Vegaculture can be simply defined as a self- reflective system of cultural and social design principles promoting compassion in daily life through conscious living.
The mental construction of concepts for living is an aspect of mind, however the spirit of Ahimsa or non-violence underlies the principles of Vegaculture, and in this brief excerpt of my book of the same name, addresses our relationship to spirit through the embodiment of compassion.
The term spirit, from the dictionary means animating or vital principle in man and animals.
Some historic scriptures suggest we are manifestations of spirit in an illusory world, which provides an alternative outlook to dominant social and physical paradigms, and in some instances, the dietary suggestions have been to propose the adoption of a compassionate 'middle way' as in a Buddhist tradition, with no killing of a sentient being, nor using animal products; and a tailored path to spiritual awakening with a vegetarian diet as in the Hindu tradition; however I am yet to find any tradition which has restrictions against vegetarian food.
In the relative world, does our assimilation of nutrient and metabolism not also depend on sunshine, water, fresh air, mental equanimity and companionship? Are the substances we ingest our only dietary, and is this confined view of dietary, of isolating a diet to just nutritional food intake via the mouth also misleading our potential for a more holistic assessment of our overall nutritional balance, and subsequently our health outcomes? If one is discussing this enquiry as an aspect of health, which demands an accurate holistic assessment, then the answer is a resounding yes.
I also think of the goodness of wo/man shining through us, directing our preferences toward a conscious awareness of our true selves, doing the best we can to nourish ourselves, our loved ones, and utilising our innate capacity to make right choices. Some say we are light beings, science tells us that physically we are energy expressed as matter. Will the science of nutrition, be one day taught by dieticians majoring in quantum physics?
An understanding of the spiritual aspects of diet are scattered around the history books, with suggestions that in some cultures food provided a daily spiritual focus, for instance the Essenes, where worship of wheat-grass was a daily observance, while serving its usual survival functions for nutrient and as a common social connection. In the religious traditions, and in the context of sacrificial offering, to the weather or the Gods, or the ancestors, in many traditions food is integral with a concept of feeding spirit.
If one considers the individual to be a part of, or an expression of a universal consciousness, then within the desire to do the best with ones dietary where it is governed by free choice and tempered by wisdom, there lies a greater meaning. Our spiritual maturity can be exercised by the recognition and integration of our needs, being sensitive to inner being and allowing the holistic outcome to present.
Spiritual feeding takes on an extra dimension, and this is one of the keys to a vegan understanding; the ability to see the whole, the universal experience in the ordinary daily activity of food choice.
Additional factors such as stress, exercise, health issues, sleep, creativity, etc all impinge; however from a 'strictly food only intake' dietary perspective, the choice today is largely ours, and that fact alone demonstrates the massive divide from traditional diets. We have a natural tendency for movement towards health, and so the exploration of diet will continue unabated, and the opportunities for compassionate eating have never been closer.
In summary, the central point is clear; it is reasonable to consider from a dietary position, that humans exist as individuals, with individual preferences. Our biological needs are serviced by nutrients from numerous potential sources, biologically, spatially and timely. The access we have, and the means by which we select from these sources, will make a major contribution and even perhaps largely determine the holistic health profile of people, animals and the environment throughout our lifetime; indeed, both the quality and quantity of that life.
Should we be feeding Spirit or allowing Spirit to feed us!
(Vegaculture, A Conceptual Narrative for Compasionate Living, by Zalan Glen is available at Lulu.com in both paperback and ebook formats.)