Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How I Came To Be a Vegan and an Abolitionist

This is my story as to how I became vegan and an abolitionist. It is really nothing exceptional; it's just my unique experience. Like me, it's a story that is still very much in progress.

I am the grandson and great-grandson of kosher butchers. I grew up around meat, all of the time. I would spend some of my summers, even as a very young kid, working in my grandfather's butcher shop up in Albany, New York. There was a great sense of pride in coming from a family that was "a long line of butchers" because, as it was presented to me as a child, they were preserving the tenets of their faith in adherence to strict laws of keeping Kosher. So I grew up, proud of our family's connection to meat. I never thought of THE PEOPLE who became meat- the non-human persons.

Throughout my adolescence, I slowly began to deconstruct the religious dogma my orthodox Jewish upbringing had drilled into me. This was greatly facilitated by a recognition, at a very early age, that I was gay. Mind you, I had no language for that- for what it meant to be gay- at the time. I knew nothing of what being gay was, other than that it was something deemed "sinful", something to hide and be ashamed of. But I knew it was as integtral a part of me as my left-handedness and that it was something I couldn't pray or wish away. This realization, around age 13, opened the door to deconstructing the myths and lies about dogma and religions in general. Once I knew that something was wrong with one of the "teachings" of our faith, then ALL of the "teachings" came into question. Eventually, by the time I went to college, I abandoned the belief in the faith of my family and stopped practicing orthodox Judaism altogether as it was not something I believed in. It was, and still is, important for me to live my life in accordance with what I know and/or believe to be true about the world.

I was 15 years old when I was working one afternoon up at the butcher shop, wrapping meat in the back. My grandfather's employee, Harry, decided to play a joke on me. Harry was a "man's man." Rough around the edges. He smoked too much. Harry had served in World War II and was scarred from having watched all of his high-school buddies die in the battles out in the Pacific. He was an alcoholic with severe emotional issues and he often did things around women and children that were just completely inappropriate. Anyway, Harry arranged to have another employee (whose name escapes me) tell me to go into the meat locker in the back and pick up the rack of ribs on the 3rd shelf on the right, and bring it up front. I hated the meat locker. It smelled foul to me. It was like the smell of death, but frozen. It always made me uncomfortable and I always would ask my younger brother to go in my place. But this afternoon my brother wasn't at the store. So I reluctantly made my way to the back of the store, opened the heavy, thick door, and prepared to step in. Just then, Harry came RUSHING out at me- screaming as loud as he could- "Ahhhhhhh.... Mooooooo!!!!!" He had the decapitated head of a cow on the handle of a broomstick and he was charging me with it.

Naturally, I screamed and ran out so fast. I kept running, screaming, through the store all the way to where my grandmother was at the front register. My grandfather really gave it to Harry for doing something like that. After all, he didn't just scare me, but got me running through the store, making a commotion which clearly upset the customers. I eventually recovered but didn't go back to work with the guys in the back on the meat packing and cutting that afternoon. When the day was over, my grandfather and I drove home in silence. About 3/4 of the way home I broke the silence and said, "Zayde?" (That's yiddish for "grandpa", and that's what I've always called my grandfather). He said "What is it?" as if he knew what was coming. I continued, "I don't think I want to work in the back of the store anymore. I'd like to learn the business side of things. I could work with Bubby (my grandmother) up at the front register. Would that be okay with you?" My grandfather paused, realizing that I was lost to him and would never want to go further with the butcher shop as a potential business some day. He said, "Yeah. That would be fine. Whatever you want to do is and always will be just fine with me." I think, somewhere in his mind, he had hoped that my brother or I would have turned back to the old family business and taken it over from him one day. Incidentally, years later, when I told him that I applied and got into medical school, he said, "Ah, you'll be working with knives, just like me." I always thought that an odd statement, until much later.

One would think that experience with the cow's head would be enough to keep me away from meat-- certainly cow beef-- for the rest of my life. But it wasn't. It did, however, drive me to become vegetarian. Mind you, I still ate eggs, dairy, occasional fish, but I "was a vegetarian". This went on and off for a number of years until in my mid 20's I was no longer a vegetarian. Why? Well, somehow, it all lost it's meaning. There was no connection to animals I was trying to avoid eating and harming and I went back to my "numbed state" of cognitive dissonance. In a matter of years, I was back to eating steak, not thinking about how this was a part of a cow- A part like the decapitated head of that poor creature. I was eating wings, no longer seeing them as the arms/wings of a chicken. I'm ashamed to admit how long this went on- mostly because I became busy with my studies, med school and my residency. Distraction was convenient.

