Food: Giving Up Meat?

For a guy brought up in the western world, it is natural to eat meat, infact, his society will insist that meat is a necessity and that anything to the contrary is practically abnormal. Then there are the delights, the delicacies, the tastes, flavours, varieties of marinated meat for the good food enthusiast, or even the rushed, no-time-to-taste lifestylers.

I’ve grown up loving a good pepperoni pizza, butter chicken, sweet and sour pork, so on, and so on, and so on. For most of my life I couldn’t imagine not eating meat, It felt to me that if I did stop for all the reason that I may have passingly wanted to (animal slaughter, etc), that there would be something missing in my life. I would never feel that eternally satisfying bliss of a full tummy again. To quit meat was impossible.

My fiance however, is a Brahmin girl, and a rare one at that because she has poured her soul into the love of the Gods in a manner so pure, so clearly without superficiality that one often sees among Brahmins. To her, there was little superstition involved in her rituals, because she was consistently witnessing the proofs of her efforts, if she meditated, chanted, did yoga, by the end of it her mind would be elevated, brighter, clearer – she had grown up in this way.

And two opposites approaching spirituality with the same pure intent and core passion, that’s what brings us together. The last time I went to India, I decided to devote myself to vegetarian foods – the first misconception that broke was the common belief in the western world that there’s only so many kinds of “salads” you can make. Oh, lo and behold, India had an infinite variety of delicious tastes in pure vegetarian foods alone.

That however didn’t quell my thirst for meat. And every now and then I would indulge in a carnivorous act. Perhaps once every 2 weeks. The tipping point, though, came two months into my stay in India, when one day I ordered a mutton curry and they brought a well cooked plate with meat so filled with soul that you could literally breathe in the lamb that was slain. My fiance was beside me, and as I ate, from my peripheral vision I could see what she was imagining – she could literally see the doe eyes of that innocent lamb that I was devouring. My body then felt like a graveyard filled with carcuses to her. At that moment, I put myself in her place and fully identified with the killing of the animal. It turned me off meat for the rest of the trip.

After I returned to Australia I continued to remain vegetarian, but I am a lazy eater, more prone to take away foods than to cook my own, and in Australia there is hardly any options for delightful vegetarian foods… so slowly, I assimmilated meat back into my life. After all, the only thing that held me against meat was the shock of killing.The west has mastered the art of desensitising people to that sort of thing.

Recently I went on the lemon detox diet… it is widely reputed from ancient times that a true form of diet can heal any ailments in the body, and I felt a cleansing was certainly needed after a year of going wild. The diet consisted of, upon waking in the morning, drinking 1 litre of sea salt water (this was mainly as a laxative and to clean the colon), then I would prepare 2 litres of a drink that consisted of a special kind of maple tree/palm tree syrup mixed with 3 squeezed lemons, 2 pinches of cayenne pepper. This, I would sip on for the remaining day, during lunch a cup of peppermint tea to help release toxins into the bloodstream to be cleansed. End the night I’d have a cup of laxative tea. This process is recommended for 7 to 14 days.

During this process, my fiance related to me how in her teenage years she would lavishly drink a bucket of sea salt water, savouring the feel of it. It astounded me, as the worst part of the diet was drinking the sea salt in the morning. It was so discomforting, my body would sometimes spew it out minutes later. But the experience my fiance related was intriguing – she explained that she savoured it because she ate things that tasted good to her body, not her tongue. And the saltwater is reputedly very good for cleansing the body.

What blew me away first of all is how well the syrup dispelled all hunger pangs. But the real realisation happened at the end. Coming out of the diet, it is recommended on the first 3 days to eat only vegetables, vegetable soups. The very first time I had the vegetable soup, I couldn’t believe how divine it tasted, so pure – and there I for the first time realised what she meant about tasting something according to how good it is for the body.

I had one other realisation for the first time – you see, for a long time I could perhaps reason and understand vegetarianism. But I felt that vegans must be fanatics – it’s far too extreme and unnecessary a step. Not a part of me validated any just cause for being a vegan. But I remember having creamy sweet corn on the second day after the diet, and how my stomach hurt and my entire body felt uncomfortable, foreign, at the very feel of lactose. And in comparison, how purely illuminating a lentil and bean soup had been. I was tasting with my body, and a door opened. Suddenly, I felt I could make these shifts in my life… paradigm shifts… see and taste the world in different ways unimaginable to who I was before.

For those interested, this is a good start: Ayurvedic Cooking For Westerners.

~ by revolutionwithin on May 4, 2009.

One Response to “Food: Giving Up Meat?”

  1. Suhail asked,

    Hey I just had one question. Like anything in nature, Vedic knowledge can break the modes into Saatvic, Rajsic, and Tamsic, and I’m sure most people are well informed on which foods are what by now. However, I have read in some scriptures that it is possible to go beyond these three modes of nature and rest your mind in the state of absolute bliss and in this state the modes of nature do not apply. What exactly does this mean? And does that mean there is place for Rajsic and Tamsic food amongst certain individuals and in certain regions of the world?

    I replied,

    Yes this is very true brother – one must first pass a tipping point – one must have awareness and clarity of mind before what food they eat no longer matters or influences them karmically. Certain foods aid in taking you to a level of awareness – a level of no return, after which you are liberated enough to experience any material pleasure with full meditation.

    Even past that, is the state you speak of, where one is energised by their INTERNAL FIRE.

    It is very simple in that respect – when one’s life is dictated by what surrounds them… when they are “lighting lamps around them” so much so that they forget the lamp burning inside them… they have little awareness.

    Then begins the process of putting out the false lamps that surround them, until they are surrounded by darkness, and forced to look within them… where eventually they notice the light within… and it begins to illuminate everything inside, and outside them… and illuminate their path.

    Once their choices and their way of life is dictated by the light within, nothing is taboo – precisely because they will not abuse or indulge in anything without reason or rightness.

    The lamp within suddenly begins to shine not only inside them, but in every CELL OF THE UNIVERSE. This is one of the greatest realisations one can have spiritually.

    And when every cell is illuminated – yet you are aware of the heart of it all – then what is out of bounds?

    Seetal replied,

    Really good story, and I can really relate to it…

    I turned vegetarian about a year ago now but before that I had made many attempts but failed because of temptation. My initial reason to be vegetarian was because I wasn’t obsessed with the taste of meat and thought I could live without it for a more conscience-free life.

    The real turning point came, not really in a spiritual way, even though indian tradition is not to kill an animal or eat meat when given the choice (so i dont know why indian people do eat meat as an option!! but anyway…) I decided by researching where my food had come from.. and to look at places like KFC and other meat producers.. and how a lot of meat is just produced on cheap, battery farms on a mass scale with disgusting, cruel conditions and genetically modified animals … I knew i couldn’t eat meat anymore!
    Even if the label was ‘organic’ or it was from my local butchers.. i just couldn’t do it…

    Like you said, the west has perfected the art of desensitising people to the fact that ham IS a pig… beef IS a cow.. and what they’re eating was an animal that was raised and killed in a way that they have no idea about, or simply dont care about!!

    But i’m happy i’m vegetarian now 🙂 and I plan to stay that way! 😀


    I wrote,

    Hmmm… I think it has been much harder for me Seetal, because I had grown up loving the taste of meat. This is probably why I wouldn’t have been able to truly give up meat if I didn’t start tasting foods according to how it tastes to the body, rather than the tongue.

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