Is Vegetarianism A Hoax?

Via Saraswati J.
on Jun 8, 2010
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I am not a proud omnivore.

“I have stopped fighting the basic algebra of embodiment: For something to live, something else has to die. In that acceptance, with all its suffering and sorrow, is the ability to choose a different way- a better way.” – Lierre Keith

My mom started us out on macrobiotics when I was a wee one, though we were eating an array of meat at the time as well. Later it was Vaidya Raju’s Ayurvedic fare: simple daal, rice and veg. accompanied with whipped cream and honey as our pre-meal dessert and a shredded beet, carrot parsley salad/chutney with the main course. I loved these easy edible delights, and still do. I credit these early culinary experiences (among others) with my love of noshing. Food has always been a big deal in my family.

I made a solid leap to vegetarianism in high school and later went vegan. It was a clearly sensible thing to do for anyone with an iota of consciousness. That lasted well over fifteen years, until trouble set in. My health deteriorated, my energy levels were pitiful, my yoga practice was suffering. Life felt dreadful. Even being a serious foodie and making smart eating choices, I wasn’t able to sustain this extreme diet. I was told over and over again that I had to eat meat. I refused. I denied. I continued to get weaker.

Then my trusted Vaidya, Rama Kant Mishra, gave me some valuable advice: You need meat for your health and your spiritual practice. The Charak Samhita (the Ayurvedic Bible if you will) mentions eating meat and many other “yogic taboos” which helped me to start piecing things together. Life doesn’t make sense sometimes.

For the last four years, I have been on a psychological roller coaster with this phenomenon. I eat meat now (chicken, fish, turkey) and know that I need it. Am I a yogi? Am I a fraud? Am I subject to many more lives as a human because of these actions? How much fear, anger, and misery am I knowingly partaking in? And yadda yadda….

But some things are making sense now.  First of all, there are no easy solutions or universal answers that fit everyone. Not even for yogis. Secondly, death is life. I’m not suggesting we kill like we kill now. That factory farming is acceptable. That massive slaughter can ever be sanctioned. I’m not even suggesting killing is ever wonderful. What I’m suggesting is that life happens and death happens. And death happens for life to happen. This is a universal truth. Something that I may ever be entirely o.k. with.

Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, featured this month in Mother Jones, offers further explanation of these cycles and shares a similar story to my self. I identified with her values, her internal struggle and her reconciliation. She points to the wide-spread destruction that agriculture has had on our land for hundreds of years- ever since agricultural based societies surfaced (remember Ishmael?) This is also murder and the beginning of “living out of balance” with our earth.

“What’s looming in the shadows of our ignorance and denial is a critique of civilization itself. The starting point may be what we eat, but the end is an entire way of life, a global arrangement of power, and with no small measure of personal attachment to it.”

The only reality that I can come up with is that balance looks different for different individuals. Depending on the angle. Balance is different for a cow or a cat, a human or a beetle. Are these needs and desires any less than the other? No.

If we were all consciously involved with our own balance, we’d be keeping the Earth’s balance in check as well. The grass would get her needs met, so would the cow and so would the human. Maybe we are beyond ever finding this true sense of balance. Perhaps it’s impossible at this point. But as a spiritual Being, my balance looks different now then it did fifteen years ago. And I expect this change to continue. Which might very well be the only thing I can be certain about.


About Saraswati J.

Saraswati J. is a Jyotish Coach and Consultant, bridging ancient Jyotish wisdom with Embodiment and Expressive Art Therapy resources. Her Jyotish work is especially well suited to the extra sensitive artists, mystics and healers—and those who need insights for their dharmic path and personal transformation process. Check out her website and find her on Facebook. You can join her newsletter for special astrological insights or register for her weekly Jyotish Basics classes for an extra dose of healing wisdom. Additionally, she creates unique adornments with the urban goddess in mind. Check out her jewelry at Swati Jr* Jewelry and also on Facebook.


73 Responses to “Is Vegetarianism A Hoax?”

  1. swati jr* says:

    and eating meat sensibly. knowing how much meat you really need is important. most people eat WAY too much animal which is not necessary. a little goes a long way.

  2. swati jr* says:

    what's crazy is this is how i used to be. my sister used to call me the "vegan nazi." i now have had to eat all my words [pun] and then some. now i am seeing compassion in a whole new way. it's really incredible.

  3. swati jr* says:

    are you an pranatarian eric? i'd love to meet one!

  4. swati jr* says:

    jessica, do you write for public media? we thrive on clicks and comments. therefor titles must tantalize. clearly, it worked. thanks for commenting!

  5. swati jr* says:

    it is amazing isn't it ria?

  6. Thanks for jumping in here darling. 78 comments in one day? Another reason to love new media—unlike old, it's a two-way street.

  7. Padma Kadag says:

    sometimes inspiration is the reason to comment….the quote above was something HH Jigdral Yeshe Dorje said in reference to the Ati Yoga teachings

  8. Padma Kadag says:

    And relative is seperate from the absolute?

  9. Patrick says:

    Vegetarianism IS a hoax…..GO VEGAN.

  10. Eric says:

    I happily maintain a vegan diet, and i have done a few juice fasts over the years. It's not necessary to be a pranatarian or solarian, etc. to attain a little bit of enlightenment, just be vegan.

  11. Eric says:

    Thanks, I'll consider it.

