I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life. I really, really love animals and don’t take eating them lightly. The idea of eating meat has crisscrossed my mind for about a year — I’ve had trouble with fatigue ever since cancer — but held off for so long because the thought of eating meat made me want to cry.
But then I had an epiphany.
The animal kingdom is ruthless. A bear wouldn’t think twice about killing a person. My dog entertains himself by hunting lizards. Humans are animals. Why are we any different?
Before we get going, a few disclaimers:
- Eating meat is not the right decision for everyone. Some people thrive on vegetarian diets. (I wish I was one of them.)
- Factory farming is a big problem, from environmental and ethical perspectives.
- Not every meal needs to contain meat.
- I encourage dialogue but please keep it respectful.
I’m not saying everyone should start eating meat, only expressing the idea that some people need it, and maybe people who need it should stop feeling so guilty for eating a food that people have been eating since the beginning of time.
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Ayurveda, the yogic science of medicine, says meat is okay in moderation
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of medicine. One of the system’s core principles is that each person has a predominant dosha, which is a type of energy. (Find your dosha and recommended diet here.)
In Ayurveda, meat is considered medicine because all food is medicine. The system doesn’t say one should or should not eat meat. It’s optional. This seems like a rational approach that’s lacking in our extremist society. Many vegetarians/vegans think less of meat eaters and vice versa.
Something that’s really lacking in the food dialogue is that different people need different types of food. Some people really thrive on raw food, for instance, but my body never craves raw food outside the occasional salad.
After looking into Ayurveda, this makes perfect sense. I’m a vata/pitta and cooked foods are better for my optimal health.
We should have respect for people regardless of their diets. However, some people do eat meat mindlessly, and I believe that’s a problem. We should practice awareness in all things, eating meat included.
Can spiritual people eat meat?
In the West, we tend to have very strict ideas that yogis don’t eat meat. Ahimsa, which means non-violence, is a core principle, and that’s often taken literally to mean avoiding animal consumption.
Ironically, yoga teacher training was the first time I began to question this belief that I held without question.
My teacher told the story of a highly conscious friend she has who works as a chef. The chef had to kill a duck to cook, and being a non-meat eater, felt very conflicted about it.
Before killing the duck, the chef communed with the animal, expressing gratitude for its life and the food it would provide. And the duck gave him a message. “It’s ok. My purpose here is to provide nourishment.”
To hear my yoga teacher, who is highly realized, share this story blew my mind and made me begin to question my belief that humans should stop eating meat.
As humans, we don’t know the bigger picture and continually make value judgements based on our limited perceptions. The problem is that we never know how limited our world view is. Even “aware” people only know what they know, and often don’t know what they don’t know.
I encourage all of us to open our minds and hearts to contemplate a bigger truth. Maybe some people need to eat meat.
More spiritual confirmation
The next sign came recently. I booked an astrology reading with someone I follow and respect on Instagram. One of the first things this person said was, “You need meat.”
Eating meat is connecting to our wildness, she said. She intuitively felt that I’ve been overly sensitive and needed the power of an animal to bring me back to center.
Hearing someone so spiritual talk about meat in this way helped me finally listen to my intuition’s persistent message. And the first time I ate meat again, I felt that wild truth in my bones.
Eating meat as a spiritual act
Nurturing my wild — meaning earthy and intuitive — nature is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
It started when I read Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With The Wolves. She talks about connecting with our wild nature, and for some reason I felt really angry while reading about it. This was the first clue that I was disconnected from my own wildness.
When I was young, I was wild in the typical party girl way. But I was also connected to my intuition and on the path. Synchronicities appeared regularly, and I was feisty, always standing up for myself and staying true to my path no matter what. But cancer poured a big bucket of water on that fire.
But I needed something more. I needed something to connect me to my wildness. I needed meat.
Eating meat for the first time
The first time I ate meat after at least six years of abstaining, I could feel the energy of the animal merging with my own. I could feel my own animal instincts coming back, my power returning.
Eating meat is so incredibly powerful, and I feel like many people take it for granted.
Meat, when eaten consciously, is accepting with gratitude the offering of Mother Earth. I know not everyone will agree with this, and I hope the comments aren’t hateful, but right now in my life I need the help of the animal spirits to find my own true nature again.
I realize this could sound callous — why is my life more important than an animal’s? But people have been eating meat for centuries. Many indigenous cultures still do. This awesome article from Elephant Journal details the vegetarian writer’s adventures among Peru’s carnivorous, traditional people.
Eating meat is akin to ancient tribal ceremonies where people drink blood. For the record, I would never drink blood, but the idea is the same. We’re taking on the animus of an animal to more fully access our own power.
Why do I deserve that? I don’t know. But maybe that question of deserving is one reason I need it so much.
It sounds primitive, but that’s the point. We need to reignite our wildness because we’ve lost it in a sea of climate control, automobiles and electronic devices.
Right now, for me, eating meat is a spiritual experience as much as abstaining was. I may not eat meat forever, but right now this is what I need.
How to eat meat consciously
1. Buy organic and grass-fed meat.
Many times, local ranchers sell humanely raised animals at farmers markets. But even if purchasing in a store, buy organic and grass-fed. Yes, it’s more expensive, but that’s all the more reason to limit consumption.
It’s important to eat only happy animals, not tortured angry ones. Our bodies store our emotions, and animals’ bodies likely store their emotions. When we eat the meat, we’re also eating their happiness or fear.
2. Eat meat in limited quantities.
Nobody needs to eat meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, every day. I plan to eat meat only once or twice a week. Tune into your body to see what works for you.
3. Give thanks for the animal’s life.
Practicing gratitude for the offering of this animal’s life is an awesome way to stay connected to the powerful truth of eating meat. It helps us remember that we’re eating an animal and not a random food picked up at the grocery store.
What are your beliefs and experiences related to meat consumption? Share your story in the comments below.
Who do you know that’s been debating animal consumption? Share this article with them! They’ll appreciate you for it. 🙂
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