According to PETA:
"7 billion chickens are killed for their flesh each year, and 452 million hens are used for their eggs."
-- "According to a 2006 industry report, more than 1 million pigs die each year from the horrors of transport alone."
-- "42 million cows suffer and die for the meat and dairy industries every year."
-- "Billions of fish die every year in nets and on hooks. Some are destined for human consumption, many are tortured just for 'sport,' and others are unintended victims who are maimed or killed simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."
There are only 313 million people living in the U.S., that means we are consuming meat for almost every meal.
Going Vegan was never a plan, or diet goal. I never thought I'd go vegan to lose weight or join some yogi fad. I choose to be vegan for one reason and one reason only, compassion.
I will never forget the conversation that took place on a mid afternoon day at the yoga studio. I had arrived a little early this time and had my teacher all to myself. I treasure these moments, as it gives me an opportunity to gain insight and wisdom from someone I look up to (we should all show up early more often). We exchanged cordialities and then I dove deep, "So, I have noticed that my sensitivity has increased." I explained. "I haven't been eating meat," I told her.
She said, "Lisa, I'm vegetarian not because I don't love meat, who doesn't love the smell and taste of bacon, I'm vegetarian because it"s my way of creating the least amount of pain and suffering in the world."
Her words cut into me, a truth, that really I always knew. I guess somewhere I was hoping that she would say she was raised that way or she was vegetarian for health reasons. Had that been the case, then I could turn around and justify my actions when I decided to eat meat again, but instead her response jabbed my heart like a heavy hand that pushed me further into action.
I knew that with my own ignorance on the matter of vegetarianism/veganism I would eventually turn back around. I had tried being vegetarian once before, and it lasted only 6 months. This time if I didn't want to add to the suffering of the world I needed to educate myself.
I learned all there was to know. I read books, watched videos, and got on board with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). These days with education at our fingertips the world of "Why go Vegan" is easily accessible. Out of everything I read and watched these three sources made a enormous impact on me:
1. The amazing documentary, Peaceable Kingdom
2. This wonderful book, Yoga and Vegetarianism by Sharon Gannon
3. This very well done short video by Paul McCartney called "Behind Glass Walls"
After all my research being vegetarian, although a great step in the right direction, it wasn't going to work for my heart. Instead I choose to become vegan for the world of forgotten victims, like the diary cows who after their calves are taken away from them, the mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to milking machines. These cows are genetically manipulated, artificially inseminated, and often drugged to force them to produce about four and a half times as much milk as they naturally would to feed their calves.
I choose to become vegan because if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself for adding to the incredible amount of suffering taking place.
I won't lie, its not easy being vegan and often times I feel alone in this endeavor. Dining out has become very difficult; I am always that annoying person altering the entree and asking for special requests like a bad episode of Portlandia. Even grocery shopping anywhere other then my local farmers market or Whole Foods is frustrating. I'm constantly explaining why I won't eat meat while trying to be sensitive to my family and friends. It's also tough being a vegan wife, staying creative with meals and doing my very best to make sure that my husband gets enough protein so he won't lose muscle mass.
But for me in the end it's worth it! Above all else, my heart has opened to an incredible degree. I feel for all beings with compassion that wasn't there before. Energetically I believe that by not eating the pain and suffering of others I can hear the voices of the ego more profoundly and it's when we are able to hear the ego that we can learn to control it by rebuking negativity while keeping our thoughts pure and our demeanor kind. Physically my skin has cleared, I rest soundly at night, and I've lost that little extra weight I carried for years creating longer leaner muscles (I feel like a ballerina). I have more sustained vitality, my mediation practice is clear and my conscience is free knowing that my choices save more then 100 animals a year from misery.
I hope you consider being vegan, but I urge you to find a special reason for yourself. It's important to know what you stand for. At some point we all need to draw a line in the sand and decide if we support peace, love and compassion or slaughter, enslavement and brutality.
Choosing this path needs to be a lifestyle change, not a diet, not a trend.
Follow Lisa Sochocki on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yogalofthawaii