“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.”
~ Leo Tolstoy
In my home country Kazakhstan, more than 120 different ethnic groups were mixed together giving rise to a peculiar fusion of numerous national cuisines and forming a unique food culture. Originally, Kazakh people were nomads and that partially determined their passion for meat, horse meat in particular, since, for the most part, Kazakhs are Muslims and do not eat pork. Raised in this culture as a devout meat-eater I remained as such until the age of 25. On April 30, 2014, I started a 30-day experiment of abstinence from meat and I do not eat meat ever since.
Eating meat is a very sensitive and controversial topic. And I am not here to preach for giving up meat, there are enough polemics online. I will share with you the reasons why I personally do not meat and hopefully, it will encourage you to embark on your own 30-day experiment. Trust me, these 30 days of abstinence will make no harm to your health but if there is a slim chance of seeing positive results isn’t it worth trying?
I tried to keep my reasoning maximally objective so that you could actually relate to it and find ways to apply it. Here are the reasons why I do not eat meat.
After giving up meat my meditations skyrocketed.
Eating meat was “grounding” me. Without meat, it became much easier to reach a state of inner silence. My meditative state became more stable and I am able to stay still for longer periods of time.
While eating meat, you consume the fear and the anxiety of the animal that it experienced prior to death. This is not some metaphysics, it is biophysics. The existence of biofields, or so-called “aura” makes sense even from the standpoint of classical physics. Nerves are essentially electrical “wires” — they transfer electrical signals and possess associated electromagnetic fields. Electromagnetic fields are used to transmit information. Even though the exact mechanisms behind the interaction of these fields with the matter are still not entirely understood, that is beyond doubt that flesh conserves some sort of energy even after the death of the brain. The hypothesis that meat can affect the mental state after being consumed has been proven by me in the course of my experiment.
Quitting meat reduces aggression.
I have noticed that I have less anxiety and impatience. It became much easier to control my impulses to react to external events. Another proof of reduced aggression I found was provided, surprisingly, not by scientists but by Vaishnavas (the followers of Vaishnava dharma tradition). The interesting thing about them is that Vaishnavas do not feed their dogs with meat. Dogs grow healthy but completely lose the ability to protect the house. On a meatless diet, they become too kind.
Quitting meat promotes the growth of virtues.
Studying Buddhism, I once bumped into the following words of Buddha:
“The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.”
By eating meat, I implicitly contribute to the death of an innocent living being. How cool I am about it and my attitude toward the fact that someone has to die so I could support my living speaks a lot about the maturity of my soul. Your diet speaks for your kindness.
Eating meat is not healthy.
I am not going to reference multiple kinds of research to make a point that meat consumption is associated with numerous diseases especially cardiovascular diseases and health issues related to the increase of bad cholesterol. I realize that for every research that I may reference, there is a skeptic parrying with 10 counter-publications eager to protect his moral right to eat meat. I don’t want to argue. Instead of research papers, I would rather prefer to use common sense to make a point.
Let’s conduct a thought experiment. Imagine you put an apple and a piece of meat on the ground and leave them like that. What is going to happen to them? If the apple skin is intact, after some time the apple will dry and there is even a slight chance that the seeds will grow into a tree giving life to new apples. What is going to happen to the piece of meat? It will rot.
The processes that take place in your body are identical. Part of the animal protein that you consume can escape digestion and undergo putrefaction — a process of degradation of the undigested protein in the colon which is associated with the production of toxic by-products such as ammonia.
The intestinal system of carnivores and omnivores in nature is an example of smart design — their intestines are 2–4 times the length of their body which allows them to absorb all of the nutritional elements from the meat and get rid of the remains before they start to poison them. Human intestines are about 8–10 meters long, as one can imagine, it is quite a long distance for a piece of meat to have a “safe trip” inside your body.
Eating meat affects your hormone system.
Simple question — when you eat meat do you know if it is a meat of a male or female? The hormones of animals contained in the meat that people consume directly alter their hormone levels. Personally, I have decided to liberate myself from thoughts about how the next steak will affect my testosterone levels.
Also, this could be something to think about for those who advise against the consumption of soy products claiming that the phytoestrogens contained in them have a negative effect on testosterone. It might be worth questioning what is the effect of animal estrogen in the meat whose structure is much closer to the human one.
Eating meat increases acidity.
The stomach increases acidity in order to break down a piece of meat. Carnivores, for example, dogs can increase the acidity of the gastric juice 5–6 fold which allows them to dissolve bones. However, what is natural for dogs is not so easy for us humans. Our body has adverse reactions to the increased acidity. The acidic media induces precancerous changes in cells, all pathogenic bacteria and carcinogenic processes proliferate in it. Increased acidity promotes and aggravates gastrointestinal diseases such as gastritis, ulcers, and acid reflux. The increased acidity of the urine is the reason for the formation of uric acid stones.
So, what are the products that can reduce the negative effect of acidity? Alkalizing and neutral foods. Here are some of them:
- fresh fruits, vegetables, and collard greens
- lentils and beans
- soy products
- some whole grains (quinoa, millet)
- herbs and spices (excluding salt)
- fatty foods (avocados, olive oil, seeds, nuts)
- herbal teas
Quitting meat improves sleep.
