So one of the reasons I’m called the Nutrition Heretic is because I challenge the cults of different dietary practices that are sweeping the world. To understand a bit of this, check out this series I wrote earlier this year, which talks about the acceptable eating disorders and cults of today. Even though I refer to them as cults, I was not quite aware of how much many of these people actually see themselves as belonging to a religion.
Then today, I attended a Mango Festival where I was a little taken aback to notice a stand called “Vegan Spirituality”. The stand was swarming with potential converts as well as a very corpulent hostess (cupcakes?). The sign draping the back wall of the stand encouraged people to make veganism the center of their spiritual quest. I found this approach to be both sad and misleading. Later in the day, however, I decided to visit their website and what I found was far worse.
Words like ethical, spiritual, compassion and empathy for all living things are just a few of the assumptions this site makes about vegans and their ideal. Do the rest of us not possess these values because we eat animal products? The convoluted language on the site had an eerie similarity to the Republican party’s attempt (in the U.S.) to co-opt family values insinuating that one can’t have family values, if they don’t vote Republican.
For a long time, I avoided Lierre Keith’s book, The Vegetarian Myth, because knowing that we basically supported the same ideas, I thought I should spend my time building my knowledge in other areas of nutrition. However, last year, I found the book recording and listened to it on my long car drives across New Jersey every day. In it she not only explores the cult of vegan, but notes all the inconsistencies of the diet’s doctrine that adherents are unable to accept until they hit rock bottom and are willing to accept a better way to achieve vibrant health and unity with the world around them.
One compelling argument she makes is the fact that many traditional cultures view plants and particularly trees as our ancestors. Many Native American tribes are said to have consulted the trees to make important decisions or learn more about their past. Is this stupidity on their part or demonstrating a true connection to the earth?
She also looks at the inordinate use of fossil fuels in growing vegetable matter. This was an issue that plagued her as a vegan trying to remove any association with what was on her dinner plate and any animal, living or dead that may have been involved in putting food on the table. Who was she kidding buying that “organic lettuce” at the supermarket?
Next, she looks at the pest control issue. Trying to grow her own garden, she battled slugs, bunnies and other vermin trying to bring them no harm along the way. Can you imagine waking up at 2 AM to manually pick slugs off of your lettuce only to find your garden infested with them by the time you wake up in the morning?
Then there is the issue of composting, which kills the many, many seeds plants produce so that they can procreate. Plants want to survive just as much as humans and other animals do — perhaps more so — and will spread their seed over a wide space just to ensure survival of the species. Are we to assume that they are unthinking, unfeeling beings just because they don’t have mouths, eyes and ears that we can perceive?
Want to start a war? Then mass produce monocrops! Holding the keys to a grain supply is a surefire way to pitch man against man. Empires have fallen because of such things.
I could go on with the many well thought out arguments she raises, but the bottom line is that the ideal to adhere strictly to this or any other new-fangled diet that claims an ethical slant is usually full of holes. Let’s face it, most of these diets are huge and dangerous experiments that have contributed to allergies, intolerances, autism, Parkinson’s, and a host of autoimmune diseases. They also rape the earth with their need to mass produce monocrops that are raised in complete opposition to the way the earth wants to push up shoots — with lots of variety. The only thing that might be worse than clearing massive amounts of forest to grow monocrops which has destroyed nearly all of the earth’s topsoil is an almost universally despised practice called fracking!
As you know, I’m no purist and I’m not seeking to point fingers at one person being better than another. What I want to do in this post is to absolve you of the “shame” of eating meat. Many people are seduced by the cult of vegan because there are so few voices letting them know that there is another way to eat that truly respects both plants and animals. Coincidentally, such a diet actually benefits your body and the planet.
Let’s face it. In order for any plant or animal to survive, something else has to die. No diet is truly free of all cruelty. The only thing we can do is minimize it. How? By
- throwing away as little food waste as possible
- eating locally from animals and plants grown with care, not in factories
- eating foods that support the health of you and your family — don’t your kids deserve to be free of the diseases borne out of fad diets?
In case you were wondering about how the animal “feels”, let me leave you with this thought. Animals know the deal. They understand the circle of life. They do not have egos (although some who live as pets begin to absorb the neuroses of their owners). This is a concept that I originally learned from an Amish farmer, but later heard backed up by spiritual coaches like Esther Hicks and Eckart Tolle who has alluded to this in his works.
Your diet doesn’t make you spiritual. Only you can do that through introspection and honesty with yourself.
If you’ve found this post useful, please leave me a note below and let me know!