Conscientious Omnivore Diet
May 19, 2008
Dolphins Are 100% Carnivores
Many metaphysical people worship dolphins, which are 100% carnivores, and view them as more spiritually evolved than humans. Yet some of those same people consider human meat eating to be spiritually unevolved or even 'evil.' Dolphins eat fish because they are made to eat fish. They do not question their dietary needs. Paradoxically, this probably does make them more spiritually evolved than humans. Not in spite of the fact that they live exclusively on the flesh of other animals, but because they fully accept themselves as they are without judging their physical need to kill and eat other living beings.
Being a Vegetarian or a Conscientious Omnivore?
So then, how can eating meat be as conscientious and humane as being a vegetarian?
Don’t get me wrong, I think the intention of vegetarians is very loving and honorable, and I greatly respect anyone making that choice out of compassion for our beloved animal companions. If you are a vegetarian, then my wish is merely to deepen your understanding about food choices – not convert you. I do honor, respect, and admire your choice because I know the place of compassion that it comes out of.
From 1988 to 1995, I was a die-hard vegetarian myself. I believed I knew for certain that everyone on the planet would eventually stop eating meat – it was only a matter of when, not if. Then gradually, I had a series of revelations.
Treating Animals with Respect
First were the teachings of my spiritual mentor and long-time friend William Shaffer who is an animal communicator. He said that the animals don’t mind us consuming their bodies after their spirit has left. What matters to them is to be treated with honor and respect while they are alive. That information alone took me about a decade to fully come to terms with.
I mean, I knew William was a meat eater. So it could have been a rationalization by someone who wanted to not feel guilty about eating meat.
Types of Deaths Faced by Animals
But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. After all, without humans, what kind of deaths do wild animals face? They all die one way or another. A small percentage makes it to a ripe old age where they die slow, agonizing deaths from starvation during winter or some other time of scarcity. In most animal species, the majority doesn’t even reach adulthood. They face terrifying and likely very painful deaths by the claws and fangs of predators at early ages.
Instead of looking at the killing of animals from the limited perspective of human pre-conceived notions or guilt, it may be more beneficial to look at it from the perspective of the animals themselves. Say, for example, that you were a deer. Would you prefer being chased to exhaustion by a predator with your heart racing in panicked terror and the cold air searing your throat and lungs? A chase ending with the nightmarish horror of a tortous death, being ripped to shreads by claws and fangs. Say instead that you were grazing happily in the field when you heard a crack, felt a stabbing pain in your chest, took a few steps, then your head got foggy and your legs gave out from under you. Would that be worse?
I'm sure you get my point. The swift and relatively painless killing of animals by bullets can not be considered inhumane compared to death by other predators. Not when human guilt is out of the equation.
So the only question of concern is really only, which is healthier – a vegetarian diet or an omnivore diet?
Once I had come to terms with these kinds of thoughts, the information from Williams Shaffer made more sense to me: If the killing of animals by bullet is, relatively speaking, a rather non-frightening, painless, and preferable way for animals to go (as compared to death by predator, disease, or starvation), then why in the world would they mind us consuming their bodies after their spirit has left? 'Being eaten' would almost certainly happen anyway, regardless of how they died.
Becoming Omnivore During Pregnancy
The second thing that happened on my path to becoming an omnivore was that I met three women who told me they had been vegetarian when they got pregnant but during their pregnancies, it turned out to be impossible to remain vegetarians. Their bodies craved meat. All three of them have since come to feel that eating meat is healthier than being vegetarian, and they have remained conscientious omnivores even after their pregnancies ended.
There are excellent arguments from both sides – vegetarian and non-vegetarian – as to the healthiness of either approach. I’ve heard many vegetarians refer to research showing that vegetarians live longer and healthier lives – e.g. Seventh-day Adventists.
And I’ve also heard impassioned omnivores such as Sally Fallon point to a lot of convincing research and evidence to the exact opposite – that omnivores are healthier and live longer.
