“What do you eat if you’re not eating meat?” – is a very well-known question that every vegetarian has heard, at least a few times over, since they’ve changed their eating habits. How did we ever get here? On what point did we, as human species, get to the place where we cannot conceive living without killing a living being in order to nourish ourselves? When all the founders of the great spiritual currents, all the guides of mankind, have spoken to us, for thousands of years, about compassion, about love, they taught us to cherish life, to live in harmony with Nature, with its laws. For Nature gives us plentifully everything that we need, she nourishes us from her abundance and keeps us healthy – as long as we remain in harmony with her.
Harmony with the Laws of Nature
Every structure in our body is built naturally in order to fulfill a certain function – nothing is random in this wonderful masterpiece that is the human body. And if we analyze the digestive system of the human being, starting with the teeth, we will see that we’re not (by far) an “omnivorous” species, as we’ve been told (just as “meat is (not) the best vegetable”). Our teeth don’t resemble those of a bear (which is omnivorous and, apart from long canines, small incisors and sharp molars, also has claws to “grab” its “food” with), just as they don’t resemble those of a horse or a cow (herbivores) nor those of a dog, lion or tiger (carnivores) – but resemble those of the monkey, which consumes fruits and grains, plant-based food in general. Also, if we analyze the composition of the saliva and digestive juices, if we study the structure of the entire digestive system, we reach the conclusion that plant-based food is our natural food… and even our natural instinct tells us what kind of food is good for us, which are the foods that make us “drool” when we see them in their natural form (or as close to natural as possible).
Natural, Holistic Medicine – and “Evidence-Based Nutrition”
There is an impressive volume of research in Nutrition that are nowadays brought to light by a few pioneers in the area of “Lifestyle Medicine”, such as Dr. Michael Greger and others. There are other pioneers in this field that prove through new research of great proportion that severe diseases, chronic diseases can be healed by changing the diet with a vegetarian one – and that the peoples that natively had a 100% plant-based diet have no cardiovascular diseases, no diabetes and no cancers whatsoever. Dr. Collin T. Campbell, in his famous book “The China Study”, proves that consumption of animal products is tied to a higher rate of occurrence of the entire cohort of chronic diseases, from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, joint conditions, etc. down to the nefarious cancers. And Dr. Dean Ornish, and later also Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn prove in prestigious studies from the 80’s that heart disease can be prevented and is completely reversible through changing the diet (with a vegetarian one) and the lifestyle, and they notice that vegetarian diet has an infinitely greater power to heal, to dissolve cholesterol deposits on coronaries, than the angioplasty or bypass surgery, which lead to recurrence of the disease. In 2003, Dr. Neal Barnard, the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C., with whom I had the honor to collaborate, proves in his study that type 2 diabetes is cured if animal products are completely removed from the diet and plenty of plant-based fibers are consumed – if the patients switch to a vegetarian diet. And there are already plenty of documentaries and movies (“Food Matters”, “Forks over Knives”, “Eating You Alive”, etc.) in which these experts in nutrition appear, together with patients cured of such diseases, and speak about these truths that the scientific world – and the wide public also – doesn’t know enough about yet.
Especially patients would benefit greatly if Medicine would introduce vegetarian diet as method of treatment and prevention of acute and chronic diseases, as Hippocrates, considered the Father of modern Medicine, used to teach, “Let your food be your medicine”. And there are already, in the United States, in Switzerland, or even in Romania, a few treatment centers for even the most severe illnesses (cancer, leukemia, etc.), through vegetarian diet or raw plant-based foods, or complete fasting under medical supervision.
And yet, vegetarian food is healthy only if whole grains, veggies and fruits are consumed in a state as whole as possible, as little processed as possible – for you can be a vegetarian even if you eat french fries and donuts and pastry, plus refined sweets, but your state of health will become worse instead of change for the better. This is why in America these doctors have coined the term “Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet” (WFPBD) in order to define the truly healthy type of food.
Being a vegetarian today
We live in interesting times – and it is more and more difficult not to observe this explosion of the greater and greater interest for healthy eating. More and more are trying to become (ovo-lacto-)vegetarians or vegans – either for health reasons, or out of compassion for animals, or because they wanna be aligned with the latest trends – more and more are searching for methods of detoxifying, of rebalancing through natural methods, including natural food. And yet, in order for this transition to be successful and harmonious, it is good to have periods of purification, of transition, of accommodation – and not abrupt transitions that put a strain on the body and mind, and the persons returns to eating meat after a short while.
“Being a(n ovo-lacto-)vegetarian” for a number of xmonths or years means not having eaten meat at all throughout this whole period (willingly). It doesn’t mean “eating fish as well” – because fish doesn’t grow leaves, flowers or roots. Nor does it mean eating “fruits of the sea” – for they belong to the underwater animal reign and don’t grow on trees.
