2019 Essays

Our Beckoning Future

Will Tuttle : November 6, 2019

By Dr. Will Tuttle

In contemplating our global problems, we tend to look for causes in the past to help us understand how to effectively respond to them. This can be helpful, to the degree we can actually understand our apparent past, realizing that our conception of it is based on memories and narratives that may not be completely accurate. A complimentary approach is to imagine a positive future we’d like to move toward, and let it attract us forward. We can learn to act in the present so that this future is more likely to manifest.

For me, one of the most uplifting things to imagine, and work toward, is humanity’s beckoning future beyond herderism. Herderism, the practice and mentality of exploiting animals for food and other products, is the living, churning core of our current culture, now not just consuming untold billions of animals on an industrial scale, but the Earth as well, and through it all, suppressing our essential capacities of awareness and empathy. As we awaken out of the imposed cultural trance of herderism, it seems undeniable that enormous healing forces will be unleashed in virtually every area of our individual and collective lives.

Questioning the narrative of eating animal foods and moving to plant-based ways of eating and living, we will no longer need to imprison and kill animals for food and other products. We will no longer breed them against their will, and we’ll no longer need to feed them. These millions of acres of grains and legumes, no longer needed for meat, dairy, and egg production, could easily feed the nearly one billion malnourished and starving people in our world, effectively ending hunger and thus one of the primary drivers of conflict, war, and injustice. It’s inspiring to contemplate and savor the collective joy we as a human family will experience when all of us are properly fed.

As the National Academy of Sciences and other researchers have conservatively estimated, we can feed about twelve people a plant-based diet on the amount of land required to feed one person the current meat-based Western diet, and thus we’d be able to feed our current population on much less land than we’re currently using. This would radically reduce water depletion and pollution, rainforest destruction, ocean devastation, air pollution, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction, and fossil fuel usage. We could shift away from harmful agricultural technologies like GMO’s, chemical fertilizers, and toxic pesticides, and adopt plant-based (vegan, stock-free) organic agriculture that builds the soil and liberates animals, allowing us to return vast areas of land to nature to become rich forest, wetland, and grassland habitat again.

There’s nothing objectively stopping us as a society from moving rapidly in this direction, except fear and inertia, which stifle our intelligence and creativity. As we question the many delusions inherent in herderism, we can savor an infinite stream of images of a positive future with clean-running streams, flourishing forests, abundant food, clean air and water, and birds, fish, and other animals celebrating their lives, with we humans also living in harmony with nature, each other, and ourselves.

Transitioning to plant-based ways of eating and living, oceans, rivers, and lakes would become more abundantly filled with fish and marine life as we stopped attacking them with nets, traps, and hooks, and aquifers would be replenished, bringing back springs and rejuvenating riparian habitats. With more trees, a healthier hydrology would naturally be returned to beleaguered landscapes, and thriving climates, forests, and wildlife habitat would be restored.

cow by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleAll the animal species we currently imprison for food, except for one, are currently also living freely in nature, and in a post-herding world can continue doing so: wild chickens are today thriving in the jungles of southeast Asia, as do turkeys in the forests of North America, and free-living pigs, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, and fishes are enjoying their lives in the many relevant ecological niches to which they are suited. Only cows no longer live freely in nature—the last wild cow (aurochs) being killed in what is today Poland in the mid-seventeenth century—but these bovines could certainly be reintroduced into the central Asian grasslands and African savannahs where they traditionally thrived.

As we imagine our beckoning positive future, it’s important to bear in mind that this healing of our Earth is absolutely possible once we stop the wastefulness, violence, and ecological destruction inherent in animal agriculture, and return to the plant-based foods for which we’re designed. Concomitant with this natural ecological healing that would take place, and woven completely into it, would be the healing of our social relationships and cultural institutions, as well as the healing of our individual bodies and psyches. This is in many ways even more inspiring to contemplate.

otters by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleImagining a vegan world is imagining an entirely different world; a world literally beyond our imaginations to fully conceive, like caterpillars trying to imagine themselves as they would be beyond the chrysalis. As we free ourselves from the unspeakably deep and embodied violence of herderism and discover, demonstrate, and teach our children about the remarkable abundance of our beautiful Earth and develop and instill in children our respect for all other forms of life, we will begin to comprehend our role on this Earth. We’ll naturally begin to heal the physical and attitudinal disease that permeates our collective life. It has become so widespread and deeply-rooted that it’s invisible.

