Finally turning the corner a few weeks ago, I went from being a Flexitarian to a Vegetarian. It has been one of the scariest, most wonderful things I have ever done. Why the soul-wrenching change? 3 reasons, really.
1) My health. Vegetarians and Vegans have far less heart disease and lower rates of cancer, hypertension, diabetes, gallstones, kidney disease and colon disease. They live an average of 6-10 years longer and are healthier by every measurement there is in assessing health outcomes.
2) The environment. Animals raised for food account for more than half of all human-caused greenhouse gases. Environmental Defense (a conservative group), calculated that if every meat-eater in the U.S. swapped just one meal of meat per week for a vegetarian meal, the carbon savings would be equivalent to taking half a million cars off the road! The FAO published a report stating that meat production is the 2nd largest contributor to environmental problems at every level, from the local to the global It is the primary culprit in land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, species extinction, loss of bio-diversity and climate change! In other words, it is the one thing I can do that will make the biggest difference.
3) The suffering of animals. Factory farms are cruel beyond belief. The suffering of the gentle cow, pig and chicken are such that I can no longer eat meat without thinking about them. Once you know something, you can’t un-know it. Learning about the suffering and cruelty of factory farms changed how I view eating meat. This is the heart of my choice, really. Numbers one and two are good reasons, but number three broke and changed my heart.
Bottom line: I don’t care if my choices are popular or politically correct. I care if I live in accord with my values, whether my life has integrity, whether I act with compassion for myself and all of life. I care whether my choices honor all living things, whether they help me fulfil my desire to practice ahimsa (to do no harm). I care about a planet in crisis, about cruelty to animals. I want to make choices that support creating a healthier future for myself, my offspring and our poor planet with all of its millions of life forms. I finally realize that how I eat has a tremendous impact on this earth and its creatures.
Within days of making this decision, I stumbled upon an organization called Off the Vine which provides local, organic produce gathered and boxed for pick-up. I got my first box yesterday, (pictured above) full of beautiful, organic veggies and fruit. Most of it grown locally, all of it grown with care. Lovely! It reminds me of the famous quote from Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.”