"Don't forget to eat your veges"
Vegetarianism here is defined as a diet that is without meat i.e. fish, poultry, beef etc. and anything that is not made from them i.e. fish sauce, beef stock, chicken powder and so forth. Thus a vegetarian would only eat things like vegetables, fruits, lentils, grains, nuts and so forth.
There is a difference between a vegetarian and a vegan diet. A vegan diet is more strict than a vegetarian’s diet in that it is a diet without dairy and eggs.
Vegetarianism In Depth
In our life there maybe a point in time when we will begin to question the way in which we live and eat.
Some of us may then adopt the vegetarian / vegan diet out of curiosity.
There can be other reasons too as to why one would adopt the vegetarian diet. For instance, there can be those who adopt the diet out of ethical reasons, for instance because they do not want to contribute to the killing of animals. Some of us may do it out of environmental reasons. Some of us may adopt the vegetarian /vegan diet out of health reasons.
This article is not about talking about which reason is more valid than the other or comparing vegetarian diet to meat diet to see which one is more superior.
Rather, it is to raise the awareness of how a vegetarian diet can affect our level of happiness at the level of the Deeper Mind.
Path Of Creator
Vegetarianism In Relation To The Path Of Creator
The journey of Self-Transformation is about becoming happier than the day before. So let us look at the ways a vegetarian diet can be constructive and destructive to the journey of Self-Transformation.
First we have to realize that when our habits, whether it is in our way of living or adopting a particular diet is driven by Negative Ideas then we will encounter some sort of Suffering.
I.e. “It is not ok to eat meat”
“It is bad to destroy the environment”
“People who do not care about the animals don’t deserve to live”
Negative Ideas are what causes Suffering. And when we allow our Negative Ideas to drive us to adopt certain diets we will encounter all sorts of suffering states of the mind i.e. anger and judgement towards those who do not adopt the same beliefs or hatred towards those who are ignorant or judgement towards ourselves if we eat something outside of our beliefs.
So the focus here is not so much addressing what kind of food one eats because this is purely up to one's own choice and whether or not it is beneficial to one's health will require one to investigate through actual experience.
The focus here is in addressing the Negative Ideas from within so that one can transform and release themselves from the Suffering States Of Mind. It is then that one can enjoy their diet without the need to experience suffering states of the mind such as anger and judgement towards others within, whether they are doing it out of ethical, health, or environmental reasons.
Let us explore some catalysts below to see the ways in which we can release our attachment from the Negative Ideas and the things to watch out for when we are on a vegetarian diet.
Ethical and Environmental Vegetarians
From a spiritual perspective, one has to realize that everyone has the freedom to adopt a diet of their choosing. However, if one struggles in an endeavour to control / push / convince others to walk the same path as them then one will encounter suffering.
People will only walk a path that they wish to walk on. So to force someone to walk on a path they do not wish to walk on will just result in futile arguments. Generally speaking, people can only change when they are ready to change, and the only thing one can really do is to simply bring their awareness to the benefits to an alternative way of living. Without the giving of such an awareness first, that person will be unlikely to change and make a decision from their own heart. It is like trying to get a kid to eat their veges when they cannot even grasp the idea of why they should do it.
So this is not to say that one should not share information about vegetarianism to raise people’s awareness about it, but rather it is about realizing the difference between sharing the information out of love and sharing the information out of hate *i.e. being negative towards the ignorance of other people*.
Realize that it is only when an “ethical” or “environmental” vegetarian can love a person as much as they love the animals that they can experience true harmony from within.
In terms of health, being on a vegetarian diet can be destructive at the same time constructive to one's health.
It can be destructive when one lacks knowledge about nutrition. Being a vegetarian can be healthy only when one knows what kind of food needs to be eaten and what kind food needs to be avoided and this can differ from one person to another depending on how much energy they use per day and their biological makeup.
Many vegetarians often end up more unhealthy than before they took up the diet because of the increased intake of processed vegetarian foods such as fried chips, sweet snacks, faux meats, and things generally not in their wholefood form.
A possible reason as to why a vegetarian would avoid the healthier type of foods can be that during the transitioning period towards vegetarianism that person will often find these type of foods unpalatable and unsatisfying to their taste buds thus the need to go for stronger flavours such as processed foods. This is often a natural response when moving away from a stronger tasting diet to a more down to earth types.
Realize that eating processed foods can actually rob the body of nutrients rather than adding to it because the body will expend not only nutrition but also spend energy in processing and detoxifying the junk foods that we put into the body.
So to be a healthy vegetarian will require one to do much research into nutrition. And when done right, vegetarianism can actually be a very healthy diet.
