The Compassionate Diet: How What You Eat Can Change Your Life and Save the Planet by Arran StephensThe Compassionate Diet: How What You Eat Can Change Your Life and Save the Planet by Arran Stephens

The Compassionate Diet: How What You Eat Can Change Your Life and Save the Planet

byArran Stephens, Eliot Jay Rosen

Paperback | May 24, 2011

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What can we do to allay global warming, contend with world hunger, be healthier, and live longer? In The Compassionate Diet, Nature's Path founder and CEO Arran Stephens, who has been at the leading edge of the organic food movement for decades and a vegetarian his entire adult life, answers these complex questions in the simplest terms: Eat vegetarian.

A balanced and natural vegetarian diet is neither a fad nor a passing trend. It has been part of many cultures over untold millennia. The Compassionate Diet distills the history, philosophy, and core benefits of eschewing meat.

A sense of compassion and humanity has animated Stephens's life's work, and it drives this book. The vegetarian lifestyle has innumerable benefits, but for Stephens, eating a plant-based diet is first and foremost an expression of compassion for animals, for ourselves, and for the planet. This elegant and completely approachable book is a beautiful guide that illustrates the rich gifts that compassion yields.

Arran Stephens and his wife are the founders of Nature's Path Organic Foods, North America's largest organic breakfast foods company. He has received Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year and the Canadian Health Food Association's Hall of Fame awards and has been named among Canada's Best 100 Employers. He lives with his family in V...
Title:The Compassionate Diet: How What You Eat Can Change Your Life and Save the PlanetFormat:PaperbackDimensions:160 pages, 7.13 × 5.06 × 1.14 inPublished:May 24, 2011Publisher:Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/RodaleLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1609610636

