Photo courtesy of Kami Stafford
Ethics and Food

There are many sorts of ethics that one may have regarding foods, their source, their type, how they're handled, and so forth. These ethics all work so long as you remain consistant in your core outlook and beliefs.

The recipes and specific food suggestions I have put in this site are guidelines. If any of these do not meet your own needs or your own ethics, feel free to modify them, in keeping with the energy type being illustrated. For instance, it is fine to substitute cheese for meat, but an entirely different energy will result if you substitute a vegetable for the meat. It may or may not be what you want.

I encourage you to do what is right for yourself, to eat according to your food needs, budget, ethics, and medical requirements. The foods are not necessarily recommended to all people, but there are always suitable substitutes for every energy type.

Eat Meat or Not

Should you eat meat or not? That's a question which only you can answer for yourself! It will not do to do whatever you are doing, even if it's the "right" thing, if you just accept someone's word for it. Think it through.

The major thing on any ethical system is to be consistant with it, or at least work toward consistency. For instance, if you think it's right to eat (for instance) pork, would you, personally, be mentally capable of killing and butchering a hog for your consumption? Being physically capable of this, knowing precisely how, or having the matter practically at hand are entirely different questions. Suppose you were strong and healthy enough to do it, and were on a family farm where a hog was being butchered. What would you do? Would you help to kill and butcher the hog? Would you turn away in disgust? Would you feel sorry for the dead hog? Would you feel compassion for its life being violently ended?

The general ethic is this: If it is wrong for you to do personally, it is equally wrong for you to pay someone to do it for you. It is equally wrong to accept the offering of a loved one doing it for you, or paying someone to do it for you.

Isn't alcohol bad?

I don't know about "bad". It depends on your needs and outlook. It's got tamasic energy, and must be used with that in mind. Anything tamasic would help get to relax and sleep after a particularly exciting day. Anything tamasic will make matters worse if used during an emotionally down time of sadness and disappointment. It certainly has negative social and health consequences to do it to excess over a period of time, but if you're an adult having a little occasionally, it's a matter of choice, unless there are other medical or social reasons to avoid it.

Of course, if you have a problem controlling your consumption of alcohol, had such a problem in the past, or with your activities when you consume such, the answer FOR YOU is to simply not consume any. For others, they may or not according to their own needs.

What about drugs?

CERTAINLY I suggest avoiding ALL illegal substances, as those can do harm in more ways than one. They can harm through their own health consequences, they can harm from your actions while taking such drugs, and the matter of them being illegal can have harmful legal consequences as well.

However, there are many other drugs, both over the counter and prescription, which are helpful in all sorts of situations. I cannot advise you on whether or not to take them. That is a matter among you, your doctor, your pharmacist, and other professionals in that area. as well as any specific information you may have on the matter. It is your responsibility for numerous reasons to learn all you can about whatever you are putting into your body. However, taking any drug introduces changes in the energy balance, which must be worked with or around.

Certainly, all drugs, interactions, and possible reactions to them cannot be listed on this site, nor am I qualified to do so. In general though, any medication that contains wording such as "may cause drowsiness" "Use caution while driving or operating machinery", the general energy of the drug is tamasic. Medications which have "may cause excitability" as a caution or which may cause a racing pulse as a side effect are in general rajavic. Medications which reduce an inflamation or fever are in general satvic. The exception to that is an antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral, which reduces the fever by killing the bacteria, fungus, or virus causing the illness. Killing anything is tamasic.

How should I decide my ethics?

Within the Vedas of Hinduism, the amount of prana or "life" in anything is discussed. A rock has less than a fungus. A fungus has less than a plant. A plant has less than a simple animal, such as a worm, insect, or crustacean. These simple animals have less than a fish. A fish has less than an amphibean, which has less than a reptile. A reptile has less than a bird. A bird has less than a large mammal. A large mammal has less than a human being.

Where to draw the line in any of that is a matter of choice, both for the individual and for the society that person is in. Killing human beings for food is illegal in most of the world. Many countries have laws against killing various animals that are kept for pets or are viewed as sacred in the predominant religion or culture. Another society may have an entirely different view of those particular animals, and thus the rules are different.

