What is the primary link between the outer world we share that seems to be heading toward more intense conflict and the inner world of our attitudes and internalized narratives that gives rise to this outer world?
Although it’s overlooked in our culture, it’s food: that primary and existential bridge between the outer and inner. In eating, we take in what is outside of us and incorporate it into the living cells of our being, and it literally becomes this vehicle with which we self-identify and through which we express our awareness, our feelings, and our lives.
Food is the lost and hidden key to transforming our relationships with each other and with all life, and if we look deeply into our outer problems and dilemmas, we’ll find that it is our practice of animal agriculture—and our inner practice of the attitudes required by this abuse of animals— that imprison us in our bewildering maze of intensifying problems, rendering them overwhelming and insoluble.
We can pause and reflect and savor the situation, and look in a new direction for answers. We can contemplate food and recognize that we were all born into a culture that compelled us, virtually from birth, to eat the flesh and secretions of certain animals who are bred, confined, attacked, and killed for this purpose. We can grasp the significance of this, that early on, we are injected with the habit of disconnecting the reality that is on our plate from the reality required to get it onto our plate. We can learn to appreciate the weight of this, and that the prime taboo in this culture is honestly discussing the pervasive negative consequences of using animals for food and other products. The reason it is such a potent taboo is that, in our hearts, we yearn to live in a world of kindness and respect for all life, and we know better.
We naturally feel a kinship with animals, so we repeat to each other many inaccurate narratives to justify our relentless mistreatment of them, but the main weapon in our ongoing oppression of animals is our learned disconnectedness and our inner compartmentalization: we turn away, numb our feelings, and create inner walls that block awareness. All the primary institutions in our culture (religion, science, media, family, government, business, and education) cooperate to keep our catastrophic abuse of animals well hidden, ignored, trivialized, and accepted.
By consciously practicing respect and kindness in our meals we create the foundations for authentic positive change in our society. The world peace diet approach to living is a two-step process. First, bringing our outer lives into alignment with inclusiveness and compassion through adopting a vegan lifestyle, and second, bringing our inner lives into alignment with this through inner purification practices such as meditation, inner listening, and inner questioning so that we can heal the attitudes injected into us from infancy by the pervasive herding culture of materialism and exploitation.
As we change ourselves by resensitizing ourselves to our true nature, we become authentically capable of exemplifying and sharing these positive changes with others, and we can see signs of this happening all around us. Healing our inner corruption, we can co-create a society and leadership that mirrors this. We will be worthy of a world of harmony and freedom when we give cows, pigs, chickens, fishes, and other animals harmony and freedom, and then understand our true nature and let it guide us in our relationships with others.
Dr. Will Tuttle, visionary educator and musician, is author of the international best-seller, The World Peace Diet. A former Zen monk and recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award and Empty Cages Prize, he has created eight CD albums of uplifting original piano music and is a vegan since 1980.