A Meat-Eating Yogi: Is a Veggie Diet the Only Option for a Spiritual Person?

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I had been a strict vegan for 4 years when I moved down to Peru to work for a nonprofit on the outskirts of Lima.

My decision to become vegan was influenced by years of practicing yoga with teachers who advocated for a plant-based diet as the cleanest option for the health of the body as well as the health of Mother Earth. In yoga we are taught that a vegetarian diet is a way of practicing ahimsa (nonviolence) for all beings everywhere. Animals products which include meat, seafood, eggs and dairy are commonly viewed as the antithesis of ahimsa since they require the blatant killing of many beings for the satiation of a few.

With my vegan ideals in mind and heart, I packed up and moved down to Lima ready to help the world. Very soon upon arrival to Peru, I realized that veganism was not going to be possible outside of my green yoga community in the States and inside of the life I was creating in my new home. I didn´t have the luxury of a Whole Foods within driving distance to stock up on nut-based milks and meat substitutes. I couldn’t be so picky with food when I was around people who didn’t always know when their next meal would come.

Working at the orphanage in Lima wasnt the only moment during my time in Peru when I questioned my decision to remain vegan and even vegetarian. A year after my arrival to the country, I found myself at a holistic medicine center in the jungle. The lunch being served that day at the center was a beautiful plate of freshwater fish caught in the local river just a few hours before the meal. I graciously refused the fish and loaded my plate with rice and veggies instead.

The Peruvian shaman (indigenous healer) who was present at the meal turned to me to ask why I wasn’t eating the fish. I had to explain to him what “vegan” was. He began to laugh so deeply and so hard without stopping for ten long minutes. As he was laughing and I was slowly making a dent in the mountain of rice I had on my plate, I experienced a whole range of emotions. I began to feel angry that he was laughing at me, then I started feeling superior to him, thinking that he didn’t realize the goodness and higher spiritual quality of excluding animal products entirely from the diet. After that, I felt slightly embarrassed, my cheeks becoming more tangibly flushed with every chuckle. Toward the end of his laughing spell, a question rose up from a deep, guttaral place inside of me.

Why was I eating vegan here in the jungle where fish is super abundant and nutritious, the traditional fare of people who have occupied this part of the world for thousands of years? Is it a violent choice to eat animals even here?

To answer my question I had to understand the other’s perspective. This shaman laughed so hard and so long not as much to poke fun at me (although maybe he was having a little fun), but rather because I think in all honesty he did not understand my decision to not eat animals. He saw the fish as an offering from Pachamama (Mother Earth). Mother Earth nourishes us with plants and animals, and we take care of her in return. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be—a symbiotic relationship between man and Mother, a beautiful and never-ending cycle of death and rebirth that’s happening in every single moment.

That relationship has been broken now that food is more of an industrial commodity rather than an offering of love and abundance from Pachamama.  Animals are confined to tight quarters in which they never see the Sun and aren’t free to roam and graze. The factory farms where these animals live use up enormous amounts of resources to feed the sick animals that will eventually feed us, probably making us sick, too.

Today’s horrific factory farm industry is truly violent to animals, to our bodies and to the environment. Of course yogis who want to practice ahimsa will avoid partaking in such an atrocity. The death involved in the killing of these animals seems unnecessary and avoidable. But I wanted to go further and find out if can we ever avoid harm. Is it possible to not eat violently in today’s world?

To answer my question, it seemed like the next best step to take in my quest was to look back to the way things were done before the current industrial system came to dominate the way we eat. Through my encounter in the jungle with the Peruvian shaman, I already knew that there was at least one traditional culture of highly spiritual and connected people still eating animal products in a sustainable and loving way.

It turns out that traditional cultures from around the globe have been eating meat for thousands of years respectfully, sustainably and spiritually. In fact, according to a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration written by Dr. Weston A. Price in the 1930s, indigenous tribes from all continents were studied for their diets and level of health.

Not one of these groups of traditional people, from the Eskimos in Alaska to the Amazonian Indians in Peru to the Maori in New Zealand, were totally plant-based cultures.  Not one of these groups excluded animal products entirely from the diet. In fact, many of these cultures had sacred foods, certain animal products that were fed to newly married couples, pregnant women and small children because of their high nutrient density and healthful properties.

As I’ve continued to explore my own food choices, I’ve learned that even today it is in fact possible to eat meat in a sustainable way that is good for your body and spirit, even if you’re not fishing for your own lunch in the Peruvian Amazon. As the real food movement grows, we now have greater access than ever before to locally-raised and responsibly grown meat and produce. The factory farm system is not the only option available.

I realize that there will be resistance to the above paragraph. Yes, I agree that eating healthy meat means we will have to spend more money on food, money that some people may not have. I also know that a more sustainable system means we probably won’t be able to include meat at every meal. Some people will disagree entirely that meat can ever be sustainable and instead insist on a grain-based diet for the planet. But there are many reasons why grain and corn will not eradicate world hunger nor nourish the world’s population. I’ll leave that discussion to Lierre Keith’s well-written and thought provoking work The Vegetarian Myth.

The bottom line is that what’s wrong with meat and other animal products is the system we have in place, not the actual act of eating animals.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m now a meat eater. I eat meat, seafood and whole fat dairy in generous quantities and take great care to source the best food I can find within my budget. After everything I had learned and studied about humans and their diets, my decision to switch back to animal products was a personal one and ultimately out of necessity. I had gotten sick in my gut, the intuitive center of my being, and it was the very animal foods that I had once villainized that nourished my body back to health so that my spirit could also be healthy.

Just as my ancestors did, I give thanks to Pachamama and her animals who have sacrificed their own lives so that I may live a healthy, vibrant and spiritual life. I am healthier today than I have ever been as a body and as a spirit. Including animal products in my diet has enabled me to achieve that level of health so that I can share my gifts with the world. I don’t just pray before every meal. I pray with my life. My life is my prayer.

~

Author: Katie Williamson

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: McKay Savage/Flickr

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Katie Williamson

Katie Williamson is a yoga teacher, traveller, Weston A. Price Chapter Leader, Peru enthusiast and Nutritional Therapist who organizes retreats for mind, body and spirit transformation in the beautiful and sacred land of Perú through her business Sacred Retreats Peru. She is thankful for the remarkable journey she as had thus far and is looking forward to many more adventures to come, in Peru and beyond! You can check out the website for Sacred Retreats Peru here.

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anonymous Apr 8, 2016 7:43pm

a true yogi/spiritual person (in India, for example) will tell you that yes, you cant take part in taking lives of innocent sentient being, regardless human or nonhuman (animal), make your body their graveyard and expect to have any spiritual insight, progress or whatever you want to call it. it just doesnt work that way on the soul level. the laws of nature are very strict and they simply do not permit it. just as they dont permit drugging your body or infesting it with any other impurities, outside or inside. body is the temple of the soul. even mind has to be constantly purified to even start embarking on some path of spirituality. its same a trying to remain dry while jumping into a lake. or trying to remain clean while rolling in the dirt right after you wash….. does.not.work.

anonymous Mar 10, 2016 12:39pm

Great thoughtful post! What most vegans don't consider is that plants have to die for us to eat them. Moreover, they are living beings that can feel things too. More and more research shows that they are more intelligent and sensitive than we think: http://inhabitat.com/plants-know-when-theyre-bein….

Nobody thinks about how pesticides affect plants and some animals. Perhaps this is the equivalent of mistreating animals. Bottom line is that you have to kill to live, whether that means eating animals, plants, washing our hands or showering (bacteria). I agree that we should strive to do this in the most humane way possible.

I am against treating animals badly and keeping them caged up, but

anonymous Feb 13, 2016 11:59am

Justifying your palate pleasure ): how sad. You had a chance to explain about veganism. Most humans are inherently speciesism and just because they live in the jungle doesn't mean that they're not! What if these people had been canibals? Would you have participated? No? They would have laughed at you! It's wrong to take any life when you don't need to. And to those who claim that being vegan made them sick…..what a load of bull! It's not veganism that made you sick maybe you didn't do it properly? It's well known that animal products cause cancer and are destroying the planet! Come on!

anonymous Dec 1, 2015 6:23am

Beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your journey.

I have had a daily yoga practice for 14 years–it is an integral part of my entire life, my entire being, my entire spirit. AND for about 10 years, during my 20s, I was a vegetarian (sometimes vegan). Wow was I attached to that identity! It took a health crisis to get me to loosen my hold.

Now, at age 40 and a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, I integrate real-food eating guidance, holistic medicine and mindfulness to help people who experience eating and food as a place of struggle or pain.

One of our core principles is that there is no ONE best diet for everyone. The optimal eating pattern is individual, responsive and relational. Another core piece is that Eating is more than just eating, and food is more than just food. They are wrapped up in our history, identity, social context and beliefs. Changing eating patterns requires self-experimentation and mindful, focused exploration. It is a learning process that extends beyond what’s on our plate. And, as your journey illustrates so beautifully, it also encompasses our connection with spirit and Mother Earth. Thank you!

anonymous Oct 29, 2015 6:56pm

I was on my way to write a comment and had to scroll past a lot of really confident but also angry responses to your post. I’m sorry that there is so much hatred stirred up in people who are making choices out of love and care.

I have also had the long journey of vegan and vegetarian diet. And similarly, it was a shaman who first suggested that I needed meat in my body, as well as my Chinese medicine doctor. I fought that for almost two years. I have a really really healthy diet and don’t really want meat anyway. I do crave fish though and started eating it this year as well as eggs from my friends chickens on her land and make my own yoghurt from happy cows nearby. Angry rants about veganism definitely don’t help anyone make choices but those people on my life who grew up practicing medicine helped me finally ask the same question you did, is it always bad? It’s not.

I have been living in central Australia working with indigenous kids and families, literally the old nation of people. Their only work for food means meat. That is what is here out in the desert, that is what they eat,( depending on their animal dreaming and what time of life they are in they will avoid certain animals). Any vegan protestor in that land would really not seem like a loving and aware human but someone who doesn’t understand anything outside of their own life and products of western evolution. They would look at them like they are a crazy person or someone with a bad spirit inside or something.

So anyway, thanks for sharing.

    anonymous Dec 1, 2015 9:28am

    You do not need meat in your body, and the decision to consume another life, especially without consent is not a decision made out of love, but rather selfishness, in the case of a majority of people including yourself.

anonymous Oct 22, 2015 8:33pm

I loved your post. Some people may see it as a justification for your decision, but I view it as a sharing of experience and perspective. I don't think you are trying to sway people away from a vegan diet at all. As for me, I'm struggling with the same choice right now and it has taken me a long time to eat eggs and now fish. I don't like the idea of killing animals, however, I am thankful that I am offered nourishment by mother earth. All we can do is make the best decision we can given our knowledge and present circumstances; this means to consciously carry out as little harm as possible including to ourselves.

