I get a lot of emails from people inquiring about diet advice and guidance. There is so much information out there about what to eat, when to eat, and how to eat. Grocery store shelves offer an abundance of products to fit every diet need, the media is always claiming the power of some super food or another, and diet trends are always on the rise. It can be so overwhelming to know what to do, not just in regards to food, but everything in life. It is hard to know as a human being what to do and who to be when our senses are overloaded with so much information telling us what we should do and who we should be.
In 2009, I made the decision to go vegan for spiritual and ethical reasons. In my nearly six years of treading this path, I have experimented with many different forms of a vegan diet; eating all of the same meals as non-vegans with meat and dairy replacements, a macrobiotic diet focusing mostly on grains, cutting out sugar, cutting out soy and GMO’s, baking and cooking a lot with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, doing a fruitarian diet for three months, and eating highly raw vegan and organic. I also have reverted to consuming meat, eggs, and dairy again a few times throughout those six years. Throughout all of my experimenting, I was learning to really get in touch with my body and how I felt, physically, mentally, and spiritually, depending on the way that I chose to eat.
I, personally, consider food as nourishment for my spirit and not something to be used as a tool for weight loss or physical aesthetics. Weighing less and looking slimmer on a more natural diet is just an added benefit and verification of the truth that eating closest to nature is what is healthiest for us. I consider my physical body the home of my spirit and something to be nourished as that sacred temple. I decided to become vegan for the fact that eliminating animal products from my diet freed up forces in my body that would normally be used for digestion, to be used instead for meditation and spiritual study/expansion, and carry me through life with more energy for my family and to pursue my interests.
My main motivating factor in making this decision was compassion for the living beings that we confine and consume. At that time, I was awakening to areas of my life where I felt that I was hindering my ability to be spiritually conscious and living in ways that were serving only my lowly, selfish desires. In making the decision to stop consuming animal products, I felt as though I was living more consciously and less selfishly. I naturally became more awake and aware of the choices that I was making and how every choice that we as human beings make has a direct effect on our world and on our own spiritual life and progress.
Thoughts are powerful and create and attract energy. The food that makes up our physical selves determines at what frequency we vibrate and what thoughts we will project and attract. This I discovered upon adhering to a vegan lifestyle. I felt lighter, more energetic and overall more positive. The thoughts that I was having changed in response to what foods I was eating and how much food I was eating. The more ethical and compassionate choices that I was making for myself, the animals and our earth, were also coming back to me karmically in terms of a more highly energetic and positive self and an abundance of not only physical, but material and spiritual health and happiness as well. A vegan diet helped me to also be attracted to yoga and meditation practices which combined, opened my eyes to a heaven-on-earth state of being that I never knew existed.
I have wavered in my beliefs about yoga, meditation and my spirituality over the years and questioned whether or not food really does make that much of a difference to my being and have always come back to conclude that for me, a vegan diet high in organic fruits and vegetables and whole grains is the best thing. I feel best when I do not consume too much fat, salt, or sugar and do not overburden my body by eating too much food at a time, but instead eat frequent smaller meals throughout the course of a day. I know that eating meat lowers my vibration very much and leads me to have more depressing thoughts and feel so much more sluggish, physically, mentally and spiritually. Personally, I do not care for dairy, but can consume it in moderation if I feel that I want or need to. I also feel best when I steer clear of greasy, processed foods.
My food philosophy really is to eat foods that are closest to their natural state and contain one ingredient, or at least are made with ingredients that are pronounceable and in their natural state. I believe that God created everything perfect in nature for our bodies to use and man through his intellect and inventiveness has created so many different foods mainly to please the palate, many of which are not even foods at all and are toxic to our body, mind, and spirit.
Although many people in our western society judge veganism and avoiding GMO’s as anorexic or disordered eating and yoga, meditation and spiritual seeking as weird or unnecessary (mainly because these choices go against what we are brought up and brainwashed to believe is a normal way of living and being where we are), I have come to the point now in realizing that this is what is important to me and what I need to do in order to be the best wife, mother and woman that I can be. I am grateful to have found this path and to have explored many ways of eating to find what makes me feel holistically healthy, in body, mind, and spirit. I am grateful to have the opportunity to eat small frequent meals because I am a stay-at-home mom and that I also do have the time to do yoga daily and go out walking in nature with my girls. I feel this to be a great blessing in my life and I know that not everyone can and should live like me.
