In our infinite choices of food (speaking from a US perspective), how do we eat making karmically good choices? What are your challenges, thoughts, and successes?
I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my adult life (I’m 57) and when I can, I choose vegan foods. My partner is an omnivore. I do most of the cooking in our home, so I cook veggie meals for me and meat meals for her (she does eat occasional veggie meals too). I feel like everyone has to make their own karmic choices, so I’m perfectly fine with all food choices.
Usually the “food” question gets framed within a meat/dairy or no meat/dairy choice, and more recently gluten is in the mix. But recently I’ve wanted to explore the “sugar or no sugar” question. I like sugar and have never wished to limit it, but have been curious to explore the outside motivators for choosing to eat less of it.
I’m passionate about making the best choices for the planet’s health, and wondered what sugar’s carbon footprint might look like. I read a two part article on this topic and found these to be my top two motivators:
Sugarcane is the number one agricultural product produced by child labor or forced labor. Globally it is estimated that 152 million child laborers and 25 million forced laborers are exploited each year in general, and for agriculture sugarcane is number one (U.S. Department of Labor)
Sugarcane takes 390 gallons of water to produce 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of sugar. Sugar beets take 243 gallons of water to produce the 1 kilogram of sugar. To put this in context, one person averages this same water amount per two years (243-390 gallons). That is a CRAZY amount of water!
This is enough external motivation for me to drastically reduce my sugar intake. I guess my body will be happier and healthier too!
Would love to know what your thoughts on all things concerning karmic food choices. In gratitude…thanks for reading
OOO thanks Dana for putting this out there. I believe that food is a very subjective topic in which people should do whatever is best for them. With that being said, I love the idea of sharing our choices and the whys behind them. My choices reflect my personal ethos surrounding sustainability, animal welfare, and a healthy gut microbiome to combat autoimmune issues.
I am a predominantly whole/raw food vegan (sattvic as much as possible). That means no meat, no dairy, and very limited processed foods (including sugar). I am not perfect and enjoy a good impossible burger from time to time, but I find that my body responds best when I am eating whole foods. When I say responds best - I mean less inflammation, more energy, less feeling heavy and full, and a ton more motivation to stay disciplined to my sadhana. (check out Goodness Lover for some more information about gut-brain connection)
My whole relationship with food has changed recently, moving more and more towards eating for energy/fuel when I am hungry vs a standard 3 meal a day. I listen more to what my body needs and do my best to honor that. (I like the 1/3 rule - 1/3 air, 1/3 food, 1/3 drink)
In terms of animal welfare - it hurts my heart to think of animals being shoved into small cages, dying on top of each other, laying in their own feces, and never once seeing the sun. I would much rather see meat/dairy/eggs produced from smaller regenerative agriculture farms. Even so, I do my best to practice ahimsa.
Lastly sustainability. Eating a plant-based diet protects our valuable non-renewable resources, stops deforestation, prevents water scarcity, and contributes to reduction of carbon emissions.
If anyone is considering going vegan/plant-based and is unsure where to start I would love to have a conversation No pressure or judgements. In kindness and light always, namaste
I don’t know what I’m doing, haha. Taking Maharaji’s teachings to heart, I haven’t fully given up anything nor am I following any strict dietary code, but out of desire to deepen my practice and as a show of devotion I’ve stopped buying meat, fish, and milk. I will still consume those things, but only if they’re offered to me - or in odd cases like last night where I prepared some frozen shrimp I had bought weeks ago before starting down this path, so as not to let them go to waste.
I try to find locally grown food when I can, there’s a weekly farmer’s market in my area that has been an awesome source of produce. I haven’t looked into supplements yet, which may be a wise thing to do soon since I know I’m not eating an extremely varied diet…
As for sugar, I’ve been avoiding it as much as I can just from a health perspective… I had no idea about the ethical problems involved in it’s production! Thank you for that, definitely will help me avoid it even more now.
