It is not always easy to live out our priorities. We may be swayed by family and friends to be or act a certain way, that may not even be us. We may be influenced by tradition. We may be influenced by old habits. Some of us simply don’t know what our priorities are, as we don’t truly know yet who we are. Some of us may have not visited or updated our priorities in years, as we got lost in the hustle and bustle of life.
In this article of the month, I want to touch upon one last set of priorities that are critical for us to examine at the present time – a set that seems the toughest for many yet to examine, and even tougher to live out – our spiritual and global eating priorities.
Based on 2008 research presented in the wonderful diagram featured at the top — Daily Calorie Intake by Country, created by Lauren Manning represents the average daily, personal calorie intake by country. The word bubble above from the person on the far right side, states:
Does it make sense that the United States spends 250 million dollars a day on obesity-related diseases and 109 million dollars on weight loss programs, while they only spend 5.5 million a day on global food aid to help people like me?
It is not difficult to figure out why those particular top 8 countries are eating on average, above 3000 calories per day. What these countries have in common is that their diets are heavily based on animal foods, namely meat, and dairy. And what about the people on the other end of the spectrum? While some are getting too much, others not enough. Both sets of populations are suffering in their own way. Our goal and joint priority should be on evening things out. Unfortunately, this is not the way of the world, yet. Everyone is interested in their own vested interests, where selfish attitudes, rather than altruism prevail.
I once heard a person say in response to the issue of malnourishment in other countries and overeating in North America: “Why should I have to restrict myself, just because they are suffering? It doesn’t make sense for all of us to suffer.” Perhaps not the best example, but I think most of us can see this is not an approach that will help to solve our world hunger or health problems. This type of thinking only keeps us stuck where we are.
The topic of eating priorities as I mentioned above is a sensitive one. Too many of us still feel like we deserve a certain way of life and how dare anyone to intrude on that, challenge it or make us actually think about it. Thankfully, with the increasing numbers of people waking up and making personal changes that lead to community changes, we are seeing some positive shifts. As we each change our ways, we begin to lead by example. This is about walking our talk, especially in the spiritual communities, instead of just addressing those topics which are convenient for us, while we look the other way on topics that make us uncomfortable. Discomfort drives change, so it is actually a good thing for us to be open to such topics.
The point is that our food choices matter today more than ever, for so many reasons. And as beings who claim to be spiritual, to live out of love, and peace and harmony – I think we owe it to ourselves and our world to set an example, to raise the standard and most importantly to inspire.
I am not going to use the terms vegan or vegetarian in this article, which create so much resistance for many people to this day, and bring out every excuse, defense, and attack possible. I am just asking each of us to simply think about our eating priorities from a spiritual and global perspective.
To conclude, I will leave you with a short TED talk video presentation, entitled Weekday Vegetarian, which will give you some more food for thought, some questions to reflect on, and some possible solutions, where this subject is concerned.
Some of you may be inspired by it and love it, some of you may attack it or dismiss it. In the end, it matters not. The point is that our world is on an unsustainable path when it comes to the choices we make and how they impact the state of the environment, our health, our global food supply, and animal welfare. We are all in this together, and we can vote with every meal whether we move towards healing this planet and all of its inhabitants, or not.
There are clear solutions in front of us, but they are not going to help if we refuse to acknowledge and apply them.