Right now I'm faced with a decision between synthetic hormone injections or trying to see if eating animal protein would resolve a health problem. To me, animal protein in small amounts makes more sense. I've been practicing Ayurveda and am in school for holistic nutrition so I'm by no means close to being on a poor American diet — even so, it seems my body may need a different source of nutrient.

Perhaps I'll be unsuccessful on a meat diet and go back to being a vegetarian. That's okay too. I think it's more important to be gentle on ourselves as our journey's change direction — there is no need to be 'right' or prove other people 'wrong'. This is all merely a journey and we all take different paths. Again, thanks for sharing. 🙂

anonymous Sep 26, 2015 5:11pm

A line in your article , "I give thanks to Pachamama and her animals who have sacrificed their own lives so that I may live a healthy, vibrant and spiritual life" and also in your Bio you indicate that you live by all this teaching yoga, nutrition, spirituality and tours / retreats.
Animals have "sacrificed" their own lives that you might live on a higher spiritual plane.
The history and success? of mankind has ridden on the backs of the other creatures of this earth. Even living as vegan in our world, the production of all our food now is at the huge expense of the natural world and its creatures, the airport your next plane lands on. I fear you are a rich girl trying to ride a camel through the eye of a hypodermic needle

anonymous Sep 16, 2015 11:53pm

Eating flesh is neither respectful nor a manner of encouraging human life towards a higher spiritual end. If you truly believe that flesh is food, and that consuming an animal is paying respect to it, then ask your relatives if you may consume them- truly, it must be the only respectful way to honor their lives. And to wear their hides on your back, so that you may carry them with you forever- or stuff them so that their image can be frozen in time. None of these are ways to pay respect, and although spirituality is not inherently exclusive to those who abstain from the consumption of another animal, non-violence and non-consumption are vitally important towards the path to a higher spirituality. Agriculture is the greatest blessing that has ever been bestowed on humanity, and those who choose not to kill, not to consume, not to wear, and to lend integrity to other animals as we do humans, are the people who are making transcendental spiritual progress.

Eating the flesh is wrong- it is a backwards step in our spiritual evolution and on our path towards enlightenment. If you don't believe so, then consume your family. If that starts to cause conflicts, then maybe you'll realize that the only reason we find it okay to consume animals is because they're weak; does it make you a strong person to exploit the weak? No.

    anonymous Sep 18, 2015 1:36pm

    Maybe you could describe in detail what makes one person more spiritual than the other. If we placed a vegan who curses out cashiers for taking too long – or even one who judges others for not being on the same spiritual path as them – next to a shaman who eats meat for survival but dedicates his life towards healing others, which one would win?

      anonymous Dec 1, 2015 9:25am

      The shaman apparently must consume others to survive- now, take one person who is perfectly reasonable with other humans, yet consumes flesh, versus someone who is rude, but does not consume others- rudeness can not be compared to stealing, trapping, raping and slaughtering animals. It's ludicrous to suppose otherwise.

      Spirituality, and goodness for that matter, can be defined by Mutuality. Non-mutuality is conflict, and conflict is not indicative of spirituality, however, concepts that we value ourselves, as in when we are lent these values, such as peace, integrity, freedom, etc, are indicative of spirituality. Spirituality is to understand the value of life and to grant others the same values that you desire.

anonymous Aug 24, 2015 7:20pm

Thank you. I honor your truth.

anonymous Aug 17, 2015 5:59pm

I have no doubt in your mind that you, like any of us, are trying to find a way of life and connection that speaks to you, that feels authentic to you. That in itself, in my opinion, is a wonderful path to be on. I cannot say that you will be a better person or a better yogi on one diet over another. I don't think that has much to do with any "diet". I will, however, suggest a couple of sources. If you feel so inclined, please look into them. I too have been trying to figure out the ways of this world and find a way to live an authentic life and though it is an ongoing process (and always will be), these three sources have really helped take my understanding of "life" and "living" to another level.
1) Unity (movie) – currently screening in theaters
2) Speciesism (movie)
3) Food For Thought (Podcast by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)

    anonymous Aug 18, 2015 9:56am

    Just remembered another one:

    4) World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle

anonymous Aug 17, 2015 5:56pm

I have no doubt in your mind that you, like any of us, are trying to find a way of life and connection that speaks to you, that feels authentic to you. That in itself, in my opinion, is a wonderful path to be on. I cannot say that you will be a better person or a better yogi on one diet over another. I don’t think that has much to do with any “diet”. I will, however, suggest a couple of sources. If you feel so inclined, please look into them. I too have been trying to figure out the ways of this world and find a way to live an authentic life and though it is an ongoing process (and always will be), these three sources have really helped take my understanding of “life” and “living” to another level.
1) Unity (movie) – currently screening in theaters
2) Speciesism (movie)
3) Food For Thought (Podcast by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)

anonymous Jul 16, 2015 5:38am

I rarely read such lame, weak arguments to not be a vegan (anymore).
I have plenty of omnivore friends, as far as I know none of them make up this kind of stories to justify the fact that they eat animal products.

"In fact, according to a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration written by Dr. Weston A. Price in the 1930s, indigenous tribes from all continents were studied for their diets and level of health."

Jarvis, William T. wrote "The myth of the healthy savage" that partly demolishes the (simplist if not racist) theories of Weston Price but this idiot probably prefer to refer to biased informations written in the 1930´s.
Price´s book is full of clichés and approximations.

"Just as my ancestors did, I give thanks to Pachamama and her animals who have sacrificed their own lives so that I may live a healthy, vibrant and spiritual life. I am healthier today than I have ever been as a body and as a spirit. Including animal products in my diet has enabled me to achieve that level of health so that I can share my gifts with the world. I don’t just pray before every meal. I pray with my life. My life is my prayer."

Were your ancestors from Peru all of a sudden ?

"To answer my question, it seemed like the next best step to take in my quest was to look back to the way things were done before the current industrial system came to dominate the way we eat. Through my encounter in the jungle with the Peruvian shaman, I already knew that there was at least one traditional culture of highly spiritual and connected people still eating animal products in a sustainable and loving way."
Back to the caves, you should not use any computer anymore, travel on foot and naked, you also should hunt and kill the animals yourself, something you don´t do as you still use money to buy corpses other people provide you, in a real wild world Pachamama would send predators to ethically kill you and eat you with love.

"I already knew that there was at least one traditional culture of highly spiritual and connected people still eating animal products in a sustainable and loving way."
Sure, what´s best to kill the one you love so much…

I could go on and on for every single mistakes you wrote to justify your action, I thought as a yoga person you had to be honest…
Your appeal to tradition is the weakest argument ever, those who exploit and mistreat women often do it in the name of tradition too : "Women in the kitchen, men at work", it´s also a tradition that I execrate.

anonymous Jul 14, 2015 5:33am

why is it any different when u kill the plants , make all the statements you want but the reality is that for all things that live something must die . your choice of killing makes you no less a murderer than anyone else . we are all part of the whole . Having been around both eaters of food groups I see that the vegans look very unhealthy after awhile .

    anonymous Sep 17, 2015 12:11am

    You're blowing smoke- eating plants means you're a killer? If that's so, then if you genuinely have compassion, yet still value your life higher than your 'victims', far less plants are 'murdered' when filtered directly through your body. Unhealthy vegans? There are plenty of healthy vegans- and here's the thing, a robust range of examples of unhealthy meat eaters.

    Take a look at Jon Venus or Patrik Baboumian- the first is a natural body builder with a 'sick' physique, the second is one of the world's strongest men. They're both vegans. If you think some of your vegan acquaintances are looking unhealthy, then advise them to do some research so that they can make sure they're getting everything they need to.

anonymous Jun 13, 2015 10:36pm

A shaman friend of mine gave me a whole plate of salmon after eating vegetarian whilst in the States. I didnt realise it at the time that i had a severe aneamia and the score for life energy was 2/1500. I was travelling, it wasnt till three years later that i got the readings for the anaemia. Sever blood loss, magnified levels of emotion, and my fave coffee were adding to the burden. She said if we had eaten meat in our lifetimes we needed to continue with a small portion of 100g a month. Something to do with the gut flora.

I had been having trouble eating it because of the smell which still happens that i have it cooked for me and cant eat it. I buy alternatives so there is another choice. I would grown vegetables at the community garden which would be rejected by my son, who favours the commercial growers.

We eat more meatless meals than we ever had, although strangely these past few weeks meat crept in again. I didn't seem to be able to get the numbers to rise and still having trouble with sleeping too much. Sleeping beauty syndrome or me hugging reactors.

I was eating freshly caught fish, freshly grown salad until i started experiencing hooks, which got larger, the experiences more regular, i gave up fish.

I have had lots of death experiences although most of them seem to be the violent deaths of humans. The same friend gave me a slice of bear and that is the only animal that i haven't been eaten by. Friends kept telling me that i needed to eat meat, so i do when i feel i need to. It has taken five years to get those readings up. At the moment spirulina is helping.

Throwing mud is an energetic visualisation to slow the energy field down. sometimes I ask my Canadian friends to throw mud if my energy is in spin mode.

Thanks for sharing Katie, a very brave thing to do.

anonymous Jun 4, 2015 9:04am

It is not possible to humanely take the life of another living being who wants to live. The idea of humane meat eggs and dairy is an outright lie, a marketing ploy of an industry based in exploitation and cruelty. A tiny amount of internet research will show this. None of these animals have "sacrificed" themselves. They have been enslaved, exploited, had their babies stolen from them, mutilated without anesthesia, and murdered. The goal of any genuine spiritual path is to recognize our connection with all other beings, to learn to live with respect and compassion for all living beings. Eating the bodies or byproducts of sentient beings whose lives have been taken from them for our own selfish desires is the antithesis of spirituality or ethics. I hope the author will look into her heart with honesty and remember what led her to be vegan in the first place.

    anonymous Sep 17, 2015 12:04am

    This is the path of a human being. Peace be upon you.

anonymous Jun 4, 2015 8:37am

I see so many upset vegan comments here. Most of them you can sum up as " you betrayed your non violent believes" .
Let me ask you as non – vegetarian, where do you draw the line between animals that can be killed and animals that can not? Most of you when somebody says "animals" think of puppies, piglets, Bambi. These are not all the animals. In term "animals" you have to include insects, crustaceans, bacteria also. They all belong into animal kingdom too, and just by living, you kill some of them. You kill insects by using night lamps, talking on mobile phone, if you get sick and take antibiotic, you are committing a mass murder of bacteria, deliberately, and you have to, in order to stay alive. You might not want to eat animals, but you are killing them just by existing.

    anonymous Sep 17, 2015 12:03am

    All you've said here is, "You can't avoid killing everything- so why not kill anything?"

anonymous Jun 3, 2015 9:22am

Love this article and resonate so much with it!

anonymous Jun 1, 2015 5:00pm

What about the animals that are killed so you can eat them? What do they think and feel?

