How Do You Decide To Be a Vegetarian or a Meat-Eater? by John Cali

grilling beefsteaksGrilling Beefsteaks

In our last newsletter article, The Magical Critters of Wyoming, we had a short video tour of some of Wyoming’s wild and domestic animals.

We received quite a few comments from you, our readers, as many of you are animal lovers. Several of you mentioned vegetarianism. I know the issue of being a vegetarian versus being a meat-eater can be a contentious one.

I personally am vegetarian. But I never try to impose my views on others. As my spirit guides have said, this is an issue each of us must decide for ourselves, based on our personal beliefs and values—and we have no right to judge or criticize those different from us.

For years I went back and forth between being vegetarian and not being vegetarian. I did a lot of soul-searching, and asked myself lots of questions. I finally answered them to my satisfaction, bringing me to what I am now—a committed vegetarian.

Here are some of those questions, in no particular order. I’d love to get your thoughts and comments about them.

  • How do I feel about the way farm animals are often (mis)treated?
  • How do I feel about using animals for clothing—for example, fur coats or leather shoes?
  • Do I believe eating meat is healthy for me?
  • Do I believe a vegetarian diet is healthy for me?
  • Is the farming of animals hurting our planet and the environment?
  • Do not all animals have a right to live out their natural lives, just as humans do?
  • Can I enjoy eating meat without feeling guilty?
  • As Dr. Albert Schweitzer said, “If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life.” How do I reconcile that with eating meat?
  • As a meat-eater, how do I feel about vegetarians?
  • As a vegetarian, how do I feel about meat-eaters?
  • Do animals have the same feelings and emotions humans have?

Related links:
What Is Your Relationship With Animals?
What Is Your Relationship With Animals? Part 2
Heart to Heart
Pets: Our Teachers and Healers


Please share your thoughts and comments with us below.

We welcome your comments and thoughtful opinions, whether you agree or disagree with us. Please keep your comments polite and relevant to the topic of this post. If needed, we’ll edit for clarity. Also, we’ll delete anything we consider inappropriate.

24 Responses

  1. Kim

    Wow! I am so grateful that I scrolled down to the comments on this one. I had a very odd experience about a month ago. I was literally standing in my living room, getting ready to begin cleaning, and with a sudden rush of “knowing,” I knew I would no longer eat meat. I had not been contemplating this change (and in fact had laid out a frozen package of chicken to cook for dinner that night), but I had recently taken what I call an exponential leap in my spiritual growth and clarity. I am guessing that my exponential leap and me decisively giving up all meat (including fish) are closely related. So I am a new vegetarian, and it has been a very surreal transition for me. Although I do wonder why this happened to me now and why in this way, I know that it is for a reason that is specific only to me, and that knowing why is much less necessary than just being willing to go with what feels very right. We all must make the choice that best fits our place on our own journey. I have no judgement of others who choose differently than me. Their journey and their choices are just as valid as mine. Thank you to everyone who has posted comments to this blog post (and John, to you for making the post). I needed the insight that all of you have provided.

    • John Cali

      Thanks so much, Kim, for sharing your experiences with all this — and thanks also for your kind words. I appreciate you being a part of this community.

  2. Terry Parker

    As a vegetarian commercial pilot I am often asked the why question when the crew food is served. I have to say since becoming a vegetarian 22 years ago my country (UK) has become far less suspicious of and even embraces this lifestyle. But the question tends to lead to discussions about about the morals of eating animals to which I usually answer:

    ‘I do not know if it is wrong to eat animals but I do know that I feel it somehow goes against my own personal ethics and if I chose to ignore these inner feelings this would be deeply personally immoral’

    So I say to them I am not against meat eating just find it abhorrent that a person can have a strong personal moral feeling about an issue and ignore it. I feel it diminishes our goodness. Do what feels right.

    And my personal favorite when asked in a light humored way – I don’t know if a vegetarian diet is healthy for me but I believe it is very healthy for the animals!

    • John Cali

      Thanks very much, Terry, for your wise and witty comments.

      That’s pretty much the approach I take when people ask me about being vegetarian. But I’d never thought of your “personal favorite” response — I’m going to remember that. And use it! 🙂

      Thanks again. I hope all is well with you.

      • Barbara

        I love your “personal favourite” response, Terry. I might use that one myself.

  3. Susan

    Hi, John —

    I finally decided some months ago to try a way of eating according to my own blood type, because after reading about it, it did seem to make sense. All foods contain something called lectins and certain lectins don’t mix well with certain blood types and can create problems because they clog up the proper blood flow — at least that’s the part of the theory behind it. I am enjoying the experiment! There is some meat in it for me…but, no guilt.