And thank you Brittany for sharing all that! May start to incorporate some of that into my own daily practice. The hardest part of eating sattvic for me would be preparing everything fresh… I love meal-prepping and saving left overs
I like how you’re easing into different choices through devotion, and how you’ve “stopped buying meat, fish, and milk” but remain open to the offering. I’m kind of like that with eating vegetarian, if I go to someone’s house and they put chicken stock in a veggie dish, I’m open to the offering. I don’t like to waste food or discount someone’s loving effort of providing the food. It can be difficult to navigate in all aspects of our life, but we try to be the most caring loving soul we can!
Thanks for sharing!
I totally am with you on the animal welfare aspects of not choosing meat or dairy. The sattvic diet link you provided is very interesting, my biggest barriers to eating that way would be coffee, tea, and leftovers! lol.
I appreciate the mention of the gut microbiome also. I’ve paid attention to that for the past year with great results. I also love the the thought that there are millions of my gut buddies living inside helping me out if I just give them the food they love!
Yo Zach it sounds like you are doing the best with what you got and I love everything about that. Doing your part to not waste food. Making small but impactful choices to avoid meat and dairy (no matter your reasons). And even utilizing your farmers market!
This part here:
If and where you can…COLORS! Add as many colors to your plate as possible. Tasting the literal non-skittles rainbow <3 I love buddha bowls for tackling this (a lot of pre-made/chopped veggies + quinoa+hummus) And since you did not ask at all about our opinions on supplements please don’t mind my unsolicited suggestion anyways - Athletic Greens + Vitamin D + Vitamin B. I have autoimmune/histamine issues (yeah as fun as it sounds) and taking these daily have changed my life. But obviously based on your constitution and dietary needs yours may look different. Cheers to bumbling through this life and learning as we go
Wow, thank you! Solicited suggestions are the lamest kind
No but really, that’s very kind of you You’ve really given us a lot to chew on there ^^
Still haven’t done my basic research yet, but since we’re sharing info guess I’ll put this to the room - do any of you take iron, specifically? Think I’ve heard that’s a common deficiency in vegetarian/vegan diets.
I agree… the Athletic Greens is a really great supplement! I took it for about a year and then switched to Bullet Greens. The Athletic Greens is a bit pricy so for about half the price I use Bullet. Bullet Greens also tastes a bit like pineapple, which I’m enjoying! Supplements are good even if you aren’t Vegetarian/Vegan!
I have to take blood tests a few times a year with my autoimmune stuff, and the only thing I have ever shown up low on is vitamin B. This is before I started taking a vitamin B specific supplement and now I am within normal range. So actually no, I do not take any iron supplements. At least one of my meals a day has the following: chickpeas, leafy greens, cashews, chia seeds, and quinoa…these are all iron rich so I guess I get what I need.
Diné activist Dr. Lyla June Johnston stopped eating sugar due to the historically exploitive nature of the sugar industry - which sounds not much less exploitive today even tho now the supposedly ‘good’ alternative to high-fructose corn syrup. Good on you for reducing your sugar consumption.
I predominately eat ketogenic and sometimes go days just eating meat and fat. I feel much more healthy avoiding many fruits and vegetables and other types of carbs. Been like for many years and it seems my health stays pretty good. I try not to get trapped in a specific position with diet and some moral ideas about diet, and try to remain standing no where on those subjects.
I find the world perfect as it is with how cultures all over the world have chosen to live and feed themselves. I eat what I want and I am pretty happy about it.
Thank you for sharing Dana. I eat predominantly plant based food and on the very raw occasion a piece of fish (if I am somewhere that cannot facilitate for me). I think you have shared one of the many hidden food exploitations. Regardless of food choices as I know the topic can bring up a lot of passionate opinions in some I am starting to see the core issue is how we produce food. Mass production processes in industry are creating immoral and unethical practices. So while I do not eat meat I am a champion of the smallholder. When greed is the heart of any production is really cannot be good, very sad really. Just my opinion all the way from my little green isle of Ireland.
Thank you for sharing this, you highlight a great point! Regardless of the being/product, its mass production is entwined in the process. The closeness we have to whatever we eat can make all the difference, and of course the craft/love becomes risen to the top.
You live in a beautiful country. I had the pleasure of visiting Dublin last November and hope to one day see the countryside.
Appreciative of the middle way discussion here. Much on this subject can become weaponized, judgmental, and shaming. Ethical living is clearly a process and not a destination. Something I certainly continue to work on.