The tradition of killing halal has the animals throat cut while still alive and then ritually sacrificed by a Muslim who recites a prayer dedicating the slaughter to Allah. Do you think the animal is happy to have its throat cut to be sacrificed or is in agony whilst bleeding to death?

anonymous May 29, 2015 5:31pm

Very interesting article. thank you for sharing it. Not long ago one woman a fanatical vegetarian was just outraged when she went to the yoga show here in Toronto to find out that that some yoga teachers were Not vegetarian and wrote very angry and nasty very long list of accusations etc. how you can't be spiritual and eat meat. I have asked her if in fact she though that Dalai Lama was not spiritual being because he eats meat?? That was never answered. I myself had been vegetarian for about 15 years and developed allergies as well as very painful debilitating health condition Crohn's. I needed surgery and had to donate my own boos. Because of my rare blood type the first thing the doctor had me do is eat liver 2-3 times a week as my iron vas extremely low and it took me 2 month to build it up, so I could have the surgery. Many people are very judgmental as they don't realize that being vegetarian is not for everyone. I enjoy all foods and feeling healthy again. Being grateful & giving thanks.

anonymous May 29, 2015 4:26pm

This is yet another piece of propaganda from the Weston Price Foundation, an organization funded by the meat and dairy industries. There's no way someone goes from vegan to WPF evangelist. I call bs on this article.

    anonymous May 29, 2015 7:45pm

    I REALLY was vegan (hard-core Jivamukti practitioner, started the first VegFest at my University, took a course with Gabriel Cousens in Peru, etc etc) and now I REALLY am a WAPF chapter leader. I think it´s my mission to spread WAPF to the Spanish-speaking population.
    I have converted. 🙂 In fact, I am regular eater of organ meats and bone broth (both of which have nursed me back to health).

    anonymous Jun 4, 2015 9:23pm

    I REALLY was vegan (hard-core Jivamukti practitioner, started the first VegFest at my University, took a course with Gabriel Cousens in Peru, etc etc) and now I REALLY am a WAPF chapter leader. I think it´s my mission to spread WAPF to the Spanish-speaking population.

anonymous May 29, 2015 11:49am

I find it interesting that the very God we all worship also creates massive violence and death in the form of earthquakes, floods and tornadoes…is that worse than eating meat?

anonymous May 29, 2015 11:33am

Having traveled a good portion of the earth, I've observed that eating vegetarian/vegan is a luxury that 80% of the world does not have. That said, I think the end of factory farms is a must. The American demand for meat drives the machine. If we ate even a little less meat things could change overnight.

anonymous May 29, 2015 11:14am

Eightson, yet every moment is a choice. We are empowered by our choices and they show us if we're part of the problem or part of the solution. Individually we effect the whole. Individually we have opportunity to hasten the elimination of harm and suffering. Individually we help DEFINE evolution. This is not to say we are instantly perfect, only instantly considering/trying/choosing. We ARE evolution.

==

    anonymous May 29, 2015 4:16pm

    scrolling through the comments i'm amazed so many people don't see a "Reply" button.

    leave your comment as a proper reply, and i will reply. it is disrespectful to the website to not do this because it clogs up the comments section.

anonymous May 29, 2015 1:54am

veganism is something that'll take evolution, and that is not an instantaneous single-generation thing. we will become vegan by eating less meat than our ancestors, feed even less to our kids, they to theirs, etc..

anonymous May 28, 2015 12:57pm

Jewels, there is so much contradiction in what you write. For instance: "How we treat each other, be it plant or animal, is what's important." Well, slaughter is not a good way to "treat" another being.

And you say to others that you honor their "personal choice whatever it may be." How does one honor what is, at its core, highly dishonorable!!? There is no honor in harming innocence or in enslaving any life. Even if you assert that they had a good life until you wanted to eat them, they were still enslaved and not allowed freedom of existence.

You say "Diversity is what makes us all special." Well, diversity is not supremacy, not a ticket to rule over anything but ourselves. As for "name calling and Judgemental attitudes," we do try for respectful dialogue but it is sometimes understandable that there is upset when innocent lives hang in the balance, when cruelty is an excepted norm, when desire overcomes compassion. This is not about competing philosophies; it's about decency and honoring the creation. 

Some good news: If any are finding it difficult to give up the eating of animals, just know it gets easier. After a few years the temptation lifts and one becomes more or less turned-off, especially by certain smells. Barbeque is recognized as carcass. And thankfully today, there are so many healthy and delicious food choices carrying the peace-of-mind message that they were grown cruelty-free. May the banquet be of love for ALL.

====

anonymous May 28, 2015 8:01am

ALL living things feel, be it plant or animal. Mother Nature and God deemed it so. Eat meat/eggs/dairy or don't. But whether you do or not, it doesn't make you a better person. How we treat each other, be it plant or animal, is what's important. I give thanks to Mother Earth for EVERYTHING she provides & honor your personal choice whatever it may be.

Do note that there have been no societies that have survived over time without animal proteins. If you are looking for why some people have reversed their choices on being vegan or vegetarian, this link might help. http://www.beyondveg.com/nicholson-w/veg-prob/veg

Here is another article to take a look at: http://jonnybowden.com/why-i-am-not-a-vegetarian/

And one more: http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/China-Study

Again…whether you have made the choice to eat meat or not, it is YOUR choice. Diversity is what makes us all special. I honor your right to choose. I think it's wonderful that we are all different. I just wish the name calling & judgmental attitudes did not accompany those choices.

anonymous May 26, 2015 11:37pm

There is a need to justify and excuse the unjustified ! Eating a fish for breakfast and having a "healer" laughing is so sad….Breakfast is "break-fast" ,breaking the fast after a whole night of cleaning,healing,regenerating….By giving such meal is a real shock for the body and lots of work to digest….A s a !healer!,he did not know what a vegan is ? And he lives in Peru? Well,then certainly,he lives on his own cloud …..sleeping deeply ….
People study what all these folks did just couple of thousand years ago….But what about before that ? Are our bodies designed to consume dead tissue and stagnant blood ? No ! If you look at the anatomy of our body,definitely no ! What about the ethical aspect ? Why we don't have meat growing in trees and we have to murder for it ? There is no "humane killing",is just murdering animals coz we want to please buds and ignore the fellow species who were left here on Earth to accompany us and not to be exploited and exterminated even in "humane" ways ! We need to wake up !

anonymous May 26, 2015 10:00pm

Apophasis, You write: "The animals have good lives, and then they die." They do not "die;" they are murdered. Dying is a natural process. Murder is something else. And as for them having a "good life," most do not.

You also write: "I believe that they came here to sustain us, and we should be loving and respectful in return." Is betrayal "loving and respectful?" Is slaughter? You take from them, sometimes even gain their trust, and then turn around and stab them. That is NOT "humane."

One last point. . . You say, " I think their lives are not about individual evolution and experience so much as sacrifice. . ." Well, "sacrifice" is something that is done willingly. It is you, and other meat-eaters who are sacrificing them. They are not coming and volunteering. In fact, they run from harm and cry in pain when injured. They feel, just like we do. They fight for their lives. Please look beyond your own reasoning and satisfaction. They want to live out their lives naturally without your interference.

—–

anonymous May 26, 2015 4:35pm

The eating of meat and dairy products is personal. I was vegan when I went to South America and also starting eating meat whilst I was there, not because I had a change of mind but because I wanted to eat i and, taste it again. I gave it up a year or so after returning to the UK as I realised could not be involved in the taking of a sentient beings life and I did not want to experience the negative karma attached. I agree that the indigenous people of many countries kill and eat animals in a respectful grateful way but I do not think that we in the West do not do this. Most of us do not go out and hunt and kill to eat. Until we do we will be removed from the process and ultimately our experience with the animal will be incomplete. For most it doesn't have to be incomplete, it actually has to be incomplete or many of us could not do it. The dairy industry is pretty horrific too, this is a fact and I would dearly like to see people move away from eating dairy with the intention of these cruel abusive practices changing. Let their be more gratitude for what eat whether that be a meat or plant based diet. I feel blessed that I am in a financial position and live in a country where I can enjoy a nutrient rich diet that does not involve the taking or abuse of a life, I know many are not in this position so I make the most of it. Wishing all beings freedom and love

    anonymous May 26, 2015 5:56pm

    "The eating of meat and dairy products is personal." No, it isn't!! It's causing devastating effects to the environment and it's causing the terrible torture and suffering of billions of animals. There is no personal. Everything is connected.

      anonymous May 26, 2015 6:45pm

      Well, meat and dairy consumption are not the problem per se. The problem is the horrible soulless industrialized way we're doing it. You don't have to torture your dairy cow. I get my local raw dairy from a very happy cow, and my meat is organically fed, locally raised and slaughtered, humanely and ethically. The animals have good lives, and then they die. That's all any of us can hope for. Yes, their lives are cut short. I don't think that's necessarily a terrible thing in and of itself when you're talking about a goat or a cow. And yes, I have personally dispatched and butchered several goats and cows, along with millions of fish. I had nightmares about working as an industrial fish-processor, but not about killing a goat so that I could have meat. I think their lives are not about individual evolution and experience so much as sacrifice; I believe that they came here to sustain us, and we should be loving and respectful in return. Animals are an essential part of the cycle of life. We can keep them in more or less humane or sustainable ways. I'd advocate a return to huge wild herds of buffalo, and abundant hunting, rather than any confined keeping of animals, but I'd definitely still hunt them. 🙂 Everything is absolutely connected. I hope to be eaten one day, as well.

      anonymous Jun 9, 2015 7:53am

      Something can be a personal choice and still be connected to everything. Perhaps you misunderstood me, ones reason for eating meat is personal as it will be as a result of their own belief systems, upbringing, etc. Two peoples reason for eating meat will be different and so there lies the 'personal'. I agree with you of course about the torture and effects to the environment. Its nice to see you have changed your mind the meat and dairy eating, may all beings benefit from our choices !

anonymous May 26, 2015 4:23pm

S. Strom, I doubt you'd feel that way if it were you who was being enslaved, tortured, or murdered. To live one's life according to one's "very personal journey" is not a license to inflict harm on innocence.

