In September 2018, I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Will Tuttle - author of the New York Times bestseller The World Peace Diet - give a conference on veganism in Madrid. His kindness and compassion, together with his extraordinary ability to make creative yet assertive connections, immediately invited me to surrender to his words and deeply reflect upon his message.
At that point, I was vegetarian mainly due to personal health and environmental reasons. Since that evening, however, my whole perspective on food choices, veganism, and our society shifted. You might be wondering what do our food choices have to do with our society, yet according to Will, they do, and at a more foundational level than we thought.
Many anthropologists claim that one of the best ways to understand cultures is by looking at their plates. The act of eating consists of literally taking something out of the material world to incorporate it into our inner world. We are what we eat. What are the foundations of our society, then? Who are we setting ourselves to become one meal at a time?
In the Western world, most people eat animal-related products around three times a day. Even though we buy such products directly from restaurants and supermarkets, there is an entire process behind that isn’t often acknowledged. Those same products are nothing more than the flesh and secretions of other living beings. Living beings who are treated as commodities day after day. Even when produced organically, they aren’t able to enjoy their sole purpose of just being. Instead, they are constantly put into stressful situations where they fattened, given antibiotics, mutilated, raped, and killed, only to serve our desires for “delicious” meat.
Will claims that the consequences of our diet are reflected both in our outer and inner worlds. Regarding the outer world, he believes that through constantly dominating and commodifying animals we are perpetuating a culture of inequality, domination, patriarchy, and reductionism at all levels of our society. A culture that actively contributes to the devastation of rainforests and oceans, the extinction of several species, global warming, water, and air pollution, but also, competitiveness, conflict, war, terrorism, and child abuse. He calls this the repression of Sophia. Sophia represents the feminine energy associated with intuition, protection, love, and kindness. He argues that in today’s world we are not allowing the collective Sophia to manifest in our reality. Both masculine and female energy is needed, but we can easily verify that we are mainly acting in a cold, rational way, suppressing our more delicate side as a collective.
Regarding our inner world, it is already scientifically proven that eating animal products is associated with epidemics such as heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Will goes deeper than that to introduce the concept of metaphysic toxins. Again, we are what we eat. We eat animals who are constantly stressed, anxious and depressed. Animals who suffer from fear, insomnia, terror, despair. It is somehow ironic that our society is facing the same issues. In essence, what we are doing to them, is being reflected on how we are feeling. How can we expect to ever live in peace if we are inflicting pain on others daily?
Whether you consider yourself to be a spiritual person or not, the fact is that we are all walking the same path towards self-actualization. How can we feel connected to other people, to Nature, if we are constantly taking advantage of resources for our pleasure? It’s rather naïve of us to think that we can separate things. Aristotle said that we are what we repeatedly do. Right now, we are repeatedly taking advantage of others, treating them as commodities, exploiting them for the sake of our temporary cravings.
Many people believe veganism is too radical. I agree. After analyzing our current ways of living and being, veganism is indeed radical. It goes against many of our core beliefs. What I’m asking you is to reflect for a moment. Leave aside all those norms and assumptions that the mainstream has been teaching you for a second to truly think for yourself. It isn’t easy to understand whether it is moral to eat other living beings or not. I tend to think that morality is but a social construction. What is undeniable, however, is that if we keep doing what we are doing, we won’t evolve to finally live up to our fullest potential!
This said, one year ago I mentioned that I changed both my diet and perspective on society. Even though I still mainly follow a vegan diet, there are times when I go back to eating eggs or cheese, usually when eating out with my friends or family. What I am trying to say is that I’m not perfect, I am subject to outside influences as well. But I’m conscious that every choice we make regarding food is a vote for the kind of future we want to see concretized. It is always inspiring and helpful to go back to Will Tuttle’s work to remind ourselves to keep choosing wisely.