Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Communion

I didn't plan to usher in Lughnasad in my hot kitchen at midnight, wrestling with a chicken.

Take and eat...

The chicken grew up healthily, running around on a farm near here. I hope she had a good chicken-life. Goddess knows most of her sisters don't. If Pagans talked about sin, then I would say that the way we treat other animals is one of our gravest sins.

This is my body...

For 11 years I was a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Meat wasn't necessary to sustain life, I reasoned, and so it was wrong to kill for matters of convenience or taste. Furthermore, the meat industry is cruel to animals - human and non-human - and to earth, polluting, poisoning, and otherwise squandering natural resources.

A few things happened to change my diet. Addicted to sugar, I visited a nutritionst who told me to start by doubling my protein intake. Then my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, and all the soy protein I was eating became verboten. And I read a remarkable book by Kathryn Paxton George, who argues that the vegan ideal is sexist, racist, ageist, and classist - that it relegates all but the most robust, healthy, privileged to a position of moral inferiority.

Given for you...

To live in accord – that, I believe, is a key Pagan value. We seek to find and honor our place on the earth and in the family of beings. The dominant culture doesn’t honor this ideal in the least. Our treatment of animals makes this clear. It’s an enormous violation to raise animals for food in factory farms, and in numbers to support the fast food industry. The animals suffer, the people working in the meat industry suffer, the earth suffers, and we suffer because we consume them. We create, full-cloth, a cycle of suffering as only human beings can.

When you do this...

To live in accord, and to eat meat, means to eat animals that were raised locally and humanely. Kathryn Paxton George argues persuasively that many people need meat in their diets. She also defends ethical, aesthetic semi-vegetarianism – eating meat and plants grown locally and healthfully, in moderation, and taking pleasure in food. Being closer to the source of my food makes it more difficult to deny what I’m doing when I eat an animal. I become more intimate with the cycles of life and death. And because I love my dog so deeply, and think every day about what it means to give him a good life, I also think about what it means for other animals to have a good life.

Remember...

Beings and plants die so that you and I can live and flourish. This is one of the mysteries, and it’s difficult to face. We must take care not to pervert or deny the cycles of life and death - whether by killing people in war or labor, polluting rivers and seas, taking more than we need. Indeed, given what humans have wrought, we have a special responsibility to heal the cycles. Witches and other Pagans may have a special role to play. Our spiritual values place us in a position to articulate much-needed visions for healing. The work that Common Ground is doing in Louisiana seems to me a perfect example of Pagan vision and action.

Remember me...

The earth provides everything we need, including death. She recycles and renews, provides our breath, food, water, and endless inspiration. At Lughnasad we’re still in the height of the growing season, but we harvest the first grains, taking life, to sustain us through the winter. Thus does death come in the midst of life.

And remember yourself...

I stayed up late on a hot night to roast a chicken so I could eat good protein this week. I thanked that chicken as I prepared it for the oven and as I tore the cooked flesh from its bones; I thanked it for providing its life so I could eat. It’s a complex thing; I’m not convinced I deserve that chicken’s life, though I need it. I saved the bones for soup stock and the pan drippings for my dog. I wanted to take that life consciously, in as full an awareness as I could muster, and use every bit of the gift. On this, the first of our harvest festivals, let us give thanks for She who provides and vow to honor Her ways to the best of our abilities. So mote it be.

8 comments:

ACey said...

So, practically speaking ... how did you re-awaken carnivorous enzymes in your digestive tract?

I'm a vegan because, for me it really is healthiest. I don't bring morality or philosophy into it but I would like a bit more flexibility to make eating less of a production while traveling. So far, I've been stopped by the psychological changes involved.

Insights?

Inanna said...

Wait - are you serious about carnivorous enzymes? I've never heard of such a thing. I just started eating meat again and never had a problem.

I'm not sure what kind of psychological changes you're talking about. Can you say more about this?

Andy said...

