Why are you a vegan?
Gannon is a renowned yoga master, instructor and animal rights activist. In 1984, she and her partner David Life created the Jivamukti Yoga Method, which is a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. They are pioneers in teaching yoga as spiritual activism/activation. The JY Method emphasizes vinyasa, scriptural study, devotion, prayer, music, chanting and meditation as well as animal rights, veganism, environmentalism and political activism.
Jivamukti's passionate focus on the original meaning of the Sanskrit word "asana" as seat, connection, relationship to the earth is as practical as it is radical at this time of global and consciousness shift. The Jivamukti Yoga Method is taught worldwide at Jivamukti Yoga Schools in NYC, Detroit, Toronto, London, Berlin and Munich. The Jivamukti practice is also available on DVDs Yoga Journal has recognized Gannon and Life, as innovators in Yoga and "The New York Times" says, "Without Jivamukti, yoga in the U.S. would still be the obscure practice of a few."
"Time Magazine" recognized Jivamukti Yoga as one of the nine methods of Hatha Yoga taught in the world today. JY is featured in the acclaimed documentary film: What is Yoga? Sharon is a featured yogini in various books: "Yoga" by Linda Sparrowe, "American Yoga" by Carrie Schneider, "Yogini" by Janice Gates and "Women to Women" by Christina Lessa.
Question: Why are you a vegan?
Sharon Gannon: For obvious reasons I hope, when you eat animals you are causing them harm. Not only are you causing the animals harm, which goes against the precept of ahimsa, but you’re causing harm to the environment. Ultimately you’re causing harm to yourself and other human beings under a false impression that you’re gaining something for yourself. But the age-old wisdom is that nothing of benefit can ever come to you by causing harm to someone else. It just doesn’t work that way. Whatever we do will eventually but inevitably come back to us. You don’t even have to believe in karma.
If we looked at this practice of eating animals and robbing them of their fluids, their milk, their eggs, we would see in that practice the actual root causes of so many of the things in this world today that we’re trying to find solutions for – war, poverty, global warming. The UN issued a statement not too long ago saying that the waste emissions from confined animals, enslaved animals used for food contributes more to global warming than all the car and truck emissions in the world. That’s significant. This is a significant thing to look at; but we’re so conditioned – and it’s to eat meat and to drink milk – that it’s a physiological addiction that even though we may think that we may have an idea in our head that it might be better to be a vegetarian, we have the bodies of addicts. And so we’ll have to deal with that which is, it’s huge, but it can be done. It can be done.
In fact, I say “vegetarianism”, but I really mean vegetarianism meaning only eat a plant-based diet. Which of course there’s a word for that these days. It’s called “vegan”, and that’s what I really mean. But sometimes that word is very scary to people, so vegetarianism seems more soft.
Sometimes when you say vegetarianism people think that it’s okay to eat fish or drink milk. And well not if you want to enhance this planet. Not if you want to be happy. Not if you want to contribute to a better world. Just the United States we kill 10,000; oh god; 10 billion land animals every year for food. Ten billion.
There are only six billion human beings on the entire planet. So this is just in the United States we’re killing 10 billion land animals. Those are the animals that are in the factory farms. I’m not even counting the animals that are the wild animals that are hunted; just the confined, enslaved animals.
But we’re killing many more sea creatures. And the statistics for individual sea creatures are very hard. It’s estimated 17 billion sea creatures. But usually sea creatures are measured in tonnage, and the statistic for that is 80 million tons of fish and sea creatures. Eighty million tons every year. This is just United States statistics.
And one-third of that is by catch, meaning there are seals, and birds, and other animals that are caught with the big nets and trollers that are thrown back. But they’re not thrown back in a healthy way. They’re dead or dying, and 99 percent of them will die. Now this is like a huge, huge thing that’s going on that most people aren’t aware – that all the animals that are in the factory farms are eating other animals. And we have to remember that those animals in the factory farms for the most part are vegetarian animals. We as human beings like to eat vegetarian animals; but they’re vegetarian by nature, but none of them, absolutely none of them are vegetarian now because we’re force-feeding them fish, chickens, cows, sheep, pigs. The FDA assures us that we’re not feeding cows to cows, but we’re feeding cows to every other animal in a factory farm situation.
You know the very famous statistic that John Robbins, animal rights activist, author of “Diet for a New America,” put forth in the mainstream was that it takes 12 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef. And his argument was that grain could be used to feed hungry human beings instead of being fed to animals. Well it may take 12 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef; but it takes 100 pounds of fish to make one pound of beef.
Those animals in factory farms are all children. We fatten them up so quickly; we genetically engineer them so that they grow very quickly. We give them the antibiotics. And so they’re basically slaughtered when they’re babies. So we’re eating children. We’re eating children. That’s perverted.
And then the dairy. People think the dairy cows, what’s wrong with drinking milk? That’s not hurting a cow. Cows are meant to be milked, aren’t they? I get that question a lot. Well a cow, like any other mammal, gives milk when she’s pregnant or when she just had a baby. And the dairy cows really perhaps have the worst life of a confined animal, I think, in factory farms.
And if we’re really wanting freedom and equality for women; if we really consider ourselves feminists, then we’ve got to stop drinking milk and eating eggs because that is a crime against females, that practice. Because those animals are enslaved because they are women; because they can give milk; because they can give birth to babies; because they do produce eggs.
So the dairy cow is chained to a stall for the whole of her life; raped by a human being with a artificial inseminator which is a very cold stainless steel; like a turkey baser sort of thing; continuously raped; chained to the stall. She’s impregnated. She carries the baby while she’s chained. Meanwhile she’s being milked several times a day by machines. She gives birth to the baby who’s taken away from her within hours; and then she’s impregnated again almost immediately; and the whole cycle happens again and again.
Well she can’t really stand; who could stand this for very long? And so she basically dies from exhaustion in about three or four years. Dairy cows are slaughtered at three to four years old. They’re children once again. A cow who’s able to live out a so-called normal type of life will live to be 25 or 30 years old.
Our practice of eating animals, our practice of drinking the milk from animals has to be questioned if we want to build a better world.
Now I’m not going to say that the cause of all the evils in the world today; the cause of why human beings are acting the way that we’re acting is because we’re treating animals so badly. But I will say that that is a very primary cause.
Recorded on: October 31, 2007
We eat children and destroy our world in the process, says Gannon.
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