I know this is not an easy issue, but I implore you to check in with you heart and with the golden rule.

anonymous May 26, 2015 1:37pm

The beauty of this country, and of most of the world, is that we have the freedom to live in a way that feels right to us. Each one of us is on a very, very personal journey, and we each do the best we can do with the information and beliefs that we have. There is no universal truth when it comes to many things — and eating meat is one of them. Some scientists have found that meat production is the root cause of global warming. Others have found that grazing animals in a certain way restores health to barren lands. And although, across the board, the findings on each side are completely the opposite, they both claim they have the PROOF. But neither side does. What they have are findings that fit their bias. Personal stories and stories about personal journeys are incredibly important, because they offer a perspective that one may not have thought of before. We can not make informed decisions about anything without looking at all the opposing sides and thoughts. An open mind is the sign of intelligence. Don’t be so quick to condemn others for their views and beliefs and journeys.

“It’s okay to disagree with the thoughts or opinions expressed by other people. That doesn’t give you the right to deny any sense they might make. Nor does it give you a right to accuse someone of poorly expressing their beliefs just because you don’t like what they are saying. Learn to recognize good writing when you read it, even if it means overcoming your pride and opening your mind beyond what is comfortable.”

― Ashly Lorenzana

anonymous May 26, 2015 1:39am

The article was written well and interesting, however even Shaman's have much to learn as do we all. You were not ethical in your choice and your body will suffer for this as did the life you took for a moments pleasure on your taste buds, that's just fact. Science proves again and again that we do not need to consume any animal r their secretions for nutritional value, yes that includes B12. The most compelling reason for not using an animals life, body and secretions is the moral one. It is not humane to do so and it is as simple as that, no matter how much you want to fluff it up with the plethora of excuses that people often serve up again and again. You take a conscious sentient being and take their life for yours pleasure … ( and no plants are not conscious sentient life, they react to energy around them which isn't conscious or sentient). I seeing excuse after excuse after excuse to still behave barbarically, savagely and primitively … all sugar coated. Do people not want the world to consciously evolve and be a better place or our their taste buds really more important.

    anonymous May 26, 2015 5:17pm

    My taste buds are a part of my body that enables me to experience other parts of nature. They have no moral obligations. I am God, you are God, the animals and plants are God. God is consuming and experiencing itself in infinite permutations. Suffering is something we as humans can control, but being an integral part of the food chain and of all life–that we can either surrender fully in love or try to control and suffer. Your choice. And mine. I recommend the one where you don't suffer or try to control other people.

      anonymous May 26, 2015 5:53pm

      God is torturing herself unbelievably on factory farms and destroying the planet. She must be dumb as shit.

anonymous May 25, 2015 6:27pm

Maybe the Shaman was testing your resolve and forcing you to examine your motivation in abstaining from eating meat in the first place. For me not eating meat is a kind of ritual where I mindfully remind myself daily that my right to happiness is no more important than the right of happiness of any other being.

    anonymous May 26, 2015 5:10pm

    Or you have just as much right to complete happiness as every other being on earth.

anonymous May 24, 2015 7:33pm

Thanks for sharing! Ah, the dietary dilemmas… I grew up omnivorous, but became a strict and, in retrospect, rather obnoxiously self-righteous vegan at age 19. I did it for spiritual and ethical reasons, which is to say that I needed a reason to feel better about myself, and to put other people down. I judged everyone, felt very smug and self-righteous, and disrespected anyone who ate differently- most of the human race. I pretended to be superior and somehow "more spiritual" (as if such a thing were possible) because of my diet, despite being a complete dick to everyone around me about my supposedly superior food choices. It was a fun little ego trip. But after a while, my body was simply screaming for animal protein, so I ate some. I felt better. I was happy to trade the sweet smugness of veganism for actual health. I tried a raw diet for a while, with a similar result; it unbalanced me, wrecked my gut. I have seen several people driven literally insane, at least temporarily, by extreme raw vegan diets. Maybe they're awesome for certain people in certain situations, but vegan and raw are not for everyone all the time, to say the least.

Years later, I got a film job on a remote location, and my boss was a nearly exclusive carnivore. All he ever fed the crew was rare red meat, perhaps a little ketchup, maybe some bread, but mostly just meat, meat, meat. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was actually terrified what this would do to my sometimes fragile digestion. To my absolute shock, I felt better than I ever have, had huge energy through long and physically grueling days, and my digestion was great. Apparently my system can happily and healthily run on pure meat, if necessary, at least for a month or so. I have very sharp and pointy canine teeth; perhaps that's not an accident. Nowadays, I eat an opportunistic omnivorous diet, as natural, local, wild, and organic as I can, but I am never ever smug or prideful about my choices, never mean to other people about what they eat. I'm so glad I got over that.

It's all God. You are God, and so are all the plants and animals. If God is going to eat, what is there to eat but God? I think people get freaked out by the "big brown eyes" thing not really from actual love of the animal so much as fear of the human's own mortality. Your body will die and be eaten, unless you pickle it in formaldehyde to keep the worms away or burn it up or something. Your big brown eyes will dim and cloud one day. Your four-chambered heart will stop beating. Your last breath will leave your lungs. You will die. And after a while, you'll grow yourself a new set of eyes to go along with your new body, for your next adventure. The cow you killed and ate in your previous life will be there too, which is wonderful, for you can have steak in that life as well, if you so desire.

Jesus was right on when he said that you're not corrupted by what enters your mouth but by what proceedeth forth from it… Eat whatever you want, in the best way you can, as you see fit, for whatever reasons or values seem correct to you. But please, everyone, if you're at all concerned with spiritual or ethical matters, remember that kindness is the only eternal religion. Being mean to people about their food choices while pretending to be spiritual or ethical is a non-starter 🙂

    anonymous May 26, 2015 3:46am

    Your body was not screaming for protein, it was screaming for saturated fat. Vegans are not protein deficient – unless they are doing it very wrongly. It's a shame that your smugness did not go the way of your veganism.

      anonymous May 26, 2015 10:12am

      See, that's exactly what I mean. So now you know what my body was screaming for, do you? Gee, that's funny, because I could swear I was the only one in here, having the experience. If you actually know more about my body than I do, I need your services, o visionary psychic healer. But I think I know what I'm talking about, and I think I know the difference between fats and proteins, and I think I know what my body wanted, and I think you don't. And then you say I'm smug? Okay, maybe I'm smug. IMO, you're a bit intrusive and disrespectful. My point was to eat however you like, but be nice to other people about it. I shared my personal experience, period. I am offended by, and completely reject your disrespectful attempt to invalidate my experience. That's not nice, and it's not fair. Please simply respect others and share your point of view. Needing to make other people wrong is pretty toxic.

      I do agree that saturated fats are awesome, and essential, for the record. I never said that all vegans are protein deficient. As a vegan, I don't think I was protein deficient, exactly, because I was mindful of that, lots of good food combos, and I was also getting good plant fats, but I really had strong cravings for animal protein (fish, to be precise) and when I ate some, I felt dramatically better, so I ate more. I've experimented pretty extensively with what works for my body, and I've had some digestive issues, so I've really paid attention. I've also wrestled extensively with the moral side of it. I'm totally opposed to CAFOs, factory farms, all that horror. What I support is a climax biosphere with sustainable villages amongst the trees, and hunting of the abundant wild game, like it used to be before certain crazy people showed up 🙂

      I think you can kill and eat anything whatsoever if you do it in a good and balanced way, with love and respect. All those animals with the cute big brown eyes on the sides of their heads are prey animals. They are meant to eat and run and be killed and eaten by something, eventually. All those animals with eyes facing forward are predators, meant to chase and kill the prey animals. Look at the eyes, teeth, and the digestive system; we're omnivorous predators. We run in groups and then we throw spears. We're pretty awesome predators, as well as gatherers, by nature. I do think there's a lot to the blood type diet- some people really seem more suited for veganism, some more for meat. That seems like a nice diversity to have.

      I understand that there are those who feel that any killing at all is morally wrong, but I can't bring myself to discount the lives of plants in such a brutal manner. Plants are sensitive beings, and it seems to me that making an absolute moral distinction between killing plants and killing animals is unwarranted. I actually attempted to go down that path at one point, but I came to the conclusion that living inevitably involves violence and killing, one way or the other. I decided that I was willing to make a great number of compromises in order to stay alive, and that the only way I could have the purity of total ahimsa, doing no harm whatsoever, would be to kill myself, but then that's a lot of harm, too… I decided that instead of trying to absolutely minimize my impact, the only thing I could do was to maximize my positive influence in the world, to create something good enough to outweigh the inevitable violence of my passage through the world. It's a terrible thing to be born a human, and a great responsibility. Like Arjuna, we don't want to fight, but we were born into a battlefield.

      Sorry if I sound smug because I figured our a way that works for me, and also, I think, the way for people to stop fighting over dietary issues. In my opinion, the entire problem on Earth is people trying to impose their ways on other people, trying to invalidate other people's experiences or values. Instead of seeking to impose our ways on everyone else, I think we ought to simply live in the best way we can, gather together with other like minded people and support each other in our lifestyles, and try to respect, or at least ignore, everyone who lives differently. Peace!

        anonymous Jun 3, 2015 9:39am

        I like your posts, thank you for the thoughtful comments. I thought you might be able to help me with something that has been bothering me.

        I believe plants humans and animals all have spirits. I see that say "I understand that there are those who feel that any killing at all is morally wrong, but I can't bring myself to discount the lives of plants in such a brutal manner." And that this has basically led you to accepting the killing of animals for consumption.

        What about the thought of eating humans? Are humans not equal to animals and plants, so why do we not eat each other? If it is acceptance of violence and killing, should we not accept this between humans too?

        I hope it is clear, I am just genuinely interested in your response and I'm not trying to ask you to justify your eating habits (meat eater here).

        anonymous Feb 13, 2016 12:23pm

        Kill *someone (not something) with love and respect? Wow please tell me how you do that? Does it apply to children, our parents and friends? Wow I thought taking a life was harmful? Animals are not a dietary issue…we have a choice to live compassionately and there is absolutely nothing in the flesh of non-humans that you cannot get from plants. Il you're about palate pleasure then that's unfair and abusive to your victims.

anonymous May 24, 2015 6:58pm

That "shaman" was at his own level of evolution. I see him still as a victim of his upbringing and a slave to his habits. He programmed you to see cruelty and suffering as nurturing offerings. Look into the eyes of all who are slaughtered. Let your heart understand.