I remember I used to have nightmares. The worst of them happened when I ate those horrific frozen hamburgers from vending machines in my student dormitory. God knows what they were made of.
My nightmares are gone with meat. The correlation between quitting meat and calm sleep was too obvious to seem like a coincidence. I observed that my subconsciousness immediately reacts to the food I eat.
Quitting meat helps to save the energy of the body.
Meat is muscle tissue and it is a very dense structure. It takes a huge amount of energy to break it down. The energy in your body is finite, the same energy resources could be spent for regeneration, detoxification, and recovery after intense physical activity.
Plant-based meals are very easy to digest, and with wise planning, they can provide enough protein for stable muscle growth if that’s the objective. You can find many examples of vegan athletes with unbelievable performance, I just want to share with you my personal and quite counterintuitive observations.
Since I quit meat:
- I didn’t lose weight. I gained. And that was my objective. I reached 92 kg of my peak mass without any meat. Of course, the percentage of fat while gaining mass has increased reaching about 19% but I also built quality muscle.
- My strength increased. I was constantly journaling and monitoring my progress in powerlifting. I reached 200 kg in deadlift without any meat.
- My functionality didn’t suffer. I was remaining or improving the times of CrossFit WODs.
- My recovery time decreased. I noticed that even after an intense workout I am less sore and it takes me less time to recover.
People who want to be strong as a gorilla should be aware that around 67% of gorilla’s diet is fruits and 17% is leaves, seeds, and stems. Maybe you want to be strong like an ox? Well, oxen eat grass.
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”
~ Paul McCartney
Did you watch the “Earthlings” movie? If not then mark this paragraph with a #mustwatch tag. It’s better to see the truth once than to read about it a hundred times.
Quitting meat saves money.
I noticed that previously if I spent 40$ on grocery, 10$ were spent on meat. That’s a quarter of my expenses. When I gave up meat I was able to redistribute this money and invest in healthy food.
Economic and Ecological reasons.
The meat industry is the most wasteful industry in the world. It takes up to 25 kg of grain and up to 15,000 liters of water to grow 1 kg of meat. What is the resulting ecological footprint? How many people can you feed with 1 kg of meat? How about 25 kg of grain? One can do the math. Watch “Why Meat is the Best Worst Thing in the World” by Kurzgesagt — In a Nutshell on Youtube.
We are not predators.
We do not have claws, we do not have fangs, we are not even strong enough to kill an animal barehanded. The ability to digest meat is an evolutionary skill that was developed to secure our survival. Most herbivores are able to digest meat but it doesn’t mean that they are naturally designed to eat this kind of food. Many people have developed a mindset that if the food doesn’t contain meat it is a snack. This opinion is erroneous.
We are not carnivores.
Our incisors are sharp and specifically designed to bite through the hard shell of the fruit, our molars are obtuse and flat to mill the pulp. The way our teeth are designed is another pro-argument that meat is not our natural food. We are predominantly fruitarians.
The Evolution of Taste.
Here is the truth. There is only one taste that is preprogrammed into you by nature at the moment of your birth. Do you know what taste it is? A taste of mother’s milk.
Other tastes that come very natural to us are the tastes of fresh vegetables and fruits. When you see these vividly colored fruits and berries hanging from the tree, their shape, their form, their color allure you. Everything tells you: “Come and eat me!”. When you put them in your mouth and start chewing, all your senses, the smell, the taste, tell you that what you are eating is right for you.
With the exception of mother’s milk and fruits, all other tastes are conditioned externally — by family, by society, by the environment. These tastes can be rewired. Tastes do change. After some time, I noticed the shift in the perception — something similar to what Marcus Aurelius describes in his Meditations:
“Like seeing roasted meat and other dishes in front of you and suddenly realizing: This is a dead fish. A dead bird. A dead pig.
Perceptions like that — latching onto things and piercing through them, so we see what they really are. That’s what we need to do all the time — all through our lives when things lay claim to our trust — to lay them bare and see how pointless they are, to strip away the legend that encrusts them.”
~ Marcus Aurelius, “Meditations”.
I remember that during the first week after giving up meat I had some cravings. After two months I became indifferent. Now, seeing the blood-colored flesh of animals’ corpses in the supermarket is not only weird for me. It is repelling.
People will be saying that eating meat in moderation has no harm. I have no objections against this statement but we all know that moderation was never the strongest human trait.
I am not a dogmatist. I keep studying, and my understanding of the nutrition and the functions of the human body evolve with time. I am convinced that when it comes to the nutritional habits of a person, food should serve as a tool for health and longevity. Everything I know up to date tells me that the meat is not the part of this equation.
I hope some of the thoughts on the matter that I’ve presented here will inspire you to start your own 30-day meatless challenge and eventually change your life for good. Stay open-minded.
Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.
If you want to support me on my mission, please, share this book with someone you love. Maybe they will find what they seek on its pages.