ISBN - 13:9781609610630

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Read from the Book

1. What Is a Vegetarian?By definition, a vegetarian doesn't eat the flesh, blood, or body parts, in any form or quantity, of any mammals (cows, sheep, pigs, deer, antelope, etc.); or any fish (including lobsters and shellfish, etc.); any birds (chickens, turkeys, and other fowl); or any eggs, fertile or infertile, which are the embryos of unborn birds or fish.Some people consider themselves vegetarian if they abstain from red meat but continue to eat other flesh foods; however, by the universally accepted definition of vegetarianism, this a misnomer. To call oneself a pesca- (fish) vegetarian or ovo- (egg) vegetarian is a contradiction in terms.A celebrated poet-saint of the twentieth century, Sant Darshan Singh Ji Maharaj, said in "The Vegetarian Way of Life":I am often asked about the rationale of not taking even infertile eggs, which some people even label as "vegetarian eggs." Apart from the fact that such an egg represents a form of life which cannot fulfill itself, it has the same undesirable effect on us as a fertile egg. It stupefies the mind and enflames the passions. Taking these factors into view, the saints and sages from time immemorial have followed the pure diet because it is most helpful for spiritual advancement.A lacto-vegetarian diet includes animal by-products such as dairy and honey because these do not directly lead to loss of life, as the eating of animal products themselves does. A vegan--also called a strict vegetarian-- abstains from all animal by-products.WHEN WE KILL THE ANIMALS TO EAT THEM, THEY END UP KILLING US BECAUSE THEIR FLESH, WHICH CONTAINS CHOLESTEROL AND SATURATED FAT, WAS NEVER INTENDED FOR HUMAN BEINGS.--WILLIAM C. ROBERTS, MD, EDITOR, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CARDIOLOGYVegetarianism and Longevity: The EvidenceMany large population studies have found that vegetarians and vegans live longer than meat eaters: According to a Loma Linda University study, vegetarians live about seven years longer and vegans about fifteen years longer than meat eaters. The Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Environment and Health, conducted by Cornell University, Oxford University, and Chinese researchers--to date the largest population study on the relationship of diet to health--found that those Chinese who ate the least amount of animal products had correspondingly lower risks of cancer, heart attacks, and other chronic degenerative diseases. A British study tracked 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 meat eaters for twelve years and found that vegetarians were 40 percent less likely to die from cancer during that time and 20 percent less likely to die from other diseases.Every once in a while we read in the newspaper about an active centenarian dying peacefully in his or her sleep despite having, for the last eighty years, smoked, drunk alcohol, and eaten meat. These people are genetic superstars who were able to mistreat their bodies with health-robbing substances and still live a long time by virtue of the strength of their genetic inheritance. Who knows how much longer they might have lived, or how much better the quality of life they might have enjoyed, had they eaten lower on the food chain--specifically, a plant-based diet. Emulate their lifestyle at your peril!The twentieth-century playwright George Bernard Shaw waxed ironic:The average age (longevity) of a meat eater is 63. I am on the verge of 85 and still work as hard as ever. I have lived quite long enough and am trying to die; but I simply cannot do it. A single beef-steak would finish me; but I cannot bring myself to swallow it. I am oppressed with a dread of living forever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism.Famous VegetariansThe list of illustrious vegetarians continues to grow. There are now several "big lists" of famous vegetarians on the Internet. One particularly good one is available at, on the Web site of the International Vegetarian Union. While who is on such a list isn't so important, the sheer number of amazingly diverse and talented individuals is impressive. To mention a few examples from the twentieth century: Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross), writer Leo Tolstoy, General William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army), Mahatma Gandhi, and auto magnate Henry Ford were all conscientious longtime vegetarians. When told by his doctors in his ninetieth year that he would have to begin to eat meat to survive, George Bernard Shaw responded with his characteristic humor:I solemnly declare that it is my last wish that when I am no longer a captive of this physical body, that my coffin when carried to the graveyard be accompanied by mourners of the following categories: first, birds; second, sheep, lambs, cows and other animals of the kind; third, live fish in an aquarium. Each of these mourners should carry a placard bearing the inscription: "O Lord, be gracious to our benefactor G.B. Shaw who gave his life for saving ours!"Clearly, vegetarianism has been no bar to greatness in any walk of life. Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance genius, was even more outspoken about the brutality of meat eating:Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. [Our bodies] are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.Leonardo often bought captive birds from the market and set them free from their cages. He was so strong that he could bend a gold florin between his thumb and forefinger, and when confronted by Michelangelo about his so- called effete lifestyle, Leonardo bent a thick iron bar with his bare hands and tossed it to the jealous Michelangelo. It was perhaps Leonardo's vegetarian diet that helped him live nearly twice as long as average Europeans of his time.The great mathematician and spiritual master Pythagoras was a strict vegetarian who required his disciples to be vegetarians as well. In fact, for centuries in Europe, vegetarians were called "Pythagoreans."One of the greatest modern theoretical physicists, Edward Witten, PhD, developer of superstring theory, is a vegetarian. Another famous physicist, Albert Einstein, a vegetarian sympathizer for decades, finally became a vegetarian later in life. In a letter to Max Kariel, he said, "I have always eaten animal flesh with a somewhat guilty conscience." And in another letter, to his friend Hans Muehsam: "So I am [now] living . . . without meat, without fish, but am feeling quite well this way," he wrote. "It always seems to me that man was not born to be a carnivore."Einstein also wrote:Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.TEACHING A CHILD NOT TO STEP ON A CATERPILLAR IS AS VALUABLE TO THE CHILD AS IT IS TO THE CATERPILLAR.--BRADLEY MILLARVegetarians have excelled as world-class athletes, dispelling the myth that meat is needed for strength, stamina, and athletic prowess. Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, the actor who played Tarzan in the movies, was a vegetarian. Nine-time Olympic gold medal winner sprinter Carl Lewis was and still is a vegetarian. In his prime, Lewis earned the nickname "the fastest man alive." Two-time gold medal winner Edwin Moses, who is considered the greatest track-and-field hurdler of all time and never lost a race from 1977 to 1987, is also a vegetarian.On a musical note, classical violinist Yehudi Menuhin was a vegetarian before he died, and Indian sitarist and composer Ravi Shankar and pop superstar Sir Paul McCartney are vegetarians. The founder of Apple Computer, billionaire Steve Jobs, has been a vegetarian for decades. Henry Ford, creator of the first automobile assembly line and the first vegetable- oil-powered motorized vehicle, was a vegetarian. Greek philosopher Epicurus (undoubtedly the first epicurean) was a vegetarian. Nobel Prize recipient Isaac Bashevis Singer passionately wrote:To be a vegetarian is to disagree--to disagree with the course of things today. Starvation, world hunger, cruelty, waste, wars--we must make a statement against these things. Vegetarianism is my statement.WE ALL LOVE ANIMALS. WHY DO WE CALL SOME "PETS" AND OTHERS "DINNER"?