As for the eating of fish. . . Well, just imagine yourself one of them and you are having a lovely swim and something alluring and likely nourishing draws you to it for a sampling when suddenly a sharp hook penetrates the roof of your mouth. You struggle to be released from it but instead it drags you up and out of everything you need to survive. You are gasping for air, likely confused and afraid. You are carelessly tossed or quickly frozen, sometimes instantly beheaded or slashed up the belly. You are dying.  That's what we do to other beings when we "go fishing."

As for the eating of chickens. . . How does anyone expect to fly if he or she keeps eating birds? There is no reasoning that can justify the slavery and cruelty of other beings. Some say if we don't eat them the earth will be overpopulated with them. But others trust in nature and integrity for the great balancing of all things living in peace.

The way things are now, surely creator weeps, that we treat part of the creation in such harsh ways. And truly, my words are not to scold or judge, but come from my love for animals. I see them as teachers/healers and we have so much to learn from them. May we gradually turn things around and come to realize that just like us they want to live, feel safe, and raise their young. When it was written: "Thou shalt not kill," it didn't specify only humans. Please reconsider your choice to eat the flesh of murdered beings who did nothing to harm you. Please, Katie.

For The Animals,
galen

==

anonymous May 24, 2015 2:08pm

Thank you Kathy
I feel the same ….many people who call themselves vegetarians dont really listen to their own body…it is more religious extremisme than conscious choice…everything from the far east is wonderful…..just ask tibetans about the economic system under the tumb of Boudhism….they had to give at least half of their crops to the monastery….in a country were the growing season is very short…

Love and light

Pa u

anonymous May 24, 2015 11:01am

I've never read so much egotistical, selfish crap in all my life. Who is she to say her animal victims don't have an interest in staying alive?

anonymous May 24, 2015 8:10am

"Why was I eating vegan here in the jungle where fish is super abundant and nutritious, the traditional fare of people who have occupied this part of the world for thousands of years? Is it a violent choice to eat animals even here?" Yes. How is killing animals in a different part of the world any less violent?

Animals do not "sacrifice" themselves to be your food, any more than you would "sacrifice" yourself to feed a shark.

Your appeal to tradition is weak, since I doubt any person could prove with reasonable certainty that we live in a more violent time than the past.

"The bottom line is that what’s wrong with meat and other animal products is the system we have in place, not the actual act of eating animals." Right! It's not the EATING, it's the taking of someone's life who wants to live.

    anonymous May 26, 2015 1:32am

    Well said Rebecca

    anonymous Jun 4, 2015 6:46am

    Actually, Rebecca you do sacrifice yourself, even though you may not know it. There are organisms, that are not helpful to your well being eating off you right now. And when you are dead and you won't be choosing to sacrifice yourself, you will be eaten. It is the cycle of life if you like it or not. Every time you eat a fermented food you are eating an organism that is sacrificing itself, by your force, to your well being. Every time you eat a plant, it is sacrificing itself for your well being. You are killing live beings for your survival. Every living and non-living thing has an energy which can neither be created nor destroyed only transformed. But humans place their beliefs, assumptions and attitudes, making things right or wrong, instead of living in the flow of the Universe.

      anonymous Feb 13, 2016 12:13pm

      Ruby, If you don't know it then you're not sacrificing "yourself" are you? Animals don't sacrifice themselves, we murder them. Obviously we all end up as dust but while we exist we can make informed choices. If you stop eating animals and their secretions you actually save many more plants, and also humans as an immense quantity of the grain etc. produced goes to feed livestock and not people. It's true that we cause harm by living but we can minimise that harm by going vegan. We need to do it for the planet, the animals and ourselves. Can you imagine a world without killing? How beautiful!

anonymous May 23, 2015 12:42pm

No animal has ever sacrificed it'self to you.

anonymous May 22, 2015 7:01pm

Congrats to you, Katie, for having the courage to come out of the closet. We need more people speaking their truth, even when it is unpopular to do so. I don't think you'll find a more spiritual culture than that of Tibet, and yet ideas about vegetarianism are only just beginning to gain any traction within that culture, as they gain access to foods from all around the world. But let's consider how much fossil fuel it takes to get a tomato to Tibet. I think a lot of it is window-dressing meant to make people feel good about themselves in the face of a world that is violent beyond their control. Life constantly consumers life. Them's the fact, folks.

As other commentators have already expressed, all life has consciousness. Some of us have the sensitivity to communicate in some way with life forms that aren't locomotive or otherwise easily recognized as "like us," and some of us do not have that sensitivity. To those who can't sense the consciousness and desire to live of plants, to say it doesn't exist is like a sociopath claiming that killing people doesn't matter because he can't feel their pain.

Some degree of violence is unavoidable in life. It is wise to make peace with this. But how we function as a civilization relies upon developing behavioral norms for how we will live in balance with these facts of life. We don't want sociopaths running around killing people for whatever reason they come up with. That is not an acceptable norm. We could not have a stable civilization with a norm like that. But we can have stable civilizations eating meat, vegetables, grains, etc. in most places.

The question isn't whether to do it, because we are going to do it, and have no reason not to. The question is simply how to do it that is healthiest and wisest. Animal cruelty doesn't need to be a part of animal husbandry. Cruelty is wrong in any context. Let's be kind to each other, if we really want to practice non-violence. That we can control.

    anonymous May 24, 2015 2:39pm

    Typical neo-hippie ignorance about Tibet and Tibetans. Vegetarianism is not unheard of there. The Dalai Lama, to use the standard example, was vegetarian for years until his doctor told him to start eating meat again for health reasons. And they get along fine without tomatoes. Did you know that peaches grow in Tibet, no you did not. And don't get me started on the hobbling and maiming that were used in the old Tibetan system of criminal justice prior to the Chinese invasion. Be ''spiritual'' in one hand, pour chamomile tea into the other, and let me know which one fills up first.

anonymous May 22, 2015 2:06pm

Katie – like you, I have been struggling to rebuild my health after any years as a vegan. I have found that I feel much better eating an all-meat diet (talk about irony!). You can follow my journey here: http://zerocarbzen.com/about-me/

    anonymous May 22, 2015 3:25pm

    Amazing I will check out your journey for sure! 🙂

anonymous May 22, 2015 1:44pm

Excellent article. Thanks for sharing your personal journey back to animal foods. I was vegan for 15 years and it almost killed me. I have so many gut related health problems as a result of following a diet based entirely on plant foods. I wish that Lierre Keith's book had been available to me before I made such a disasterous decision about my diet. The idea that eating animal foods is somehow not spiritual is the greatest fallacy every promulgated. We are all in this creation together and it is a Circle of Life from which we cannot remove ourselves without detrimental consequences. Most of us in the first world are now so disconnect from our food that we have no idea where it comes from. Agriculture is far more destructive to Mother Earth and her creatures than hunting and gathering ever was.

    anonymous May 22, 2015 3:25pm

    The Vegetarian Myth is an EPIC book!!!!
    I love your words.

anonymous May 22, 2015 6:18am

I like this article. I understand and deeply respect the varied perspectives of the commenters. What I’m thinking is that it’s not about whether or not we “are” spiritual — everyone is inherently spiritual –, but rather that our realization of our spirituality is an evolution, and everyone is on a different leg of that journey. I have worked with many people with eating disorders and for them, letting go of strict rules about what and how to eat is essential if they are to survive and thrive. Am I valuing their lives over that of animals? You bet I am. This doesn’t mean they can’t learn compassion and eventually make choices that will benefit them as well as the planet. But it just doesn’t happen all at once for everyone. Your story about the shaman reminds me of Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda’s “Jounrjey to Ixtlan,” in which he laughs at Castaneda for holding on so tightly to his beliefs. He also says that change can happen in an instant. I like this idea, but the reality is that for most of us, it takes time. Namaste.

anonymous May 20, 2015 10:03pm

Thanks for your candor; it is such a personal journey. It is good to share your own experience. I find there are normally 3 reasons that people stop eating animals: health, global resources, or big brown eyes. I think that the big brown eyes camp is the least likely to revert back; having said that, I acknowledge that there is so much more we can do. I still eat eggs, cheese, and I wear leather shoes………. complete ahimsa would be pretty difficult to do. Many of our actions cause pain or violence to others. The above comments were right; it is as complex and can get as heated as a political view. I started exploring this three years ago and have not looked back once I made the choice……. I do not eat anything I would want to pet! – Alexa Maxwell (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/10/animal-love-the-musings-of-a-non-vegetarian-catherine-maxwell/) – if you are interested!

anonymous May 20, 2015 10:00pm

I appreciate your candor. It is a personal journey, after all. I think there are 3 reasons people normally stop eating animals: health, global resources, or big brown eyes. I think that the big brown eyes camp is the least likely to revert back; having said that, I acknowledge that there is so much more we can do. I still eat eggs, cheese, and I wear leather shoes………. complete ahimsa would be pretty difficult to do. The above comments were right; it is as complex and can get as heated as a political view. I started exploring this three years ago and have not looked back once I made the choice……. I do not eat anything I would want to pet! – Alexa Maxwell (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/10/animal-love-the-musings-of-a-non-vegetarian-catherine-maxwell/) – if you are interested!

    anonymous Feb 13, 2016 11:51am

    It ceases to be a "personal journey" when there are victims Alexa! It is not difficult to be vegan it's easy and the right thing to do! 🙂

anonymous May 20, 2015 9:34pm

YES! 🙂 AMAZING! 🙂

anonymous May 20, 2015 4:46pm

My wife was also vegan the first time we went to Peru – boy did she have a rough time trying to get enough nutrients! It’s a bit easier in the bigger cities, but in the little villages sometimes they only have rice and chicken and fish…

When we returned home we participated in a traditional style Salvia Divinorum ceremony – and she actually had visions where animal after animal ate each other until at the end a big shark ate her! Then a voice said “Are you mad at the shark?” to which she replied “Of course not! It was just hungry!” She knew that the plants were telling her to eat meat. It was a while before she was ready to try it again, but now she eats meat and some health issues she had have since improved!

As it turns out, veggies also feel pain and even emit chemicals to warn other plants nearby when animals eat them, so the idea that eating plants hurts less living beings then eating animals is a bit silly…. Life needs death to survive. Human beings are walking death machines. Every time we breathe in we end the lives of billions of bacteria, every time we take a crap we destroy worlds for the microbes in our guts, every time we walk on the grass some small creature beneath our feet is probably crushed to death. But eventually we are also food for worms too. That’s the pay-off.

    anonymous May 22, 2015 2:02pm

    Thanks for sharing your wife's experience. Love it!

    anonymous May 25, 2015 7:52am

    Plants are not sentiment beings. If they were able to feel pain like mammals, birds, fish and reptiles, evolution would have given them senses, nervous systems the ability to move when threatened.

