I’ve been eating vegetarian for the past 3 weeks or so and I want to write a little about that choice, to better explore what I’m doing and why.
There is no question that it is related to the truth of my experience. It’s partly about health and partly about my compassion. The health thing is pretty straightforward. As I get older I find that I become creakier and less energetic than I was when I was younger. I can either give in to that or do something about it, and what I’ve chosen to do is to try to live a healthier life, through diet changes, more frequent exercising, and through attending more to my inner life. Since I don’t eat much meat anyway, it wasn’t that much of a stretch to eat no meat at all. but why “no meat at all?” I’m still not sure about that. As I’ve discovered in writing several earlier posts in this blog, the place I’ve been most easily been able to find the truth has been in my heart. And the truth in my heart is that I love animals and hate the thought of ingesting their suffering. It just feels kind of barbaric when I pay attention to it. We are so distanced from the reality of the meat that we eat. I could hardly think of a worse job than working in a slaughterhouse or a meat packing plant.
I also feel it is somewhat arrogant in a way to eat meat, especially in the biblical way that man has “dominion” over the the earth and it’s creatures. It’s just not the truth, really. We are living here alongside animals, and we are a little too cocksure about our place in the hierarchy.
But there is something else about me that has a lot of power too, and that is that I really don’t like being painted into a corner, and choosing to be vegetarian is like being painted into a corner, because by definition, you are limited in what you can eat. I had an interesting conflict the other day. I was golfing with my friend Jeff and at one point in the round I was hungry, and the options were to eat a pastry (vegetarian, but pretty bad for you healthwise) and a tuna sandwich (obviously non-vegetarian, but much healthier for you). I opted for the pastry, but I’m not sure that was the right decision.
I understand that the Buddha would eat meat if served to him, as long as an animal wasn’t sacrificed in his honor. My friend Eric told me he has a friend who eats meat only once per year on a holiday. Can you guess which one? (Answer later in the post). If I were to pray for the spirit of the fish I would catch and then catch, kill and clean the fish myself, thanking it for giving it’s life that I might eat, that feels much more truthful, since it’s actually being present to the suffering and honoring feelings in the heart.
So I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing at the moment, but I know that it’s for health reasons and also to respect and fine-tune my understanding of the truth of my heart.
And in the process, I’m learning a lot more about food and the body and the interaction between the two, which is definitely a good thing.
So that’s it for now. Please don’t call me a vegetarian yet. One, because I hate labels that are limiting, and two, because I’m not so sure exactly that that is what I am doing. For the moment, I am following my heart, but the truth of my stomach may speak at some point and ask for meat, or fish, and that too would be the truth, wouldn’t it. As would the truth of my heart that might not want to offend a sensitive person who may have put a lot of effort into making a non-vegetarian meal for me.
We’ll see. So far I feel great and it feels right.
Oh, and my friend’s friend who eats meat only once per year…..? It’s not on Thanksgiving as you may have guessed. It’s on the 4th of July when he eats a Hotdog. I love that… and you.