Monday, August 13, 2012

Vegetarianism, Veganism, and...I Can't Think of a Clever Title

If you'll excuse the lame title for this blog post for a moment, I want to dedicate this particular post to discussing a topic that is becoming more heated these days, for environmental reasons: meat and the use of animal products, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, and whatever else falls under this umbrella. While readers of this blog already know that I'm not vegetarian/vegan (yet), I still feel I need to have a say on this topic so at least vegetarians and/or vegans know where I'm coming from.

Let me start out by saying I have nothing against vegetarians or vegans. My vegetarian/vegan friends in real life know this. :-) I feel that if someone wants to go vegetarian or vegan, more power to them. I'm a big believer in personal freedom in this regard. That said, it's also my belief that one shouldn't be forced into becoming vegetarian or vegan. Obviously my real life vegetarian/vegan friends don't force anyone; what I'm more referring to are those people on the Internet who are vegetarian/vegan that militantly espouse their ideals and snub anyone who doesn't think and eat like they do. (There are people like that on the meat-eating/omnivorous side too, don't get me wrong, but I'm bringing that up here for the sake of making my point.) Whether or not one has to be vegetarian or vegan to be considered a true Hindu is another can of worms entirely, so I'm not going to discuss that now.

What I am going to discuss is how plausible and/or effective it actually is for absolutely everyone on the planet to strive for a vegan ideal. For the purposes of this argument I'm going to say that the vegan ideal is no usage or reliance on animal products or services whatsoever. It is my personal belief that the vegan ideal is not an ideal everyone can strive for, and may be impossible for some people, for various reasons.

I will use my diabetes as an example of this. Diabetes, because of the nature of its treatment, at least from my experience, can make striving for a vegan ideal impossible. Why is this? Because a key component of diabetic management for myself and many others - insulin - came about because of animal testing. It was testing on pigs that allowed insulin development to be possible. I know most insulin these days is synthesized and not dependent on pigs producing it, but if pigs weren't tested on to begin with, insulin wouldn't be around...and my life as a diabetic would be much more difficult. So if you look at my diabetes objectively from the viewpoint of the aforementioned vegan ideal, then technically it would be impossible for me to be vegan.

I know some vegans would argue the following point - that if I just followed a vegan diet, I wouldn't suffer from diabetes in the first place. In the case of myself, I wouldn't know since I haven't tried a vegan diet yet; I might one of these days but right now I have too much on my plate (no pun intended) to devote the mental energies to attempting to go vegan. But even if I did, a vegan diet is no guarantee against diabetes for anyone. This is because diabetes has a genetic component to it. Lifestyle is a factor for developing diabetes, yes, but if one doesn't have the genes for diabetes in the first place, one is far less likely to develop it. Also, one can develop diabetes symptoms even if one follows a perfect vegan diet because of the aforementioned genetic factor.

Now I'm not saying going vegan won't help diabetes, but what I am saying is that it's no guarantee. And if one's diabetes treatment requires insulin, like mine does, whether or not you were vegan to begin with you are still going to be using medicine that was the product of animal testing. It's a rather depressing thought, but it's sadly the truth.

I'm not trying to discredit vegetarian or vegan ways here. I think they are of great merit. Rather, what I'm trying to say is that there are some cases where going entirely vegan would adversely effect one's life. Then you get into the horrible argument of which life is more sacred...and that's an argument I'd rather avoid. Surely all life is sacred, including my own...right?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Prying Open My Third Eye?

Over the past few days, when I meditate, I've been experiencing curious sensations lately. These sensations have taken the form of pressures on and around the bridge of my nose, the middle of my forehead, and sometimes behind the eyes. These sensations have almost always been pleasant and not painful at all.

I've been focusing on these sensations during meditation, and when I do, I feel the most intense pressure right in the middle of my forehead...indeed, it feels like something is growing there and wants to leave my skull! However, what's even more curious is that these past couple of days, I've been experiencing these sensations when I have not been meditating. Even when I have been working today I still felt the pressure at the bridge of my nose and in the middle of my forehead. As a result, I've been feeling happy at certain intervals, sometimes downright euphoric.

To investigate what this might mean, I've done a little research on Google, and I've come across pages that explain that this all has to do with the pineal gland of the brain and the so-called "Third Eye." Now I know the sixth chakra in the forehead is called the third eye chakra, but I have to wonder why this chakra has suddenly become this active in my brain. I haven't experienced any unusual visions or other sensations than the pressure and the accompanying happy feelings, so I have to wonder: why now? And what does it mean?

I know better than to believe most of what's being said on the Internet about the pineal gland and the third eye chakra. Most of what's said on it is crackpot conspiracy theories and "advice" on activating and cleansing it that's more likely to do harm than good (one page for instance said that vaccines are bad for the pineal gland; I don't know about you but I'd rather take the vaccine and live longer than have a "healthier" pineal gland and catch some debilitating disease). Still, I wonder if there's any legit information on the pineal gland and the third eye out there? I just want to know what's happening to me and if it's good or not.

I just hope it's not a sign that I need medical attention...