    You can’t compare the suffering of plants to animals. Someone recently pointed out to me how delusional it would be to compare the suffering of a hunan to that of a cucumber.

    Also, it appears you have failed to understand the definition of veganism. Donald Watson coined the term in the 1940s and he said that veganism is a lifestyle where one tries to avoid contributing to the suffering of animals as far as what’s practical and possible. It’s not practical or possible for our immune systems to not destroy bacteria or crush insects in the grass as we walk. That doesn’t give us the right to murder an animal and eat it’s flesh for no reason other than we enjoy the taste.

anonymous May 20, 2015 9:38am

For me, the ” eating meat is a personal choice” perspective doesn’t hold water, because a personal preference or choice doesn’t involve a victim. That’s like saying, it’s my personal choice to discipline my children using extreme physical force. There was a time when the law upheld and supported such practices, but now, we as a society see this as inappropriate and/or illegal and we intervene.

The only difference with animal abuse is that it’s socially accepted. It’s so embedded in our society we don’t question it. On top of that, From my reading of this article, it seems that the author didn’t even notice a problem with how she was feeling until she got made fun of by a shaman in Peru and felt embarrassed or ashamed and thus began her ” journey”. That’s why I the ” I just felt better” argument , feels tacked on. This argument is the easiest to hide behind because no one else can judge how another truly feels. But, I would put forth that the human body doesn’t require animal flesh or secretions. The human body requires fat, protein, vitamins, minerals etc. All found in plants. Putting forth pseudoscience which supports your desires to consume animals doesn’t change that.

anonymous May 20, 2015 8:02am

Thank you for having the courage to share your story, Katie. I am so happy that both your body and your spirit are healthy again. As you said, "your decision to switch back to eating animal products was a personal one," and I have respect and admiration for your commitment to listen to your own body and to respond lovingly to what it needs.

anonymous May 20, 2015 6:46am

Thank you for a fresh and honest article. We all have to make our own choices based on our own needs and, yes, preferences. I think there is sometimes a lot of judgement in the yoga world on food choices fuelling an unhelpful perception of not being good enough or pure enough. I know people (dedicated yoga teachers and practitioners) who thrive on a vegan/vegetarian diet and those who don’t. Ahimsa goes beyond food choices but extends to everything we do and everything we consume which may have negative impact and involve others’ suffering.

anonymous May 19, 2015 8:44pm

I really did need animal products in my diet and it´s taken a LONG time to rebuild my body.

Check out the GAPS diet….It has saved many lives!
http://www.amazon.com/Gut-Psychology-Syndrome-Dep

anonymous May 19, 2015 5:42pm

This author wants the pleasure and convenience of eating meat, and to still be able to to sleep at night with a clear conscience, so she couches her desires in terms of a "spiritual revelation". Oh, and just in case we didn't buy the spiritual argument, she tacks on the " I just didn't feel well/ I NEEDED animal products" argument at the end to cement her claim. Rock solid legitimizing.
Evoking images of traditional people, flowing rivers, and communing with nature all serve to romanticize something that is not romantic, or necessary, at all: Taking the life of another who wants to live is violent and cruel. If you participate in that, you are participating and supporting violence and cruelty, plain and simple. "spiritual revelations" or what she's grasping at does not change that. Sorry.

She utilizes the" myth of the healthy savage" –the idea that what traditional people do is inherently better and/or healthier than what modern societies/ more affluent ones do. So what if there aren't any " traditional" societies that aren't completely vegan? This tell us nothing, yet she's basing much of her "argument" on it. Many of these societies also shun indoor plumbing. But I bet the author is not lining up to poop in a ditch.

Sorry that you lost your way Katie. I hope you can choose non-violence and compassion once again.

    anonymous May 22, 2015 2:00pm

    Emily, there is no way you can know if another person needs to eat meat to be healthy and it is completely ungenerous to belittle a person who finds that their health required the reintroduction of animal foods into their diet. I became so sick on a vegan diet that I almost died. Unfortunately, people who can eat a vegan diet and thrive simple have no way to understand or comprehend this reality for others who are not so fortunate. It is okay to speak for yourself and say that you feel good on a vegan diet (I am happy for you), but you cannot ever know if that is true for others.

    anonymous May 22, 2015 6:48pm

    This comment, like several above it, is making a lot of assumptions about other people's bodies. I know for a fact that my health depends a great deal on animal products. I've also accepted that perfect non-violence is impossible.

    Emily, not even you are perfectly non-violent. Your words are really incredibly antagonistic and judgmental. You don't see the violence in that? And when I pick a flower, I can feel the plant I cut it from weep a little. There have been times I cut a large patch at once and the plant wailed. Just because you don't have a sensitivity to that suffering, that doesn't mean you aren't causing it.

    The reality is, life consumes life. You can't get out of it. We consume and are consumed, and try to just do it without malice, carelessness, or disrespect. Let us simply be conscious and honest within our own lives, and then leave others to find and live their own truth in the same way.

      anonymous May 28, 2015 7:25am

      Well stated!!!

      anonymous May 30, 2015 3:28pm

      Respect for each other and the choices we make. I agree with your words Indigo and it is how I live my life.
      Conscious, honest and aware that we are all individuals with our own ways and understandings.

    anonymous May 26, 2015 6:30pm

    Well said Emily!
    Does anyone really think an animal wants to give up their life and be slaughtered for a human? And "thanking" the animal and Mother Earth, the Gods, Goddesses, etc. is just a way to assuage one's guilt.

anonymous May 19, 2015 11:40am

A few things…

1) One of my greatest mentors just wrote an email to me “Life is a very interesting paradox is it not? For life to sustain itself, it in fact, must consume itself…..Indeed life does not judge what should and should not be eaten, it all gets eaten by life, and what better way to serve spirit actually than to serve up all.”

2) I think if the topic is sustainability than it´s beyond just meat or no meat…it really is the system….from The Omnivore´s Dilemma…”A one pound box of pre-washed lettuce (the kind you buy at Whole Foods that most likely comes from California) contains 80 calories of food energy. According to Cornell ecologist David Pimentel, growing, chilling, washing, packaging, and transporting that box of organic salad to a plate on the East Coast takes more than 4600 calories of fossil fuel energy, or 57 calories of fossil fuel energy for every calorie of food. That´s not sustainable…at all.

    anonymous May 20, 2015 7:06am

    I fully agree Katie. Thank you for this article and for inspiring this much-needed debate.

anonymous May 19, 2015 11:34am

Thank you for writing this article. It is my opinion that the vegan movement in the western world is a direct consequence of, and reaction to, factory farming. In other words, BOTH industries are extreme and NEITHER symbolizes any type of balance, and as you have illustrated in your eloquent article, neither industry is found in cultures which celebrate balance and gratitude as a way of life. I am glad you have found your balance, and I hope this article gives others the courage to continue to seek their own balance.

anonymous May 19, 2015 7:01am

You should have asked the shaman why he was laughing. I mean you really should have. To pass up a chance at learning from someone who is living their unbroken tradition? What a missed chance! I would have loved to hear the answer. As a contemporary American plant shaman I know (not believe, but know from experience) that everything has a spirit and wisdom; it's own kind of wisdom, too.

So for me, eating animals with a relatively short lifespan, eating annual plants (vegetables), eating or otherwise utilizing the aerial parts of a perennial plant…it's the same. They all deserve deep gratitude, respect and honoring. This is not the same as feeling bad or feeling pity or acting from an unconscious feeling of not being deserving enough to take a creature's life. Killing things for sport, disrespecting any life (including other humans – and that means gossiping/talking bad/being negative about them, too.), being wasteful, being unmindful and not being in a state of deep gratitude – and real, heartfelt gratitude without any feeling of being better/more spiritual/healthier than anyone else – is not cool. And, Katie Williamson, it sounds like you are going to that place of understanding and gratitude. Good.

    anonymous May 27, 2015 4:11am

    so nice to read of someone else who knows what I know, I would love to know more about what a plant shamon is, Plants have been telepathically communicating with me for a long time now, but Ive only recently started talking about it, as Ive never known or herd of anyone else who hears them but after a tree with a sad energy told me "even the bats don't eat my fruits any more" and a few days later I found out that tree was an endangered species, I realised I had to start talking but it still feels weird trying to explain it. especially to vegans, they usually get defensive. like I'm some how attacking them and there beliefs by telling them all our energies are equal,

anonymous May 19, 2015 6:31am

I am a vegan by choice and am not here to judge anyone or their choices. But like the previous posts I find this article an unconvincing justification of resuming to eat meat. As a serious practitioner of yoga I cannot appreciate the importance of ahimsa ( non-violence) At the gross level it simply means not causing harm to another sentient being. I have always been vegetarian so I will admit I don’t know how difficult it is to give up meat. But, let’s not kid ourselves consumption of meat amounts to killing directly or indirectly. The other argument I’ve heard repeatedly is the need for protein but again that doesn’t seem to be accurate either. The world’s foremost yoga teachers B.K. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois and several others were all vegan and testimony to their learning and spiritual evolution.

    anonymous May 22, 2015 1:52pm

    Eating a vegetarian diet does not remove you from causing harm to sentient beings, it just makes the harm you do cause less obvious. Millions of creatures are killed every year to make way for the growth of plant foods. Many sentient beings are literally mowed over to grow beans and grains. Agriculture is more violent than well-practiced animal husbandry.

      anonymous May 25, 2015 7:41am

      That’s not true that raising plants causes more harm than eating animals.

      We feed more crops to the animals we eat than what a vegan would eat. A non-vegan is killing more animals on top of that.

      Plus, you aren’t giving animals enough credit. Most animals possess ears, legs and eyes that they use to flee from danger. A study has shown that most mammals are able to flee from harvesters into nearby land, unharmed.

