Permaculture & The Vegan way

John Irwin jwirwin at
Mon Mar 12 14:00:03 EST 2001

Hi Toby & Pc buddies:

I always hope we can be tolerant about differences
like this.  Life is hard enough for all of us on the
outside of the mainstream.

Many native Americans considered the process
of eating meat as a sacred act, including hunting,
preparing, and using all of the parts.  One can easily
make a good argument that at least some meat is
useful in a nutritious diet.

Perhaps they were just as respectful in the
way they approached eating everything else.

Speaking for myself, I have a hard time killing or
hurting any creature, and I can even be faint at
the sight of blood.   It would be easy for me to be
a vegetarian of some variety.

Nevertheless,  I think people like me could learn
a new way.   I'd like to think that if I needed to
overcome my aversion to a bloody mess to
help someone, I would do the right thing.  And if
I felt I were taking part in a sacred practice,
(or just trying to survive), I could kill an

For many of us, perhaps using Mollison's comment
"I don't eat factory food" is the best we can do.
Depending where we live & who we live with,
that can be quite an accomplishment.

I hope vegans, vegetarians & meat-eaters can be
tolerant of one another.

Enough from me,

Toby Hemenway wrote:

> on 3/10/01 6:37 PM, permed at at permed at wrote:
> > I can't help but wonder if there is an underlying neurotic fear of death
> > that drives unnatural philosophies -
> I found myself thinking something similar when I was writing my earlier
> post. It may be significant that veganism and strict vegetarianism have
> taken hold in a culture so removed from natural cycles. While I certainly
> respect someone's moral decision not to take part in the killing of animals,
> all animals and most non-industrialized humans live in intimate relationship
> with death. Whether it's a mouse cowering in the shadow of a hawk's looming
> wing, or the neighbor wringing a chicken's neck, any being in a
> non-industrial setting knows how close, and how natural, death is.
> So I wonder if we are projecting our own fear of death onto those animals
> whom we want to "save" from what appears to us to be a brutal and
> unnecessary fate. Death, and killing to eat, are the most natural things in
> the world. Setting the cruel practices of industrial agriculture aside, are
> we truly minimizing suffering by not killing animals for food, or are we
> avoiding uncomfortable "negative" actions and feelings while distancing
> ourselves further from natural cycles? I don't mean to accuse anyone here,
> as this mirrors my own path from unthinking omnivore to a slightly
> self-righteous vegetarian (not all are, of course) to conscious omnivore.
> Maybe vegetarianism is a more highly evolved way to live, or maybe it's
> based on a misunderstanding of the role of death and its mysteries. As I
> wrote before, I have a hard time seeing how nature could rely so heavily on
> the predator/prey relationship if it is evil.
> My own personal neurosis here, and why I think intolerance persists, is that
> I often feel as if I'm being regarded as a murderer by non-meat eaters,
> while I can't eliminate my own feelings that they are misguided idealists.
> With that dynamic as an unspoken undercurrent, there are bound to be
> tensions. So I admire Graham's efforts to bring these feelings out into the
> open and search for, if not common ground, a way to find room for both.

> Toby
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