The Teaching of Rabbi Dr. Gabriel Cousens

The following is adapted from Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Conscious Eating (2000), Chapter 20.

When asked about switching to vegetarianism, some people respond, ‘Why bother? I like ma charbroiled steak. All this stuff about becoming vegetarian makes me feel guilty. Why not just ignore it?’ Unfortunately, in this case, ignorance is not bliss. To ignore the harmful effects of diet is nothing less than an accelerated path to physical degeneration, pain, misery, and disharmony with self and nature. This is especially true with the present state of the world. A vegetarian diet helps one attune to the worldwide evolutionary change that is occurring in the direction of peace and harmony for all of creation. The information and ideas that have been shared about vegetarianism are not meant to make anyone guilty, but to educate so that one can begin to make intelligent informed choices for one’s life, health, and happiness. Guilt comes from knowing what is most appropriate for one’s well-being and choosing not to follow the dictates of one’s conscience. Guilt is one’s own creation stemming from resistance to change. It comes from not being able to let go of old habits and addictions that one intuitively knows do not serve one’s ultimate well-being and that of the planet.

There is an intuitive ‘yesness’ that many people have found works for them as they apply these concepts in their transition to vegetarianism. The information I have presented is best used as guidelines, concepts, and tools to empower and enhance well-being. There is no single answer for everyone, but there are compelling reasons to make such a change in one’s life. The following is a review of some of those reasons.

  1. A vegetarian diet, developed in a conscious, gradual, and scientific way, is an overwhelmingly superior diet for health, vitality, endurance, and general well-being.
  2. Vegetarian food tends to create a calmer, more centered, and clearer emotional and mental state.
  3. A vegetarian diet is a distinct aid for enhancing spiritual life and awareness. Throughout history, almost all major spiritual paths have acknowledged this awareness, including Genesis 1:29, the first dietary commandment and the first direct teaching to be vegetarian in the Bible.
  4. A vegetarian diet enhances the flow of the spiritualizing force in the body. A flesh-centered diet acts as a sludge to the purifying movement of this holy force in all the basic elements of the body, mind, and spirit.
  5. A vegetarian diet brings one into ecological harmony with all of creation. In comparison with a flesh-centered diet, it is vastly superior in its ability to conserve land, water, and energy, and to enhance the quality of both human and animal life. It brings us into harmony with the biological cycles of the biosphere, such as the natural oxygen/carbon dioxide cycle of our breath and that of the plant kingdom.
  6. A vegetarian diet connects one with the solar, lunar, and stellar forces of the universe. It allows one to extract energy from Mother Nature through the balancing principle of the rainbow diet.
  7. A vegetarian diet minimizes the violence and exploitation of our animal friends on the planet. In this nonviolent space, it allows compassion for all life to blossom. A vegetarian diet would help bring planetary peace on every level.
  8. A vegetarian diet minimizes the hoarding, wasting, and inefficient use of natural resources and energy for producing food. It minimizes the wasting of the food itself, particularly in the form of grain fed to livestock. Because of this, a vegetarian way of life would make it possible (if the social and political aspects or our society were ready) to curtail the 60 million deaths per year due to starvation. It would also help end the disease and misery of millions more suffering from malnutrition. The abundance of food created by the worldwide adoption of a vegetarian diet would prove that starvation on the planet is caused more by a scarcity of justice than of food.
  9. A vegetarian diet is considerably less expensive than a flesh-centered diet, and would be even more so if the meat industry in the US were not significantly subsidized by the government.
  10. A shift to a vegetarian way of life is part of a major planetary shift in consciousness. It is the dietary blueprint for the Golden Age we are entering.

A number of outstanding individuals throughout history have undoubtedly understood these principles in their choice of being a vegetarian. The following individuals chose to be vegetarian for many of the above reasons: Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Rama, Zarathustra, John the Baptist, John the Divine, Matthew, Pythagoras, Plato, Virgil, Horace, Rabia Basra, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Wagner, Voltaire, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, Charles Darwin, H.G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Schweitzer, and Albert Einstein, among others.

The process of becoming a vegetarian is one of self-discovery and self-transformation. Because food is more primary than sex, whatever changes we do make have a deep impact on an emotional, mental, and spiritual level. With each change of habit, a little more consciousness is liberated. Part of the self-discovery process is that as we change, old thoughtforms must be brought up, examined, and ultimately discarded.

A rapid shift to a vegetarian diet may precipitate a physical detoxification. For this and the reasons above, the number-one rule for making the transition to vegetarianism is to move slowly and gently. If we are to be at peace with ourselves, each step in the process must be one that feels harmonious. Most people can deal with change if it is gradual. If the change comes too quickly, it then becomes a shock to the system. Usually, the complete transition takes several years. I’ve seen it happen in a few weeks or in as much as ten years. In the overall picture, how long the process takes doesn’t matter. What matters is that one has chosen to move along the evolutionary continuum toward health, harmony, and peace. At each step of the way one creates more peace and does less damage to others and oneself. Even taking the life of plants for food involves some violence, so it is important to humbly remember that whatever one does on the physical plane will never be perfectly in harmony, but it will be increasingly harmonious. By moving slowly, one avoids the pitfall of overreacting on a physical, emotional, and psychological level to the attitudinal changes that are made in the transition to vegetarianism. In this way, one avoids becoming discouraged. In order to work with these changes in a beneficial way, it is important for one to develop some understanding of how they unfold.