      Saying that vegans kill more animals than non-vegans Is wrong.

      http://www.animalvisuals.org/projects/data/1mc

    anonymous May 27, 2015 4:48pm

    Iyengar and Jois were vegetarian but not vegan. Dairy is a huge part of the Indian diet even among yogis and other vegetarians.

anonymous May 19, 2015 3:42am

Katie,

Well done on having the courage to write your story about change in your life. It’s a reality that food choices evoke deep emotions when expressed openly, and unfortunate that ideological clashes bring so many well meaning people into conflict with each other over the very subject. People who could be friends end up enemies despite having more in common than in difference. That said I think the comments 3, 4 and 5 above were very respectful in opposition and have important messages within them. Perhaps over-simplifying a little but the bane of vegans is the mass of omnivores who eat mindlessly and are asleep at the wheel thus perpetuating, nay funding, a cruel food system, yet most of the vegan v omnivore clashes appear to occur between people who have ‘woken up’. The real clash ‘should’ be between people who are ‘awake’ and those who have yet to wake up, and having said that I don’t think clashing is the way…rather leading is the way. I think we all know the real issue of the day is corporate control of the food supply, and awake vegans and omnivores alike fight this battle together. Though the perception seems to be that vegans must wake omnivores from their sleep, it is also true to say that many vegans, who albeit may be awake, nonetheless wear blinkers and refuse to accept any argument that appear to weaken their stance. In my view it is the ‘refusal to accept’, that really weakens the (otherwise laudable) vegan stance…at least in the eyes of omnivores. It also seems that the vegan culture, by definition a culture of exclusion, creates a sense whereby vegans within the culture are afraid to speak up if they disagree lest they be seen as ‘not one of us’ ie excluded from the tribe despite being in it. This is the account of many former vegans. The younger the person the more this would be true, and thus the more they need to be protected (by wiser more understanding worldly vegan mentors). On the other hand, many omnivores, by virtue of being asleep, refuse to acknowledge ANY part in a colossal wrong that is being perpetrated (on animals) and belittle vegans who have the courage to raise their voices. People reading these blogs can change all this. First by not throwing mud at each other (not suggesting the previous commenters did, in fact I think they had very good comments overall!). Second by acknowledging that the facts are more complicated than simple one line slogans…for example comments like “Animal agriculture, even on a smaller scale consumes more resources and is more taxing on the earth” This may well turn out to be true…but as it stands it is not a statement that can be claimed as true…as in there are many papers suggesting small scale ag is necessary for the biosphere, so one cant claim it to be true unless they cherry pick work done. We all agree large scale is the real problem, but if you morally ban even small scale then you give omnivores nowhere to go except become vegan…which is not going to happen, it’s not realistic. This can all be changed even without changing peoples food choices. Perhaps peoples food choices can’t be changed until the conflict is resolved first, until the air is cleared and respect reigns…then maybe food choices can be changed.

anonymous May 18, 2015 8:39pm

Your article is well structured, but I find it very difficult to find much merit in your argument. There is an undeniable truth- meat consumption is responsible for a tremendous amount of environmental, social and economic destruction. Opting for a vegan diet is a way of protesting and boycotting that system, that is one of the main contributors to climate change. In the end, it sounds like your article is simply a justification for wanting to eat meat. So many people are terrified of giving up comfort and desire. However, if we are serious about reducing our karmic and carbon footprints, many sacrifices have to be made.

    anonymous May 24, 2015 2:29pm

    You forgot to say ''Bankster.'' When Al Gore reduces his carbon footprint I'll THINK about reducing mine. I won't DO it, but I'll think about it.

anonymous May 18, 2015 5:18pm

I'm not a vegetarian for spiritual reasons, only moral reasons. The fact that less destructive cultures have been eating meat for years does little to justify eating meat. Like many vegetarians I know, I couldn't look into the eyes of an animal, take its life away, and then feel comfortable eating it, or if I did (which I have), I certainly wouldn't feel "spiritual" about it. I think it's better to admit something is wrong even if you do it, rather than try to justify it.

    anonymous May 24, 2015 5:41am

    I don't think it was to justify eating meat. What might be wrong for you might not be wrong for another person. I used to be a vegetarian but noticed a decrease in my overall health and found a connection between blood type and diet. According to bloodtype diet o negative we need a lot of meat and exercise, for instance. Some beings kill other beings while others don't. What about lions and other cats? All beings should be treated with respect. Factory farming is revolting!!!

      anonymous May 26, 2015 11:52pm

      This is a point I bring up with the "vegangelists" I still have not gotten a clear response to why they aren't out there pointing their fingers at the lioness for hunting the gazelle to feed herself and her cubs, or that "poor chicken" for eating the bugs and worms. My vegan friends aren't like that, for them it is a personal decision.

        anonymous May 28, 2015 3:23am

        This is a quite easy answer to give to you.
        Basically, morality principles should apply to people (and animals) able to understand them.
        If, as human, we try to apply them to other species, that means that we are not respecting their own way of thinking, thus being specisist.
        If, as a human, you can grasp the morality issue of killing, don't try to push that view on other species.
        E.G : for a cow, you may have strange behavior like "why are this human being is planting tomatoes insteand of eating this beautiful grass" (this is just to make the point, don't see antropomorphism here), but you have your reasons, they have theirs.
        If you can find a reason, which is moraly justified (not spiritualy or religiously) to kill and eat animals and their products, just do it. I can't. Lions can. Can you ?

          anonymous Feb 11, 2016 6:01am

          Beautiful answer. Thank you!

      anonymous May 28, 2015 5:36am

      The blood type diet was proved to be a scam. Please… Google blood type diet fraud.

    anonymous Jun 3, 2015 9:01am

    Have you ever truly connected with the soul of a plant and then chopped it's life stem off and eaten it? Obviously, you think only animals have feelings.

      anonymous Jun 5, 2015 5:35pm

      Have you ever picked up a carrot and slit the throat of a cow or sheep? Can you honestly say you don't see the difference?

anonymous May 18, 2015 5:04pm

I'm tired of former vegans trying to justify why they're no longer vegan. If you want to eat meat, eat meat. But please don't try to swing it as if it's some profound spiritual realization. Animal agriculture, even on a smaller scale consumes more resources and is more taxing on the earth. It is by and large the biggest contributor to green house gas emissions, and substantially more so than all forms of transportation combined. Hunting/catching wild animals is of course different, and at least more environmentally sustainable, but in my opinion no less violent. Obviously while traveling to other, very different cultures it's incredibly difficult to be vegan, or even vegetarian, and in those cases it's important to be flexible and adapt to your surroundings. But if vegan options are accessible to you, eating meat is a choice made based on preferences and not necessity. As someone living significant below the poverty line who maintains a healthy vegan diet, I find it highly affordable, especially in comparison to eating "ethically sourced" meat. I'm not trying to judge anyone because of their personal choices. Do what feels right to you. But I found this article to be nothing more than a justification for letting go of a set of values you once had.

    anonymous May 20, 2015 3:20pm

    Or maybe it's just a perspective on why one can make a conscious choice and still subscribe to a set of beliefs.

    anonymous May 25, 2015 5:50am

    Grazing animals eat grass. They convert inedible grass into meat for our use. They do not drain resources at a greater rate than grain farming. Do you actually know anything about farming? Stop being a parrot.

      anonymous Jun 1, 2015 1:31pm

      The grasslands of which you speak would likely be covered in anything but, "… inedible" grass and therefore sustain a natural habitat for all of the wonderful and diverse flora and fauna which has evolved there. Of course clearing the flora is an option!

        anonymous Jun 4, 2015 3:22am

        did you ever realize that grass land is a wonderfull biotop, a highly complex polyculture? especially if you intigrate some trees and bushes. did you know that well managed pastures can be one of the most powerfull ways do regenerate soil? maybe research a little bit about permaculture, p.a. yeoman is a name you could research.

    anonymous May 26, 2015 11:33pm

    Agree !

    anonymous May 28, 2015 7:48pm

    It is completely ok to let go of a set values you once had.

    anonymous Jun 4, 2015 3:43pm

    So basically you are upset that she is using the same language which veg heads and vegans use to justify their strict dietary restrictions but applied to eating natural full omnivore traditional foods. This is what denial looks like.

    anonymous Feb 29, 2016 4:18am

    I'm so tired of formerly compassionate people trying to justify brow-beating fellow human beings with their ideology by relying on skewed figures, comparing the worst practices of raising animals with the best practices of vegan consumption, and overlooking the actual differing biological needs of various human beings, some of whom become incredibly ill when relying on grains and pulses.

    If you cannot stomach violence, please ask your immune system to stop all the killing. So. Much. Killing.

anonymous May 18, 2015 3:35pm

Awesome article written by a truly mindful yogi. Thank you for putting this out there.

anonymous May 18, 2015 3:27pm

Awesome Article…interesting perspective…well written.

    anonymous May 24, 2015 2:27pm

    M'lady still has a bit of the old vegan preachiness.

    Think of it this way, if you don't eat the fish, another fish will eat it. Cows are prey animals. The only food it is even close to immoral to eat are predators, because then you're interfering with nature's mechanism. The maxim that ''vegetables are what food eats'' has a lot of wisdom.

    Also, eggs/chicken menses don't involve killing any more than your menstrual cycle does. Same with milk. Mistreatment is a valid issue, but watch that tendency to relapse into vegan preachiness.

      anonymous May 27, 2015 7:26pm

      I do not believe that eating meat is wrong, I am however a Vegan.

      Your narrow view of eating meat fails to address the unnatural mechanisms that humans have introduced primarily for profit. Without touching on the suffering experienced by each animal, consider the processes involved in mass producing 'meat'. The massive amounts of resources (water + grains), the effect on the environment (deforestation for agriculture, trawling, energy involved along the 'line') and then further the significant rise in lifestyle related diseases (CVD, diabetes). Misinformed and uneducated views propagate these destructive processes.

      Cows milk and dairy is perhaps the most sinister industry in that female cows are generally artificially inseminated and forced to bare progeny only to, at birth, have their baby taken, starved and killed for veal and the cycle continue. Consider a waste product of your latte: veal.

      As a planet we are facing climate change and a massive increase in population. We need governments putting forward the rights of the planet and individuals over massive business and empower individual to make informed decisions about what their money supports.

Ipshita Gon Oct 5, 2018 12:00am

same goes with plants.....I think that is worse coz plants cant even create a sound when it is cut to be consumed.

Kendra Roser Jan 29, 2018 11:59pm

Oh brother.

