Vegans tend to be more spiritual than the average person because their way of life is usually a conscious choice, and that choice comes from a higher level of awareness, empathy, and compassion toward all living beings.
Those who do not eat animals and/or animal products may be more likely to cultivate spirituality because they realize all things in the world are interconnected, that we are one with everything.
This approach naturally leads to kindness and compassion. It also leads to a more conscious way of living — the average person does not tend to question why or how they do things, including eating.
I have met quite a few vegetarians and vegans who were into meditation and spirituality (or spiritual people who choose to have a vegetarian or vegan diet).
I have also met vegetarians and vegans who had absolutely no interest in it. But overall, certain eating habits or certain ways of life do seem to be linked with being more spiritual, and vice versa.
Why vegans may be more spiritual
1. More awareness
Paul McCartney once said: “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”.
Although it’s not accurate — some would keep eating meat regardless — it does make you reflect on the fact that there is a clear link between veganism and awareness.
And I see spirituality as a never-ending journey toward a higher level of awareness. Awareness is everything.
Awareness of your own mind, your thoughts, your identity, why you are here on this planet. Awareness that there is something bigger than the tangible world.
Most vegetarians and vegans consciously choose to stop eating meat, or animal products, after some kind of realization.
This could be the realization that not all suffering is needed, and that there is an immense amount of unnecessary suffering in the world (for both humans and animals).
Or, it could be the realization of what actually happens in most slaughterhouses, as the quote suggests. Or realizing that one no longer craves meat or animal products.
Whatever the case may be, that realization is a higher level of awareness, and a higher level of awareness is the foundation of pretty much all spiritual practices.
2. Living consciously
Why do you live the way you live? Was it your decision? Was it someone else’s decision?
The more you observe people in general, the more you’ll find that most people do not live consciously. At all. They think they do, but they don’t.
For me personally, this was one of the most profound realizations I ever had. It can be scary or inspiring depending on how you look at it.
Gurdjieff explains this concept very well when he says that “man is a machine” unless man decides to live consciously, e.g. by having an authentic aim or intention.
The second reason vegetarians and vegans may be more spiritual is that they tend to question everything rather than passively adapt to all social norms.
What most people take for granted, what most people see as “normal” or “right” is not necessarily normal or right (or right for us).
In this sense, vegans choose to eat consciously. Their idea of food is their own idea of food, rather than society’s.
And you’ll find that once you become more conscious in everything you do, including the way you eat, that’s going to lead to a more conscious way of living as well.
Are we separated from other human beings? Are we separated from other living beings in general? Are there walls, and if so, were they built by our own mind?
Rationally, we exist in time and space, and everything is separated by time and space. You cannot exist unless your energy exists in a certain time and place, at least physically.
Not only that, we always assume we are different from others, and we like to think we are better than others.
Subconsciously, we think: I am better, and more important; my culture is better, and more important; my view of the world is better, and more important. And so on.
By embarking on a spiritual journey, you’ll gradually discover that all things in the universe are interconnected, and that any form of separation leads to suffering.
Empathy is being one with other living beings — and by extension, being one with the Earth, and the universe, and everything that exists. It’s oneness, completeness, perfection.
Most vegetarians and vegans consciously practice empathy and this can lead to a more spiritual way of living.
4. Better health
I can’t think of any spiritual person who doesn’t take their physical health seriously. They may not be Olympic athletes, but they are health conscious.
Vegetarians and vegans naturally tend to eat healthy, at least compared to the average person. Not only that, plant-based food tends to be lighter (ultra-processed, high-calorie junk food can be vegan, but that would be the exception).
When you eat lighter, you are lighter as well. To digest heavy meals, your body uses a great amount of energy, which leads to brain fog, sleepiness, etc.
If you’ve ever fasted for a day or longer, or if you practice intermittent fasting, I’m sure you know how not eating all the time can help you focus and perform for longer periods of time.
Being lighter and eating lighter gives you more energy and, most importantly, more mental clarity. It’s hard to be spiritual when you have no mental clarity.
This is why fasting can be a spiritual practice. This is why eating a plant-based diet can lead to spiritual growth.
5. Embracing change
The fifth reason being vegetarian or vegan can help with spirituality is that no spiritual growth actually happens until you accept — and embrace — change.
You can’t reach a higher level of awareness if you hold on to the current one. You can’t reach your higher self if you identify with the lower self. You can’t welcome a new life if you can’t let go of the past.
So, what’s the connection between veganism and being open to change? I think it’s pretty clear — vegans reject the way of eating that’s generally accepted and taken for granted.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, that’s probably because of change. At some point in your life, you decided to change. Unless you’ve been vegetarian or vegan your whole life (rare).
You learned that change can be good. You learned that change is actually necessary if you want to live the life you are meant to live.
Spirituality is all about letting go, non-identification, embracing change and evolution even when it’s uncomfortable, reaching emptiness so you can fill it with light.
And yes, it can be lonely. Most people think this is all nonsense, at best, or a marketing tactic to sell books and courses, at worst.
Most people don’t really want to change. Most people are, in a way, afraid of change, and prefer to stick to what everyone else does. And that’s understandable.
But you’ll find that most of the time, vegetarians and vegans are more open to change and tend to be more open-minded, and that can help with spirituality as well.
Are all vegans spiritual?
No, not all vegans are into spirituality. Nor do all spiritual people follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
However, as explained in this article, those who choose to adopt a plant-based diet, or a lifestyle in which unnecessary suffering of all beings is reduced, tend to be more spiritual.
In other words, they tend to focus their energy and awareness not just on the material world, but on the spiritual, intangible, invisible world as well.
Those who consciously choose to reduce suffering are likely to be aware of, and concerned about, ethics and the distinction between good and evil (what is moral and what is immoral).
Is veganism a religion?
No, veganism is not a religion. By being vegetarian or vegan, you do not automatically belong to any kind of religion, religious group, or ideology.
There is a tendency to label and categorize people who have a different diet, or who are different in some way. But this does not correspond to the actual truth.
For example, being vegan does not imply being religious or non-religious, and vice versa.
What is true is that some religions or traditions, such as Buddhism, encourage people to act with compassion and kindness — toward other humans and animals as well.
When animal suffering is unnecessary or preventable, then obviously some religions, cultures, or beliefs will be against it.
Veganism aims to reduce or eliminate animal suffering, but it’s not a religion, or set of doctrines — only a way of life.