I believe that we are all here for a higher purpose and that we all have karmic connections with others of great significance. I know that my karma has led me to be born into the family that I was born into and to be raised with the parents that I had, with the siblings that I have. I was destined to meet Craig and discover yoga, meditation, and philosophy. Together we were meant to have our daughters and my path right now in life is to raise my girls in a wholesome and natural way, nurturing their individuality and preparing them for life in our world. I know that in order to fulfill my karma in my family situation, I need to take care of myself and treat my role as mother and teacher with great reverence and devotion.
In 2013, after reading many spiritual texts and new age/self-help material in search of some higher inspiration, I discovered Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science. His lectures seemed to speak right into me, every word connecting to deeper truths inside of me. It was as if he was finally explaining and putting into words all that I knew to be true inside: as if I were remembering things that I knew to be true from a long time ago in spirit.
I have read and listened to many of Steiner’s works. His lectures on nutrition in a book of compiled works called, “Nutrition, Food Health and Spiritual Development,” once again spoke those inner truths to me and affirmed what I had experienced to be true from my dietary explorations and intuition.
I wanted to share some of Rudolf Steiner’s insights on nutrition in this post, some spiritual facts about the foods that we eat in the light of spiritual science instead of the intellectual-based science (based merely on the physical body and on the physical components of the food that we eat) and diet trends that are so widespread. My desire is to offer another perspective on the subject for those who are interested in the clairvoyant, spiritual facts of the nutritional needs of the human being as body, soul, and spirit.
We are each individual and have to ultimately decide what is best for us on our journey through life. It is easy to fall prey to diet trends in order to fit in and it is also a challenge not to go to extremes, fearing what exactly is in our “food,” for those who are trying to live more consciously and care to nourish their bodies as home of their spirit and not something to treat with disrespect and indifference. I also understand that many people are not interested in caring for their bodies as home of their spirit and even do not hold any spiritual beliefs or beliefs in the unseen. We must remember that we are beings endowed with freewill and have the power to decide what we want to do for ourselves and our children and how we want to live our lives, while also keeping in mind that we are connected and that each choice that we make not only affects us, but many others as well. The human being is a part of humanity, a part of nature and the cosmos.
My hope is that in sharing some of my journey I have inspired others to find what works for them. What works at one time in life can also change for a person in another time of their life and there is no need to feel guilty for making changes to our diet or having changed in terms of our spiritual beliefs or interests in life. We are here to learn and to grow. In some periods of life, or in certain circumstances it may be healthier for a person to consume meat and dairy, but on the issue of compassion and ethics, it is also important to find a more natural and ethical source for our animal foods, where they have not been treated inhumanely and are not fed with foods that are unnatural for them and/or have been pumped full of growth hormones and medications that do also pass into us when we eat them. For some, a vegetarian or vegan diet can actually be harmful.
Since Steiner’s lectures, nearly one hundred years have passed and many things have indeed changed for the worse, especially in the realm of agriculture and nutrition. The population has significantly increased and we now have many inhumane factory farming operations and genetically engineered foods on the market. The use of chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, pesticides and other harmful substances are also always on the rise in order to keep with the demands of our growing population.
Please read with an open mind and open heart and best of luck with finding what works for you and your family.
Excerpts From Nutrition in the Light of Spiritual Science
We must continually bear in mind that the human body is the tool of the spirit. In discussing the various functions the body has to perform, we see that the human being utilizes it as a physical instrument. An instrument is useless if it is not adjusted correctly so that it functions in an orderly manner, however, and similarly our bodies are of no use to our higher organism if they do not function properly. Our freedom can be handicapped and intentions impeded.
When we as spiritual scientists consider our organism, we can ask ourselves whether we make our bodies unfit for the execution of the intentions, aspirations and impulses of our lives if we become bound by and dependent upon our bodies through an unsuitable diet. Is it not possible to mould the body in such fashion that it turns into a progressively more suitable instrument for the impulses of our spiritual life? Will we lose our freedom and become dependent upon our bodies if we ignore what is the right nourishment for us? What must we eat so that we are not merely the product of what we eat?
By asking such questions, we come to look at the problem of nutrition from another perspective. We must rather ask ourselves what the essential task of human food is and in what way it is actually utilized in the organism.
We need to be aware of the four elements which comprise the human being. To the researcher investigating spiritual matters, a person is not just a physical entity which can be seen and felt but the physical body is only one part of the human being. The physical body consists of the same chemical substances which can be found in nature. But the human being also has higher component of his being. Even the first one of these is supersensory in nature, has a higher reality than the physical body. It underlies the physical body and throughout a person’s life fights against decay. From the time that a person passes through the portal of death, the physical body is left to its own laws and decays. Throughout life, the life or etheric body fights against such decay. It gives the substances and forces a different direction, a different setting they otherwise would have if they were left to themselves. This body is just as visible to clairvoyant consciousness as the physical body is to the eyes. Human beings have their life or etheric body in common with plants.
