a health concern as the yolk is the densest concentration of animal fat on earth. It exists to feed a baby chicken for 21 days. Egg whites are very concentrated protein, and with yokes, contribute to high cholesterol and the leaching of calcium out of the bones. While some countries are now banning the battery cage system, it still prevails in many countries like the USA.

The Fish

Vegan ~ FishIn the USA alone it is estimated that over 15 billion fish are eaten annually. The commercial fishers use nets several miles long that trap thousands of fish at one ‘pull’. After being dragged along the bottom of the ocean for hours, fish die when taken from their home. It is impossible to only catch the fish they seek; thus, hundreds of thousands of other animals are caught including whales, dolphins, seals, sea turtles, and birds. They become entangled in these nets and die. In addition to this, the factory farming of fish, called aquaculture, is a growing business. The fish are confined and diseased. To counter this, the fish are given chemical treatments and antibiotics. Yet, the death rate is still high. Ignorantly, people feel fish don’t feel pain when in fact they do as any other creature. Patrick Bateson from the Institute of Medical Ethics (U.K.) said, “Few people have much fellow feeling for fish even though many fish are long-lived, have complicated nervous systems, and are capable of learning complicated tasks”.

The Pig

A respected TV show in the USA, 60 minutes, did a special on pigs. The correspondent, Morley Safer said, “Pigs see no sun in their limited lives, with no hay to lie on, no mud to roll in. The sows live in tiny cages; so narrow they can’t even turn around. They live over metal grates, and their waste is pushed through slats beneath them and flushed into huge pits”.

Vegan ~ pigletThe treatment for pigs is similar to the other farm animals with constant cycles of pregnancy where they live confined in metal stalls that are so small they are unable to turn around. They either stand in one place or uncomfortably lie down during their four-month pregnancy. After giving birth, the sows are confined in very narrow crates.

The factory farmers treat the piglets like the hens and turkeys. In addition, they cut off their tails, remove the ends of their teeth, rip out the males’ testicles, and more without any painkillers. During slaughter, the pigs are often still conscious while turned upside down to have their throats slit, limbs cut off, and skin ripped from their body.

Pigs are known for their intelligence where they can learn many feats. They are playful and affectionate. Yet, their lives are lived in misery.

Cow

cow kissing from behind farm railsAt modern slaughterhouses, it takes approximately 25 minutes for a live steer to become a steak. Only up to 10-months maximum are the cattle allowed access to the outdoors before they are taken to feedlots where they are fattened with fillers and an unnatural diet of grains. They will remain here for 6-10 months until they reach the ideal ‘market weight’ of 1,000 plus pounds. As they are shipped to the slaughterhouse in crowded trucks, they receive no water or food. Upon arrival they receive the same horrendous, painful deaths like pigs and other farm animals. A ‘pistol’ is placed against the head as a metal rod is thrust into their brains while the cow struggles to be set free. Too often the cow survives to only face their throat being cut followed by the tail cutter, the belly ripper, and the hide puller. Millions of cows are slaughtered yearly for the beef, veal, and some dairy products.

The animals that are taken for food by humans include so many. Their suffering is as painful as the animals thus far listed. Their life is just as important. All factory farm animals receive similar type of treatment. The animals hunted for their meat or skin also have the right to live, but suffer at the hands of their human predator.

Human Health

Vegan plateWhen humans partake from the non-vegetarian diet, they are not only the source of this suffering but they themselves also suffer in health. The animals are so tortured, they are sick both physically and mentally. How can one think that ingesting their bodies does not affect them? As the proverb goes, ‘you are what you eat’. The animals are mentally stressed and full of fear. This results in the humans being affected mentally due to the influence of the animal’s mental states prior and during their slaughter. Clearly the vegetarian diet reduces the chance of disease and mental stress. It is proven beyond doubt that there is no need for the flesh of animals to be consumed by humans. For health, we must choose the proper diet based on animal rights, human health, and ecology.

It is easy to change to a vegetarian diet; however, one needs to know some basic nutritional information. There are healthy vegetarian diets and unhealthy vegetarian diets. In addition to the vegetarian diet, one needs to avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol; foods that are fried, over-cooked, processed, canned, high salt content, too spicy, and junk foods. One needs to have a strong proportion of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.

