tolEvolutionary biologist and Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson once wrote, “Other species are our kin” (1993, 39). Indeed, all of us— from an ant to a sequoia and from a carnivorous plant to a vegetarian human—have evolved from a population of single-celled organisms that lived almost two billion years ago. How do we know this? “All this distant kinship is stamped by a common genetic code and elementary features of cell structure” (Wilson 1993, 39). What this means is that each and every time we sit down to a meal, we are eating our kin— eating our own Earth family. This is neither good nor bad; it simply is. Nature is beyond morality.

This is what I call one of “the inconvenient truths” of conscious eating. Jains (the ancient Indian school of thought that came up with the ahimsa doctrine of non-violence) understood this long, long time ago. We habitually defend ourselves from this “inconvenient truth” by using such euphemisms as pork, bacon, and ham (for pig, one of the smartest, most trainable animals), beef (for cow), veal (for baby cow) and sea food (for fish, lobster, etc).  We are playing word-games and name-games to keep this basic fact (that we have to kill our kin to eat) out of our collective awareness.  Mindful, conscious eating isn’t just about savoring and slowing down.  It’s also about facing the truth(s) of eating. So, are you ready to begin to regularly acknowledge this? Ready or not, Conscious Eater, ponder this “inconvenient truth” at your next meal.

Adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2012)

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