For instance, if you live in a country where dogs are commonly kept as pets, you would probably not eat dog unless your life depended upon it. However, if you were from another country and culture where dogs were commonly raised as food, you probably would. When people from the latter cultures move to a place with the former culture, they often get into trouble, not knowing the customs, rules, and laws. Personal experience with a given type of animal figures into it as well. For instance, I've kept dairy goats. I know how much fun they are, and what bright, intelligent creatures they are. As such, I could not eat a goat. I would neither kill one for food nor pay someone else to do such. I know other people do it, and I cannot tell them what to do or not do. I would prefer it not be on the table when I'm around though.

Other religions have dietary laws which declare some plants or animals to be "clean" and fit for consumption and some other plants or animals to be "unclean" and not fit for consumption. The Kosher dietary laws are an example of such. Nonetheless, if one is going a route of such dietary laws, it does not do to partly use them and partly not. That is internally inconsistant. If you say you believe in the Kosher laws, and you are going by one part, you have to go by other parts. It is inconsistant, for instance, to not eat pork because it's considered "unclean" by the Kosher laws, and yet eat shrimp or catfish which are also considered "unclean" by the Kosher laws.

Still other religions have other rules about certain things being right or wrong to eat at certain times, such as it being okay for Catholics to eat meat in general, but not to eat it the Fridays of Lent. That is a different sort of rule, for a different reason. It's not that it's wrong to eat flesh of animal, under those rules, but it is a matter of self-denial and self-sacrifice at certain times. Nonetheless, internal consistency is important.

Specific Ethics

In general, most people wish to do what is best for themselves, to meet their own needs. As such, it is ethical to adhere to a diet that meets one's medical needs. That can include special diets for diabetes, special diets for weight management, special diets for kidney dysfunction, and various other such things. If one values the ethic of protecting one's own life and maximizing one's own health, such a diet should be adhered to. However,if that is not a particular person's value, it is not "wrong" for the person to not do it. Or, there are different opinions about almost everything. If your opinion differs from someone else's opinion on what the best way is to deal with some particular matter, that does not mean that either person is "wrong", at least until scientific proof on the matter comes in. That may not always be readily apparent.

As such, to maximize health and nutrition, I recommend eating a balanced diet, as is suggested by the Food Pyramid, perhaps with modifications for other special ethnic, cultural, or ethical needs. You may need to add supplements to your diet, especially for certain vitamins and minerals which you may be lacking. More specific information, tips and resources, are available at FDA tips and resources Additional materials involving the food pyramid can be found at MyPyramid for Kids Resources (not a US Government site).

For this and other reasons, I do not suggest any sort of "fad diet" which may be popular or highly advertized at any given time. These may appear to give some benefit over a short period of time, but these are almost always very nutritionally unbalanced, and will lead to long-term harm to onesself. Of course, you must balance your own needs against these concerns, perhaps minimizing the harm by supplementing with some nutrients.

My own diet is a mostly balanced one, although it is relatively low in sugar and low in fat. I make up for that lack to the tastebuds by including lots of herbs and spices for flavor, and occasionally for some herbal medicinal use. I use a lot of recipes that are given for diabetic diets. I am not diabetic, so I use sugar in some other recipes that I eat as well, or in prepared products I buy.

Food Additives

It is known that numerous chemicals are added to our food, in growing and in processing. In the case of plant-based foods, some are added as fertilizers, and pesticides. In the case of animal-based foods, all sorts of medications and hormones are routinely given to the animals, both routinely and some for a medical need of such animal. What will any of these do? I do not know! The only one I can answer is that pesticides, fungacides, and antibiotics increase the tamas in the animal or animal product. Fertilizer should generally be rajavic. Many chemicals there which I cannot pronounce is also adding something, but I do not know what.

As it's impractical for me and for many people to eat only "organically grown" food, and organically and naturally processed and packaged, we have to work around these items too! It's a matter of what they do, and how much they do it. In many cases, it will have to be trial and error. In a good many of these cases though, fortunately, the effects on the energy of the food are not huge. In some cases and for some people they are though.

Copyright 2006 by Elizabeth Harper
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