It was in my residency that the next "inkling" towards making the animal-food connection came. I was in my surgical residency and after a year of retracting, assisting, and watching, it was finally time for my first solo case. The attending surgeon handed me the scalpel and said, "When you're ready." I waiting. I was really focused. This was the moment; My first surgery! I had gone over this a thousand times in my head. I knew every move I was going to make. I'd seen this hundreds of times. I took the scalpel, looked up at the clock and announced, "Incision, 7:45 AM." The nurse repeated, "Starting, 7:45 AM." I cut into this human being and the feeling was... well... the tissue felt soft. Warm. Vulnerable. Foreign. As soon as I finished the skin incision and the blood began to run out of it, the Attending said, "Well done. That wasn't too bad, right? Nothing to it... Like cutting into a steak."

That just threw me! "Cutting into a steak? How is this like cutting into a steak?!?" Suddenly I was totally distracted, unable to focus on what I was doing because I was riveted by the notion that this action I just took- this first step in helping someone, in healing someone- was allegedly like cutting into a dead piece of meat. It didn't make sense. I immediately thought of that decapitated cow and her head just rushing at me in the cold meat locker. I started to think about all of the pieces of animals I had consumed since that day. I became overwhelmed.

I made it through that surgery and 3 more before lunch. How I did it, I'll never know. When I went for lunch, I ordered one of the hospital hamburgers. Those burgers were revolting on a good day. I actually removed it from the bun and tried to re-do my incision as I had that morning. But the meat was cooked. It felt tough. "This feels nothing like cutting into a steak" I told myself. From that day on, it became a tradition for years for me to end a day of surgery with a hamburger. It never dawned on me until years later how this "tradition" was not just reactionary to that first day in the OR, but that it really was a way of connecting with my grandfather. It was my conciliatory act act to him. Almost as if I were saying, "I rejected your profession, but not you." I ate meat after surgery every day I operated until May 2009.

In May 2009, my life was a mess. I had slowly but steadily gained a LOT of weight over the preceding years. I didn't really know quite how much, but I knew it was a lot over the years. A bad diet, in spite of exercising daily, took it's toll on me. I was on Liptor for my high cholesterol after years of trying to get it down with Niacin, Fish Oils and all sorts of "dietary modifications". (All except removing the Cholesterol source- animal flesh- from my diet.) At that time, our dog, Chandler, was very sick with rapidly spreading metastatic malignant melanoma. We were doing everything to help him survive it. He had 2 surgeries to remove tumors from his bladder, neck, lymph nodes, and he was still not well. We were feeling desperate because we knew the end was coming faster than we wanted or were prepared to deal with. My husband, Michael, got in touch with a canine holistic doctor who was also a certified naturopath. His recommendation was to get the processed foods out of Chandler's diet, and feed him all organic foods and only fresh, raw, Grass-fed beef. It was about 2 weeks into this when one day, I had gone to Whole Foods to get the meat and some fresh organic vegetables. Michael spent over an hour preparing this organic meal for Chandler. Once we fed him, I said "What about us? What do you want for dinner?" We ended up taking out burgers & fries from Five-Guys. About half way through my burger, I started to feel uncomfortably full and kind of sick. I turned to Michael and said, "You know, we're spending all of this time and money on Chandler with all of the Grass-Fed beef and organic foods... don't you think we should at least do the same for ourselves?" This started a long discussion which concluded with us deciding that we were going to make the investment in ourselves to be as healthy as we could and buy only organic foods for our home. This was a HUGE switch for us.

A week later, we had a bunch of friends over for dinner. Three of the women at dinner had recently given birth and were lamenting the difficulties of losing the baby weight. They all starting talking about their Weight Watcher points, etc... I started asking them about how Weight Watchers works and by the end of dinner I was hooked on the idea-- I'm going on weight watchers and finally loose the "extra few pounds" I had. I also decided, that I would do it as a vegetarian. I was sick of all of the animals I was eating and I knew I would lose weight faster on a vegetarian diet. So, as of June 1, 2009, I again became a vegetarian and went on Weight Watchers.

