The garden of Eden tale is really a metaphor for the loss of humanity's creative energy, man's divorce from nature and subsequent marriage to the material. It was this separation that lay the groundwork for the distorted view of woman as 'evil' which then took root in many religions and continues to this day.
As with religion, both the Feminist and Vegetarian Movements were co-opted and twisted into something that seems more in line with fundamentalism than groups of people expressing ideas reflective of their choices.
What's interesting is how both these movements, in many cases, have become intertwined. Many feminists today seem to identify with vegetarianism and many female vegetarians have embraced the feminist cause. Both feminists and vegetarians have earned a reputation for vitriolic argumentation that often leaves their detractors recoiling in fear. If simple dialogue provokes such knee-jerk reactions, perhaps a closer look at the possible underlying motivations behind the feminist vegetarian/vegan (fem v/v) movement is warranted.
According to an oft-cited 1992 Daniel Yankelovich study commissioned by Vegetarian Times magazine:
...of the 12.4 million people who call themselves vegetarian, 68 percent are female while only 32 percent are male.The fem v/v movement has been growing exponentially over the past few years. As pointed out above, anyone visiting one of the many sites or forums dedicated to this cause will quickly notice that self-righteous anger unpins much of the debate. While it's understandable that one wouldn't want to discuss meat on a v/v website, many carnivores have found their own sites overrun with v/v "clappers" outraged at the slightest hint that the v/v diet may not be the healthiest. For people who claim to promote peace and love, v/v devotees sure come across as angry. Why is this?
Often, what lies behind anger is fear and deep disappointment. Perhaps fem v/vs fear being reminded of the hurt they experienced as a child and seek to rescue the self via saving animals and converting carnivores?
Carnivory and Female Subjugation
CAFOs). Basically, they seem to project their own experiences onto animals. While the conditions in CAFOs are undeniably violent and cruel, v/vs are equally repulsed by the idea of eating pastured animals whose lives are more in tune with nature. Unfortunately, some feel so strongly about the issue that any suffering in the animal kingdom, even hunting and killing by humans for food, is too much to bear.
Such empathy for other living creatures is commendable, but very often v/vs' empathy applies only to animals and those humans who agree with the v/v worldview. Empathy is a basic human trait (or at least it used to be) and should be part of any human interaction, even with those who have made different choices. Why does kindness and the respect of free will towards anyone who chooses to eat meat suddenly cause v/vs to take leave of their senses?
Could it be that some fem v/vs have been subjected to so much unacknowledged pain and hurt in this world (via sexism and other forms of ponerization) that they, like their male counterparts, can no longer recognize themselves in another? Very often, it seems, when someone lives in such a state, it's because of a refusal to see the self - to gain access to their own emotional landscape - long enough to realize that they too are human and are vulnerable to mistakes. Rather than accept that simple fact, they may align themselves with animals in a last-ditch effort to somehow prove to themselves and others that they have risen above any perceived or real weakness. Although strongly identified with victimization, they have unwittingly become the victimizer of anyone who does not share their views.
Being born female often means enduring a lifetime of physical and/or emotional abuse. To be constantly deemed by others (and eventually the self) as unacceptable often leads to developing a protective wall in order to survive. For those who experience excessive sexual or psychological abuse, this wall is especially thick and high. This can make it even more difficult to receive input from others as such input is often perceived as an attack. So it's not surprising that, for some, issues surrounding sex and gender would trigger them to project their own wounding onto anyone or anything mirroring it.
Women experience sexism from a young age. They are constantly subjected to degradation and embarrassment when they don't live up to societal standards. Name-calling in the form of 'b**ch' and 'cow' is a common experience for many. Perhaps these derogatory terms cause women to further relate to the abusive treatment of animals? Additionally, the fact that most meat sources are gained from the female of the species is one reason that many would not only identify with the plight of animals but also seek to defend them against objectification.
These past traumas eventually wear on a person to the extent that any situation is viewed within the context of 'us against them'. The problem is compounded when all evidence of societal pathology is seen as just cause to adopt rather extreme moralistic stances that tend to find fault in those who bear no responsibility. You could call it 'collateral damage'.
