To Meat or Not to Meat: A Recovering Anorexic Contemplates Going Veg (Again). ~ Candice Holdorf

Via Candice Holdorf
on Jun 7, 2013
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meat, vegan, diet, vegetarian

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they are more finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other Nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth”

~ Henry Beston

I was a vegetarian for eight and a half years. Until I wasn’t.

During those years I was anorexic—then I decided I didn’t want to be anymore.

It’s been four and half years since I introduced meat back into my diet. I started with the big guns: the hamburger. Red meat (insert bloodcurdling scream here).  Then chicken. Then sushi. I wanted to face my fear of meat-eating and fat-gaining in order to disprove all the twisted theories I had about food and my body.

I also chose to eat meat because I hadn’t had my period for two and a half years. My acupuncturist “prescribed” it for me to get the iron and other minerals my nutrient-deficient blood so desperately needed.

In these recent years, I ate meat pretty much without a problem. I gained weight, my menstrual cycle returned and I started sleeping better. Over time, the desire for red meat naturally waned until all I was eating was white chicken and fish.

All that changes when I went to a recent meditation retreat. While sitting, I had the experience of deeply connecting to birds. As freaky as it may sound, I felt the angry and agonizing spirit of the animals and how disconnected we have become to them.

We “build” animals now like we make cars in a factory.

We view them as objects for our consumption. They are “other.” Not like us. We have forgotten that they too carry the mystery of life inside their bodies.

Of course, there are cultures where an animal’s sacrifice is honored and where the continuation of life depends on the gift the animal brings. But in these cultures, animals are not overbred and tortured simply for our own selfish needs.  These people take what they need in utmost gratitude and leave the rest be.

factory-farming-chickensstackedI struggled in silence as I sat with the realization of the horrors of factory farming. Birds injected with hormones until they are too fat for their brittle skeletal systems. Chickens confined to only 67 inches of cage space. Fish piled on top of each other in vats of their own excrement. Geese force-fed so we may extract their precious ‘fatty livers.’ Thousands of sharks pulled from the ocean and killed simply for a single fin, the ultimate ‘status food.’

Even animal products listed as ‘free-range,’ ‘organic,’ or ‘hormone-free’ are not exempt. Though they may not use any pesticides or hormones, many farmers still keep the animals in squalid conditions, burn or cut off their wings, feet and beaks and overstuff them with GMO-filled feed (or starve them so they will molt faster).

I recalled how much of the world’s resources goes into maintaining animal farms and noted that if we put those resources into renewable energy and non-meat based foods, world hunger and global warming might not be an issue.

I felt sick. Even as I sat with the arguments for meat consumption like getting enough B12 or we are naturally-born omnivores or animals “just taste good,” I knew inside my body, I could not eat the same way.

The next day, I pulled out my organic, free-range turkey slices. I put one in my mouth. I started to chew. Slowly and with very little pleasure. I had a second. And then I felt sick. My stomach rolled over and I couldn’t bear it anymore.

I haven’t touched meat since.

That was three months ago. In that interim, I’ve struggled with two sides of my conscience. One is obviously the newfound compassion towards animals, as I described above.

But the other is just as powerful: how I honest am I being with myself and my relationship to food? I have a fear that this pull towards vegetarianism is the first step on a ‘slippery slope’ back to anorexic thinking. One plagued by guilt and devoid of pleasure. I remember family dinners or parties where I knew meat was being served and lived in fear that people would discover my secret: that I was desperately hungry despite my cool exterior as I passed the plate.

The excuse was simple: Health reasons.”

(Side note: please know that I am not insinuating that people who are vegetarian have eating disorders—this is simply how the disease showed up for me).

I want to feel alive and energized in my body. I want total vitality and orgasmic living. And eating meat was a huge part in helping me face my fears and reclaim my power.

lisa-vegetarianHonestly, I don’t harbor any judgments about other people who eat meat. My husband eats meat and I love him just the same. How we live our lives and what we choose to put into our bodies is a very personal journey. One must go deep inside one’s moral, ethical and spiritual codes and discover what is right for her.

