On Vegetarianism

Growing up in 3HO I was raised a vegetarian. We ate dairy and cheese, but no eggs and we avoided any food with other animal by-products like lard or chicken stock. I’d say that our diets were very strict, health food diets, but not vegan. Yogi Bhajan often instructed his students to go on fasts, usually lasting about six weeks (40 days was “the standard” to “break” a “habit”). I remember one fast that he instructed to women who wanted to lose weight: Drink nothing but Skim Milk mixed with Diet Coke, but that’s another topic all-together.

One time, as a child, one of us was served meat by accident and we all started to cry. We had no concept of a world that was indifferent to our vegetarianism.

Organizations that promote vegetarianism are well aware that children are easily frightened and even traumatized by the sight of slaughter and they know that children are unable to disseminate the complex information within such imagery. Yet they knowingly present the information bluntly and unapologetically (it’s parallel to the anti-abortion fanatics handing out “literature” outside clinics with tragic imagery of extracted fetuses). I don’t agree with the tactic used, and it dismays me to see that the cause for humane treatment of animals has grown far too fanatic and dogmatic.

Growing up in 3HO we too were conditioned to signify meat and any and all animal slaughter with mass violence and savagery. We were implanted with far too violent a picture of the nature of food with complicated politics and causes that we were too young to comprehend. As small children who hadn’t developed the skills to act or think rationally, morally or critically, our innocence was exploited and we were conditioned to be traumatized.

A child growing into adolescence may continue to carry this brutal imagery and the big-picture consequences with them for a long time. We become more and more weighed down by the burdens of society, experiencing feelings of guilt for anything that could be harmful in any way, and developing an unbalanced barometer for right and wrong. I think THIS is primarily why it took me a long time to decide to be an omnivore (but not strictly speaking). Today I’m happy that I’ve given the subject a lot of thought and can comfortably make decisions based on my own intellect and needs.

Because I am someone who is skeptical of, and continually disillusioned by the moral high ground, I know that a one-size-fits-all approach is not for me. Nor is it sensitive to the vastness of cultures around the world that all have the same common ground – food for sustenance and survival. I am dismayed by people who were and still are willing to ignore this very basic truth and buy into diet as religion, suspending logic to extract some kind of meaning from anything their leader tells them, meanwhile separating themselves from others based on irrelevant choices.

I recently read an article about a vegan restaurant which espouses the self-help philosophies of Landmark Forum, and encourages, sometimes even requires employees to spend their own money on Landmark Seminars. The Landmark Forum has been designated a cult by most in the cultic studies and psychology fields.

2 Replies to “On Vegetarianism”

  1. Eeeeyuh. EST was definitely known for being cultish in the 70s & 80s – not even secretively so. A lot of what Erhardt taught has snuck into modern American corporate culture – the word "commitment" itself was his favorite word.
    Having said all that, EST'ers didn't necessarily follow particular diets or have particular health convictions.
    I was ovo-lacto veg before 3hO, remained lacto-veg for several years, until an ovo-lacto relative died at a young age of heart disease …. I had to reassess things, and began to lean more vegan at that time … did about four years of mostly macrobiotics, when another relative had cancer … now I lean vegan-ish most of the time (little dairy, little fish, little pasta, now and then) ….
    There is a fine line to walk, I think, between the hysteria of PETA on the one hand (which, inasmuch as the orthodoxy about lacto-vegetarianism was practiced in 3hO, no one saw conflict between that and leather shoes, leather purses, leather kirpan sheaths, and real sheepskin rugs toted around all the time), and what is (in my mind, at least) the equivalent or louder "din" of the commercial advertising and dominance of people's consciousnesses of corporations like McDonald's and Domino's Pizza and Dunkin' Donuts…. having said all that … my personal belief is that the 3hO diet was overly dependent on starch, grease, and dairy products – and too skinny of really healthy vegetables and fruits and good protein sources (fried Indian 'milk biscuits' floating in a yogurt and ghee gravy over white rice just is not the health-giving recipe that it was cracked up to be).

  2. If you can't tell your child meat is murder/torture, what do you tell them? Also how do I post anonymously? I don't really care if this sites blogger knows my identity, but I would prefer randos not know my identity.

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