I have tried to be/wanted to be a vegetarian/vegan on and off for several years now. However, living here in the deep south, where anything foreign, American or Asian is hard to come by, has taught me a few things about vegetarianism, the anti-meat-eating movement, and the spiritual development and New Age movement in general.
Now, I am not saying that I have anything against New Age or the current interest in spirituality. On the contrary, I think that they were a long time coming and it was high time we had some alternatives to organized religion as a means for spiritual development and spirituality (once again, not that I have anything against organized religions either, however, it is nice to have alternatives).
Nonetheless, I do also have a few pet peeves about these movements, so here they are.
Well, firstly, I find that many people are taking the New Age/new spirituality movements TOO much to heart, and they have become quite radical. As in, they are against people who espouse beliefs or lifestyles different from their own.
If they are vegetarian they refuse to make friends with meat-eaters. If they follow New Age precepts they become like the fervent adherents of any other religion: they will not have anything to do with people who belong to any religion or any other movement.
I think that people who are radical about anything, no matter what, aren't exactly the best company. They have forgotten the universal precepts of tolerance and respect for other people. Since they are so radical, their whole lives revolve around whatever it is that they are radical about.
I also feel that the field of spiritual development has become very lofty and arrogant and out of the reach of normal, low-income people.
You must have a really good job, and live in Malibu, and bump elbows with the likes of Wayne Dyer and Esther Hicks if you want to be spiritually savvy.
I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with Wayne Dyer or Esther Hicks, I like them very much. But not everyone is rich, lives in Malibu or attends workshops run by Wayne Dyer or Esther Hicks.
Some of us ARE single moms and live in the deep south.
I just want people to see that you don't have to have lots of zeros (with a number at the beginning, of course) in your bank account or live in an affluent or popular part of the world in order to develop yourself spiritually.
Is it easier to undertake spiritual development when you live near the crème de la crème in the spiritual development field and can attend all their workshops? Perhaps.
But it's not necessary or essential.
Spiritual Development For Joe Blow
Spiritual development is something personal, that you can do in the comfort of your own living-room, no matter where that living-room is located. And even more so now that internet is accessible to most people and lets even people living in remote areas stay up to date on the latest that is happening in the world.
So, as an example of how I find that spirituality, New Age and the new spiritual development movements have become lofty and "up there" and just way too much out of reach of the ordinary, average Joe Blow, I would like to talk about vegetarianism.
Anti Vegetarianism on a Spiritual Development Website?
What? Can you imagine, an anti-vegetarian article on a spiritual development website?
Now, I don’t want you to think that I am actually against vegetarianism. Quite the contrary.
However, I don’t intend this to be an article about the pros and cons of vegetarianism, or the health advantages of vegetarianism or, for that matter, anything related to diet or health at all.
As I said before, I have
been trying to become a vegetarian for a long time. And frankly, it
takes a lot of money to be a vegetarian in Spain! Since vegetarian food
is not traditional Spanish, and around here traditional Spanish is
Perhaps if you are a civil servant and raking home a good 4
to 6 thousand euros a month, you would probably not even notice a
problem at all. You can afford anything that you want with salaries like
those, so you probably don't even notice how much it costs to be a
vegetarian in Spain.
However, I am not a civil servant, and I don't want people to feel like vegetarianism, and spiritual development workshops, and spirituality in general, are only accessible to rich people, civil servants, lawyers, doctors and business executives.
I want you to feel like you have equal access to spiritual development resources even if you are a waiter, or a cleaning lady, or a single mom like me. (Because we won't deny it, two salaries in a household are always bigger and better than one, right?)
Being vegetarian is also just simply not practical here, where tradition rules.
Another One of My Pet Peeves
Another gripe I have with the vegetarian movement is...... Well, how can I explain it?
Once a couple I know went to Peru to do some work there. They went to a tiny and very poor village out in the countryside. The only thing there was to eat there was pork and rice, that is what the people there ate every day.
You would think that pork is expensive, but these people were living up on a cold and infertile mountainside and the only things they had were rice and pigs, pigs everywhere. It was easy for them to have pigs because pigs can eat anything, and there wasn't much to eat up there. So only pigs could survive.
So these people ate pork and rice and nothing else for a month.
How would a vegetarian survive there?
Vegetarianism For the Rich and the Poor?
So I think vegetarianism has become a very snobbish movement for the rich and well-off. How many poor single moms can afford kombo and algae and seitan every day for example? And as for tofu, supposedly a very cheap substitute for meat, well not here in southern Spain. Here you would need to buy a plane ticket to the north to get your daily ration of tofu!
Maybe once vegetarianism was a very well-intentioned idea. Meat isn't healthy, and you don't want to kill animals when you can survive perfectly well without them.
