For some time, I’ve been a vegetarian. Throughout that time, my friends have felt many ways about it. They would feel guilty eating meat around me, knowing that I felt so passionately about the subject that I changed my lifestyle accordingly.
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Some felt bad for the limitations I often faced when I’d go out to eat. Mostly, they were impressed. I’ve spent my time as a vegetarian educating my friends and colleagues on the reasons why I no longer eat meat, while still remaining respectful of everyone’s differences in opinion on the matter.
One of the most interesting lessons I learned when becoming a vegetarian was that ceasing meat consumption is not solely about the physical effects on your body. Rather, your spirituality is also changed by turning to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
Here are just some of the advantages for both your body and spirit of pursuing a meat-free lifestyle:
- Your heart will thank you. Vegetarian and vegan diets are typically lower in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol according to the American Heart Association. Another study cited by Harvard Health proved that plant-based eaters were 25% less likely to die of heart disease than meat eaters. Many with heart disease are required to change their diets, so why not try something that has proven successful?
- You’ll lose weight. While many sources warn that there is initial bloat before weight loss, a vegetarian diet will eventually lead to weight loss. An early 90s study by Dr. Dean Ornish of the Preventive Medicine Institute of California found that on average, low-fat vegetarian diets resulted in 24 lbs lost in year one and kept off for the subsequent 5 years.
- You consciousness will change. Tennis player Peter Burwash once proclaimed “The most important part of vegetarianism is the real shift in consciousness that takes place. There is a true correlation between our food choices and violence in the world. The only person who would disagree with that is a meat-eater.” Plant-based eating begins with an understanding of your reasons why, and why the process of animal-based eating is harmful. Your compassion will grow as you remove yourself from a cycle that inflicts harm.
- You’ll be calmer. Many consider eating a plant-based diet a spiritually cleansing experience. Animal proteins carry hormones that can change your body chemistry, leading to a greater disposition to aggression. Animals release these hormones in times of stress, and with the unethical practices of large-scale farming, they are susceptible to being stressed, afraid, malnourished, and more. With plant-based eating, you change your body chemistry and open your spirit up to a calmer, more evenly paced way of living, free of the hormones of these animals.
- It will bring you further along in your spiritual evolution. During your spiritual journey, you become more sensitive to the injustices of the world and more compelled to bring about change. By making your decision from a place of sympathy rather than a place of judgment, you are elevating your spirit and furthering yourself along the path of discovery.
Make no mistake that this decision is a process. You have to understand all your motivations and all the reasoning behind the injustices you perceive. Only by taking the time to explore the meaning to you from both a spiritual and physical perspective will you be able to make the right decision for yourself at the right time.