Our materialist science, education, economics, and religion, which work together in many ways to keep us disconnected, unaware, and deluded, will transform. When we no longer imprison animals, we’ll begin to naturally awaken to the obvious truth that what we all are is, essentially, eternal awareness. The networks of oppression—both the external ones and those that have been internalized—will gradually and organically evaporate. Prisons, mental institutions, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, industrial factories and offices will all fade away as obsolete manifestations of ignorance. Liberating animals is the portal to human liberation. It is the doorway staring us collectively right in the face, and each and every one of us can move toward and through this door, helping our entire culture to take this essential evolutionary step, and when we get through this portal of conscious eating and respect for animals and each other, many more doorways will emerge into view that we are not as yet equipped to contemplate or envision.

No longer sexually abusing and objectifying females for food, and dominating the sacred feminine dimension of life, we will naturally have more respect and sensitivity for the human birthing process, and for the vital role that the feminine aspect of nurturing and caring plays in our collective life. No longer exploiting newly-born and young animals, we will regain our love and respect for our children, and create ways for them to grow and learn without being stifled, exploited, and groomed for competitive advantage and economic servitude. No longer eating dominated and abused babies, we will begin to co-create economic, governmental, and social relationships based on mutual respect, freedom, and cooperation. No longer engaging in daily meal rituals that numb our feelings and deaden our cognitive intelligence and capacity to make relevant connections, we’ll naturally explore meditative awareness, and discover many latent capacities awakening within us.

New dimensions of science, religion, education, economics, and governance will evolve that under the current materialist delusion imposed by herderism we can barely begin to imagine. Nicola Tesla hinted about an aspect of this when he wrote, “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

Freeing ourselves from our overdependence on technocracy, we will discover abilities to communicate, create, travel, understand, learn, and thrive in harmony with nature, animals, and each other that we at this point have no idea we possess. The free-living animals of the world will no longer be merely objects to be tolerated, killed, marveled at, used, or possessed, but will also begin to reveal themselves to us, and when we respect and relate to them as sovereign beings, we will find extraordinary companions with whom to share this Earth, and new doorways of joy, love, and abundance opening to us.

For now, it is essential to remember that we’ve internalized herderism’s toxic mentalities of domination, categorization, and competition, and besides changing our outer patterns of consumption to show respect to animals, nature, and each other, we are called to do the inner work of healing our culturally-inflicted wounds, and of awakening to our original nature of clear and unobstructed awareness. From this foundation, we are increasingly able to co-create and build a harmonious future for our children and the children of all beings.

As we hold this image of a positive future in our consciousness and commit every day to savoring the beauty of nature and life around us and within us, and doing the best we can to engage authentically in actions, projects, and relationships that respect and celebrate this beauty, we are building the positive future of our inspiring visions. We are living in alignment with our purpose.

When it is our time to leave this Earth, we will have contributed our unique and positive song and perspective, and encouraged others to do the same. Continuing our journey of ever greater awakening, our life on this Earth will have fulfilled a web of purposes radiating into uncountable dimensions, encouraging and helping others in ways we can never imagine.

As we sow, we reap, and the web of relations includes all living beings: all of us. No seed is ever lost. We can savor each day as a new opportunity to water and tend the seeds of our imaginations, and of our actions.

Meat, Eggs, and Dairy as Metaphors of our Predicament

Will Tuttle : September 30, 2019

By Dr. Will Tuttle

Loon by visionary artist Madeleine Tuttle

It’s fascinating to look at animal-sourced foods and products as metaphors of our current situation. The animals whom we imprison in our mechanized herding operations, large and small, are reduced to commodities and to the profits and power that we can take by exploiting them.