The key nutrients to include are vitamin B-12, vitamin D, and essential omega-3 acids. Consume ample amounts of pure water. Be physically active through daily walks, and include a balanced yoga practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation. Maintain a positive mental state for the natural healing system in the body to emerge.

Vegan-green-heartScientific research has proven that a vegetarian diet decreases the risk of such serious and wide spread health issues as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, obesity, and heart diseases. Cholesterol is found only in animal products such as meat, eggs, poultry, seafood, and dairy. The vegan diet is a plant diet; thus, cholesterol-free. Vegetarians have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and heart disease.

While diabetes is becoming rapidly an epidemic, research has proven that the best dietary prescription of controlling diabetes 2 is a vegetarian diet and proper exercise. Required is a diet high in complex carbohydrates and fiber (which is only found in plant foods). White rice turns to sugar and is not recommended for diabetics, whereas whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit lower blood sugar levels. This plant-based diet, along with exercise, allows for medication to be greatly reduced or eliminated. Those with diabetes will be at a higher risk for heart disease. The reduction of cholesterol and fat reduces these chances. Vegan diet is the best way to achieve this.

In various vegetarian studies it is shown that death rates from cancer are about one-half to three-quarters of those who eat a non-vegetarian diet. This occurs due to several factors. One is the less fat and higher fiber in the diet, and the increase in cancer-fighting substances found in a plant based diet called phytochemicals. The vegetarian eats more fresh vegetables and fruits that contain all the vitamins and minerals, along with antioxidants, to protect against cancer.

In addition to these serious diseases, vegetarians are less likely to suffer from kidney stones or gallstones and are at a lower risk for osteoporosis. The intake of animal products leaches calcium from the bones. Those living in countries where their diet is more plant-based have little osteoporosis.

Ecology

In choosing the vegetarian/vegan diet, we make a great contribution to the ecology of our planet. Consider these facts:

  • Livestock production is one of the greatest polluters in the world. Livestock produces 130 times the amount of the waste people do. Livestock production is a large contributor of every environmental problem confronting the planet – loss of fresh water, air and water pollution, rain forest destruction, acid rain and soil erosion.
  • U.S. factory farms generate more than 1.5 billion tons of animal waste every year.75% of the U.S. topsoil is gone due to grazing. Over 4 million acres of cropland are lost to erosion in the U.S. every year due to farmlands.