The thing I didn't count on with Weight Watchers was that a lot of the "vegetarian-but-not-vegan" options are big no-nos on the diet; No milk. No cheese. Eggs were okay but only the egg whites. Next thing you knew, I was "nearly vegan" though completely unintentionally. And man, did that weight come off!! I lost 45 lbs in under 4 months. 45 lbs! I had no idea I was so heavy or had that much to loose, but boy did I feel better and better as I lost the weight.

Over those months, I also happened to start reading more about vegetarianism- mostly from stuff I read online from PETA. I was reading recipes and going to different Vegetarian (and vegan) websites. I really new very little about why one would be a vegan as opposed to a vegetarian. That opened a lot of other doors. I started reading dissenting opinions from those espoused by PETA. I also started reading a bunch of different books. THE FACE ON YOUR PLATE, The Truth about Food by Jeffrey Masson really opened my eyes. I read it twice. I realized why eating meat was no different than drinking milk. Then I read Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer. After I read it, it struck a strong chord within me. I did some research and learned that Foer was a vegetarian and not a vegan, and it shocked me. How could someone who so clearly states the reasons to not participate in animal use choose to still use animals? How can he rationalize his stance of knowingly participating in consuming products derived from animals when he knows- firsthand- how this would affect these poor animals? The intellectual dishonesty pissed me off. I kept thinking, "How could someone know the truth and still not change their behavior? It then dawned on me- I now know the truth. Will I be a Foer? Will I prioritize my convenience and momentary pleasures over the rights of sentient, feeling, tortured creatures? I couldn't do it.

And that was it. November 22, 2009, I became a vegan. There was nothing to it. I just went out, got a half-gallon of Lowfat Soymilk and put it in my coffee that morning and thought- this doesn't taste the same, but I'll get used to it. And I did.

It was months later, when I resurrected my Twitter account, that I started to learn about the difference between advocates of an abolitionist approach and those who promoted welfarist initiatives and single-issue campaigns. There is no doubt that Gary Francione has singularly affected me more than any other person on this subject. Having read his books, essays and Tweets about abolitionist veganism, I felt like there was finally someone out there who understood my intellectual commitment to living in alignment with my beliefs in a strict and consistent way. And he was unapologetic. When I noticed the many accusations of him being "Divisive" for pointing out the inconsistencies in others' behavior vs. beliefs I knew that he was on to something. After all, we often call people things like "Divisive" or "Critical" or "Unhelpful" when we don't like what they're saying. I could relate to him and absolutist positions. He strengthened my commitment to both myself and to being vegan. I owe Gary a debt of gratitude that I know I can never repay. I also know that the fact that I'm an abolitionist vegan who educates and promotes consistent, vegan abolitionism is all the "payback" he'd ever want or hope for... just for each of us to pass it on and pay it forward.

So I'm coming up on my first Veganniversary. In some ways, it feels like I've been vegan FOREVER! I can't believe it's "only been a year." Still, I have perspective and I understand that this is the first of many years and decades to come. I'm nothing like the person I was a year ago today. A year ago I was scared of this "decision" to "become a vegan". Wondering at that time, "Can I do it?" The man I was then would never have believed that in such a short time- much less than just a year- I'd look back and say, "Of course I can. How could I ever NOT be vegan, at this point?"

Yes, it's been quite a year for me. There have been many different levels of awareness-expansion, justice-seeking and compassion that have evolved within me. I look forward to seeing how my understanding and knowledge on this issue will continue to unfold and develop within me in the years to come as I become more and more of a "veteran vegan". I can't wait.

Wishing Us All Peace.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

There is No Such Thing as a "Hardcore Vegan"

I often hear people refer to "hardcore vegans." This is sometimes asked of me when I reveal to an omnivore or vegetarian that I'm vegan when they ask, "A hardcore vegan? Like no eggs, no dairy no honey?" Sometimes I hear other vegans refer to themselves as being a "hardcore" vegan. They don't necessarily mean this in a derogatory way. In fact, they often offer it up as a badge of honor- something they're proud of.

Let me be very clear about this:

There is No Such Thing as a "Hardcore Vegan".

As I see it, there are vegans and then there is everyone else. Yes, I lump the vegetarians and omnivores together in a grouping called "everyone else" because the difference between their diets is merely nuanced by their specific form of speciesism.

Point of clarification: Speciesism is the practice of assigning of different values or rights to beings on the basis of their species membership. The term was created by British psychologist Richard D. Ryder in 1973 to denote a prejudice against non-humans based on physical differences that are given moral value. So an ominvore might eat the flesh and products of cows, pigs, chickens and fish whereas a vegetarian might limit her consumption to fish and the products of the chickens and cows, though not their flesh. These decisions are as arbitrary and capricious as the choice to not eat cats or dogs.