We know from other lectures that human being additionally have a third element, the astral body. How is that composed? It is the bearer of pleasure and pain, cravings, drives and passions, everything we call our inner soul life. All those things reside in the astral body. It is spiritually visible, like the physical body is to physical consciousness. Human beings have this astral body in common with the animals.
The fourth component is the bearer of the I, of self-awareness. It makes human beings the pinnacle of creation, setting them apart from the things of earth which surround them. Thus we have the human being before us with three invisible and one visible element. They are in constant interaction. All of them together affect each single one and each single one affects all the others. That is why the physical body as we have it before us–I repeat that these things only apply to human beings–is an expression in all its parts also of the invisible components of human nature. This physical body could not contain in itself those elements which serve nutrition, reproduction, life as such, if they did not have the etheric body. All those organs which serve nutrition and reproduction, the glands and so on, are an outward expression of the etheric body. They are what the etheric body builds in the physical body. The nervous system in the physical body is, among other things, an expression of the astral body. Here the astral body is the actor, the creator. And the characteristics of the human blood circulation, the activity of the blood, are the other physical expression of the bearer of the I, the bearer of self-awareness.
Now you all know that human beings eat food derived from the vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms, and with it they sustain their bodies. Let me emphasize again for the sake of those who are more narrowly inclined towards the care for the inner life that I am not speaking to mystics nor to anthroposiphists who were striving to develop themselves in particular, but to everyone. Human beings take their sustenance from the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. We must realize that plants represent the direct antithesis of human beings, and the animals represent the mean between the two.
When a person eats vegetarian food, it demands a great deal of the organism. Plant food does not contain much fat. The human organism, which is able to produce fats, is thus required to produce fat from something that in itself contains no fat. In other words, when a person eats vegetarian food, he must generate an activity within himself and make an inner effort to bring about the production of fats. He is spared this task when he eats ready-made animal fats. The materialists would probably say that it is advantageous for a person to store up as much fat as possible without having to make too much an effort. Yet, speaking from the spiritual viewpoint, the unfolding of this inner activity signifies the unfolding of the actual inner life. When a person is forced to generate the forces that make it possible for him to produce fat on his own, then, through his inner flexibility, the ego and astral body become master of the physical and etheric bodies. When a person eats fat, the result is that he is spared the task of producing fat himself. Yet, if he takes the opportunity to unfold his own inner activity through producing his own fat, he is made free and thus becomes lord over his body. Otherwise, as a spiritual being he remains a mere spectator.
For a person to eat animal protein is not the same as for him to eat plant protein.
If a person is to find the physical expression of the characteristics of his astral body, he must strive to utilize all its forces. He must become master of his own inner processes and activate his astral body in such way that the plant processes are continued inwardly. In the food we consume from the animal kingdom, we not only take into ourselves the physical meat and fat of the animal but also the product of its astral body contained in these substances. When, through a vegetarian diet, we draw on the pure forces of our astral body, we call forth our whole inner activity. In a meat diet part of this inner activity is forestalled.
We can now proceed to consider the relationships of these two types of diet from a purely spiritual perspective.
It can be said that human beings owe everything that liberates them entirely to the substances derived from plants. Faculties, however, that enable them to be actively engaged in earthly life need not necessarily grow out of the pure nature of their astral body. These qualities can also be derived from a meat diet. This fact that human beings are to become progressively freer while at the same time needing qualities that they can acquire with the help of impulses found spread out in the animal kingdom has induced them to resort to nourishment in animal food. If the eating habits of the people of those militant nations that have striven to develop qualities enabling them to unfold their physical forces are investigated, it will generally be found that they eat meat. Naturally, there are exceptions. On the other hand, a preference for an exclusively vegetarian diet will be found to prevail among people who have developed an introverted and contemplative existence.
Nevertheless, it is not without reason that a mixed diet has become acceptable to many people. To some extent it had to happen. We must admit, however, that even though a vegetarian diet might indeed be the correct one for some people purely for reasons of health, the health of others might be ruined by it.
If by eating meat a person is relieved of too large a portion of his inner activities, then activities will develop inwardly that would otherwise be expressed externally. His soul will become more externally oriented, more susceptible to, and bound up with, the external world. When a person takes his nourishment from the realm of plants, however, he becomes more independent and more inclined to develop inwardly. He will become master over his whole being. The more he is inclined to vegetarianism, the more he accepts a vegetarian diet, the more he will be able also to let his inner forces predominate.
