“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

 

You don’t have to be Einstein to realize that health is everything. Or, without your health, you have nothing. Sometimes a cliché is right as rain; indeed, a saying becomes cliché because of the universality of the truth it presents. Universal truths are spiritual truths.

Of course, the adage without your health you have nothing is not always true. There are rare individuals with serious health concerns who overcome the limitations brought by their physical struggle to reach a higher spiritual understanding. Physical challenges, like most all obstacles large and small, present opportunities to a wider and deeper consciousness. People who are able to transcend health challenges are special indeed.

The late Christopher Reeves was one such person. He had everything our world had to offer; he was a much-loved husband and family man, a successful and famous actor and physically and materially wealthy. In a minute that transformed his life, a tragic riding accident left him a quadriplegic. This most serious disability became a springboard to his higher self; he became a great humanitarian, the world’s most visible spokesperson for the disabled.

The brightness of his light touched us all.

However, the vast majority of us do not own Christopher Reeves’ courage and grace. Take a moment to reflect on someone you know with a health challenge: someone suffering from a serious illness, chronic pain, or impaired mobility. Each of these consumes enormous quantities of cognitive real estate. It is often all the afflicted thinks about; there is little room for anything else. It becomes the primary concern.

(Side bar for chronic pain sufferers: Do not give up. Mindful practices such as meditation, Pranayama, and yoga have been shown to benefit chronic pain sufferers. These potent, lifesaving practices can be ‘the cure’ as well. Conventional medicine has finally taken notice. Kaiser Permanente, for example, like many other health care providers, now offers excellent mindfulness training programs for chronic pain sufferers. Also, get your hands on Dr. Robert Ornstein’s excellent book The Healing Brain: Breakthrough discoveries about how the brain keeps us healthy. This is one of many recent titles addressing chronic pain sufferers, offering help in overcoming this obstinate and difficult problem. Just know there is hope.)

Our physical selves serve us in myriad small and large ways. Our body is our temple—the vessel for our consciousness. In an obvious hierarchical sequence, vibrant health becomes a stepping-stone to expanded consciousness: to joy, compassion, purpose, and love. One of the many incalculable gifts of vegetarianism is vibrant health.

Thousands of studies make this point and we have selected from this vast well of knowledge. The vast majority of the studies used here to illustrate that a plant based diet brings astonishing health benefits are not single research studies, but rather giant, meta-studies. What is a meta-study? Meta-studies examine numerous individual studies on a single subject statistically. For instance, instead of examining one study on vegetarianism and breast cancer rates, whenever possible, we look at meta-studies that examine dozens of studies on this specific topic. Meta-studies are like super-science; they provide the best assurance that the material facts are right for most of us.

 

Each year, the meat industrial complex abuses and butchers nearly 10 billion cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens, and other innocent, feeling animals just for the enjoyment of consumers. Each year, nearly 1.5 million of these consumers are crippled and killed prematurely by heart failure, cancer, stroke, and other chronic diseases that have been linked conclusively with the consumption of these animals. Each year, millions of other animals are abused and sacrificed in a vain search for a ‘magic pill’ that would vanquish these largely self-inflicted diseases.”

—Alex Hershaft, Ph.D., President, Farm Animal Reform Movement

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