Looking up the definition of "Hardcore" there are many definitions. Two that are of interest to me in this discussion are;

1) Intensely loyal
2) A militant or fiercely loyal faction

So what makes us "hardcore" then, it would seem, is our loyalty to Veganism. Our unwavering and fierce loyalty to our commitment to eating a plant-based diet and to removing animals and animal use from our consumption. We're committed. We don't cave in to pressure. We don't make exceptions. Well, I ask you; Isn't that the way we should all be living our lives? Shouldn't we be fully committed- 100% in thought and deed- to that which we profess to believe? By that same token, are there "hardcore Olympians" and just regular ones? Do some commit more to trying to win at their sport than others? Of course not.

The "militant" definition of the hardcore label clearly is intended to be unflattering. I would guess that it likely originated from those who wish to demonize and alienate committed vegans. Perhaps it originated as a propagandist label from the Meat Industry or alternatively it could have been offered up as a slur against abolitionists from the (currently) more socially popular so-called "new-welfarist" approach. But I caution us all; In reclaiming the term "Hardcore Vegan" we not only perpetuate the harmful notion of Abolitionists as harsh and abrasive (i.e. "hard to the core") we promote an even more dangerous social trend; The expectation that people don't really ever fully commit.

Isn't it sad that loyalty and "stick-to-it-ness" is so rare that it deserves its own level of distinction? We marvel when a couple says they're happily and faithfully married for 35 years. We respect a person who commits to working at the same job all of their adult life. Our society is very much based on what's expedient, what's easy, what's disposable. We have lowered our expectations and, sadly, the results are visible everywhere.

So next-time you're asked, if you're a "Hardcore Vegan" I suggest you respond like I do; "There's nothing hardcore about it. I'm a vegan. It's easy. You should be, too."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"I say a little prayer for you..."

Honestly, I love that song! Truth be told, what I'm about to write about it has absolutely nothing to do with the original lyrics or intent of what Miss Aretha Franklin was singing about.

Those of you who know me personally know that I'm not a traditionally "religious" person. I'm somewhere between an atheist and a spiritual humanist. Which is why the notion of me "praying" is seemingly bizarre for me to suggest. That said, I feel that offering a "prayer", made in one's own heart of consciousness that can only be heard in the silent, collective subconscious of us all, takes us to that deeper level of interconnectedness between All Living Beings and our Source.

It is Ghandi who said, "The most violent weapon on Earth is the table fork." We vegans know how true this is. How insidious and unrelenting the table fork can be. We know how unthinkingly and unconsciously it can be used. So, for me, a helpful and healing practice has become to take just a moment before eating (or when preparing my food) and offering a silent, internal "prayer"; almost like saying grace before the meal. I offer up to my higher consciousness in good faith and intention that my "action" of being vegan and choosing not to eat animal flesh or products at that meal be a form of Karmic healing to all who suffer (non-human and human alike) and to Our Mother. For me, it helps to infuse purpose in each meal and it keeps me conscious about my consumption and forces me to think about where my food came from. I find that in doing so, I inevitably feel gratitude for this bounty of food I enjoy. It also is an opportunity to focus on the non-violence; The Ahimsa in my food choice. This creates opportunities for me to focus on my non-violence and I feel strongly that strengthens me in my resolve to respond and to act in non-violent ways throughout my day.

I urge you to try this form of internal "prayer" if it is comfortable to you. For me, it's one of the most rewarding feelings I ever experience. I feel as though it gives me many occasions throughout my day to bask in the glow of the peacefulness of Ahimsa, knowing that with every single bite I eat, every day, I have chosen love. I have chosen peace.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Tribute to Mothers

Mother's Day is coming this Sunday and for most of us, this is a great opportunity to celebrate the person who gave us life and nourished and loved us from birth. For many of us, our mothers are still alive. Some of us have tragically lost our mothers. Many of us are women and mothers ourselves. Some of us are not mothers but can still appreciate the intensity of relationship to our own mother. We all know how strong the bond between a mother and child is. This bond between a child and it's mother is transcendent of logic or rational thought. It's as instinctual and as basic as our need for food, water or sleep. This Mother-child bond is not just a human phenomenon, it is something that nearly all mammals experience.