One important thing to note with a Vegan diet or a vegetarian diet with a lack of eggs and dairy is the lack of vitamin B12 that one may be getting from their foods. These diets will lack Vitamin B12 because of the lack of them in vegetables. If we rewind time back a few decades ago there would have been traces of Vitamin B12 in organic vegetables enough for vegetarians or vegans to survive on but these days most soil have become sterile *Vitamin B12 used to be plenty in soil* and as a result it is a good idea to supplement oneself with Vitamin B12 - the sublingual ones being the most effective. If you are on a vegetarian diet it is advisable that one should do a blood check time and again just to see if one is deficient in any areas.
Protein is what the body needs to repair and rebuild muscle tissues. The fear that many people have of switching to the vegetarian diet is the lack of protein that one may be getting from vegetables alone. It is true that vegetables do lack protein when compared to meat. But the diet is doable if one knows what to eat and how much to eat – lentils, nuts, tempeh, brown rice, quinoa, millet and so forth are vegetarians foods which are high in protein.
The dangers of the vegetarian diet is the lack of high-protein foods that we may be getting each day. Because now the diet one is on is without meat, the variety of food that we can have now has decreased thus it can be mentally challenging to eat the same high-protein vegetarian foods everyday. And because one will need to eat a lot more than before to get their protein intake in they can feel too full and end up eating less than they should.
Weight And Muscle Building
A vegetarian can become skinny if one is not consuming enough food / calories / fat or protein. This is especially true for people who are born with high metabolism.
Developing muscles can also be difficult if one does not manage their diet well to include enough protein in their diet.
To gain weight on a vegetarian diet one will have to eat much fatty foods and high-protein foods together with carbohydrates. The best ratio of these foods will be different from individual to individual because some will require more fat whilst some will require more carbohydrates whilst some will require more protein. Everyone's constitution is simply different.
But universally, if one exercises regularly, then one will have to eat a lot more especially high-protein foods to repair their muscle growth. This is especially true if one is body-building on a vegetarian diet. In this case one will have to really know how much protein, fat, carbohydrate they need for the muscles to repair and grow after they have been “damaged.”
It is possible to gain much muscle-mass from a vegetarian diet but one may have to eat quite a bit for this to happen and this can be costly and time consuming. Thus it is advisable that if one wishes to develop weight or muscle mass that one investigates into the field of nutrition to develop the understanding of how the body actually develops muscles and fat.
Otherwise in terms of health, too much exercise with too little food/nutrition can be a recipe for disaster.
Being a Grounded Vegetarian
When we eat less meat and more vegetables the body will be able to digest the food much quicker and easier. Thus vegetarian foods can be termed as a lighter diet than a meat-based one.
The effect that a vegetarian diet can have on the mind is that it can lighten it. This means the mind can become more active and alert. This can be beneficial for a person who is a slow thinker, but for people who are already heavy thinkers this can affect one's ability to be in a state of Stillness.
Thus if one experiences the over-stimulation of the mind from being on a vegetarian diet, one can incorporate exercises into their life to help ground themselves. Exercises can be sports, yoga, gardening and so forth.
Points To Consider
The benefits of being on a vegetarian diet is plenty. In terms of health, vegetables are much more alkaline in nature than meat. The body usually falls into the state of distress and disease when it becomes acidic. This can happen when one takes in too much meat and processed foods into their diet. If one can keep their body in a balanced alkaline state then the body can naturally heal itself of a lot of pre-existing diseases.
But this is not to say that one diet is more superior than the other. Which diet one wishes to be on is simply a choice that one makes. A point to consider is that if one wishes to be healthy one can simply not choose a diet and simply eat everything in moderation. Instead of giving up completely on meat, one can also simply increase their vegetable intake and try to avoid processed foods and that can become a really healthy diet if one knows how their personal guts work.
But on the journey of Self-Transformation it can be easier to transform the mind and learn how to let go when on a blander diet such as the vegetarian diet. So these are all the points one can consider.
Develop Experienced Knowledge
To really know if vegetarianism is good or bad, one will have to try the diet and stay with it for a while to see the results. One will also have to study nutrition to ensure that one is getting enough nutrients from what one is eating. Because it can be easy to miss some of the vital nutrients when we are adopting a vegetarian diet without knowledge of what our body needs and what nutrients we may be lacking.
The Creator's Meditation / VipassanaLink here
One can develop Experienced Knowledge of how adopting a vegetarian diet can affect The Self at the emotional and mental level. This is done by comparing the quality of one's meditation experience when on a meat diet and when on a vegetarian diet. The longer the sitting the easier one will become aware of the differences.
Know and Transform The Self!
Use the 10 Day Self-Knowing Vipassana to develop awareness of the body and mind. This will help you to become aware of what food is good for you by becoming aware of how different types of food affect your body and mind.