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Ending the Food Fight 02/15/11

Dianne Cooke shares some of her thoughts, after 40 years of vegetarianism, on keeping the war off the table.

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I chose to become a vegetarian over 40 years ago. I have many stories to tell about my path as a dedicated vegetarian – some that are amusing, and others that are serious.

From the beginning, I had certain expectations about the benefits of being a vegan/vegetarian (veg*n), particularly the effect that eating Satvik (pure) food would have on my behaviour. I wanted to be a loving and compassionate human being and felt that by following a veg*n diet it would help me on this journey.

There are many different reasons to become veg*n. Some choose to become one, some are born into a veggie family, some are vegetarian for religious reasons, while others find the abhorrent practices of the meat, fish, dairy and poultry industries cruel and inhumane. Yet, there are also many different reasons not to be vegetarian.

My suggestion is to refrain from turning your food choice into a crusade against non-veggies. Even if you do think that they are deluded and may be the cause of many of the ills in the world!

We can become so embroiled in our different ‘food-isms’, fetishes and food debates that we forget that it is a true luxury to be able to choose. Millions of humans who live in poverty will never have such a choice. There is generally always a bigger picture at work and it is worth keeping this in mind when next you battle with the ignorant waiters who ruined your dinner by including egg in your salad.

In your mission to become a pure veg*n individual, consider the possibility that you could start displaying precisely the over-bearing antagonisms of those ‘aggressive’ meat eaters whom top your list of pet hates.

Many non-veggies will be quick to point out that Hitler was a vegetarian in response to the claim that vegetarians are gentler, more caring and so on. And the example is a relatively valid one. For over 40 years I have observed aggression, irritation and downright childish tantrums being displayed by veg*ns when their food habits are interfered with. The experiences in themselves can be said to debunk the belief that veggies are placid and enlightened. What you eat doesn’t automatically make you a good person.

This brings me to a very important point: Don’t make food your religion. I have witnessed almost warlike tendencies in veg*ns who want to defend their turf. What is really gained by hurting someone, whom you may consider ignorant by virtue of their conflicting dietary choices and justifications?

A perfect example was when I was staying at the Isckon Hare Krishna temple in Mumbai, India. There I heard a born-again Hare Krisha proclaim, “Those who eat meat are not fit to call themselves human.” Excuse me?! In the Tibetan Himalayas, where some of the most enlightened humans have been born, there simply is nothing else to eat at times other than their blessed Yaks without whom they would not survive. What else should they eat, ice and rock? Or on the other side of the planet, consider the way of the Native American and their reverence for the soul of the animal that they needed to slay in order to live.

There are so many dogmas, religions, diets and belief systems that confuse and alienate humans.

But, everyone understands kindness and love. You are not going to win anyone over to your side by force.

Whenever you eat or prepare food be aware of what has been given. Rather leave the war off the table. May we be grateful for what we have received and allow those who we perceive as different from us to eat what they choose. After all, they are living beings too. Don’t be a non-veggie phobic – we have enough bigoted phobiacs out there already.

Think thoughts of tolerance, and compassion when you cook and serve food. Automatically your food will take on the flavour of love. Whatever others say or do should not contaminate your ideals; it is your actions that speak much louder than the food you eat.

Dianne Cooke has many years of experience as a healer and therapist. She practices Hypnotherapy, Reiki, The Reconnection, and Lindwall Releasing. She is also the founder of the @One Journeywork process. Visit her website here.

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Laura Cooke is the editor and creator of the Veggie Bunch website and community.

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