Have been a vegetarian for many moons and I still stay wondering how come the Christian crowds managed to grow this fully blown negativity towards the diet, its carriers and the constant doubt about its health benefits regardless of the constant scientific health proves researchers keep revealing.
Somebody recently told me: „Did you know that our Saint Sava, a patron Orthodox Christian Saint of Belgrade was a vegan?“ He was a vegan and none would ever tell us (Christians) about it, yet if I say „vegetarian or vegan“ I seam to be instantly hitting a wall of disapproval, shock or worry.
Back in time, only last century, the time when our parents were kids, the time of the first TV and no mobiles, a typical agricultural household had some chickens for eggs, had some sheep for wool, a cow or goats to milk. Lots of animals meant lots of work, so the numbers were not huge. I remember visiting one of these households at the foot of a mountain, far enough from any civilization, not yet to be supplied with electricity and having its own supply of water, a well behind the house. A hard working host was cultivating the land from the early morning and his wife was tending the animals from 5:00 AM. Our food was freshly made veggies, salads and tons of fruit, lots of home-made „polenta“, bread and pastry from whole-meal floor.
A chicken a week perhaps, if in a bigger household, and a pig during a fest or a major holiday. Rarely does a farmer kill an animal that provides him with milk. Within this village, it was clear that the meat oriented diet was for the rich and the rich were only a few. The norm for most of the people on our little planet Earth was a vegetarian diet with some „meat treats“, if any, during the week.
St. Theresa of Avila, a Spanish Catholic Saint living during the 16th century, famous for her levitating skills (and I am not joking) was a charismatic nun who worked hard on a reform of the Church, insisting that the stricter abidance to fasting is observed within all of the Monasteries. Her companion St. John of the Cross is known for his “poverty“ driven life-style, bare-footed pilgrimages, and his pure respect of „simplicity“ within everything he has perused.
A typical monastic diet is a semi-vegetarian diet where fish is eaten once a week, all the rest are veggies, beans, grains and fruit.
The Orthodox Christians obey fasts that sometimes last as long as 1/3 of the whole year. Fasting one does not consume meat or meat products. So, tell me again, what was/is the problem with the vegetarianism within all these Christian countries when their Monks and Saints supported vegetarianism as a physically, mentally and spiritually beneficial diet? Without going into a philosophical discussion whether or not the diets made any difference to their sainthood, the root of the dietary conspiracy is deep and firmly nested within the generations of religious intolerance.
Behind this simple fight of „vegetarianism“ yes or no, the discussions are clearly illuminating the face of Fear that hides its reflections within all the souls that practiced anything else but Christianity within the Christian countries. To know a person to be a Muslim or a Jew or a Hindu or a Buddhist, one had to observe their diets. If they do not eat pork, or veal, they certainly must belong to a different religion, and no religion had tolerance towards each other.
Back in the 13th, 14th, 15th century, millions of Jews were prosecuted by the Inquisition for returning back to their ancestors spiritual practices. One of the ways to recognize a convert relapsing to own customs was to observe their diets.
A scary world of our past deeds peeks through this simple disagreement: shall we or shan't we eat meat...
Even though we worked hard to separate religion from our laws and behaviors, the religious clashes unfortunately stay our reality even today, so a conscious choice to eat or not eat meat stay deeply sub-consciously linked to our choice of spiritual practices. A semi-vegetarian diet was a norm all throughout our history among all but rich classes, (sometimes only 1% of the total population) and since „poverty“ was regarded a „virtue“ among various Monastic orders, we should not be surprised to learn that different Christian Saints were vegans living on sometimes only bread and water.
“We do food every single day! Conscious Eating is a big step toward Conscious Living. Quality and Quantity of Food is directly related to our Health and state of mind. We can use food to help us recover from Stress and Disease. Not taking food seriously will eventually lead to Stress or/and Disease.” Nataša Nuit Pantović, Mindful Eating Book
Nataša Pantovic Nuit is a Yogi, Author of 9 mindfulness books, and a Spiritual Researcher that lives and works in Malta. The Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training Series is about the alchemy of soul and our everlasting quest to find the gold within. Published by Art of 4 Elements Publisher Article Why Vegetarian