Most spiritual practices are often associated with life-affirming, nonviolent, compassionate spirit. Because of this, vegetarianism and veganism have often gone hand in hand with spirituality. While not required for all schools, it can contribute to upholding the tenet of nonviolence. However, there are additional ways that not eating meat can help to enhance your practice:

1. Increased Compassion

Animals are sentient beings, and they endure suffering when being farmed and harvested for food. Being vegetarian withdraws your support for actions that cause suffering to animals based upon their role in the food industry. Being vegan extends this ethos even further to avoid any food or product that exploits animals in any way. (Dairy, honey, leather, etc.)

2. Cultivate a Deeper Respect for the Planet

It requires significantly more fossil fuel to produce meat than soybeans and vegetables. Favoring a plant-based diet is kinder to the planet and helps to conserve non-renewable energy sources as well as water and forested lands.

3. Compassion and Care for Yourself

Plant-based diets are extremely healthy, with none of the risks associated with meat products. Meat has a higher fat content, more cholesterol and the potential for exposure to chemicals and livestock drugs. There can also be dangerous pathogenic microorganisms in meat and meat products.

Meat eaters tend to have higher incidents of major diseases like heart disease and cancer. Meat has no fiber, which is crucial to good health, while vegetarian options are loaded with fiber.

Going vegetarian or vegan could help to reduce these risks while improving your overall health. Plants, fruits and nuts can provide your necessary nutrients and proteins, without the need to kill animals.

4. A Less Materialistic, Driven Lifestyle

Vegetables, soy, fruits and legumes and generally less expensive than meat. Vegetarians also tend to be healthier, which means less money will be required for health care expenditures. With lower overall costs and a more affordable life, you won’t have to work as hard or for as many hours. You can simplify your life and be less oriented toward work and materialism.

5. Equanimity and a More Peaceful Life

Many who stop eating meat report that their personal vibration and frequency feels higher and lighter. This change in vibration can lead to increased clarity of thought, better sleep, more fruitful meditations, more positive moods, and a more peaceful life overall.

While not required by all schools of spirituality, going vegetarian or vegan can help to enhance your practice in many ways. Consider giving up meat (even for one day a week) and seeing if it’s a fit for you.