Eating the light

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I went outside just before sunrise this morning to see the poppies that have been filling the mountainside outside my front door for the last two weeks and they were just preparing themselves for the arrival of the sun, in mass planticipation, opening their leaves halfway, readying for immediate bloom upon photon contact, as if not to miss any of the precious sunlight.

I had a realisation in that moment of the global connection between a vegan diet and spirituality. Plants are “light food” and spirituality is all about “lightness of spirit” and recognising your own light, culminating in the experience of enlightenment.

Plants are nice fellows generally, leaving you alone, dining at home on nutrients from the soil and sunshine from the sky. They have their aggressive qualities, which you will know about if you’ve ever been pricked by a thorn or stung by a nettle, but these qualities tend to be used in defence only. Not many plants go after animals, although there are a few exceptions. We have little or no fear of the plant kingdom, even disregarding it generally, treading on grass, plants and flowers, squashing them and killing them with little thought or remorse.

This is essential too, as we are forced to walk all over them when we are in the countryside, unless there is something already man-made, like a road or a city, where the flora has already been destroyed by others. We can develop an empathy towards plants and maybe we should, but in balance, because this is dangerous. I heard of a spiritual master once who couldn’t bear to walk on the grass because of his love for it. I wondered what on earth he ate?

If like me, you live in the countryside and have weaved a path through a florally-dense meadow to avoid squishing the beautiful flowers – you know what I am talking about. But we have to walk on something and we have to eat something too. For us to live, something has to die. Period. Have any of you heard the inaudible sound of a vegetable screaming as you cut it up for the pot? If you have, I bet you have never mentioned the “cruelty” of a meat-based diet since. If plant pain was as apparent to us as animal pain we would all be in trouble, especially the healthy vegans, as we like to eat our prey while it’s still alive, or raw, as we like to call it!

Animals are a different kettle of fish. While there are many vegetarian animals, usually gentler in nature than their carniverous counterparts, many of the hunters hunt in the darkness of night, unaffected by the lack of light, using darkness to their advantage, favouring animals that tend to eat vegetation in the light of day.

We are so much more wary of animals than plants and in countries where we are potential prey, in most cases we carry a gun, so scared are we of meeting the violence of an animal of another species. Carnivorous animals are particularly violent because they hold little light. They consume second-hand light only in the form of plant protein that their victims have ingested previously. It is a dim and tainted light and its subquality promotes an unusual hunger, a ravenous need for more.

In humans, a plant-based diet lights up the inner pathway. It makes us more subtle, leading us more towards heart and away from the grossness or denseness at the other end of our spectrum, where survival and violence dwell. If you are tired of feeling heavy and burdened by the demands of survival and you crave a “lightness of spirit”, you need to realise more. As to see in the dark, we require light input. To change our perception, we require light nutrition, the highest quality of which is provided by eating plants.

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