I have always detested meat, but I grew up with the age-old adage that children must eat what they're given because "kids are starving in Africa." I loved wheat products, though, and juice, but they always made me throw up. In my teens, I refused to eat meat of any kind unless I was actually so hungry I couldn't stand not to eat something. I was one of those weird kids who ate all my veggies and was told to finish my meat. Needless to say, my relationship to food was rocky. For a long time, I hated it because my reactions were so strong.
I have spoken to my root teacher about diet extensively, and he told me that he had the same problem in his youth. He suggested that I pay close attention to the signals of my body and that he had to really work to overcome his aversion to eating things because they were once alive. He theorized that it was a kind of manifestation of residual memory from a past life.
As I study the lam rim, I have come to regard food with near indifference, which is a huge improvement to hatred and disgust. Because I was curious, I asked my family doc about it, and they ran a few tests. It amazed me to find that I have an enzyme deficiency because my pancreas does not produce the proper enzymes for my body to break down wheat and possibly other proteins.
I could take medicine and eat the meat at this point if necessary for my survival or health, but I have chosen to be vegetarian and gluten free because it is cheaper and more convenient. Taking a pill just to eat things I didn't necessarily care for anyway seemed pointless. Rice, veggies, and fruits are relatively inexpensive and require little preparation, as I usually consume the veggies raw, but every now and again I sauté or steam them if I get a little bored... I eat because it is necessary. Some people might think the diet boring, but it suits me. When I do eat out, I order sides of veggies and rice or a baked potato. Then I drink a protein drink when I get home.
This way of eating is truly beneficial for me. My thoughts are clearer and my energy has improved exponentially. However, what works for me may not work for others. Every path is different.
I work to dispell my aversion to meat, as I often cannot even bear the smell of it cooking. This emotion of dislike is informative, certainly, but it creates negativity within me. I have gotten to the point where I can smell the meat cooking without becoming I'll, but I still have serious problems preparing meat for my carnivorous friends and family, so they eat veggies and skittles when they come to my house.
I know I need to overcome this, but it is really difficult. The idea of touching, cooking, or even interacting with dead flesh is repugnant. Any suggestions on how to mentally alter my responses about this? If it is necessary, I should be able to prepare and even consume meat to survive, and I'd rather not be sick at the thought.
Because we are lucky enough to live in a society where we can be picky eaters, any diet that suffices and gives one enough energy to accomplish his or her spiritual goals is, in my opinion, acceptable. However, using dogma to either justify or forbid meat consumption seems to miss the point. Maybe the debate is akin to the argument of how many angels can dance upon the head of a pin. It's not about the angels or the pin because the real issue concerns understanding your personal intent and perceptions.
So, I'm going to stop rambling now. Thank you for reading them, if you finished this.
Have a peaceful day.