As a tribute to my own mother and to all mothers on this Mother's day, I am sharing with you two articles from two different blogs (the links are below). I share these in the hope that one day all mothers, everywhere can live in a world where they are free to love, nurture and raise their own children.

The first article is a somewhat upsetting one to read, but I share this not to upset you. I think it's important that we all understand this. I'm not ashamed to admit that, until very recently, I didn't actually know that this was happening with mothers and their newborns. Especially for those of us who value our own mothers and those of us who are mothers, this is a must-read, in my opinion. The second article is not an emotional one but a very excellent scientific analysis- it's more medically-oriented. Either way, whether the ethical issues in the first or the humanitarian/health concerns of the second are what touches you, I hope you'll consider the great information in these two blogs.

The facts are the facts, even if they're hard to read, let alone wrap our minds around. Even if you can't bring yourself to make a change in the present moment, it's important to be conscious of what we do to ourselves, our bodies, and to others. The sooner we come to grips with this reality, the better our world will be. For all of us. For all mothers.

Happy Mother's Day.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

"You're a Vegan? Oh my gosh, what do you eat?"

This is a very common question I get. Sometimes it's presented in it's alternate form of, "What do you eat for protein?" As if, the only reason we eat animals is for their protein?? Please! Let's be honest; Most of us eat animals' flesh because it tastes good. For those of us who don't particularly like the taste of meat (or, chicken, turkey, fish, etc...) we often eat it in spite of our distaste for it because a) it's conveniently available and everywhere and b) because we're habituated to eating it. Let's get to the protein issue right away so we can put this "myth" that the idea source of protein is the flesh of animals. Before going vegetarian and then vegan, I did not know these basic facts about plant-derived sources of protein;

* Tofu, ½ cup= 20 grams protein
* Soy milk, 1 cup = 6-10 grams (depends on manufacturer)
* Most beans (black, pinto, lentils, etc) ~ 7-10 g protein per 1/2 C cooked beans
* Soy beans, ½ cup cooked = 14 grams protein
* Split peas, ½ cup cooked = 8 grams
* Peanut butter, 2 Tablespoons - 8 grams protein
* Almonds, ¼ cup = 8 grams
* Peanuts, ¼ cup = 9 grams
* Cashews, ¼ cup = 5 grams
* Pecans, ¼ cup = 2.5 grams
* Sunflower seeds, ¼ cup = 6 grams
* Pumpkin seeds, ¼ cup = 8 grams
* Flax seeds ¼ cup = 8 grams

As you can see, between the nuts, Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, and beans, I'm getting plenty of protein in my diet. I've actually been keeping a written record of it and I'm getting more protein now than I did when I ate meat.

Some people complain that these nutrient rich plant-based sources of protein come with a decent fat content. They do. So does meat. Here's the rub; Unlike meats (even the so-called "lean-meats") the fats that come with nuts, seeds, beans and the most plant-derived sources of food are the "good fats". We need these in our diet for our bodies to function properly. The healthy omegas-/ long-chain fatty acids are essential to human body function (hence they're called "Essential Fatty Acids" or, EFA's.) EFA's are not present in meat (with the exception of certain fish) and can only be derived from plant proteins. In addition to the "bad fat" vs. "good fat" advantage, a plant-based diet comes without the dangerous cholesterol that meat and animal-derived fats bring. Since a human omnivore's source for dietary cholesterol is animal fats, if you cut out the flesh, butter, milk, eggs, etc... there is no significant dietary intake of cholesterol. I am a living example of this, as I will share:

I weighed 210 lbs and my Total Cholesterol was a very high 215 mg/dL and my HDL (low cholesterol) was too low at 25 mg/dL. Most concerning, my ratio was over 8:1 which is very dangerous. [A word about the Cholesterol Ratio: Cholesterol ratio has been useful as a predictor of heart disease risk. You can calculate your cholesterol ratio by dividing your high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good") cholesterol into your total cholesterol. For example, if your total cholesterol is 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and your HDL cholesterol is 50 mg/dL, your cholesterol ratio is 4-to-1. The goal is to keep your cholesterol ratio below 5-to-1. A higher ratio indicates a higher risk of heart disease; a lower ratio indicates a lower risk.]

So, after trying Niacin my numbers didn't budge. I started Liptor, which (after 6 months) took my total cholesterol down to a much better 165 mg/dL and bumped my HDL up to 35. Not bad... so my ratio went to a much better 4:1.

