Follow by Email

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Gently does it

I've spent some time this weekend doing some serious soul-searching. About why it is that I'm on this journey, and what it all means to me as a person. 

The guilt of existence

We seem to be bombarded with messages about all of the bad things which the actions of humankind are responsible for: (global warming through excessive carbon emissions, animal maltreatment, overpopulation, famine, etc), and I have to admit that I have a tendency to internalise things. I realised over the weekend that I have been harbouring tremendous guilt on behalf of all humankind, and tremendous resentment towards humankind, for creating all of these problems. 

So what do I do? Out of guilt I cease all forms of anything which might compound these problems. I flagellate myself for bathing instead of showering; I cringe when I switch on a light. I'm deeply apologetic to mother nature for living in a tarred, built up city which has displaced so many of her creatures. And while it's not a bad thing to be aware of our personal impact on the environment, I reached a point this weekend where I realised that this guilt will be the end of me. And in thinking through my existence guilt, I found some pearls of wisdom:

Live with consciousness and gratitude

The world’s problems are not entirely my fault. I am part of them, but that unfortunately is the reality of the situation. I can make conscious choices to minimize my impact, but that is all I have the power to do. Were we designed to eat meat? Well, the 'expert' opinions on this are many and varied, and many sources suggest that we may have been (I have included some links below to articles and videos which deal with different aspects of this argument). Some meat. No need to go overboard. 

I think of a scene in Avatar, a film which really is all about living in harmony with nature. The Na’vi civilization did eat meat, but they killed it themselves, with consciousness and gratitude. They thanked the hunted animal for its life and its nourishment – “I see you, brother, and I thank you”. (See for the particular scene, although unfortunately the video is awful! I can’t find any other online clips of the scene. But there is an interesting interview about killing animals in a Halaal way, thanking the animal and invoking God’s blessing on the food – see link below.) They don’t kill more than they truly need, and they do so with humilty and thanks. Not with machines and conveyer belts. 

However, unless we actually run the farm / slaughterhouse, we don’t really have much control over the way in which animals are treated or killed. For some, that is a reason not to touch animal products. For us all, it is a reason to live with consciousness of the value of any animal’s life, and gratitude for that. And I think gratitude and humility might just help us to make more ethical choices, anyway.

2. Live with forgiveness

Although nobody on the planet is solely responsible for creating the world's problems, we are all part of the problems. We are all flawed and could all do with an injection of humility. So...cut a brother come slack! There's no need to be judgmental; no need to be resentful. We are a collective being, and when we can respect one another, maybe we can even start to act as a collective!

So...what is 'healthy' living?

Well, I think it is up to each of us to find our own balance, in terms of nutrition, ethics, spirituality, environmental concern, etc. No one source has all the answers. I’d like to think that if we are open to it, reverence for nature will be our guide. As for the specifics, well, take a look at the information out there and make up your mind for yourself...

What other people have to say on the matter:

All of the articles below present views quite different from ‘Earthlings’ (in my last post). They are not against, and many of them advocate, eating meat. Most of them advocate eating small quantities of organic meat / animal products. All of them advocate going organic. It’s more expensive, but the argument goes that you need much less than you think you do!

  • [Home video interview with an ex-vegan doctor about what he thinks humans’ relationship with meat should be, from the perspectives of health and religion (Judaism). He does seem to get a bit uncomfortable when questioned about ethics…]

  • [An article whose primary focus is on the importance of protein in a ‘healthy’ diet. While this protein can be obtained from vegetables (e.g. beans), one would need to eat an almost unobtainable amount of beans, thereby exponentially increasing the body’s carbohydrate intake – not great!]

'Til next time!


  1. Just a quick follow up on this: I found an interesting article on Vitamin B-12 (the contentious one, as far as vegan and even vegetarian diets go) - check it out if you are interested!

  2. One of the most inacurate beliefs is that certain nutrition can only come from meat/animal products. When in fact every single source of nutrition we need is found in plant based diets. This has been proven over a diet with animal products over and over again. I'll give just one example. Vitamen B12 does not come from animal products. Both vegans and meat eaters are just as likely to have B12 shortage. B12 is made in the intestinal tract and requires certain bacteris which is found in SOIL. Thhis bacteria is found in plentitude in seaweed and other plant based sources. Scroll down this page to EduTips and you'll find loads of info on this. You may also want to research Dr Colin T Campbell and the China Study as well as MD Neal Barnard as they overturn every arguemnet around the health that meat has in the body. There is an arguement for pleasure but not for health. Very disease known to mankind will dissapear if we all ate a plant based diet. Meat and animal products are known to cause most disease. Recently Dr Oz who is a meat eater aired a show just about this.

  3. Thanks so much for your post - a comprehensive take on the issue, from a pro-plants standpoint! The article I mentioned above talks about how we have made plants less of a source of Vitamin B-12 by keeping everything so sterile (this refers to the inorganic fertilisers as well)! If we didn't sterilise the soil that the plants we eat are grown in, Vitamin B-12 wouldn't be an issue. So really it has nothing to do with the plants. Thanks also for the recipe - I'm looking forward to trying it :)