  • 75% of the U.S. topsoil is gone due to grazing. Over 4 million acres of cropland are lost to erosion in the U.S. every year due to farmlands. 
  • Planet EarthCentral America has seen over one-third of its forests cut since the early 1960’s, while pasture land has increased by 50%.
  • Roughly one fifth of the world’s land area is used for grazing, twice the area used for growing crops. Much of this land was once wild grassland supporting a diverse range of plants, birds, rodents and wild grazing animals.
  • A meat-based diet requires 7 times more land than a plant-based diet. 4.8 pounds of grain fed to cattle produces one pound of beef for humans.
  • 40% of the world’s grains go to feed livestock animals, while 6 million people a year die of starvation. Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer estimates that reducing meat production by just 10 percent in the U.S. would free enough grain to feed 60 million people.
  • According to the British group Vegfam, a 10-acre farm can support 60 people growing soybeans, 24 people growing wheat, 10 people growing corn and only two producing cattle. Britain—with 56 million people—could support a population of 250 million on an all-vegetable diet. Because 90 percent of U.S. and European meat eaters’ grain consumption is indirect (first being fed to animals), westerners each consume 2,000 pounds of grain a year. Most grain in underdeveloped countries is consumed directly.
  • Producing a pound of animal protein requires about 100 times as much water as producing a vegetable protein. Up to 5000 gallons of water is required to raise the one- pound of beef. According to the US Department of Agriculture statistics, one acre of land can grow 20,000 pounds of potatoes. That same acre of land, when used to grow cattle feed, can produce less than 165 pounds of edible cow flesh.
  • The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization has issued this report on global warming: “Livestock production is responsible for more climate change gasses than all the motor vehicles in the world. In total, it is responsible for 18 percent (as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent) of human induced greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a major source of land and water degradation”. Emissions also arise from the energy used to produce fertilizers and pesticides for feed crops, run slaughterhouses, and pump water.
  • According to a 2006 United Nations study, meat consumption is one of the most significant factors in global warming. The scientists found that more than the transportation sector, the meat industry is is responsible for more greenhouse gases.
  • Billions of gallons of fuel go for machinery, truck transportation, refrigeration and slaughterhouse procedures. According to a March 2006 report by the Humane Society of the U. S. “Before they are slaughtered, livestock travel an average of 1,000 miles, but some journeys are much longer. Long-distance transport not only increases the opportunities for animals to come into contact with—and to spread—diseases, but also increases their susceptibility to infection.”
  • An average car produces 3 kg (6.6 pounds) of CO2 a day while the effort to clear rainforest to produce beef for one hamburger produces 75 kg (240 pounds) of CO2. Eating one pound of hamburger does the same damage as driving a car for three weeks.
  • A 2005 University of Chicago study showed that a vegetarian diet will lessen your carbon footprint by up to 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Trading a standard car for a hybrid car cuts about one ton.
  • High contents of toxic chemicals are often found in fish in many parts of the world’s lakes, rivers, and oceans. Modern factory farms are sprayed with herbicides and pesticides to grow grains to feed cattle. These chemicals destroy topsoil and leak into the ground and nearby streams and rivers.
  • Current seafood harvest levels are so high that they are straining marine ecosystems. This depletes ocean marine life and the destruction of corals & reefs.
  • Livestock now use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land surface. In Latin America, 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. Animal waste accounts for 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain.
  • RainforestTwo-thirds of Central America’s rainforests have been destroyed. Every second of every day one football field of rain forests is destroyed to produce 257 hamburgers. Rain forests are called the lungs of the planet.
  • Rainforests are vital to life on earth – they regulate the global climate and the water cycle, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and provide humans with medicines, food, and much more.
  • A plant-based diet reduces the destruction of tropical rainforests, wildlife habitat, and helps to support the endangered species.
  • Half of all plant and animal species in the world live in the rainforests. There are over 40,000 species in the rainforests of the Amazonia. One species becomes extinct every 30 minutes. One million species will be extinct by the end of this century if the damage to rainforests continues. Animals and plants are often interrelated so when one species becomes extinct it often assures extinction of another.
  • In the Amazonia rainforest there are over 40,000 flowering plants. To put this into perspective, in West Africa there are 7,000 species and in Britain there are about 1,430 species.
  • In the United States, farm animals outweigh humans four to one, effectively making the U.S. “population” grow from 295 million to 1.2 billion. In Canada, farm animals also outweigh people by four to one.
  • Non-vegetarian diet consumption is reaching an all-time high around the world, quadrupling in the last 50 years. There are 20 billion head of livestock on the Earth, more than triple the number of people. According to the Worldwatch Institute, global livestock population has increased 60 percent since 1961, and the number of fowl being raised for human dinner tables has nearly quadrupled in the same time period, from 4.2 billion to 15.7 billion. U.S. beef and pork consumption has tripled since 1970, during which time it has more than doubled in Asia.

This subject is inexhaustible. The negative effects of the meat diet are far- reaching. Yet, the benefits of the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle are endless. With Mother Nature supplying us with everything we need to eat, where science has proven the animals and their products are not needed for our diet, then we must seriously ask why this uncompassionate diet continues. Nature provides a variety of food with various colors, tastes and textures. Even if one cannot open their heart to the love of animals then why do they bring unnecessary suffering to their body /mind through a non-vegetarian diet and to our planet? A vegetarian diet, based in grains, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit meet all the nutritional needs while reducing the chance of disease.

Not only is this healthier for the human body but it saves the lives of animals and has the least impact of the ecology. Thus, how can one consciously continue to choose any other diet?

To summarize this subject, listed are thought provoking quotes. Open your heart and mind while reading these powerful statements. These quotes are food for thought.

 Quotes on Ahimsa Lifestyle.

...in the flow