Coming to Earth
Rev. Will Tuttle, Ph.D.
Someone coming to earth, visiting North America perhaps from another planet, would soon become aware of our eating habits, and would discover the sheer vastness of the scale of carnage and misery inflicted by people here in their quest for flesh to dine upon. This visitor, recognizing that humans are obviously designed to be nourished with a plant-based diet, would certainly marvel at our efficiency... and at our capacity for insensitivity and denial. Our visitor, maybe originally from the star system Vega, would perhaps feel the urge of compassion, to help relieve the suffering these people are unconsciously and blindly inflicting on themselves and on others. But how to help? What to actually do about it?
I suspect that all of us share this same experience of arriving on this planet and then realizing, at some point, as our Vegan visitor realizes, that there is enormous unnecessary suffering here caused by human carnivorism, and further, that we can contribute to the ending of this suffering through our own inner understanding and outer life. The calling that emerges from this realization changes how we live, and is at its core a spiritual calling, rooted in our sense of connectedness with other living beings.
Like our Vegan visitor, we must choose how to respond to this calling. We realize what is actually happening to our fellow travelers on this fragile and lovely planet, and yet we are in what is but a small minority of people who appear, like us, to be Vegans—visitors from another planet! How to reach the carnivorous, unconscious masses whose suffering and violence hurts us all? What is the most effective statement we can make with our lives to bring healing, awakening, and beauty to the pain, ignorance and ugliness of this situation?
We begin to realize that, coming to earth, we landed smack in the middle of a herding culture (a hurting culture as well) whose roots in the systematic abuse of animals extend back several thousand years. In such a culture, our Vegan visitor would see that going vegan is the essential first step and is a wonderfully powerful and pioneering inner and outer statement. It is the foundation, and with it, the journey to wholeness begins here on planet earth. For veganism is a rejection of the socially sanctioned exploitation and abuse of others for one’s own gain; it is a rejection of the fundamentally violent assumptions that the herding culture has at its core. It strikes the very root, and is actually lived, not merely believed. Going vegan is a potent statement for life and caring, for mercy and peace, for generosity, beauty, and joy.
There are large questions lurking in all this that we must explore further. What do the world religions have to say about all this? Why is the vegan message ignored by most current spiritual leaders? How do our food choices affect us psychologically and spiritually? How do we support each other in the vegan movement and most effectively bring our message to the herding culture, which is suspicious of it in its very bones? How do we manage the stress involved with being so different from the mainstream? What is true spiritual growth and does veganism contribute to it?
Your further questions and comments are most welcome! And thanks for coming to earth, all you Vegans!
Will Tuttle, Ph.D., composer, pianist, Zen priest, and author of The World Peace Diet, is cofounder of Karuna Music & Art and of the Prayer Circle for Animals and Circle of Compassion ministry.