  12. Gynna says:

    Believing that your health issues are only caused or cured by the foods you eat I feel is missing the point of body mind and soulful healing. Yes you should be conscious of WHAT you feed your temple… but you should also be aware of HOW you are feeding your temple… when eating are you consciously absorbing all the nutrients from the whole body mind and soul of the food that you have chosen or are you just eating to eat? Are you stressed when you eat? Do you breath between gulps? Are you thankful for the energy that has been provided to you? Are you eating with the expectation that this food will FIX you like the western medicine magic pill? Are you allowing your subtle energy body to accept the subtle energy of the food you are eating? Are you judging yourself, others or the food that you are eating? Are you eating with love, light and life?

    You could truly choose one food and eat with intention of healing and it really doesn't matter what that food is. I have a friend who cured his bronchitis by smoking cigarettes in a very intentional way…

    now asking the question "Is vegetarianism a hoax?" also begs the question… is there only one correct way to eat?? Are we not individuals that know what are needs are? Have you asked your body mind soul what it needs and do you listen and hear and accept what she is saying?

  13. Adam says:

    How is it a hoax? That statement makes no sense to me. Care to explain?

  14. Eric says:

    Swati jr, whether your goal is perfect health, harmony or enlightenment, the vegan diet is a dependable vessel that will keep you afloat towards your goal. I cannot say the same for the consumption of "flesh."

  15. Reader says:

    "We should look upon all beings as our kind parents, and in order to repay the goodness they have shown us, we must meditate daily on loving-kindness, compassion, and bodhichitta.
    Let us not be stained by this evil food, the flesh and blood of our very parents!"
    ("Food of Bodhisattvas: Buddhist Teachings on Abstaining from Meat ")

    About Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol you may read "The Life of Shabkar: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin "

    Amazon Review
    "Regarded by many as the greatest yogi after Milarepa to gain enlightenment in one lifetime (…) as source of inspiration to Buddhist practitioners and general readers alike." HH Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche: "As one reads it, one's mind cannot resist being turned toward the Dharma."
    This autobiography is full of humor, wit and playful joy, intense self-discipline as well as magnificant flights of imagination. An accessible book full of telling stories, a must-read, must-own for those interested.

    "Man –
    If you have any self-respect,
    A heart in your chest,
    Brains in your head, and
    Some sympathy for yourself,
    Regret your past actions and
    Improve your whole behavior.
    It's time! It's very late! "
    – Shabkar

  16. Reader says:

    "What I’m suggesting is that life happens and death happens. And death happens for life to happen. This is a universal truth. Something that I may ever be entirely o.k. with."

    Except your own death, maybe.?

    Eatin meat will not save us from death. We will die anyway. All of us.
    So there is another question to ask, maybe, then.
    How will a live my life? What for?
    Myself or others?
    If you consider others: who others, just people or animals too?

  17. Tom Swiss says:

    Ah. Nothing like superstition and pseudo-science to justify cruelty.

    It is a fact that human beings do not need to eat animal flesh to be healthy. Anyone telling you otherwise is ignorant. I refer you to the position statement of the ADA: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.” [ ]

    There are, of course, many ways to eat poorly on a vegetarian or vegan diet, just as their are on a diet containing carcasses; but that does not change the biochemical facts of the matter. Nor will appeals to Ayurvedic or Chinese medicine principles — principles that not only lack scientific rigor, but have often been misrepresented and contaminated both by the hierarchies of their native cultures and by colonialism.

    The science, as well as thousands of years of examples from India, China, Japan, and even Greece (Pythagoras was definitely vegetarian, Socrates may have been) is quite clear that humans can thrive without eating the corpses of our fellow animals.

    It is a fact that mammals and birds are capable of feeling pain and experiencing suffering, fear, and grief; even fish can feel pain and experience anxiety. Any so called “spiritual leader” telling you that you must inflict deliberate pain and suffering, or have it inflicted by your order, in order to further your spiritual progress, is a fraud.

    This would be immediately apparent if your “leader” were to tell you “go do deliberate harm to another human being, it will help your spiritual progress!”; it is only our irrational ethical anthrocentrism that prevents us from seeing the same in the more general case, “go do deliberate harm to another sentient being, it will help your spiritual progress!”

    (We all, of course, inflict some amount of incidental and accidental pain and harm on each other in the course of our lives.)

    I’m sure that the blatherings of Lierre Keith, a well-known crank who misrepresents nutritional science and thinks that billions of people should die so that humanity can abandon agriculture and resume a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, are comforting to those who find it hard to break their addiction to consuming animal flesh.

    But in the end, embracing illusions and lies can only increase one’s suffering.

  18. BenRiggs says:


  19. I’m thrilled with just how you’ve dealth with this issue in such a succinct strategy. I found your web page whilst searching by means of Google and I’ll need to admit that I’ve subscribed to it already.

  20. boulderwind says:

    The cause of her illnesses was most likely protein deficiency which impacts the endocrine system, the immune system, etc.The whole system. And the fact that these issues disappeared once she started eating meat again is evidence that the root of her problem was nutritional.

  21. kimisgoa says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us Sarah, certainly stimulated a spirited debate. As everyone on this page I have my own beliefs and embrace the Ayurvedic path for myself. I strongly feel that I can only say what's right for me and that's only in this moment as I believe it is 'subject to change'…and even THEN I can be prone to getting it wrong!! I have no desire to bludgeon another into submission with my own beliefs and actually think some of the energy so fiercely evident (borderline attacking actually) on this page could be channeled elsewhere into reducing karmic debt. Two of my favourite phrases are 'when you point the finger count how many are pointing back at you' and 'do everything with love'.

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  23. Manmath Dhage says:

    Hopefully this will help. This is the divine knowledge received by seekers during their active spiritual practice and meditation directly from deities.

    Thank you