Meat is the once-living flesh of these animals, the intelligent, amazingly coordinated muscles enabling them to run, swim, fly, mate, and articulate themselves through their lives and through the purposes they are born to fulfill as members of families and ecological webs of living meaning. From infancy, we are taught the narratives that steal their bodies, their purposes, and their sovereignty, and that destroy their lives so we can eat their muscles, tissues, and organs. The narratives propel us. The narratives we learn at daily meals become our flesh, and we find that as we imprison them for meat, our flesh becomes diseased. At a deeper level, we ourselves become meat to be consumed by industrial forces that consume the flesh of our purposes, and that enrich and fatten themselves with the muscles of our time, creativity, effort, and energy.

Eggs are the menstrual discharges of animals, the virtually infinite potential that can be fertilized to bring forth new life celebrating on this abundant Earth. From infancy we are taught the narratives that imprison helpless females and steal their creative potential, reducing them and their eggs to mere commodities, and ultimately reducing our creative capacities in the process. Like imprisoned hens, our creativity is stolen from us to be used by the institutions of wealth and dominance to distract and disempower us as we serve and promote the herding culture into which we’re born, like hens, and which exploits human people nearly as effectively as it exploits animal people.

Dairy products are the maternal lactations of young mothers and represent and constitute the loving care that nourishes babies in their critical first months of life. We are all compelled to eat the narratives that propel the sexual abuse of young females (and males for sperm), stealing their vulnerable offspring, and destroying the primary sacred social bond that runs through all of nature: that of the mother for her child. Like mother cows, our children are stolen from us by systems of violence, and we are milked relentlessly by the hard hands of an enforced economic system that reduces everything to commodifiable products.

Leather, wool, down, and fur are the protective coverings of animals that we steal from them. In so doing, we find our own protections increasingly destroyed, and we are reduced to being naked and vulnerable in the face of heartless economic, political, educational, and military systems of oppression.

The many ways we exploit animals represent, ironically, the many ways we are often exploited by the same herding apparatus that herds and imprisons animals and herds and imprisons us. As we waken from this harmful cultural trance and question the herding narratives we’ve internalized–and that exploit and destroy the bodies, creativity, and interconnected lives of animals and ecosystems–we gain the capacity to become healers and liberators, and to inspire a benevolent revolution of kindness and respect for all forms of life.

The way forward is through the ancient wisdom: to give to others what we’d like for ourselves. Stealing and destroying the flesh, eggs, mammary secretions, and skins of billions of animals is not just metaphoric; it is also concrete, causing immense unnecessary misery, pain, and suffering. Our suffering is also concrete. Our flesh (lives and energy), eggs (creativity), mammary secretions (feminine caring and children), and skin (protection) are stolen as we steal them from helpless animals. Fortunately, ever-increasing numbers of us are realizing these connections and together we are creating a world where animals, ecosystems, creativity, mothering, freedom, and caring are respected rather than being exploited. A plant-based world of abundance is available and ever-beckoning, if we can escape the fears that keep us trapped in the industrial-strength tribal ignorance, violence, and superstition that define our situation today.

Every day we are making progress. Every day, each one of us can contribute more, learn more, love more, heal more, awaken more, and liberate more. This is using our own flesh, eggs, and milk (bodies, creativity, and caring) wisely. This is our sacred obligation and the source of our effectiveness. longevity, and joy.

You Are Who You Hang Out With

Will Tuttle : September 20, 2019

By Dr. Will Tuttle

As I often remind people, the only reason any of us eat animal foods is because of the communities in which we’re raised. We’re following orders dictated by well-meaning parents, friends, teachers, and doctors who were similarly indoctrinated from infancy by their communities. We eat, think, and become like those we hang out with, and this is becoming increasingly well-understood not just by sociologists and therapists, but also by people who like to live happy and meaningful lives.

Though I was raised eating animal foods because of my family and community, I was fortunate to spend time at The Farm, a vegan community in Tennessee, way back in 1975, and that helped to transform me not just to becoming a vegetarian and then a vegan, but to recognize the tremendous power of community to help (or hinder) us as individuals.

With this in mind, we invite you to our upcoming World Peace Diet Facilitator Training and vegan spirituality retreat, the first in the continental U.S. in about 7 years. It’s called Healing Our World and it’s October 18-20 in Forest Knolls, about 45 minutes north of San Francisco.