--K.D. LANGMany of history's great spiritual personages were vegetarians and taught vegetarianism, though their present-day religious followers may not follow their example. To name a few: Avatar Krishna of Hinduism, Siddhartha Gautama--the Buddha, Mahavir of Jainism, Guru Nanak Dev of Sikhism, the great poet-saint Kabir Sahib (revered by both Muslims and Hindus), and others. According to testimony by some of his contemporaries, the Prophet Muhammad enjoyed excellent health on a simple diet consisting primarily of dates, barley, and camel's milk. We shall later explore compelling evidence that suggests Jesus Christ and most of his early followers were also vegetarians.African American VegetariansCivil rights leader Coretta Scott King, author Alice Walker, comedian and social activist Dick Gregory, hiphop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, actress Angela Bassett, and Miss Black USA Elizabeth Muto are only a few of the many African Americans who have adopted compassionate, vegetarian diets. They advocate a world in which all species and people are treated with dignity.The animals of the world exist for their own reasons.They were not made for humans . . .As a woman of African descent, I can easily compare the treatment of our ancestors in this country to the way farm animals are treated. These innocent creatures, which have the right to live and enjoy life, are bred for slavery and slaughter. They have every right to live free, just like all things that live on this earth.--ALICE WALKER, ACTIVIST, PHILOSOPHER, AND AUTHOR OF THE COLOR PURPLEMany African Americans promote plant-based diets as a response to the widespread chronic health problems faced by the black community, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of all black women and more than a quarter of all black men are obese. Prostate and breast cancer strike almost 40 percent of black men and more than 30 percent of black women, respectively. And one in four black women over the age of fifty-five has diabetes.Coretta Scott King, wife of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., called her adoption of a vegetarian diet in 1995 a blessing. Her son, Dexter, has been a vegetarian since 1988, and he said that an appreciation for animal rights is the logical extension of his father's philosophy of nonviolence (and, arguably, the single greatest moral influence on Dr. King was vegetarian and pacifist Mahatma Gandhi).MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. TAUGHT US ALL NONVIOLENCE. I WAS TOLD TO EXTEND NONVIOLENCE TO THE MOTHER AND HER CALF.--DICK GREGORY, COMEDIAN AND SOCIAL ACTIVISTAmerindian VegetariansWhen the first settlers arrived in America, they found most native Indian tribes enjoying an abundant and varied diet of vegetables, nuts, fruits, fish, and game. The Choctaw Indians, for example, were known to be especially skillful farmers and subsisted to a large extent on the products of their fields. In addition to several varieties of corn and beans, they cultivated leeks, garlic, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and other garden plants.Rita Laws, PhD, who is Choctaw and Cherokee, is a scholar and writer in Oklahoma. Her Choctaw name, Hina Hanta, means Bright Path of Peace--and that's what she considers vegetarianism to be. In "Native Americans and Vegetarianism," she wrote:Among my own people, the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi and Oklahoma, vegetables are the traditional diet mainstay. A French manuscript of the eighteenth century describes the Choctaw's vegetarian leanings in shelter and food. The homes were constructed not of skins, but of wood, mud, bark and cane. The principal food, eaten daily from earthen pots, was a vegetarian stew containing corn, pumpkin and beans. The bread was made from corn and acorns. Other common favorites were roasted corn and corn porridge . . .Many history textbooks tell the story of Squanto, a Pawtuxent Indian who lived in the early 1600s. Squanto is famous for having saved the Pilgrims from starvation. He showed them how to gather wilderness foods and how to plant corn.The Dangers of Animal Food ConsumptionHoward Lyman, former fourth-generation farmer and cattle rancher and present-day vegetarian activist, describes how animal-based growers skirt food safety policies at the expense of the consumer.When a chemical is banned from use, a farmer or livestock operator who has the chemical in stock has a choice: either to lose money by disposing of the product, or to use it and take the risk of getting caught breaking the law. How severe is that risk? Well, if you use a banned product in your cattle feed, you have to face the prospect that the government is going to inspect one out of every 250,000 carcasses. They will test this carcass not for all banned substances, but just for a small fraction of them. And even if they detect some residue of a banned substance, and even if they're able to trace the carcass to the ranch that produced it, the guilty rancher is likely at most to receive a stern letter with a strongly worded warning. I never met a rancher who suffered in any way from breaking any regulation meant to protect the safety of our meat. The whole procedure is, in short, a charade.In 1991, pathogen control inspector Brian Shelton revealed:I would expect an extremely high percentage of the chickens would test positive [for contaminants like salmonella and campylobacter]. Our poultry industry clients would not like that.Injecting hormones into animals is a profit-enhancing practice that speeds growth and puts extra £ds on animals. It has been widely documented that many beef products that reach the market contain estrogenic hormones and residues of antibiotics. Estrogenic hormones cause breast growth in men and contribute to a higher incidence of cancer in women. Antibiotics acquired "secondhand" from eating meat kill beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract and may reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics in a process called "antibiotic resistance." There is a conspiracy of silence when it comes to infectious pathogens present in beef, pork, and fowl. Animal food inspector William Freeman broke this silence when he went on record saying:The oath I took as an inspector said if I ever saw anything wrong I was supposed to report it. But today I can't report anything. Today, if you blow your whistle you're in trouble with the inspection service. I feel the oath I took is violated every day I work.The full extent of the cover-up is unknown, but the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Japan all have an "on again, off again" relationship when it comes to accepting US-raised animal foods for sale in their countries.

Editorial Reviews

"If you want your life to be an expression of your heart's purpose, if you want your daily actions to reflect your love for life, this book is for you. If you follow its tenets, you will be healthier and happier. Plus, you will be joining the ever-growing efforts of millions toward a spiritually fulfilling, socially just, and environmentally sustainable human presence on this planet." -John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America, The Food Revolution, and Healthy at 100"Arran Stephens has long been at the forefront of the natural foods and vegetarian movements in North America. The Compassionate Diet persuasively advocates choosing a plant-centered diet rather than an animal-foods diet from a completely holistic perspective. I especially appreciate the book's extensive coverage of the spiritual aspects of dietary choice, which most of the books and essays in the important conversation about industrial food systems and diet tend to ignore." -John Mackey, cofounder and CEO, Whole Foods Markets, and a vegan"The Compassionate Diet is a blueprint to better health for body, mind, spirit, and the planet. It makes a compelling case for a simple life change through what we eat and how we can fulfill the heart's innate desire for compassion. This is a book about personal and global transformation." -H.H. Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj, author of Inner and Outer Peace through Meditation and Empowering Your Soul through Meditation