eating plants

"Little White Pigs and Mother" by Horatio Walker
“Little White Pigs and Mother” by Horatio Walker

Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
~ Albert Einstein
(Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian)

In my last post I described the part of my journey from eating animals to only eating animals that were humanely raised and slaughtered. Still, even after seeing EARTHLINGS, and thinking I was doing enough, my intuition was telling me that this was not the end of the story. So I starting searching at and settled on a book called Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian by Jennifer Horsman & Jaime Flowers. It is available on Kindle so I got it within moments and read the book in record time, neglecting my blog-mates and many of my chores in the process.

Hundreds upon hundreds of scientific articles from around the world demonstrate that a healthy vegetarian diet is the single most powerful thing individuals can do to promote, protect, or improve their health.
~ Jennifer Horsman & Jaime Flowers
(Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian)

There it was, right in the first chapter. As many of my readers know, my husband survived a heart attack and had triple-by-pass surgery four years ago, and we are both taking a host of drugs to deal with hypertension and high cholesterol. Also I’m being treated for osteomalacia and migraine. Trying to keep on a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet isn’t helping those stubbornly high numbers to come down. But not one doctor has ever suggested a plant-based diet to either of us, in spite of countless scientific studies indicating that this would be the best route to a healthy lifestyle.

I don’t understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on powerful cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of their lives.
~ Dr. Dean Ornish
(Reversing Heart Disease)

I am so excited about possibly getting off all of these expensive drugs! Apparently eating even humanely raised animals is not good for us! I used to believe that since the animals ate each other nature was teaching us that it was perfectly natural to eat them. The circle of life. But while some animals are predators, there are many others who are not. The following information came as an enlightening surprise to me:

While humans can digest flesh, and it is likely that our ancestors did consume small amounts of meat infrequently, our anatomy much more strongly resembles that of plant-eating creatures. Like all plant eaters the human colon is long and complex, and our intestines are ten to eleven times longer than our bodies. Meat eaters have a short and simple colon, and in order that putrid meats pass quickly through their bodies, their intestines are only three to six times longer than their bodies. Human saliva contains digestive enzymes; meat eaters’ saliva does not. Our teeth resemble those of other plant eaters, with short and blunt canines, as opposed to long, sharp, and curved canines of the big meat eaters. Additionally, the meat our evolutionary ancestors consumed was wild game, which has less fat content than our modern domesticated meats.
~ Jennifer Horsman & Jaime Flowers
(Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to Be a Vegetarian)

Once again science and spirit come together in my life. As I shared the results of the scientific studies mentioned in the book with Tim, he seemed to be open to the idea of trying a vegan diet. And then came the next question, “What’s for dinner?”

This book, to the left, has nothing to do with having pigs for dinner, but is a heartwarming true story about a very special pig. It is called The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood by Sy Montgomery. Christopher Hogwood was a wise old soul, a teacher to everyone in the community who melted under his spell. He was a good good pig! I hope you will read it if you haven’t already!


"Shepherd with Cows on the Lakeshore" by Christian Friedrich Mali
“Shepherd with Cows on the Lakeshore” by Christian Friedrich Mali

The process of becoming a vegetarian acts like a spark to consciousness, and as you journey down this path, you become mindful of the connection between the living, breathing creature and the package of meat or fish neatly wrapped in the supermarket.
~ Jennifer Horsman & Jaime Flowers
(Please Don’t Eat the Animals: All the Reasons You Need to be a Vegetarian)

In the past, the idea of being a vegetarian has always appealed to me, but marriage is about compromises and I married a devout meat-and-potatoes guy. Our children had to put up with a few episodes of me trying to convert everyone to my way of thinking, but my lack of cooking talent and the lack of helpful information made for many unappealing meals. They all remember, without fondness, the TVP debacle – the cookbook didn’t mention that the textured vegetable protein needed to be soaked until soft before adding it to spaghetti sauce! No one appreciated the crunchy spaghetti and TVP sauce…

A little background of my journey from omnivore to herbivore…

My mom loved all things Native American. I remember her telling me that Indians worshiped nature and believed they should only take from her, with gratitude, what they needed to survive. With her words, she painted a picture for me that I still see to this day, of a hunter respectfully kneeling over the animal he had killed with his arrow, thanking its spirit for the sacrifice of its life for the benefit of his family or tribe.

One day I asked my father about hunting. He told me his story about a gun his father gave him as a gift so he could go hunting in the woods. Not wanting to disappoint his father, he set off to find some game. He found a squirrel and shot it on his first try. When he went over to retrieve it he found himself devastated and sick to his stomach that he had taken its life. He never hunted again.

But, Mom’s knowledge and Dad’s experience did not stop them from eating the all-American died of meat and dairy products! And while my paternal grandfather lived us, until he died when I was 8 years old, he regularly used his ax on a stump in the back yard to chop the heads off of chickens for dinner. It was very disturbing to me to see the decapitated chickens running around for what seemed like an eternity.

You have just dined, and, however scrupulously the slaughter-house is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
(A Political Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Over the years I got an inkling that animals were suffering terribly on factory farms and in slaughterhouses, so Tim & I agreed that we would only eat meat that was naturally raised, cage-free, and slaughtered humanely. A friend, knowing my sensitivity to violence, warned me not to watch the documentary, EARTHLINGS, but I did watch it, in August, while Tropical Storm Irene was raging outside. It did deeply disturb me, and removed all doubt from my mind about how bad things were in these torture chambers.

In one scene there was a pig who had spent its whole life squished in a cramped pen and had never seen a ray of sunshine or a blade of grass. Now it was time for it to be slaughtered. The worker opened the gate and started poking the terrified pig with a sharp prong. It fell down repeatedly and was pierced over and over to make it get up and move on. All the while the merciless worker kept shouting at it, over and over, “Come on, mother-f—-r, move.”

And a sharp contrast appeared in my mind between these two images: one, the cruel words coming out of the mouth of that heartless factory farm worker; and the other, much different picture: the sincere words of thanks coming out of the mouth of the respectful Native American hunter.