But I think that refers to people who are not living in extreme conditions. For example, those people up on the Peruvian mountainside lived in extreme poverty, they had NOTHING else to eat except their own pigs.
And if you have ever been a poor student you might have noticed that the cheapest foods are the most unhealthiest ones. Foods filled with sugar are the cheapest things around. When I was poor and hungry, sometimes in order just to survive and not be hungry I ate lollipops!
Vegetarian Diet and Lollipops
Well, okay, maybe not to survive, but when you are hungry and you only have a few cents in your pocket, lollipops may be the only thing you can afford and they DO work in making you less hungry. And you can't get more unhealthy than lollipops!
Well, the point is, that the cheapest foods also tend to be the unhealthiest ones. So meatless foods are healthier than meaty ones, but they are also more expensive. (Even though perhaps a century ago the opposite was true. But not today. Just as many years ago brown bread, which is the healthiest and most wholesome, was also once the cheapest, but not anymore.) And some people just can't afford them.
My ex – well one of them anyway – has always been very poor, and he used to survive off of Red Cross hand-outs, and they hand out food as well. They bring you a big cardboard box full of goodies.
These goodies include:
So you can see: white rice, white pasta, sunflower oil and
Maria cookies. Is there ANYTHING healthy in there in all that
hodgepodge? No! Of course not. Cheap foods are not healthy
So if you are very poor and cheap food is all you can afford, vegetarianism will be out of your reach.
Why I Have Chosen Not to Become A Vegetarian
Now that I have a good job and I can afford to be vegetarian, I have decided NOT to become one.
Because I don't want all the baggage that
comes with being a vegetarian and with "joining the vegetarian
movement". I don't want to form a part of the "I'm better than you
because I don't eat meat and I respect animals" collective.
You may not be cruel to animals, but is that any justification for being cruel and intolerant to other people?
That does not mean that I now load up on meat galore. Mainly, I do keep a fairly meatless diet. I do it for health reasons, and in order not to harm animals. I also do it for spiritual reasons, since meat weighs you down and clogs the psychic channels – but more about that in a future article.
However, if some friends invite me over for some of their good home cooking, I'm not going to turn my nose up at the beef that they bought for me with all their affection using their hard-earned money. If I go out and I'm starving, and the only bar open happens to serve only meat dishes, I will not starve for yet another 6 hours until I get the chance to return home.
And if I am ever lucky enough to be able take myself off to a Peruvian village lost somewhere up on a remote mountainside, in order to do a month of volunteer work, I will not turn down the heartily prepared pork served to me with all the hospitality and affection in the world.
So no, if you want to advance and develop yourself spiritually, you don't need to stuff yourself with seaweeds, buy all of Louise Hay's books or take weekly workshops with Bijan. You can do so if you want to, and I'm sure it would be very enriching for you.
But it isn't necessary for your spiritual development and well-being. The only thing that is truly necessary, I believe, is to have a good, kind heart, give love and compassion to all living beings (well maybe not mosquitos) and, as I write about in greater detail in this article about respect and love, show respect and tolerance to all. And to forgive, forgive and forgive.
Okay, so if you get mad at someone, you can tell them off first before you forgive them.
And you can also help yourself along by subscribing to this site using either the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" box on the right-hand column, and dropping by frequently, as I am constantly putting up new articles.
If you liked this article you might also enjoy:
Laura said on March 7, 2014:
The reason some of us have a hard time eating meat isn't because we are
snobby, etc.... it's because we KNOW what that animal experienced and
felt during the last part of his journey....
The Seas Of Mintaka said on March 8, 2014:
I'm sure not all vegetarians are snobby and I'm also sure that most vegetarians don't eat meat for humanitarian, ethical or health reasons, and not because they want to be holier than thou. But I can only talk about the ones I know personally. Unfortunately it appears that here in Spain many people take the "vegetarian movement" as if it were some sort of religion or cult, rather than a personal choice made for personal reasons. And as happens with many people who are fanatical about a certain religion or cult, they then believe that they are spiritually more advanced and superior to people who do not belong to the religion, cult or movement. But of course, I'm sure not all vegetarians in Spain are fanatical and holier than thou either, just that many of them are.
Just yesterday my son said a most interesting thing on the subject. We just happened to be talking about the idea of becoming vegetarians in our family (which my son totally opposes, because pork chops are among his favourite foods!) and he said to me, "Well but do vegetarians ever stop to think about what a PLANT suffers when we kill it? Look, right now we are eating bread. Do you know how many wheat plants had to be killed so we could eat this bread? They just get chopped off just like that, that must hurt! Plants are living beings too, and they can feel things too. Do you think THEY like being killed so we can eat? Does it make vegetarians better people than non-vegetarians because instead of killing animals, they are only killing plants?"