The person who is fundamentally a meat-eater, however, limits himself to more narrow vistas and directs himself more rigidly towards one-sidedness.
Still, it is a fact that everything that limits human beings and leads them to specialization is derived from a diet of meat. A person owes to a vegetarian diet the impulses that lift him above the narrow circles of existence. An extreme diet of meat is definitely connected with a person’s increasing dogmatism and his inability to see beyond the confines into which he was born. By contrast, if human beings would show more interest in the food coming from the realm of plants they would discover that they are able more easily to lift themselves out of their narrow circles.
A time will come when a vegetarian diet will be valued much more highly than is the case today. Then thinking will be so flexible that human beings will be willing to investigate such matters knowing that what they believe today to be foolishness could, viewed from another standpoint, also have its merits. They will realize then that their whole physical and spiritual horizon can be widened through a vegetarian diet, thus counteracting the rigour of specialization within them. Particularly in certain areas of science, perspectives would be widened if vegetarian diets were to become prevalent.
It is a fact inwardly perceived through spiritual science that when a person drinks alcohol, it takes over the specific activity that otherwise belongs wholly to the person’ s ego. A person who drinks too much alcohol needs less food and his body will require less nourishment that is normally required in the process of combustion.
It calls forth forces that otherwise would be called forth by the ego’s inner penetration.
By drinking alcohol an inner obstacle is created behind which something takes place that actually should and would be accomplished through the activity of the ego itself if the obstacle had not been produced.
Some foods have a specific effect of their own on the organism. Coffee is an example. The effect of coffee become manifest through its influence on the astral body. Through caffeine and the after-effects of coffee, our nervous system automatically performs functions that we would otherwise have to produce through inner strength. It should not be claimed, however, that it is beneficial under all circumstances for a person always to act independently out of his astral body. Human beings are entities who are not dependent on themselves alone. On the contrary, they are placed within the whole of life.
Trained insight perceives that everything in the activity of our nerves that has to do with logical consistency and drawing conclusions is strengthened by coffee. Thus, we can let coffee take over in making logical connections and in sticking to one thought, but this, of course, is in exchange for a weakening of our specific inner forces.
Tea works in a totally different and opposite way. When large quantities are drunk, thoughts become scattered and light. It might be said that the chief effect of tea is to let witty and brilliant thoughts, thoughts that have a certain individual lightness, flash forth. So we can say coffee helps those, such as literary people, who need to connect thoughts in skilled and refined ways. This is the positive aspect of the matter. The negative aspect can be observed in coffee table gossip. Tea, which tears thoughts asunder, is the opposite. This is why tea is, not without justification, a popular drink of diplomats.
It might be of interest to cite as a last example of food that plays an important part in life, that is, milk. Milk is completely different from meat in that it expresses in the weakest possible form the animalistic process brought forth by the astral body of the animal. Milk is only partly an animal product and the animal or human astral forces do not participate in its production. For this reason milk is one of the most perfect foods. It is suitable for people who want to abstain completely from meat but who do not yet possess sufficient strength to work entirely out of the inner forces of the astral body.
Those who are moved by the earnestness of life to develop certain psychic healing forces can train themselves to attain them. Naturally, we must remember that what is suitable for one is not suitable for all. This is a matter for the individual. One person is able to do it, another not. A person can if he wishes build up his organism in a wise manner. He can contribute towards the development of free, independent inner forces. So through spiritual science we come back to Feuerbach’s saying mentioned at the beginning, ,’Man is what he eats!’
The human being can nourish himself in such fashion that he undermines his invisible independence. In so doing he makes himself an expression of what he eats. Yet he ought to nourish himself in such a manner that he becomes less the slave of his nutritional habits.
Excerpts From Nutrition and the Human Body
To feed himself, the human being mainly takes in three or four kinds of foods. The first is protein, which you can get to know most easily by looking at a hens egg. Protein is produced in plants as well as in animal and human bodies. Both human and animal bodies need not only the powers they have in them to produce protein, for every living body actually produces protein; they also need the protein which a plant produces quite independently. And the human body also takes in animal protein. Some scientists have suffered severe embarrassment very recently concerning this very protein. Twenty years ago it was still taught everywhere that people had to consume at least 120 grams of protein a day to stay healthy. The whole of nutrition was geared to it that dishes were recommended which people should eat to have the right amount of protein; 120 grams were thought to be necessary.