Arian Ward Jan 4, 2018 2:24am

Thanks so much for the uplifting story, Katie! I want to share the story of my own, similar journey. I have a lifelong health problem of slow internal bleeding that causes me to become anemic periodically unless I am extremely vigilant about my diet and lifestyle. I have been hospitalized 4 times for extreme blood loss. The last time was a near death experience 5 years ago that landed me in intensive care where they didn't expect me to last the night. I had lost 2/3 of my total blood supply. After an earlier, similar brush with death and after 17 years as a strict vegetarian eating a very healthy diet, my doctors told me if I didn't start eating meat again I would die - period! So I did, reluctantly. I have a number of paranormal abilities, including animal communication (telepathic communication with animals as individuals and sometimes with their species consciousness). About 12 years ago, I was standing at the sink doing dishes - the type of activity that frees our mind to wander, daydream, ... Out of the blue, I got a very powerful, clear communication from the American Bison species consciousness. They said they want me to start eating bison. I had never even imagined the possibility of eating bison or any other meat that I considered to be "wild" even if raised in captivity. But here it was anyway. Their reasoning was right along the lines of what you learned in Peru, Katie. They said the problem with our modern diet in general, not just meat, is that we have lost our personal, spiritual relationship with the source of our food. The whole universe is based around the intertwined cycles of life of all beings, with the life energy of one being feeding another and that being feeding another being and so on - what we call the food chain. There is no one food source or being who is superior to another, so forget that whole concept of a "food hierarchy." What's important is our relationship to the source of our life energy, not what the source is. Bison were very proud of the critical role they played in the lives of the American Plains Indians, and gave their lives gladly because the tribal peoples showed their gratitude and respect for the bison's critical role in their survival and almost all other aspects of their lives. They would like to reclaim that important role. So they want me to sustain my life by partaking of their life force. What they expect from me in return is that link to source that we lost in the modern food distribution system you described so well. They want me to thank and bless the source of my food before I consume it. It was so simple, yet so profound! Grace before a meal was supposed to provide that connection to the life we consume. But civilization destroyed that intimate link so grace became a formal religious rite where we were thanking a higher power/God/, typically dictated by religious dogma, but not the source of our food. As a result of that one communion with Bison spirit, I now say the following blessing before I eat anything, plant or animal: "I honor and bless the noble life you led. I wish for you a journey beyond this life filled with grace and beauty. May your next manifestation come to fulfill your highest purpose for being. I give my deepest and humblest thanks for giving your life so that I can sustain mine. May your life force give me the energy to help restore balance to this planet and your rightful place in it. Go in peace, great one." (or dear one, little one, some form of endearment that I actually feel in my heart at that moment towards that being)

Ken Morgan Nov 22, 2017 7:59am

The shaman's idea that animals are an offering from Mother Earth is just a belief. The animals aren't sacrificing themselves - the people who kill them are. A cannibal could use the same distorted ethics to justify his own diet and everyone would immediately see the fallacy of it.

Tammy C McLeod Aug 18, 2017 5:48am

OMFG. The delusion and self-deception is real. Ugh.

Curky Init Aug 11, 2017 2:25am

So I haven't eaten meat for a year, my body is currently the strongest it has ever been, what would my body gain by going out and murdering an animal that I'm doing just fine without?

Arjun Aggarwal Jul 24, 2017 8:38pm

true

Dam Ien Jul 7, 2017 6:05am

Aditi Shick . Thanks for your question. Because the teachings of Buddha are not Buddhism, he was not a Buddhist and did not have strict beliefs and dogma. He rebelled against that and found the truth which is beyond religion beyond rules and our obscured ideas of right and wrong. Unenlightened beings created the 'rules' Buddha had no rules, everyone has to find their own way of walking the path. I try not to have beliefs because beliefs prevent us from preceiving the purity of truth which can only be experienced with the consciousness, not learned with the intelect. Om Shanti

Aditi Shick Jul 3, 2017 6:35pm

If buddhism is unrecognizable from 2500 years ago then how are you able to use the teachings of Buddha as a justification for your beliefs as they are too based on those same beliefs

Aditi Shick Jul 3, 2017 6:30pm

Whether animals are here because of their karmic debt doesn't matter to us. It's THEIR karma to be here, and it's OUR karma how we treat them. If we treat them as food then it is our karma to return in our next life as food

Travis May Apr 1, 2017 3:14pm

Eating meat is an act of violence. If you don't see that, you're not paying attention. What you are experiencing is called cognitive dissonance.

My Food Chronicle Mar 31, 2017 8:14pm

I love it. This is exactly why I would not go vegan or vegetarian. The Peru Shaman explained what I strongly believe. I do yoga but not for spirituality. Some of these comments are SUPER VIOLENT and very: "we are right, you are sooo wrong". So much about Pratyahara, Yamas & Niyamas, to be specific: Ahimsa, Satya, Brahmacharya, Sauca, Santosa. This is one problem I saw in the yoga community and thus my reason why I do not practice it for spirituality but rather for mental and body health. Lots of talk but a few only practice what they preach. So much violence, abuse and hate from vegans especially online. It feels kind of like a fanatic like behaviour.

Bhishm Sharma Mar 28, 2017 9:43am

i am also caught up in exactly the similar dilemma.

Dam Ien Feb 11, 2017 10:08pm

I am Buddhist and many people wrongly beleive that means you have to be vegetarian, This was not exactly Buddha's teachings, that is a misinterpretaion of the teaching. Too many people chose vegetarianism for the wrong reasons, they want to feel superior to others. They judge, criticise and condemn others - this is not non-violence, this is actually very violent way of treating people and is the opposite of what Buddhism teaches! They are stuck in dualism, right and wrong, intellectual moral codes instead of the divine wisdom of the cosmos, stuck in the grasping mind. I think many people are too lazy to meditate or to commit to regular spiritual practice, but they still want to feel good about themselves, so choosing to be vegetarian is how they go about it. It is their only real sacrifice to somehow make the world a better place, but it is a bit misguided. If you are not an awakened master then you have no right to tell people what to eat, only a Master has the right to say 'do this or do that' because they can see the spiritual worlds, they can see the Karma even before it is created and they are connected to nature so they know the correct thing to do in each moment. If someone thinks another is doing the wrong thing, have compassion for them, otherwise they are a hypocrite only capable of loving animals because animals don't disagree with them. That is why they can't really love. Because they have conditions, that 'I will only love those who agree with me' attitude. People these days take one particular teaching like non-violence to animals and take it to the extreme, but ignore most of the other teachings. If you are to obey one teaching, why not obey them all? Buddha's teachings regarding the lives of creatures have been taken to the extreme by people all over the world to the point where they are afraid of accidently killing a bug, that is a misinterpretation, that is not what the teaching is about, it is about respect and balance. You must understand that there are people who sacrifice allot for humanity, they pray and meditate daily, they give up many things that others do not. But they consciously chose to eat meat (not too much) for certain reasons which you do not understand. You should not judge these people, because you are not a Master, you are not qualified. Fanatical vegetarianism or any fanatical 'Diet' was never a part of Buddha's teachings, this was added in after his teachings were made into an organised Religion against Buddha's wishes. He said 'within 500 years my teachings will be unrecognisable' Now it is more than 2500 years. So who are you to say that you KNOW what the original Yogic, Hindu etc.. teachings are about? Buddha himself was not a strict vegetarian, he began his quest by imitating the Yogis but later had the realisation that it was NOT the path to full enlightenment and vowed from then onward he would eat whatever his body needed, including meat. The Dalai Lama eats meat, he publicly announced this. He knows the universal laws and knows his body requires some red meat for the advanced esoteric practices and to have enough vitality to do the work which he does for humanity. The Earth is a living organism, everything you do to the Earth including it's lifeforms has consequences. We can't avoid this, there is no point feeling bad about it, instead we need to learn how to work with these natural laws in a balanced way. We need to develop our consciousness and connection with nature & our own bodies so we can know the correct thing to eat in each circumstance of life. Instead of using inferior intellectual morals.

Hormone Health Awareness Jan 26, 2017 7:59am

Dissappointing...how can anyone label eating animals as sacred & karmically progressive! Animals offering themselves to divine human beings! Seriously?! Eat whatever you want but atleast don't justify it in name of sacredness & spirituality

Kiki Käfer Jan 12, 2017 3:54pm

yay, happy days! you can eat meat again without feeling bad / responsible about having animals killed and tortured on your behalf - and can feel divine on top.. congrats...

Mercedes Howard Jan 6, 2017 4:56am

Thank you for sharing your experience, but what makes you believe that animals are sacrificing their lives for humans? It seems natural that all beings want to live. We can live healthy lives without eating animals, just check out pcrm.org for more info on that. I know it can be tricky for some people to get on a vegan diet and stick with it-we've been taught since young to eat animals. I think that it is okay for us to struggle with this, but it does not seem to me that we can actually justify killing and enslaving animals. It is okay for us to say, "I'm trying, I am not there yet, but I will get there." I encourage everyone to give a vegan diet a chance!

Kiki Käfer Dec 19, 2016 5:16pm

Oh dear! here we go again. The animal offered him- / herself to me because I am divine and human and stuff... The problem is, that all those "superior", "divine" and oh so "precious" humans in this world are quite a lot on this earth. So, to believe that everyone can be fed with meat, milk and eggs without that evil system of mass production is hopelessly naive! In order to get rid of this very system we need to stop supporting it! Only then it becomes redundant. It isnt there because of some evil few deciding so, it is there because of you deciding to pay them. By buying and consuming animal products you are paying others (often more disadvantaged humans btw) to torture and kill animals. It is all connected, its not a personal decision that has nothing to do with this horrible system. And for the more "alternative" sources for animal products... "locally sourced" for example, or "humanely slaughtered" those are examples for euphemisms that still have the same outcome. Ending the life of an (by the way as much as divine and holy as any human being) animal way sooner than it normally would live on a regular basis. And I really dont trust all those small, organic and hipster city farms, raising rare breed grass fed fancy pigs and cows. Also those more alternative source go by economic rules in the end which in turn surely in most cases leads to commercialisation if the demand grows which we can be sure, will. I dont think we westerners can compare ourselves to native people living under very different circumstances and no other sources than their immediate environment. And those probably only a tiny fraction of the worlds population. The lust of humans eating animals and all they have is actually posing huge problems to the world and everyones survival. Your prayer and gratefulness wont do nothing to alleviate it. It is a very selfish and delusional act to insist to be free to chose to eat animals in most peoples position. I have done this myself long enough in my life to know what I am talking about. I ate meat, milk and eggs etc for most of my life and I can remember how I was looking for reasons why I could continue to do so as I found it very hard to say goodbye and explore other ways to eat and live. I am vegan since about 4-5 years and I have no plans to go back. For me it is a decision because I dont want to be part of this huge injustice to our fellow divine living beings. We are all animals and we are all precious. Lets get straight and honest with ourselves and extend our spirituality and compassion to everyone! Peace and <3

Pam Jones Jun 22, 2016 1:12am

I appreciate this article but feel sad for the violent attitudes in some of the comments by those who find a need to tell others what they should and shouldn't do.

Caroline Mary May 26, 2016 3:46pm

yes how do we really know that they are not scareificng themselves to us? i've struggled with this for a large part of my life and still do.. and so occasionaly i eat meat! If i choose it, as a divine being I cannot be wrong, I just AM. We all just ARE in the end, the divine playing itself out as me, as you... thank you I needed to read this today ..blessings