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Too often the focus of a discussion about whether to eat a certain way is limited to the realm of nutrition; i.e., this food offers more of these vitamins, or those minerals, or it burns fat, or builds muscle, etc.

It is important to remember that your food choices impact not only your own body but also the health of the environment, economy, not to mention the well-being of your fellow Earthlings. Which is why we say that the proper foods  require a relative minimum of resources and regenerate rather than ravage the environment, while being a source of pleasure and life rather than pain and death.

This holiday season, when you sit down to that turkey or that hog (and even for those who shun such foods, animal products often infiltrate family gatherings), and when you possibly pray over such food, as is customary for families to do, remember the words of the eminent Upton Sinclair, who wrote in "The Jungle" (1906) about these creatures whose pain we make our pleasure:

... “And each of them had an individuality of his own, a will of his own, a hope and a heart’s desire; each was full of self-confidence, of self-importance, and a sense of dignity. And trusting and strong in faith he (the hog) had gone about his business, the while a black shadow hung over him and a horrid Fate waited in his pathway. Now suddenly it had swooped upon him, and had seized him by the leg. Relentless, remorseless, it was; all his protests, his screams, were nothing to it - it did its cruel will with him, as if his wishes, his feelings, had simply no existence at all; it cut his throat and watched him gasp out his life. And now was one to believe that there was nowhere a god of hogs, to whom this hog personality was precious, to whom these hog squeals and agonies had a meaning? Who would take this hog into his arms and comfort him, reward him for his work well done, and show him the meaning of his sacrifice?” ...

If you believe in a God, or a higher intelligence, or a cosmic order, or in karma, fate, whatever, and especially if you now and then pray to such a being or power, you know the strength of hope, and the despair you may feel when your prayers seem to go unanswered. Now, take a moment to think of our animal friends lined up for slaughter, and imagine them beseeching a God who will never hear their lamentations. If, as we all do, you believe your prayers may be answered, give the turkeys and chickens and cows and pigs and fish of the world the possibility that theirs too may not fall on deaf ears, and that hog heaven may be on Earth, in a peaceful and natural life free of the pain and suffering animals raised for slaughter incur.
This Christmas, choose plants.


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