Ancient wisdom traditions encouraged people of similar spiritual interests to come together and form communities to develop and deepen their awareness, and to learn from each other and from those with a greater richness of experience. In our busy world today, it is often difficult for us as vegans to find the deeply supportive social contexts that can help us live our lives with joy, health, and meaning.

That’s why we’re offering this opportunity to immerse in a beautiful natural setting with top-rate organic, whole-food vegan meals, with like-minded people. We can co-create an inner template of healing, insight, and creativity to inspire our life moving forward. In my life, I’ve been most deeply blessed by the time I’ve spent in immersive retreats and know the tremendous and subtle power they have for positive transformation.

Compassionate Harvest by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleYoung trees need protection and nurturing so that they can develop their majestic limbs and yield their life-giving fruits.

If you feel the call to learn more about living an even more fulfilling, joyful, healthy, and effective life, and contributing to others doing the same, please join us at our upcoming Healing Our World Retreat – a weekend for insight and renewal!


The Healing Power of Water

Will Tuttle : September 16, 2019

By Dr. Will Tuttle

One of our most valuable inner resources is intuition: the internal guidance system that assists us to live our unique life with authenticity and meaning. Our intuition helps us make connections, and is thus one of the main driving forces in urging us to move toward vegan living, as well as to become more joyful, creative, and effective in our lives.

During our upcoming Healing Our World retreat and World Peace Diet facilitator training October 18-20 in northern California, we’ll be sharing and exploring some of the ways we can cultivate and develop our intuition. One of the seven keys I’ve found is to do our best to connect with nature, every day if possible.

Walking, camping, swimming, gardening, sunbathing, “earthing,” (being barefoot), star-gazing, bird-watching: there are many ways we can explore. One of my favorites is swimming, especially in cold water. I find cold, clean water to be not just invigorating, but healing and spiritually uplifting as well.

On this lecture tour, we flew into Fargo from San Francisco and I feel fortunate that we’ve been able to swim in lakes virtually every afternoon. Minneapolis and Madison are both blessed to have swimming lakes, and lovely and mighty Lake Michigan, larger than Switzerland, is just a few feet away as I write this in Traverse City, after four days of daily swims traveling to Evanston, South Bend, Grand Rapids, and here.

Words fail to convey the delicious, healing, and positively transformational effect of immersing completely into lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans, especially if they are clean and alive. With practice, anything is possible, and I’ve found that awareness of the immense benefits of cold water make it relatively easy to overcome the seemingly instinctual fears and the initial shock, and to begin to relish the experience.

For the past thirty years, I’ve done my best to immerse and connect with living water, wherever we happen to be in the world, so that means most of the states and provinces of North America, as well as many places in South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia. Now that—after 18 years traveling in an RV—we have a house in northern California, we have installed an outside shower, so between that and our nearby lake, we have not used our inside shower in five years. For Madeleine and me, there’s nothing like coming home at night and taking a cold shower under the stars before heading to bed!

Water purifies and cleanses our energy field. All of us are bombarded with EMF fields, and deal with the stresses of modern living. I’ve found that several things happen when immersing, for example, into the Danube or Deschutes River, or the Mediterranean Sea, or Lake Geneva, or Walden Pond, or a mountain lake or stream, or a shower under the trees and stars.

Physically, it seems that every cell is rejuvenated and starts rejoicing. Cells cell-ebrate in water, their essence. Mentally, the mind relaxes and focuses in a natural meditative state. Emotionally, a deep sense of joy and gratitude fills the heart. Spiritually, I feel I connect with not only a universal presence, but also with the presence of the locale where I am.

Before delivering a lecture here in Traverse City this evening, for example, Madeleine and I will swim in the lake to deepen our connection with all the people here—both the human people and the animal people—and with the unique energy and inspiration in this area, and re-dedicate ourselves to being part of the healing of our world. The water in an area seems to have within it essential information about that area that we can tune into. Also, as we travel, we find enormous healing power in nature and in water. If I feel a little cold coming on, a sure way to eliminate it is a swim in a cold lake or stream!

