Sunday, May 25, 2014

Food without Violence – Lovegan Food

The Almond Tree
Food for life comes from life, one form of life deriving its food from another life form and in some cases even their own kind. Humans acquire food from plants and animals, two different kinds of complimentary life forms. In acquiring this food, violence is often perpetuated. While it seems natural for most animals to acquire their food any way they can, humans, who are capable of reasoned thinking, may wish to deliberate if violence is an essential part of acquiring food or if food may be acquired without any violence. Perhaps as humans evolve further away from their animal past, they shall learn of non-violent ways to meet all their basic needs that include food.
The central question is, if it is possible to get fully nutritious and healthy food for mankind without the need to perpetuate any violence at all.
Whenever humans eat meat as food, an animal has to be killed. Civilized humans attempt to kill an animal in the least painful manner but violence is inherent in the act of killing. There are also some amongst humans, the vegans and vegetarians, who do not eat meat. Vegans avoid all food of animal origin but vegetarians will consume food of animal origin provided it can be acquired without causing violence.

For example milk from a domestic cow can be acquired if the cow is well fed and produces surplus milk.. Some modern vegetarians also consume eggs by an extension of the same logic. However, while vegetarians and vegans avoid violence to animals, they do perpetuate violence on plants frequently.

There is now a sufficient body of evidence (not quoted here for simplicity) to suggest that plants, even though they do not have a brain like animals, have a distributed consciousness that helps them meet their needs and feel pain as well. That is not surprising since plants are life forms too, with genes and chromosomes like animals and humans, with even many common genes i.e it is from the same gene pool as all other life on the planet.

Nevertheless, the important point to note is that much food from plants comes without causing any violence or any significant pain to plants. Consider the most common human food - bread. It is made from wheat that is taken from wheat grass when its life cycle is over and it has dried out. Therefore it is not necessary to destroy the wheat plant to get wheat. In fact if we cut the plant off when it is still green and alive we would not be able to get wheat grains from this plant. Many fruits and vegetables are also things that a plant produces to shed and therefore if these are plucked off a plant, no violence of note is caused. It is the same with leaves, that in any case keep drying off and if one takes these from a plant selectively the plant does not die and can go on to complete its life. Thus if we look through all of the plant foods that humans consume, most do not involve violence, However some do, for example to get lettuce or cabbage from a plant we have to chop it off.

A diet that primarily consists of foods acquired without any violence to both plants and animals involves a consciousness that goes beyond vegetarian or vegan food. It has been termed as lovegan foods in an earlier post in this blog because it is an expression of love for all life. As regards its impact on human health, it is indeed healthier than vegetarian and vegan food, first because most plant foods are included and there is an immense variety of that on the planet comprising fruits, nuts, vegetables, food grains, vegetable and fruit oils, foliage etc. as well as some root crops like potatoes and peanuts that a plant leaves in the soil after its life cycle is complete. Secondly, because lovegan food eaters are not averse to animal fats and proteins provided they can be acquired without perpetuating violence such as eggs and milk products, they may choose from a broad spectrum of nutrients that enable optimum human health.

A word of caution is necessary though, whenever a diet is changed, there are likely to be difficulties in the transition period while the body adjusts and learns to cope. Even something as simple as giving up regular tea can give a headache for a few days and giving up on meat by regular eaters may cause weakness for months or even years unless proper replacements are added.  An egg or two a day, some cheese and yoghurt, coconuts and almonds help to overcome the weakness. There is an older article in this blog, if you search for it on Edgar Cayce who had described that almonds help to overcome weakness of not eating meat. But please do not exceed two eggs a day or ten almonds a day. It could lead to other health issues. However, once one adjusts, some of the longest lived, healthiest and strongest persons in the world are from amongst the vegetarians or those who eat meat rarely, as you would find described in other articles in this blog (Here and Here). One way to give up on meat could be to cut down on meat gradually bringing it down to just once a weak over a one, two or three year period and then give it up completely if one so decided. Going cold turkey may be a good idea with tobacco and alcohol but not so with food.

Some believe that violence begets violent diseases and love begets love. As we sow, so shall we reap. However, since Loveganism is a new concept, present day food production and distribution methods make it difficult for most humans at the present time to become strictly lovegan, even if they wished to be so, except perhaps farmers who have their own land to produce food and keep some domestic diary animals and poultry birds primarily for their own needs. Therefore, it is sufficient for most humans to try and be aware of what they consume and do it in a way so that violence to all life is minimized if not completely eliminated.

It is not suggested in this note that all violence can or should be avoided in all situations. It has a role in defense of self and defense of loved ones from attack. A home must be defended against an attack of rats or termites and a farmer's field or flower garden from weeds and infestation. Rather, what is suggested here is that if we can find reasonable ways to avoid violence in any activity and do that, it is a praiseworthy pursuit and if it can be done in something as basic as acquiring food it is even more so.
While Buddha the compassionate spoke of compassion to animals as appropriate for his times , Einstein, who may be regarded as the architect of Loveganism, in keeping with recent times of scientific evolution went further. To quote from him:
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Despite what has been written here, it is not a good idea to become a fanatic about any food ideology. That is what the Buddha said when he introduced vegetarianism to mankind. It is also a duty of any life form including humans to maintain good health and then to use that good health to improve their own lives as well as contribute towards improving the lives of others in whichever way they can. Even more important than the kind of food one consumes is the nature of one's deeds. If a human being is extremely humane in food habits but otherwise exploits the world for utterly selfish needs through unethical means, he perpetuates another kind of violence that is far worse. The key word here is ‘unethical’ and not illegal because we have many countries where the greediest of humans have got together in a one percent club so as to make their greedy acts such as obscenely huge and totally illogical corporate compensations, banker bonuses and banker gambling with other peoples money legal. It seems that a banker remarked that a robber was such a fool to try and rob a bank with a gun when it was so much easier to do it with a bonus, but let us leave questions of wealth and how it is acquired for the next post of this blog.

Photo from:  under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;  Modified before use here.


Conversations with Karla Boyd said...

Dear Dr. Ashok Malhatra-

I have reread your blog. It invites us all wherever we are in our progress for ahimsa and sacredness for all life to see that as our consciousness grows, so can the choices we make.....

Thank-you for writing such a heart inquiry blog....



Ashok said...

Thanks Karla. I left a more detailed comment on a discussion on this post at linkedin. Thanks again. Would love to look up your blogs on this at a quiet moment soon.