A yoga teacher who eats meat?… I knew this question was heading my way at some point.  I watched a video not too long ago where Ana Forrest, a yoga teacher I admire so much and think highly of, refused to answer this question.  I totally understand how she would be at a loss for words.  It really is no one’s business!!!! Why do people go there? Why?  This woman had endured tremendous suffering. She is a warrior. In my eyes, she has shaman status. Hands down. Discrediting her by questioning her diet is lunacy!

These words I was asked are still ringing in my ears although I heard them at the end of last year.

Was that a judgement of the highest order or what?

Yes, I responded, I do eat meat, because this is how it is at this momentMy children eat it, so I buy it and I do not wish to waste it. I also do not wish to impose any beliefs on my children, I would rather they find what they believe in.

You see, I did not get to explain that I was a vegetarian for fifteen years prior, and that I suddenly found myself contemplating eating meat.  Not because I missed it, more because it was what I thought my body required.  I had my children on a vegetarian diet. After fifteen years, I felt depleted. And so it goes that sometime in the year 2013 after abstaining completely since 1995,  I went back to eating meat. It has been a little over four years now.  It surely isn’t my go to food.  I eat very little of it, and I eat it consciously.  I know, nothing justifies killing animals.  This blog is surely not a means to justify that.  However, more than anything it is a way for me to try to understand this conundrum that I find myself contemplating and grappling with most days.

The question of ‘does it make you more awake’ if you do not eat meat, is surely a no.  Many have experienced awakened states, diet aside.

So where to begin?

I began by looking at the etymology of sacrifice. The breakdown is as follows:

sacrificus means sacrifical

sacer is sacred

Facio is to make

This evidently means sacrificing something is to make something sacred.

In any sacrifice we must destroy life in order to preserve it.

We sacrifice animals, plants, and sometimes we sacrifice ourselves.

Sacrificing ourselves is a way to mature, another aspect of the individuation process.

The key to this sacrifice is that we are fully conscious of what it is we are sacrificing.  That is what makes any act sacred. Consciousness.   Some will argue that we can in that case justify devious acts if they are done with consciousness.  I would say devious acts can never be done with consciousness.  I am talking about survival here.  Sometimes, not always,  however in most cases, we sacrifice to survive.

There are many arguments and debates about eating meat versus a plant based diet.  Believe me, I have heard, and read about the entire spectrum. As a long time practitioner of yoga I know all about this. With a lot of details from every side.  And I get it. Animals do not deserve to die. Humans do not deserve to die in wars either. So many things can go under this list: sexual abuse, domestic violence, environmental abuse…you name it…

The thing is, a lot of research surfacing these days is that plants actually feel pain.  There is no difference between an animal and a plant. Here is an interview on this topic from PRI . Animals and plants have consciousness however they do not have reasoning faculties although they have mind.  They cannot apply logic, and reason as humans do.  What distinguishes us from them is that we are able to use our mind. Our mind is the center of our world.

In table format:

Animals                 senses           nerves              consciousness/MIND    soul

Plants                    senses                                      consciousness/MIND    soul

Humans                senses           nerves              consciousness/MIND    soul       REASON/LOGIC

Yes, it gets us in trouble mostly, however, if we learn to rule our mind, it can be a blessing.  This mind retains our memories, and dreams of the future. Animals do not have access to the faculty of mind. Animals can only be in the moment, and will never remember the past or think about their future.

I have been grappling, reflecting and contemplating this topic for several years. Ever since I began eating meat again.  Not because I wish to prove myself right.  I just would like to understand why so many religions practice this. If it was one religion, I would put it aside and say ok that is nothing to look into.  When I see repeating patterns that continue through ancient times, I feel I need to understand why such patterns exist.  There is more to this than what we see and understand.

I was recently having a discussion about this with my son.  I like to challenge him sometimes just to see what he will say.  He always surprises me with his wisdom (when he is not causing trouble, that is).  As we discussed this, he intuited that eating meat is part of the alchemical process. BINGO!  That makes so much sense.  We eat it to have power over our lower nature.  In alchemy we transmute something into something completely different.  In this case our animal nature into our higher divine nature. Humans are part animal part godlike.  All ancient scriptures and texts point to this fact.  I recall reading something that speaks to this in some text a while back, and I just cannot for the life of me recall what it was. I sure hope I find it soon because I wish to read it again.  Yes, it does make sense now why so many religions would propagate this.

One more event I wish to share around this topic is that last year in November while I was volunteering at the Science and Non-duality Conference in San Jose, California,  I was assigned to help out at Charles Eisenstein’s workshop: Emissaries from the Future.  I hesitated at first and then decided to participate.  Charles had us go into a meditation where we met our own personal emissary from the future and got to ask them questions about what life on earth would be hundreds of years into the future. This was a very emotional exercise for me, which I will not go into full detail here, however what is of relevance are the words of my emissary whom I could not help but ask what her name was, and she replied: Bee-A- Trees (and emphasized that it is written in that manner and not Beatrice).  Bee-A-Trees answered my question of ‘will we still be eating meat many hundreds of years from today?’ with ‘yes’ however, she could not really explain why that is. She said she could not tell me the reasons as she could not understand them in that moment. I suppose it is worth another trip into the future perhaps I can get more information on that.

I am not saying everyone needs to run out and sacrifice some sheep right now.

I wish people will hold their beliefs lightly.  It seems that sacrificing serves a purpose. Perhaps something that we cannot see or feel.  Believing in something is a choice, to each their own path, and to each their rate of evolution. We never know what circumstances someone is in when we make our hasty judgements.  In Ayruveda, bone broth is prescribed to patients with bone marrow problems such as bone cancer. Will we not sacrifice an animal to save a human life?  Is it best to let the human die, and let the animal live? Will the animal perhaps one day make a huge difference in the world? Can the animal become an activist? An artist? A poet? A nurse? A teacher?

Additionally, with so many starving populations around the world, even in America, a little morsel of meat can save a human life. Especially if that is all that is available.  Let’s not be ‘above’ eating what it is we need to survive in any given moment.  It is not a matter of rank, there is no hierarchy in survival. There is no such thing as diet elite.

I am not better or worse than you are for eating what I eat.  You are not better or worse than I am for eating what you eat.

Some of us are completely oblivious to why we eat what we eat, and that is still OKAY.

The way things are in the world, with so many catastrophic predictions, we may all find ourselves eating things we really do not wish to eat someday soon. I suppose it is our choice to starve or to survive.

I get that animals are sentient.  I love animals, I love plants, I love all of life. However, I also believe in the mystery, that there are laws in this universe that we may never have answers to.

I also believe in the ability to listen to my body’s needs in every single moment. Somedays I eat, some days I don’t, some days I drink, and on other days I remain thirsty.

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