In the final analysis, we will only protect what we love, and we will only love what we experience and understand. By getting outside and into nature and walking, jogging, swimming, sleeping close to the Earth, and contemplating the natural sounds, aromas, designs, patterns, colors, and the textures of wind and water, our intuition is nourished and awakened, and we drink of living presences that inspire us to love, protect, and help heal our world and all our fellow passengers on this abundant Earth.

By cultivating a love of water and swimming, I have been profoundly sensitized to the devastating impact of animal agriculture on beloved and vulnerable rivers, lakes, and oceans, as well as on forests, prairies, and mountains. For me, veganism is an expression of love and caring for all life that is celebrating on this Earth, and the more we can understand and appreciate nature, beyond the conceptual prisons imposed by our upbringing in a herding culture, the more joyfully and effectively we can live our lives and contribute to the healing of our world.

Though I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes, I’m profoundly grateful for several things I’ve gotten right, including vegan living, a love of water and nature, and the importance of self-inquiry, meditation, and intuition. Please, if you can, join us October 18-20 in beautiful west Marin to share more and learn together in our Healing Our World training and retreat.

Thanks for saying yes to life!

Who is Responsible for the Amazon Fires?

Will Tuttle : August 31, 2019

By Dr. Will Tuttle

It’s difficult to overstate the seriousness of the devastation being wrought on our planet by the tens of thousands of fires now raging in the Amazon. What is clear is that the fires are directly caused by ranchers and farmers who have been clearing the primordial rainforest primarily to grow genetically-modified soy as livestock feed for export to markets in Europe, China, and North and South America, as well as to graze cattle. Animal agribusiness operators cut down the forests to expand their farms and ranches, and then set fire to the piles of logs they’ve created—thousands and thousands of fires.

This is not new. Researchers and environmentalists have been decrying the cutting and burning of the Amazon, which has been going on at the rate of about an acre per second or acre every several seconds, for the last few decades. They have been warning that eventually the Amazon rainforest will completely disappear, which will have a calamitous impact on the entire planet’s biosphere. Part of the problem is that when the destruction reaches a critical mass—when about forty to fifty percent of the forest is left—it won’t be large enough to attract and create the large-scale ongoing rainfall that makes the whole system possible, and the entire forest will collapse and disappear, leaving a dry and deserted wasteland. This is because rainforest soil is very thin, with most of the biomass in the canopy.

This Amazon destruction is catastrophic. Not only is the Amazonian rainforest an essential part of the global climatic system, it’s also called the lungs of the planet, creating about a quarter of atmospheric oxygen, as well as being home to most of the genetic diversity of animal and plant life on land. Mainstream media has never reported on this because it is not in the interest of the primary advertisers (fast-food, pharmaceutical, chemical, petroleum, and banking industries) for the public to be aware of this serious ongoing problem. That might result in people questioning their primary food choices, which would be harmful to corporate profits.

What is new is that the media is now for the first time reporting on the cutting and burning of the Amazon, and of course this destruction is now more intense and widespread under the new Bolsonaro regime in Brazil. So of course many fingers are being pointed at President Jaim Bolsonaro, whose regime is closely allied with Brazil’s powerful and wealthy ranching industry, because it’s obvious that the somewhat minimal protections afforded the Amazon’s trees, wildlife, and indigenous populations in prior administrations have been abandoned, and ranchers are being allowed to profit immensely from the short-sighted destruction and exploitation of an irreplaceable global treasure of unimaginable value. So some blame Bolsonaro.

Others blame the United States, which they allege orchestrated the impeachment of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff in 2016, and engineered the regime-change which brought Bolsonaro into power in January of 2019, basically as a U.S. puppet. We have seen this happen in many countries over the years. Regimes in countries that attempt to protect their people and environment—and not allow free access by U.S. corporations, financial institutions, and military installations—are targeted economically, politically, and in the media, and replaced with more “democratic” (pliable) ones.

