Everything’s not a matter of principle

I’m not a vegan. In fact, I call myself a carnivore. I eat mostly meat, few plants. If you read about Dao, you may find that odd. If you walk with Dao, you probably won’t.

I’ve researched plant- vs animal-based diets for decades. Discussions often followed. And arguments. And unfriending. And then there are the memes. The majority of memes in food politics seem to focus on “moral” superiority. I recognize the competitiveness and consumerism that drives this argument. Mostly, I recognize the deep lack of awareness at the damage done by the notion of dualism.

I used to struggle with the notion that we are spirits trapped in flesh. Yes, we’re thinking animals. Does that make us two things? Are we by nature two disparate entities at war within ourselves — spirit vs flesh? This (Cartesian) dualism has been around a long time. It even infected Daoism as it developed after Laozi (part of that stuff distracting from the heart that I mentioned a few posts back). Dualism is so much part of both West and East, it infects even those far removed from any religion and ignorant of philosophy.

Why does existence itself require a civil war?

I suspect the war was not started by your birth but by your culture. Splitting you in two, seeking to control one part or the other, gas-lighting you into trusting authorities more than yourself, is the work of humans not Dao. Many “shoulds” control you, shouted at you by governments, churches, ideologues, and profiteers.

Dualism denies that humans exist within nature. It tells us that we are superior. We are souls clothed (or trapped) in flesh. Only we, of all animals, are required to label and deny ourselves in ways other animals aren’t. We must free our spirits from the flesh. We shoulder the burden of morality, and more importantly, only certain people can be trusted to tell us what that morality should be. Is it your church? Your father? Your friends? Your ego?

Ho hum.

Right now, microscopic creatures are eating what they can of you inside and out. At every moment, larger animals — parasites and predators — will try to consume you if they can. And one day, they will succeed, even if it’s only beetles and worms that enjoy what’s left of you.¬†We are each part of a cycle that consumes and is consumed.

Running across some vegan memes today had me thinking about choices. For one seeking “virtue,” choosing between a cow and a tomato is not as simple as a meme makes it sound.

In any case, “virtue” is a spurious word.

When I see turkeys trotting through the early morning mist near my home, sometimes I think “beautiful” and sometimes I think “yummy.” It depends on whether I’m hungry.

I seek to live in my body. I am embodied. I am one, not many. And when I walk with Dao I am one, still.