Friday, 3 September 2010

How my relationship to food has changed

Years ago (in 1994 roughly) I became vegetarian, both for conscious and unconscious reasons. On the one hand I didn't like the treatment of animals which were intended for our plates, nor did I like the chemicalisation of the meat industry (e.g. feeding growth hormones to cattle which then went into our bodies), while on the other, I felt like I was experiencing an overall feeling about it, which I couldn't really define. In some ways, I was feeling my way forward in the dark, just following my intuition. There was something about meat eating, other than the obvious ethical reasons, which was gnawing away at me... It was only as the years went by, that I began to understand more deeply the implications of eating meat, or not eating meat. It was a refining process, and slowly but surely the doubting cynical mind, was being chipped away. The same cynical mind that either scoffs or finds scientific reasons to disqualify certain realisations of a spiritual nature.

But as I've started to understand, this change to vegetarianism was just the very beginning. I wouldn't have known back then, that I would have felt compelled to take a step further... That is, to become a vegan. So, forward wind to the present day. For a number of reasons that will become evident during the course of this blog, I've become a vegan.

I dislike the nomenclature: vegan, veganism - it sounds so whacky and weird, extreme and unbalanced. But vegan is what I have become, in the last few months. In the same way that I felt I couldn't turn back once I had become vegetarian, I now feel that I can't and won't turn back on being a vegan. Even if veganism sounds like something that comes straight from an episode of Star Trek... It's funny really, I used to be so down on veganism, for various reasons. I used to think of it as a type of extremism. I also used to think, that while treating the animal kingdom with fairness was good, it was also possible to go a bit far over it. I would model the human race as somehow being part of a cycle, an inescapable cycle, and that it was nature's way to eat or be eaten, and so just having milk and honey, was a minor thing. Unfortunately, this is not so true if you happen to live next to a dairy farm, as I do now - and you get to see the suffering going on, the removal of calves, hearing the anguish of the cows, and so on. Also, it's not so true when you begin to experience and consider some of the more subtle things relating to the consumption of animal products.

But in terms of avoiding veganism, an important point was that  I was majorly put off by practically all the vegans I had met. I've had to learn to withhold my judgement over other people's motives for becoming vegan. At the end of the day, I have to do what feels right for me, even if it means putting myself in line with a whole host of people whose motives and views I find difficult, and the imbalances I thought I perceived in vegans.

This slow change of dietary intake has been a gradual thing. Through the years, it's as if parts of me have been slowly changing - as if reactionary elements of my mind, have been slowly trying the inevitable dead-ends, knowing that greater light has always been around the corner. Rather like playing an off-key note, over and over again, boringly repetitive, but knowing that eventually better sense will prevail. This is how it has been for me. This has also gone on alongside an inner strengthening, that really I MUST do what my inner sense tells me to do, whether people agree with it, or not.

So my relationship to food has evolved considerably from my childhood days. As a child I always felt uncomfortable with meat eating, even though I did enjoy the taste of a lot of it, at the time. This tension between 'tastes good' and 'feels bad' is the very nature of the food struggle we all suffer from. And in a sense, this is the very thing I want to get to the bottom of.

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