Feminist-vegetarian theorist, Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory, attempts to connect and equate the objectification of animals with women. She has coined it "anthropornography":
Anthropornography is the depiction of non-humans as prostitute-animals who desire to be eaten. From this month's Vanity Fair with a dead chicken in high heels, to the "Turkey Hooker," animals' suffering is made into sexualized fun. With anthropornography, the inequality of species conveys the inequality of gender; desire hides dominance. While vegetarians, vegans and animal activists are accused of anthropomorphizing animals - of projecting human qualities onto nonhuman animals - it seems that really it is meat eaters and anthropornographers who do this. Animal activists know that animals are like human beings because human beings are animals. Animorphs, through its sympathetic magic theme, suggests this truth too.In the above excerpt, Adams makes the comparison between the way animals and women are treated in the context of pornography. Unfortunately, anyone who isn't vegetarian or vegan is included. This same inability to separate the individual and their specific circumstances is commonly seen in the feminist movement with regard to making all men the enemy. What Adams and others seem to misunderstand is that there is a greater enemy at work when considering the role of psychopaths. Like many vegetarian/vegans, she can't see the forest for the trees. In doing so, all carnivores are seen as supporters of misogyny at best, and murderers at worst.
Ignoring the Death Knell
No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. - John Donne, Meditation XVIISome common misconceptions vegetarians/vegans have about carnivores is that they neither care about, nor have respect for, the lives of animals. That they are clueless feeders. While this may be the case for some, it's certainly not true for all. Many meat eaters, in fact, have a deep reverence for life and consciously make choices that support an animal's right to a healthy and happy life. They realize clearly how the well being of the meat they eat directly affects their life. As many vegetarians/vegans know, when the food source is as healthy as possible, it benefits all life. What is overlooked by some fem v/vs are the choices and needs of others.
If 'everything has a season', then why is it so difficult for some vegetarians/vegans to accept that, at some point, all life comes to an end? All life includes vegetables as well as animals and unfortunately, in every life cycle, something must die for others to live. Just take a close look at the natural world around you. For many people, this is not easy to accept, as it means that at some point, we too must die. As they are among those who have been blessed with the ability to give life, perhaps some feminist v/vs experience greater difficulty coming to terms with mortality and project their understanding of the life-giving Mother onto all they encounter, while shunning carnivores who remind them of death.
It may also be that fem v/vs feel that carnivores have developed psychological roadblocks to remain ignorant of the fact that their meal comes from something that was once alive. But this doesn't apply to all meat eaters. On the contrary, some carnivores are acutely aware and grateful that an animal has given its life. In addition, when purchasing pastured meat, one can quite easily see the sinew, muscles, bones, blood and organs. One cannot easily ignore that the meat once belonged to a living, breathing being. If we are mindful enough, we can take the opportunity to come to grips with our own mortality and choose to honor the life taken by living more fully.
This resistance to accepting death is programmed into modern society. The general public is encouraged to push away any thoughts of pain and death, whether it be packaged 'food' that no longer resembles its original form, or pharmaceuticals for keeping us zoned out to the wars our governments wage against innocent people around the world. So I can understand why some fem v/vs, as with the general public, shy away from anything having to do with death.
But ignoring death doesn't equate to loving life more; it equates to loving life less. Making the choice to not bear witness to all of existence - as it is - means that we are not accepting of it. In other words, we do not respect it. It's the same as saying we love someone more because we don't accept all of them. Picking and choosing what we like and don't like is to hold in contempt all experiences that have served to make that person who they are. In turn, when those who say they love us reject certain aspects of us, we too are denied true love. So v/vs who can't accept that animals must die for us to live because they 'love' them so much, may want to reconsider whether they are embracing life or despising a core and natural aspect of it.
Embracing life also encompasses the idea that we are all both predator and prey. Humans are just as subject to death, whether by animals, the hand of other humans or disease. Something will get us in the end. Even if we manage to live a long, healthy life, our corpses will feed microorganisms in the soil. The circle of life can't be denied, nor should it. And the circle of life is, in it's most basic form, everything eating everything else. When viewed objectively, nature is quite amazing. Everything feeds and is fed, or as Lierre Keith puts it in The Vegetarian Myth, "for someone to live, someone else has to die."
The knowledge that every animal, plant, person, wind, and season is indebted to the fruit of everything else is adult knowledge. To reject the inherent indebtedness that comes with being alive, means you don't want to be part of life, and you don't want to grow into an adult.This idea has been accepted by many ancient and 'primitive' societies that had a much healthier view of life. It speaks to a mature knowledge that is sorely lacking in our 'modern' world. To deny this very real and profound aspect of reality is akin to a child failing to grasp a concept that is too advanced for their underdeveloped mind. While not all carnivores are on board with this concept, many do realize that as they consume, they too are consumed. They too are 'meat' for some other life form.