A great article, though the author you reference sounds a bit harsh - throwing around terms like racism and sexism in relation to vegans is strong stuff, though I've met as many vegans acting superior because of their food choices as I have not.

I can see your reasoning and generally don't disagree though personally I cannot eat meat because I simply could never kill the animals and unlike many am not content or comfortable with letting others do the killing for me. I'm neither pious nor attitudinal about it; I'm happy to sit next to people eating meat in restaurants and never berate or challenge, though many, many meat-eaters over time have said things along the lines of...

"You're vegetarian? People like you make me sick! You put us down all the time for eating meat and have a go at us while we're eating!"

And so and so forth. Of course they do this in front of my face while I am raising my fork to my mouth and don't see the joke of their own behaviour outlined in their words!

As for carnivorous enzymes, never heard of them but the idea makes sense to me... It's well over a decade and a half since I last ate meat and I have eaten it accidentally, just a mouthful or two, on two occasions where I immediately knew because I felt sick and actually was. So I think my body is now incapable of digesting meat, at least not without difficulty. And I know someone who is a natural vegetarian from birth, always refused baby food with meat in it and she's around 30 now and still cannot go near meat. Interesting! x

Inanna said...

Hi Andy! Good to see you.

The claim isn't that if you're a vegan, then you're sexist or racist. Good gods, no! That would be awful. Rather, the claim is that to hold all humans to a vegan ideal as the highest moral ideal is to discriminate against those who need meat in their diets by saying that they fail to live up to the highest moral ideal. Now, to accept that, you have to accept that some people need meat in their diets. The author makes a good case that often children, the elderly, the sick and wasting, and pregnant and lactating women are healthier when they have some meat. (She has a background in nutrition science and biology.) Some people aren't going to buy it, but I think she makes a good case. I also believe that not everyone needs meat in their diets, and many people don't do well with a lot of meat in their diets, and none of us do well with factory-farmed meat in our diets.

Blessings to you. I've been thinking about you guys.

Rubicon said...

I can agree with meat benefiting a diet. After my liver and gallbladders surgeries; since each was a day apart-- once I got home after 3 weeks and starved by the doctors (IV only for the most part) I craved hamburgers. lots'n'lots of hamburgers. I was all about eating protein and carbs. My body insatiably craved both. Soy or other plant based proteins never would've cut it.

P.S. I ate a lot of hamburgers :P great post Inanna-san :)

ACey said...

I've had it frequently confirmed for and to me - by both chinese doctors and a few allopaths as well as the Usual Suspect homeopaths and natural crunchy granola types that are in my first circle, that a very critical group of digestive enzyme structures that go dormant when we stop eating meat. It becomes more pronounced if a very low-fat diet is maintained.

For me, this has proven true and I have found myself having a very uncomfortable 48-72 hours, in a digestive tract sense, if I have something that includes a meat-based broth. Unlike the responses here, I have found this difficulty mirrored in others which is how I came to devote some time to studying enzymes, etc. If I said psychological, it was an error. I meant physiological. Just like anything else, some people are undoubtedly more or less sensitive to this kind of change/more or less overtly reactive to assimilation of change.

I think for me it will probably be easier to begin reintroducing flesh by way of fish ...

Inanna said...

Huh, I've never heard of that. I've heard some people report that reintroducing meat makes them feel ill, and others report that it has no noticeable effect. It may make sense to ask your homeopath or Chinese med practitioner, or an alterna-nutritionist, which meats, if any, are easier to digest. And go slowly.

I know that goat and sheep milk are easier to digest for humans than cow milk is - but that hardly helps your problem of wanting to be able to eat on the road....

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Hello Innana,
I've been reading your blog for a few months now (referred from Jason at the Wildhunt),and I just thought I'd pop a comment in to say how much I've seen you grow in that time.

I found this post totally inspiring-you write so well.

Keep going girl!

No,I haven't anything to add on the vegestarian debate-I'm happily omnivorous as were my ancestors-but I need to keepmindful of the flesh I put into my body,and whence it originated.

Thanks!

Terri in Joburg