The American Society has cultivated us to believe that the eating of meat is essential to optimal health, however much research has begun to equate the development of many common diseases (diabetes, stroke, heart disease, gout, gall stones) to the prevalence of too much animal protein. Within South America, the Hunza subculture thrives exclusively on a vegetarian diet while our number one killer, cancer, does not even exist.

Have we ever stopped to wonder why health care has become such a booming business in America? Doctors received hundreds of thousands of dollars in servicing one patient. Million dollar health policies can be expended in one year upon persons who have been chronically ill. How is it that the most food rich society in all of the world has such a high preponderance of debilitating health?

Webster defines a cannibal as, "an animal that eats other animals. " Perhaps we have never considered ourselves in such a savage manner, yet when we are reminded of the rampant violence within our present day, this label is not so far fetched.

It is impossible to listen to any major television news broadcast and not hear of a horrid rape case, warfare between nations, child abuse, drive by shootings, needless murders, acts of race hate and hapless bombings. We are behaving like wild animals.

Interestingly, those mammals in the animal kingdom which eat only from the vegetation of the land, do not attack other animals. This includes the content cow, the fast horse, the strong gorilla and the powerful elephant. In contrast the carnivores are ferocious, they (shark, wolf, tiger) attack.

Research has also shown that the majority of prisoners whose diet usually is low in nutritional value develop a mineral deficiency which correlates with certain chemical imbalances. Seemingly, we as a society have not seriously embraced the relationship between food and consciousness.

Do we really think that we are ingesting a life giving substance when partaking of dead flesh? Imagine a slaughtered (an appropriate word as the butcher's knife severs the juggler vein) cow left in the street, it will rot. The same occurs in the physical body in spite of our miraculous digestive system.

As the majority of animals know when they are about to be killed, fear develops which creates an abnormal flow of acid; as a healthy body is to be alkaline, acidic foods such as meat, fish and eggs should be avoided.

Unfortunately among religions there is no consensus to the ethics of eating meat. For the Muslim one should abstain from pork, the Hindu beef, the Jew only Kosher, but the Christian obviously can eat it all.

However when we compare ourselves physically to other animals, we begin to gain some insight as our intestines are three times the length of the body like the cow, horse and elephant. This physical feature is essential to allow time for the system to assimilate the nutrients from the vitalizing plant fiber. In contrast the intestines of a carnivore like the tiger are very short to facilitate rapid excretion of the detrimental residue from the decayed carcass.

In addition, the saliva of the human being contains an enzyme to dissolve the complex carbohydrates of plants while the saliva of the flesh eater is highly acidic to facilitate the dissolution of concentrated protein.

Human teeth, as they are flat, parallel that of the other vegetarians in the animal kingdom. Unlike carnivores we do not possess only sharp canines to rip meat, but as we do possess four canines, we could hypothesize that we could occasionally eat meat; even still, we must logically conclude that the majority of our food is to be chewed.

There is considerable material to say one in becoming a vegetarian, nonetheless, it should be approached on a gradual basis

That which is a crucial factor as to why some persons continue to eat meat is the concern of getting enough protein. The World Health Organization has scientifically determined that the average adult requires thirty five to forty grams of protein per day, yet the average American consumes one hundred twenty.

An excess of protein causes the liver and the related glands to work extremely hard. The toxins released in the system can be absorbed by the liver, but after a while it weakens as the residue from the auto putrefaction begins to slowly poison the body.

All of our meat produce has be enpenetrated with drugs to speed up the growth process. As these animals, particularly chickens, stay caged during their entire breeding time, they develop fatty tissue and cholesterol forms. Now enter high blood pressure and arthritis. Indeed if it were not for cholesterol, these two diseases would not be so prominent.

Being a vegetarian in our culture can be challenging. However the decision to eat only grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and perhaps dairy (you do not kill the animal for these products) will hinge upon your commitment to your health. As one changes to a vegetarian diet, the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, caner, heart troubles, high blood pressure and stroke, greatly diminish.

Going vegetarian is very cost effective as a hundred dollars a month will buy innumerable vegetables and grains such as rice, potatoes and proteins such as beans, tofu and tempeh. Go buy a few cook books to give you some ideas and you will be well on your way to some tasty eating.

Being a vegetarian not only savesyou money but time. It takes much note time to cook that roast turkeyhan it does for that delicious brocoli, potato, onion, and cheese casserole.

A few months ago, I attended a holistic health seminar which was attended predominantly by vegetarians (some as long as twenty years). If this group is indicative, then I would be prone to postulate that a strict vegetarian diet positively impacts the aging process as all looked 10 to 15 years younger than their chronological age. In a study done on Bulgarians who were 100 years or older, most were vegetarians. Of course there were other elements (not over eating, country living, friendly and content in nature, physically active throughout life, lived without a clock) which also contributed to their longevity.

Disease is on the rise, violence is rampaging; our consciousness has deteriorated to that of beast. We say that we are a humane Christian society, nonetheless, daily we violate the Commandment: "Thou shall not kill."

If there is any validity to Newton's third law which states that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction", then we must accept that as we needlessly kill animals, they will one day in turn kill us.

Siri Sat Nam, M.A., M.F.C.C. intern, presently is the Mental Health Director at AIDS Prevention Team in Los Angeles. In addition, he conducts private healing practice and facilitates a weekly meditation service at riving Planet in Santa Monica. He an be reached at (310) 452-1082.

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