My goal in sharing my struggle isn’t to shame anyone for liking what she likes, nor to suggest that only one way of eating is the ‘right.’ Perhaps it is less about the fact that we eat meat and more the how we do it (often unconsciously and in a way that uses food as a buffer from feeling our emotions).

What I do want to do is foster a dialogue around our cultural relationship with food, animals, consumption, compassion and perhaps find solutions with how we can get in right alignment with what is loving and sustainable, both as a society and as individuals.

For me individually, that means abstaining from meat in this moment and continuing my inquiry into the nexus of spirituality, pleasure and nourishment.

And we continue to rapidly evolve, technologically and globally, as a culture and species, we must ensure that we do not lose our humanity and connection to each other along the way. We are unique in that we have the intelligence and cognitive capacity to choose how we’d like to evolve; which is what makes the following quote that much more potent and pressing:

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet” ~ Albert Einstein

Special thanks to my dear friend, August Schulenburg, for inspiring me to post this article.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise


About Candice Holdorf

Candice Holdorf is a writer, performer, sex + life coach and Orgasmic Meditation trainer. She is currently working on her book, “From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine Eroticism.” You can pre-order your copy here. She is a writer for elephantjournal and The Good Men Project, as well as a performer and public speaker specializing in desire, sexuality and Orgasmic Meditation. She is also a former yoga teacher and recovering anorexic who has discovered that there is tremendous power inside of hunger. Find out more about Candice on her blog, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


9 Responses to “To Meat or Not to Meat: A Recovering Anorexic Contemplates Going Veg (Again). ~ Candice Holdorf”

  1. karlsaliter says:

    This is my favorite CH article on Elephant to date, and I've really enjoyed your writing here. Your unapologetic love of the human sexual experience is liberating, in a very repressed culture.

    Animal Cruelty is such a searingly painful realm. The choice is so deeply personal. It can be hard to voice.
    (And then, it's not. In America, we are all chipping in together, pooling our money and land to create the cruelty of meat production through extensive government subsidies. It's kind of all of our business.)

    Your meditative moment, the glimpse of compassion, is a genuine gift. And now, whatever your choices, you will not eat meat carelessly. That's huge.

    I can't pretend to know what happens within you in terms of diet, but I honor your insight.

  2. Thank you so much for reading and for your compassion. I do hope this will at least foster a dialogue about our relationship with animals. Even if we eat them, can we at least treat them with respect and nobility. Blessings!

  3. Lisa Erens says:

    Your wonderful article really hit home for me. We (my family and I) decided to become vegetarians out of respect for animal life, but my daughter used that as an excuse to restrict – and ended up very anorexic. It has been a long road to recovery for her and all of us – and part of that was going back to eating some meat. I am very torn by my desire to be a vegetarian, but I don't want to walk down that road again. In 2 years she'll be off to college…so I'll enjoy the family meals we have together now knowing that I will be able to quietly return to a meatless life.

  4. Wow, powerful experience. Thank you for sharing. The road to how we treat ourselves and how we treat others is a deep and often difficult journey. Sending you so much love and many blessings for you and your family!

  5. adauce says:

    Love to you Candice…. Thanks for posting.

  6. Geroje says:

    Why not exclusively eat meat you get from farmer’s markets of SF Raw Feeders? Then the issues present in factory/capitalistic farming models won’t be present. Check out the GAPS diet to see why you need to base your diet around high-quality fats- and high-quality humanely-produced animal fats are the healthiest there are.

  7. Thank you for reading!

  8. I hear you. AND the issue was less about the factory farming and more about the feeling I had in the moment of meditation–one of deep oneness with the birds. That's the real piece that I am sitting with now. Also I have a hard time eating animals in general knowing that even one (even if it's not the one I am eating) is being treated inhumanely.

    Also every body is different. What is healthy for one may not be suited for another. Blessings!

  9. christine says:

    Loved this, I have had similar thoughts/concepts
    Nice to hear someone else has thoughts similar to mine.
    Feel not so crazy lol
    G*d speed