  4. Jose Coelho

    Dear John,

    I’m writing you from Portugal. I’m a close reader of your very insightful articles. I am a 44 year old man and I am not a vegetarian. I love vegetarian cuisine, I eat it all the time (love tofu) but I also love eating grilled fish and chicken once in a while. Here in Portugal we have the tradition of eating salted codfish, that I absolutely love. Why should I stop eating something that I love so much and to live with this temptation the rest of my life? I’m also gluten intolerant and it’s hard for me to resist the crazy temptation everyday of eating wheat. I try not to eat with fear and enjoy food whether it’s meat or vegetables. Eating with fear is what intoxicates our body. And one should decide at some point in his life what kind of food is healthy for his body. Maybe someday I will become a fully and commited vegan. And I think I will someday. it’s just a question of time. Thank you. Obrigado 🙂

    • John Cali

      Hi Jose,

      Thanks very much for your comments and kind words.

      My parents and their generation came to the US from Sicily. We often had salted cod. I don’t know if it’s a Mediterranean thing or not, but I never liked it, even when I ate meat and fish. 🙂

      I agree with you — eating (or doing anything) from a place of fear is harmful to us and our bodies.

      Thanks again.

  5. Ken

    Whatever your feelings are on the subject, I think everyone should educate themselves on our food industry. My son is a senior in high school and is in a class called “Food”. They watched films on mass dolphin slaughter in Japan, and the absolutely brutal conditions of how pigs, cows and chickens are “raised” by companies that provide products for McDonald’s. For a teenager (and even myself) it was a truly eye-opening experience. He is now very resistant to any fast food and understands what processes go into the food we do consume. They even covered how many different “corn products” are in the things we eat and drink. Not to mention learning about the government subsidization of farmers, farm products and farm prices.

    I applaud his school for making this type of information available.

  6. Jeff Baxter

    Hi John,

    I think that whether you choose to eat meat or not, it is undeniable that we share a kindred relationship with all of the animals we share the planet with. To be oblivious to that is to not be fully awake in my opinion.

    It’s amazing how many people in the world consider themselves superior to animals when they have the capacity to show us so many things. They are so perfectly suited to their environment when it’s us who are always out of place and struggling with just about everything around us.

    I think all of the readers here would agree that regardless of what animals are raised for they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and treated humanely. I don’t want to say anything else on that — don’t want to get that vibration going.

    It’s reassuring to know that we are all (animals and humans) eternal beings.


    • John Cali

      Thanks very much, Jeff. I agree with you. I grew up in an environment where we were mostly oblivious to animals, except our domestic “pets.” Like you, I don’t want to go into that vibration. As you said, all living creatures deserve respect and love.

    • beachdrifter

      Replace the word “animals” with “other humans” in your post. It’s very revealing as to what the real issue is.

  7. Robin

    I too have danced with this issue for years.

    I think it boils down to what we perceive as levels of consciousness in what we consider to be living creatures. How we divide consciousness into categories.

    To draw the line at animal consciousness versus plant consciousness is an example of such categorizing. To reason that animal beings have a right to live out a natural life but a plant being does not. To harvest plants but not animals. To wear plant material as clothing but not animal carcass.

    And to take it a step further, we tend to categorize by size. Are bugs or microscopic beings any less worthy of living out their natural lives? Even organic farming kills off ‘undesirable’ bugs and microbes for the benefit of the plant life to thrive. By the simple act of breathing we kill off microbes in the air. Our bodies are killing off bacteria and viruses on an ongoing basis.

    Incarnating into the physical realms is basically entering into a system of consumption for creation. Everything consumed at some point…even animal/human bodies are consumed after death by bacteria. The physical realm recyles energy.

    Which brings up the issue of “everything is energy” and this is an “illusionary” realm and “all is One” and “there is no separation at the energetic level”.and “we are in every atom of our reality”….to bring these ideas into the reasoning makes it even more circular. So where do we draw the line? How do we categorize what is okay for us to eat so that we continue to not only live, but to thrive? To eat anything at all, even to breathe the air, we will take the lifeforce of something to incorporate into our own body system.