“Being a vegan” means not consuming animal products at all – and not admitting exceptions or making a rule out of them. In the 23 years since I’ve become a vegetarian, with periods of veganism and raw veganism, I’ve understood that the body will eventually feel which foods are good for it, which truly balance and nourish it, if you let it “breathe”, purify from time to time – and this is the safest and the most steady way, without risks of “relapses”
In any case, a change, no matter how small, towards a healthy diet, is very important.
A beautiful and interesting aspect of this transition is also re-educating the taste – by purifying the diet we will begin to feel that plant-based foods have a much more intense taste. We will gradually discover that natural flavors from fruits and veggies are extremely intense, have a particularly strong taste, we will discover their true “flavors” and we’ll be able to savor them more fully – and by comparison we’ll feel how noxious or aggressive are the artificial or “identically natural” flavors that we were used to.
A few myths associated with vegetarian eating
“Where do you get your proteins?” is a question that every vegetarian hears. The elephant, or the horse, or the gorilla, or other animals that are vegetarian or herbivores, and also the weight-lifter who represented the U.S.A. in the 2016 Olympics, are clear proof that plant-based foods contain proteins as well – and, moreover, of a much better quality! Plant-based protein does not cause acidity, it has no toxins and it’s accompanied by fibers that ensure a healthy bowel transit and prevent the formation of fat deposits in blood vessels and organs.
Vegetarian pregnancy and the vegetarian child – as long as the diet is complete and diverse, any woman can choose a vegetarian diet during pregnancy. I know many persons, friends or patients, who had a 100% healthy pregnancy being vegetarians. Also, children can grow up and develop harmoniously having a vegetarian diet. In some countries like rural China or India the diet is basically vegetarian – and the population in these countries has a better state of health and a greater life expectancy.
“What do you eat if you’re not eating meat?” – whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits are numerous, and can be combined and cooked in countless ways. The colors of the foods are much more attractive, the tastes are incomparably more intense and more pleasant, and the richness of nutrients in them ensure a complete intake of nutrients to the body, in order to maintain an optimal state of health.
Advantages & Benefits
Of course, vegetarian diet is just a part – an extremely important one – from a healthy lifestyle. The full benefits will come if we’ll associate it with a healthy lifestyle – physical exercise, observing the sleep-wake rhythm, quitting the bad habits (alcohol abuse, smoking, drugs, etc.).
As a vegetarian, if your diet is healthy, with whole foods, not processed or processed as little as possible: you will enjoy a longer life; you will have more energy, both physical and mental; you will less probably have, or not have at all, any of the chronic diseases (cardiovascular, articular, metabolic, renal, neurological); you will have a better sexual life (the cholesterol in animal products may deposit on arteries and may lead to blocking the blood flow to various areas of the body, heart, brain, genital organs, arteries in the legs, etc.); the cost of food will be lower – the cost of medicines will be non-existent or very low, for you will keep diseases at bay through healthy eating; you will be a better friend to animals.
Great people from the past have had in common also the preference for a healthy diet, for vegetarian food – and only the association of the vegetarian diet with such names is reason enough for understanding its true value. Among them we can mention:
Buddha (Siddharta Gautama) was a vegetarian and taught his disciples about the compasion for all living beings – it is said that his death came after eating spoiled meat that was given to him by a malevolent false disciple.
Pitagora said: “Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul”, and “as long as humans will massacre animals, they will also kill each other. In truth, those who saw the seeds of crime and pain cannot reap joy and love.” His meatless diet was called “the Pythagorean diet” until the term “vegetarian” has become popular at the end of the 1800’s.
Plato believed that “A society that begins to eat more meat needs more doctors.”, and “The gods have created certain types of beings with which we should fill our bodies… they are the trees and plants and seeds.”
Leonardo da Vinci – “My body will not be a tomb for other creatures”.
Albert Einstein – was a supporter of the vegetarian diet and said “I’ve always eaten the flesh of animals with a somewhat guilty conscience.” “Nothing will bring greater benefits to human health and will not increase the chances of survival of life on Earth than the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
George Bernard Shaw – “I have been a cannibal for 25 years. Other than that I’ve been a vegetarian.”
Tolstoi – “Eating meat is simply immoral, since it implies performing an act that is contrary to the moral sense: killing.”
Gandhi – has applied the principle of non-violence to the very end, and this attitude has of course extended to animals as well. “In my mind the life of an animal is not less precious than that of a human being. We should not want to take the life of a lamb just for the sake of the human body.”
Members of various spiritual/religious orders, including the monks of the Shaolin Temple or from Mount Athos, or the Dalai Lama, are vegetarians – and distinguish themselves through a particularly good health and an absence of degenerative diseases, even at very old ages.
Nowadays there are also many famous vegetarians, countless personalities from the world of movies, of music, etc., among which I will quote Sir Paul McCartney, who said:
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”
Dr. Adrian Petre, MD, DMD, LAc – Holistic Medicine (Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine, Herbal Medicine, Nutrition Counselling, Iridology, Laser-therapy) – “Traun-Med” Clinic, Timişoara
Founder & Director of “Universal Healing Arts” – World Academy of Holistic Arts & Sciences