I stopped taking my Liptor under advice of my family physician. After just three months of a strict vegetarian diet (note: NOT Vegan; there were still eggs and dairy in there) my Total Cholesterol went to 135 mg/dL, my HDL went up to 42 giving me a ratio of 3:1. That's right; My ratio went lower than it was when I was on Lipitor! And after years of diet, meds, exercise, I finally got my HDL up over 40. (I am due for routine bloodwork in the next few weeks and I'll share the results with you when I get them)

My point is simple. Some of this is just genetic. I have a family history of heart disease and hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). The way my body metabolizes cholesterol is certainly under the influence of some genetic predispositions but I can keep myself cardiac-safe and heart-smart by simply not ingesting cholesterol. By not eating animals and products derived from them, I can achieve this without the need for medication.

Many vegan abolitionists take issue with vegans like I who advocate a vegan diet for the health benefits it confers. They do so because they feel that this detracts from what should be the overriding issue at hand; The immorality of the taking of a life of a sentient, feeling, emotional, conscious being for our own pleasure. Indeed, I agree that is the overriding principle at the heart of Veganism and Ahimsa. Orthodox Judaism teaches a concept that people can begin an undertaking for misguided reasons but that with enough time and repetition the adherence is eventually perpetuated for the right reasons." As a physician, I feel strongly that principle of Ahimsa extends to one's ability to help others become less violent towards themselves. Ingesting animal flesh can be very toxic to our bodies. The fats and cholesterols are irrefutably the leading dietary source for epidemics of heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity. So in pointing out the health advantages of switching to a plant-based diet achieves the end of Ahimsa, even if the enticement/ motivation used is somewhat self-serving. And I believe that even if one undertakes a vegan diet for health considerations, their adherance to it will eventually come to include the important central concept of Ahimsa- towards the sparing of animal torture/cruelty, and sparing the violence to their own bodies.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year, A New Blog, A New Way of Life.

2009 is now nearly a day behind us and we're forging full speed ahead into 2010. In reflecting on the year of 2009 I am struck by the undercurrent of an inordinate level of suffering and pain; In the world, in my community, in my circle of friends, and in my own life. One blazing, bright beacon of calm, hope and peace was my choice to become vegetarian and, subsequently, to become vegan. It was a complex process which I will delve into in another thread on this website/blog at some point (most likely, when I understand it a bit better as I'm still processing this life change, now 7 months to the day I undertook this amazing process.)

I am calling this Blog VEGAN AHIMSA. Ahimsa (अहिंसा) is a Sanskrit term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence - himsa). It is an important tenet of the religions that originated in ancient India (Hinduism, Buddhism and especially Jainism). Ahimsa is a rule of conduct that bars the killing or injuring of living beings. It is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences.

The concept of Ahimsa/ non-violence extends beyond our physical actions. It also includes our thoughts and our feelings. The more violent thoughts or feelings we have, the more likely it becomes that we will engage in violent acts. So it's important to monitor these thoughts. Make no mistake- violent acts have a massive, cumulative effect both in our own selves as individuals as well as among groups of individuals and across societies. Though we see violent acts everywhere in our modern world, violence remains contrary to the way of this world and to our innate nature. When we indulge these impulses, we act in a way that is contrary to our True Selves and the world falls more out of disorder.

It is meaningful to me that so many prominent thinkers and leaders are/have been non-meat eaters. Isaac Bashevis Singer, great Jewish/Yiddish Poet of the 20th Century and a Nobel Prize Winner (1978) once said, "In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis. Human beings see oppression vividly when they're the victims. Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought." Albert Einstein, physicist and Nobel Prize Winner (1921) said, "Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." Mahatma Ghandi, great Indian Statesman and scholar has said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" and "To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being." The great and talented Leonardo da Vinci once said, "The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men." And the great Greek mathematician and scholar, Pythagoras, once said, "For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love."

I truly believe we are now at a crucial point in the evolution of the human race where a critical mass of people alive today on this planet have experienced enough of a consciousness-raising, that we are finally beginning to understand the visionary insights of these great thinkers. It is my great hope that just one other human will read this blog at some point in the next year and that she or he will decide to investigate The Truth of Ahimsa and choose non-violence as a way back to their true heart and true nature. If I can have that impact on one other person in the coming year, then this endeavor will be of great success and joy to me.

In Peace and Love, Ethan