Article Index

 

MYTH #14:

Eating meat or animal products is less "spiritual" than eating only plant foods.

It is often claimed that those who eat meat or animal products are somehow less "spiritually evolved" than those who do not. Though this is not a nutritional or academic issue, those who do include animal products in their diet are often made to feel inferior in some way. This issue, therefore, is worth addressing.

Several world religions place no restrictions on animal consumption; and nor did their founders. The Jews eat lamb at their most holy festival, the Passover. Muslims also celebrate Ramadan with lamb before entering into their fast. Jesus Christ, like other Jews, partook of meat at the Last Supper (according to the canonical Gospels). It is true that some forms of Buddhism do place strictures on meat consumption, but dairy products are almost always allowed. Similar tenets are found in Hinduism. As part of the Samhain celebration, Celtic pagans would slaughter the weaker animals of the herds and cure their meat for the oncoming winter. It is not true, therefore, that eating animal foods is always connected with "spiritual inferiority."

Nevertheless, it is often claimed that, since eating meat involves the taking of a life, it is somehow tantamount to murder. Leaving aside the religious philosophies that often permeate this issue, what appears to be at hand is an understanding of the life force and how it works. Modern peoples (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) have lost touch with what it takes to survive in our world, something native peoples never lose sight of. We do not necessarily hunt or clean our meats: we purchase steaks and chops at the supermarket. We do not necessarily toil in rice paddies: we buy bags of brown rice; and so forth, and so on.

When Native Americans would kill a game animal for food, they would routinely offer a prayer of thanks to the animal's spirit for giving its life so that they could live. In our world, life feeds off life. Destruction is always balanced with generation. This is a good thing: unchecked, the life force becomes cancerous. If animal food consumption is viewed in this manner, it is hardly murder, but sacrifice. Modern peoples would do well to remember this.