Omnivore Digestive System
Many vegetarians point to the fact that our teeth and digestive systems are unlike those of carnivores, which they claim proves that our bodies are constructed to be vegetarian. This claim is disputed by Dr. John McArdle. Even though he himself is a vegetarian, he none-the-less refuses to perpetuate the myth that the human body is created to be vegetarian. The human digestive system no more resembles the digestive system of vegetarian animals – cows, horses, etc. – than it resembles that of strict carnivores. Instead, the human teeth and digestive system are most similar to those of other omnivores – chimpanzees, pigs, etc. – which indicates that the human body is best adapted for an omnivore diet. Note that this argument comes from a man who is himself a vegetarian.
So what is the healthier diet? What are we to believe? My three pregnant friends gave me my answer to this confusing quandary. Unlike most of us, a pregnant woman’s body is incapable of lying. If pregnant women’s bodies demand meat, then that is evidence enough for me that the human body does best with meat in the diet. It could be interpreted differently, though. Perhaps the body during pregnancy has different needs. That is up for you to decide for yourself.
Primary Perception and the Backster Effect
The last straw to tip the scales for me was the article “Primary Perception and the Backster Effect,” Nexus New Times, Vol. 11, No. 5. The article presents research conducted by scientist Cleve Backster in 1966 showing that plants have strong emotional (electrochemical) reactions to the threat of harm/death, as well as to actual infliction of injury. Cleve Backster’s research has subsequently been reproduced many times by other researchers and his findings confirmed multiple times.
Even common garden vegetables kept in the refrigerator, such as onions and broccoli, have an electrochemical stress response when they are removed to be eaten, and an even stronger response when they are actually cut. The only logical interpretation that scientists have been able to come up with to explain this electrochemical stress response is that the plants feel things similar to what we’d refer to as fear and pain, and that they are clearly conscious and perceptive because they know what's about to happen before it does.
Sentient Fruit Trees
When I read the article on the Backster Effect in Nexus New Times Magazine, it revived a memory from my childhood. The house I grew up in had a large yard with many fruit trees. On three separate occasions that I recall, involving three separate fruit trees, my parents stood out in the yard next to one of them and discussed cutting it down because it was not producing any fruit. On each of those three occasions, the fruit tree in question started to produce copious amounts of high quality fruit the following season and continued doing so from then on.
I recall my parents talking about how it seemed the trees must have heard and understood that they planned to cut them down because they were not producing. Yet it was always said with a sense of incredulousness. And I admit, I never really believed myself that fruit trees could be so sentient until I read the scientific research on “Primary Perception and the Backster Effect,”
Conscientious Omnivore - Conclusion
So to conclude this article, my current point of view is that unless the we are able to sustain ourselves exclusively on things that are made by nature to be eaten - fruit*, dairy, unfertilized eggs**, honey and flower nectar/pollen - then, we are bound to eat other living things... and as previously stated, ethically it makes no difference whether they are plants or animals. As for the nutritional difference between a vegetarian diet vs. an omnivore diet, the judge may still be out on that. I strongly feel that each person should choose what diet feels best to their body. In many cases, it may be a vegetarian or vegan diet. And for many, it feels best to be a conscientious omnivore.
The choice of what kind of diet to eat should be made from the perspective of nutrition, health, or personal taste, since no significant ethical difference exists. Regardless of our choice of diet, the most important thing we can do is to treat all other living things with honor and respect and try to provide them with the highest quality of life possible while they are alive – plants every bit as much as animals.
– By author of "Illuminating Physical Experience"
* Biologically speaking, "fruits" include many things we consider vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, etc. But it does not include seeds such as beans and peas, green leafy vegetables, or root vegetables.
** The eggs of non-mammals do not "turn into" animal babies. Like milk/dairy, they are food for the growing animal embryo/fetus. If the egg is unfertilized, then it does not contain any animal embryo/fetus.
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