Today scientists have completely abandoned that idea. They know that people do not serve their health by eating so much protein but actually serve their ill-health, with the greater part of the protein going putrid in the human intestinal organism. Consuming 120 grams of protein a day, therefore, the human organism constantly has something like rotting eggs in its gut, polluting the intestinal contents most dreadfully, sweating out poisons which then enter into the organism, into the body. This not only produces something in the body that later on in life causes hardening of the arteries, as it is called–most of this comes from eating too much protein-but also making people highly susceptible to infection with all kinds of infectious diseases.
It is strange indeed that scientists are now saying people do not need 120 grams of protein but only 20-50 grams. This, they say, is the amount people really need everyday. So quickly have scientists changed their views in two decades.
So you see how it is, basically, with scientific truths. You are informed what you should consider to be true or false, depending on the edition of the encyclopedia you consult.
All this shows that this simply is not the way to get a clear picture about things that involve the spiritual dimension.
We may say that people can’t possibly eat too little protein, for it is processed immediately in the abdomen; it does not have to do much work. Protein is processed in the abdomen. Even if people have a diet that is very low in protein, all the protein is processed immediately.
We can see, therefore, that human beings are perfectly able to manage with little protein.
Excerpts From Healthy Nutrition and the Quality of Food
The most useful thing you can possibly do is this. Observe a child when he is weaned, when he no longer has milk, observe what he begins to like to eat and not like to eat. The moment a child begins to take external nourishment, one can learn from him what one should give him. The moment one begins to urge him to eat what one thinks he should eat, at that moment his instinct is spoilt. One should give him the things for which he shows an instinctive liking. Naturally, if fondness for something threatens to go too far, one has to hold it back–but then one must carefully observe what it is that one is holding back.
One should observe carefully what a child likes and what he loathes, and not force him to eat what he does not like. If it happens, for instance, as it does with very many children, that he doesn’t want to eat meat, then the fact is that the child gets intestinal toxins from meat and wants to avoid them. His instinct is right. Any child who can sit at a table where everyone else is eating meat and can refuse it certainly has the tendency to develop intestinal toxins from meat. These things must be considered.
Excerpts From Nutrition From a Cosmic Perspective
By eating a meat diet, we bind ourselves in the most direct and intimate sense to the planet earth.
A vegetarian diet stimulates the forces in the human organism that bring us into a kind of cosmic union with the whole planetary system.
The lightness of the organism resulting from a vegetarian diet lifts one above earthly heaviness and makes possible what one might call a gradual responsiveness that develops into a certain inner perception of taste in the human organism. It is as though, under the influence of a vegetarian diet, our organism really shared with the plants the sunlight that contributes so much into their growth and flowering.
You will gather from what I have said that it is extremely important for occult esoteric development not to bind oneself, as it were, to the earth by taking into oneself earthly ‘heaviness’ by consuming animal food. Those on the path of esoteric development, then, should avoid animal food to the extent that individual and hereditary circumstances permit. The ultimate decision, however, must depend on the personal circumstances of the individual. It will certainly be of real assistance to the world development of a person’s life if meat consumption can be avoided. On the other hand, certain difficulties might arise if one were to become a fanatical vegetarian rejecting milk and all milk products. In this case, the soul’s spiritual development could encounter certain dangers because, by rejecting milk and milk products, we easily develop a love solely for what detaches us from the earth, and thus we would lose the threads that unite us with earthly human activities.
Eating sugar creates a kind of ‘innocent ego-character’, as it were, that can balance the selflessness necessary in the moral and spiritual spheres. Otherwise, the human being would be tempted too easily to become not just selfless, but also a dreamer and visionary and thus lose the capacity for sound judgement in mundane affairs. Adding a certain amount of sugar to one’s food ensures the possibility of remaining anchored firmly to the earth, and one thus cultivates a healthy perspective towards earthly matters, even while ascending to the spiritual world. (As you see, these matters are complicated; but when we see to penetrate life’s real mysteries, everything becomes complicated!)
As anthroposophists develop spiritually, they sometimes feel that in order to protect against a false selflessness, or a loss of personality, they sometimes need more sugar. And when taking sugar they may say, ‘I am adding something to myself that, without lowering my moral tone, gives me a certain stability, a certain ego-character as though involuntarily and through a higher instinct.’ On the whole, we can say that eating sugar physically enhances the unique individuality of a person.
In countries where, according to statistics, sugar consumption is low, the inhabitants have less defined personalities than in countries where more sugar is eaten.