- Martin Pretchel, Long Life, Honey in the Heart
Cult of the Goddess
messiah complex. The tactics of coercion and guilt used by v/vs can have innocent carnivores immediately looking for the nearest exit. In addition, v/vs who show up on websites known to promote carnivory often find themselves banned for what amounts to trolling and flaming. What's the driving force behind such ire?
At the beginning of this article, I suggested that fear caused by wounding and an almost obsessive need to save the self through others was that driving force. That the fear of death, fear of life, fear of one's own humanity and fear of others can and does lead to irrational behaviors. But perhaps there are other contributing factors...
The vegan/vegetarian diet has been the subject of much research and has been found to be lacking in essential nutrients crucial to brain development. Contrary to popular v/v belief, meat is the optimal food for humans. When one's brain isn't fed properly, cognitive issues develop. This further compounds past traumatic life experiences and makes it more difficult to work through the associated issues. In other words, v/vs are denying themselves the dietary support that is crucial for the successful resolution of psychological problems.
The following is an interesting take on what may be a deeper truth to the question I have been wrangling with here:
Session: June 11, 2011This would explain the fanatical nature of some fem v/vs and further clarify why some seem to have lots of empathy for animals but very little for humans. But this still leaves the question of why the movement as a whole has a fundamentalist flavor to it:
A: The genetic body tends toward the animal nature. Note that we said "tends". In those of the "fanatical" vegetarian nature, this tendency is very strong. In fact, you could even say that there is strong identification with the genetic body and all it is connected to energetically.
Q: (L) So what do you mean, "strong identification with the genetic body and all it is connected to energetically"? Is that what I was thinking, that these fanatical vegetarians do not want to eat meat because for them, it's like eating their own kind? For them, eating a cow is like cannibalism because they identify with the animal kingdom so strongly that...?
A: Yes. [...]
Q: (L) Okay. (Galaxia) So basically they're people with the essence of an animal?
Q: (L) They identify with the energetic... (Galaxia) They look like people, but they're not.
Q: (Galaxia) They don't eat cows because they have the essence of a cow!
Q: (Ark) They care more about the cows than about other human beings.
Q: (L) That means they have empathy for animals - that is, their own spiritual kind - and not for humans.
Session: June 11, 2011So maybe it's over-identification with the material/physical realm that keeps the v/v movement as a whole, and some fem v/vs in particular, stuck in their illusion. The fear of death, of self and of others, that many exhibit via trauma, is reflected in their authoritarian behavior. But what would it take for some who are not so entrenched in the v/v illusion to gain clarity?
Q: (L) I once asked if vegetarian was the way that one should eat, and you said that no, not generally, as that was concentrating on the physical. What did you mean exactly by that?
A: Most vegetarians are such, believing that it is more "spiritual". This is a belief that eating a certain way will change the nature or destiny or tendencies of the soul. This is as effective as confessing one's sins to a priest and doing penance and then sinning again. Besides, as you have noted, the vegetarians you have encountered have been singularly "unspiritual".
Q: (L) Okay, let me try to ask it this way: Is the fact that we eat meat detrimental to us spiritually?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: (L) But I would say that just the eating of meat is not a spiritual issue at all. (Perceval) Eating food is a thing of the body. (L) Yeah, I mean we just try to eat in an optimal way to give our bodies the right fuel so that we can do our other work. That's our whole thing is to give the body optimal fuel.
A: There is the difference, see? You eat for optimal fuel, they eat to support an illusion.
Q: (L) Well, they don't all eat to support an illusion. A lot of them think that vegetables are an optimal fuel illusion. (Perceval) But they couldn't think that if they really objectively read all the details.
A: They lack objective knowledge.
It seems that only those determined to bear witness to objective reality would seek to look behind the wizard's curtain. Far too many, however, choose to remain asleep. Although such information can be difficult to find, it is out there - much of it on this site.
Finding One's Religion
Some may argue that they used to eat meat and felt terrible, but often any discomfort felt was caused by factors such as gluten, dairy, sugar (in all forms), corn, soy and transfats. When you do the research, remove toxic grains and dairy and carefully and slowly increase your consumption of proteins and healthy fats, many issues resolve themselves. Our bodies are constantly trying to help us get well and the Paleo lifestyle has been found to be the most optimal for humans.
Books such as The Vegetarian Myth, Primal Mind, Primal Body, Life Without Bread and others are crucial to understanding not just why eating meat is beneficial for humans, but why such a choice supports the health and well-being of animals and honors life in general.
The constant choice to see life as objectively as we can, at every moment, is the best way to honor and respect every being, regardless of the species. To do otherwise is to not only place oneself in the position of god, but also objectifies, exploits and oppresses the self, others and the Universe at large.