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Pythagoras wrote, “As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” The old phrase “you are what you eat” is strikingly true when we begin to examine more deeply our dietary choices. The great spiritual leader, Sri Chinmoy, advocates for a plant-based diet because he believes that as we consume animals, we consume the aggressive animal consciousness as well as the negative energy conceived in the moments before slaughter. As a consumer living inside the matrix that is the contemporary American diet, it is difficult to perceive these negative energies because of the unceasing cognitive reinforcement that is prescribed to us in order to sustain these goliath industries of animal slavery. As humans, we constantly search for purpose, for happiness and for love. Embracing a plant-based diet liberates us and allows us to remove the ominous, translucent veneer placed upon our eyes by those who want nothing more than our money. This fresh transparency illuminates new paths to deeper understanding and happiness; proponents of veganism such as Dr. Michael Greger even call it a panacea for depression.
Vegan. This word arouses anxiety among many; however, a deeper knowledge of this philosophy leads to truth. While many changes occur in one’s life when embracing veganism, you not only liberate animals but also liberate humans. As a society, we are plagued by speciesism, the repugnant belief that our well-being is more important than that of other sentient beings. This same sort of preferential valuation has also guided the practice of racism and sexism within human society. Whether or not we can emotionally relate to a crab does not matter — there may even be the possibility that we simply do not possess the specific means necessary to communicate with, for example, these crustacea on a deeper emotional level. It is clear that no earthling prefers suffering. This is all the moral guidance we need. Veganism is not simply a diet but a philosophy that is dedicated to health, animal liberation and environmental sustainability.
Even as America continues to lose competence on the world stage, one pillar of our society stands uncontested: the skyrocketing number of prisoners. In the U.S., the home of the free, we have the highest incarceration rate in the world — triple the prison population of Russia. These numbers have been on the rise since Nixon’s 1971 declaration of the “War on Drugs.” While America’s crime rate remained stable between 1972 and 2012, our prison population grew from 300,000 to 2 million. This man-made crisis was crafted to treat a nonexistent problem, using the scapegoat of petty drug crimes to disproportionately arrest minorities in order to make a quick buck and create a class of contemporary untouchables we call “criminals.”
Richard Dawkins, a world renowned scientist, wrote, “When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal force, the truth does not necessarily lie midway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong. And that justifies passion on the other side.” In a world riddled with unprecedented animosity, obscene amounts of greed and inequality, human rights emergencies and a planet near collapse, there is no time to be lulled by the tempting placidity of chosen ignorance.