Monday, 8 August 2011

To Meat or Not to Meat?

Back in October of last year, based on the training I did with Deanne Jade, I decided to start eating meat again after over a decade of vegetarianism/ veganism/ fishtarianism.  And as of January this year, the higher protein diet did allow me to kick the processed sugar habit - I've not had any chocolate, cake or biscuits since!  After a brief initial phase of disgust, I've even come to enjoy eating meat.  However, lately I've been questioning this choice.

While at the TABI Conference, I talked with Emma Sunerton-Burl who is not only a counsellor and tarot reader, but also a Welsh Fells runner and spiritual mountain walking guide (if you're ever in Wales, I'd highly recommend trying this!)  She is an athlete, and yet also a vegetarian (though she does eat sweets, which I'm glad I no longer do).  Emma suggested I read a book called Thrive, written by a Triathlon Athlete who is completely vegan.  Although I have as yet only skimmed the book, it is making me think.

So, it being Meat-Free Monday, I decided to see what the tarot had to say on the matter.

Now is the time for... Justice

Time to weigh things up, what are the pros and cons.  Also time to gather more information, to think about what all of this means to me on a social and spiritual level.  I'll also admit, there's something a bit gross about the heart on the scales, that makes me think about meat being hacked up dead animals...

So, pros of eating meat - it's a great source of whole protein, it can be low in fat, and it's definitely low carb.  Eating it has reduced my cravings for sweets, and allows me to eat anywhere and not feel socially excluded. 

Cons of meat - animals are farmed in horrible conditions, it is a poor use of resources and sometimes damaging to the environment, some meats are very fatty, and some people say that meat blocks your spiritual receptivity (not sure what I think of this).

Now is not the time for... 6 of Pentacles

The image here is of someone riding a lit cigarette as though it were a bucking bronco - so, not the time to let my addictions or desires run away with me.  I have been really enjoying meat, especially pork, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for me.  On the other hand, eating meat has helped with sugar cravings, which ruled my life for a long time.  So, I have to figure out what is actually healthy and right for me.  

Also, the image of the cigarette makes me think how glad I am that pubs are now non-smoking - I used to hate going out in the evening and coming home stinking of cigarettes.  This reminds me that I had heard that vegetarians can smell meat eaters.  While I never found this to be true, I think that's because I don't have a very sensitive sense of smell, and also perhaps because I didn't know what it was I was smelling.  The fact is that, since eating more meat, I have noticed my own increased body odour - bleurgh (sorry if that's TMI).  OK, that can go on the list of cons, too!

Guidance... 7 of Cups

Here the image is of a tsunami wave inside a crystal ball.  I take this as being about looking at the emotions that might be driving me, and getting some perspective and distance on emotion rather than letting it overwhelm me.  In part, these emotional questions include the power of suggestion, both in terms of society normalising meat-eating, and in the sense that I feel quite ashamed in the presence of vegetarians now that I have "fallen off the wagon".  However, these are emotions that vary depending on where I am and who I'm with, they are not what I should base this kind of decision on.

As I was shuffling the deck a card fell out, and I decided to include it here, too.

Jumper - XX - Judgement

It’s time to think about the consequences of eating meat, both on me as an individual, and on the animals our society farms.  I want to take my health to a new level, to assess from a spiritual perspective what is best for me.  This is a question both of physical and spiritual health and well-being.  

This question of spirituality is a thorny one.  Many people become vegetarians on moral grounds.  However, if we look to nature, there are animals of all persuasions - vegetarians, omnivores and carnivores.  In the natural cycle of life, it is good that everything and everyone gets reused, recycled.  Are worms morally bad because they eat people?  Or lions because they eat gazelles?  Some would say it is because we are able to think about these questions and make "good" or "spiritual" choices that we are better than animals.  However, that seems more like a judgemental argument than a moral one.

I am also put in mind of the various experiments and studies that have shown that plants react to another plant being killed or damaged in the same room as them, that they react to music and to kind words.  There are even studies suggesting that water is influenced by colours, words, and the emotional atmosphere around it.  In fact, weight for weight the largest bio mass on the planet is made up of rock bacteria (a fact which one friend of mine felt might explain questions of reincarnation and how there can be more people now than ever in the past - at other times we could have been rock bacteria, so there would be more than enough souls to go round).

