Awake in the World

When one tugs at a single thing in Nature, he finds it hitched to the rest of the universe.” — John Muir

While BBQ ribs, burgers, hotdogs and steaks may be part of the summer grill-out fun, try something different. Go vegetarian for a day. It’s a way to be kind to Mother Earth, cut down on costs and practice non-violence. This radical idea is something that is not new. Since ancient times cultures around the world have encouraged vegetarian practices as a way to deepen spirituality. In India, vegetarianism is a way of life. Dhal (Indian lentils) with rice, vegetable kormas, and curry dishes are part of a wide array of ways to eat vegetarian that are both exquisitely tasty and also respectful to the environment and animals.

The Vegetarian Times study conducted in 2008 stated that 7.3 million Americans follow vegetarian diets. Another 22 million eat a “vegetarian inclined diet” many of them to support health and wellness. Some famous vegetarians include Stella McCartney, fashion designer and daughter of Beatle, Paul; rock singer, Alanis Morisette; Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy and Indian practitioner of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi.

Many of us disconnect the meat on plates at restaurants from the actual animals we see in fields and on farms. That cute calf that we take our child or grandchild to pet at the petting zoo is the same veal that ends up on the plate. While we wouldn’t think of killing that calf and couldn’t bear to see it happen before our eyes, when we go out to dinner, we forget the bigger picture and forget the pain caused in putting meat or fish on a plate.

Trying a vegetarian diet for one day is a good spiritual practice. Turn it into an adventure and use it as a way to open the mind. Explore alternative ways to eat that don’t include meat. Asian restaurants and innovative vegetarian and vegan options are popping up everywhere. Grains like quinoa and amaranth make for interesting and tasty salads. Risottos, omelets and Mediteraen dishes like babaganoush and pitas with falafel may add flair to your table.

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