    I haven’t come to a conclusion for myself yet. I go back and forth between eating meat/fish and not eating it. After not eating animal protein for awhile, my body seems to have a strong desire for it. My mind feels better when I don’t eat it. What I tend to use as criteria these days is…. if I had to provide the food for myself, could I kill it and then eat it? I am already a gardener and know I can end the life of a plant to consume it but I doubt I could end the life of an animal and consume it. I did once go fishing and ate the fish. For myself, I have difficulty when I look into the eyes of anything….I onced looked into the eyes of a lobster I was holding on a boat tour and I now have trouble eating lobster too.

    I don’t think there is a right answer for everyone and one answer does not cover every country or culture. I do think it is important to feel grateful for whatever sustains us and to be respectful of the planet that sustains us. The energy of gratefulness and feelings of abundance are probably what makes us thrive anyway.

    that’s my two cents :).

  8. Max

    When I read the “The Secret Life of Plants” by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, many years ago, I thought yikes!, what are the vegetarianx going to eat now?

  9. sheila

    Hi John,

    I too have been going back and forth for many years between vegetarianism and eating meat…I might add very limited meat eating. Basically I eat chicken and sometimes shrimp. Animals are my life. I have 4 dogs who are my furry children. I AM currently in school to be a vet tech and I volunteer at a wildlife rescue and rehab 2x a week. I cannot figure out why I keep going back to meat eating. Sometimes I feel as if my body just needs protein. I get very tired when I am in the vegetarian side of things.
    I thank you for bringing this up…at least I know I’m not the only one!!

    Blessings and Peace
    Sheila Lynch

  10. Wil

    I’m a flexitarian: I eat meat when I feel I like to eat it but mostly I’m a vegan.

    I like meat from wild animals who are killed in a hunt or who are treated well in an organic farm. Not much, just the taste I like when it’s prepared by a cook who loves to prepare the food like wild duck or wild salmon.

    I love well prepared food be it with or without meat. But I feel more “heavy” and sleepy eating anything other than vegan food so most of the time I stick to vegan.

    For me it’s not an ethical matter as plants are just as much a consciousness giving life to matter like giving live to an animal.

    And yes, I do not judge people who think different on this issue (not that I’m able to do that on other issues yet but I like to do that so I’m no more against anything but only preferring something else. We live in a dualistic universe so let’s accept that and choose what we prefer).

  11. beachdrifter

    “How do I feel about the way farm animals are often (mis)treated?”

    Like the Source within me, I’m focused on the desire for improvement that is born out of those experiences, fully expecting continual improvements for everyone involved – just like I do when humans are mistreated.

    “Do I believe eating meat is healthy for me?”

    Yes. I don’t do things that I believe are not healthy for me. I love how my vibration rises when I eat food that I love!

    “Do I believe a vegetarian diet is healthy for me?”

    I combine the two. For me, it’s the best of both worlds! I eat what I feel like eating, when I feel like eating it. I’m listening to my inner guidance, just like animals naturally do. It took some practice to get back there, though!

    “Is the farming of animals hurting our planet and the environment?”

    The earth is a very resilient being that constantly seeks and finds its balance. I understand that there’s nothing to be worried about when it comes to our planet – ever. Its eternal balance is maintained by the same power that created it, and everything else that exists in physical form. Thus man cannot hurt the planet in a way that would significantly impact its well-being.

    “Do not all animals have a right to live out their natural lives, just as humans do?”

    I believe that animals, just like humans, are the creators of their life experiences. I do not, and can not, choose for them. I believe that all of us knew exactly what we were coming into when we were born into this world, and I understand the value of all life experiences.

    “Can I enjoy eating meat without feeling guilty?”

    Yes. Feeling guilty would be an indication that in the moment that I’m feeling it, I’m focused in a way that Source isn’t. The fact that I can enjoy meat – a lot – and Source joins me in that is absolute proof to me of the perfection of my individual choice.

    “As Dr. Albert Schweitzer said, “If a man loses his reverence for any part of life, he will lose his reverence for all of life. How do I reconcile that with eating meat?”

    I revere life in all of its forms, and I know that life is eternal. Eating meat and vegetables does not diminish my reverence for the temporary forms of physical life, it enhances it.

    “As a meat-eater, how do I feel about vegetarians?”

    It’s just another individual choice, no better or worse than any other. I’m very glad that we have all of these choices in life. They make life interesting!

    “Do animals have the same feelings and emotions humans have?”

    They do have feelings and emotions, however, they are experiencing life from a much more “enlightened” perspective than most humans do. For example, they don’t fear death, because they understand that there isn’t any. Superimposing your own feelings over theirs will give you a very distorted view of what their experience actually is.

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