Why then should we privilege animals, but still eat plants and drink water?  We are all part of the natural world and of the cycles of life.

Personally, I will be eating a lot less meat from now on.  However, I don't feel like I want to be absolutist about it, and I certainly wouldn't judge anyone for making a different choice.  I'd be interested to hear what other people think about the vegan/ vegetarian/ fishtarian/ omnivore/ carnivore debate...

Images from the Law of Attraction Tarot, published by Lo Scarabeo, authored and illustrated by Marina Roveda & Simone Gabriell.


  1. Very interesting read, thank you :-)

  2. I think it's perfectly possible to live well on a vegan diet, although I concede that it is not the natural human diet. There is no known vegan culture that has ever existed on earth. However, most cultures based in the zone of the earth where human life is supported optimally (nearer the equator)thrive on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains, with a small amount of animal protein. I believe that is the natural human diet. And by small amount, I mean really SMALL. Like, a small portion of meat once a week... It's a credit to our species that we are able to survive anywhere, and adapt our diets to the craziest places.

    Anyway, I have a reading list for you. These are excellent books and will help you make up your mind:

    Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

    Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen

    Heretic's Feast: A History of Vegetarianism by Colin Spencer

    Food Revolution by John Robbins

    I have Thrive by Brendan Brazier, and its companion cookbook Thrive Diet. I can't recommend them as the theories are for high performance athletes and espouse hard to find ingredients.protein shake concoctions made from protein isolates and so on. I consider highly processed products like this as unsuitable as large amounts of flesh or the lactation of another species...

    I admire you for giving up sweets. I was there a few years ago but alas have got back in the habit. Must get that sugar free mojo back!

  3. I forgot the most important book of them all! The China Study by T Colin Campbell.

  4. Thanks for the references, Carla. I also agree that I don't want my life to be run on processed foods, even if they are vegan. I eat quite a lot of fruit and raw foods, and lots of veg, too. My biggest dilemma is getting sufficient whole protein... anyhow, I shall take a look when I have some time.

  5. I've also struggled with this for many years, and was a 95%+ Raw Vegan for almost a year, and an on-again/off-again vegetarian/vegan for 6 years or so. Going back to eating meat has definitely been good for me, though I still struggle with the factory farms and processing. Such is life.

  6. I was a vegetarian for the best part of 40 years. During the last 5 years I spent a good part of every winter either with a head cold or the flu. My children, who were all raised as vegetarians and are now all meat eaters suggested that perhaps it was my diet. I thought it was worth exploring so I found a small mountain, organic, free range, very kind to animals, smallholding where animals were raised for meat which would be available twice a year. I get lamb and meadow fed veal and eat meat once a week. I now eat fish (fresh from the sea)once a week and my vegetables and herbs are still fresh from the garden. My winter health and overall health has improved enormously and my energy levels also. I never eat meat/fish mindlessly and I always honor the animal with gratitude as I do the plant life I eat.
    I once saw a film which was thought to be the first time large monkeys/apes hunted for meat. About six of them co-operated to run down a gazelle to eat because their vegetarian habitat was no long able to support them because of logging and farming. I often think on this. It made a big impact on me.

  7. Thank you, Ame and Cat, for sharing your experiences. Lots of food for thought here :)

    Cat, that sounds like such a respectful way to treat both yourself and the animals and plants that become a part of you! One of the things I wouldn't feel right about is distancing myself from what I eat. I'd rather know where it came from and what it is, rather than ignoring or hiding its origins.

    Respecting nature also has to include respecting ourselves, and making sure that what we eat is healthful for us, and that can take some experimenting to find what works for us at any given time in our lives.

    So much to think about...

  8. That is weird. I tried commenting and it said I didn't have access to this page. Wow. Haha.

    Anyway...I just want to say I admire you and your readers for what you said on this topic.

    It's a difficult topic and I admit, although I do try to buy local, organic and free range, that I often find myself overwhelmed by all my daughter's food restrictions that I find that to be my overriding focus when it comes to food.

    Anyway, keep on keeping on. Thanks for the food for thought.