Looking even deeper, others blame capitalism itself. As a system that directly emerged from animal agriculture, as I discuss in The World Peace Diet, capitalism is based on reducing animals to commodities (capita meaning “head”) and the consequent exploitation of the weak by the strong as it has evolved through the centuries. Contemporary transnational corporate capitalism reduces animals, ecosystems, and human beings to mere objects to be exploited by immortal organizations with such wealth and power that they influence and control governments on virtually every level, including that of the United States. There are the corporations that profit from the destruction of the Amazon: the fast food, chemical, pharmaceutical, medical, petroleum, and agricultural industries. Beyond the corporations, there are the big banks who invest in, direct, and profit from the transnational corporations. Controlling the big banks is a handful of typically invisible financial holding companies. Now we’re looking at a relatively small number whose wealth and power control the institutions and narratives that shape our world. Much has been written about how they operate through politicians and political parties, through media, film, and technology, and through most of the avenues of education, religion, science, government, finance, and culture. This has evolved over time and is accomplished through the compartmentalization of institutions so that people only see what they’re allowed to see. The capacity of the general population to comprehend what is actually happening is shut down by relentlessly supplying disempowering fictional narratives that get embedded within the individual consciousness of virtually everyone.

So, how do we respond to the Amazon fires, and to the larger crisis of which they are a part? Who is responsible for the fires? Or better put, who is response-able? Each one of us is responsible, not just because our collective actions and thoughts create our reality, but also because we are able to respond, and we can do so in a variety of ways. Some of us are signing online petitions urging President Bolsonaro to impose penalties on the agribusinesses cutting and burning the rainforest. Some, like Greenpeace, have created an online petition calling on the management of KFC, McDonald’s, and Burger King to stop sourcing their burgers and the feed for their imprisoned cows and chickens from Brazil. Obviously, these are merely ineffectual band-aids because they fail to address the root of the problem, which is animal agriculture itself. The inescapable and gross wastefulness of feeding animals rather than eating plants directly is the driving fury causing deforestation, as well as ocean destruction, aquifer depletion, air and water pollution, species extinction, and the proliferation of disease and conflict.

It would be far more interesting and relevant if Greenpeace called on meat, dairy, and egg consumers to stop purchasing these products completely, and to move to a plant-based way of living and to encourage others to do the same. In fact, we see that Forbes magazine reports that KFC just debuted its plant-based chicken, called Beyond Fried Chicken, in Atlanta a few days ago and totally sold out in just five hours. Some people at least are obviously making the connections, and responding, which is inspiring.

Cow by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleThankfully, each one of us can respond to the Amazon fires, and to the deeper cultural and ethical malaise of which they are a manifestation. We can do our best every day to bring our lives more fully into alignment with our values of caring for the Earth, animals, and each other by moving to a whole-foods, organic, plant-based way of eating and living, and by helping to share the many benefits of this with others. We can take other direct actions to share this message with others, and to influence policy, as we are guided. And importantly, we can make ongoing efforts to question the narratives—both external and those that have been internalized—that are propagated by media and education channels that promote materialistic explanations of reality, that divide and separate us from nature and each other, and that rationalize harming and exploiting those who are vulnerable, especially animals and children. We can make our life an expression of caring and of self-inquiry, and do everything we can to contribute to solutions, rather than being part of the problem.

Whale by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleThe planet was burning when we landed here, fueled by the greed and exploitation inherent in animal agriculture. Though we’ve been wounded and indoctrinated by the prevailing narrative, we can heal our wounds, awaken from our indoctrination, and help put out the fires. Vegan living brings physical, cultural, and spiritual harmony by helping us question the burning insanity of abusing animals and ecosystems, and guiding us back home to respect, kindness, and being responsible co-creators on this magnificent Earth.

The Astonishing Intelligence of Being

Will Tuttle : July 11, 2019

Dr. Will Tuttle

Researchers investigating the structure of the body have discovered that cells are phenomenally complex and compare a single cell in our body in complexity to New York City. We have several trillion cells in our body. Let’s savor that for a moment. It’s humbling and inspiring to contemplate the unfathomable intelligence invested in each one of us by the universe. This extraordinarily intelligent and complex physical body is our precious vehicle and has a purpose, which is to enable us to celebrate our lives and fulfill our creative, intellectual, social, and spiritual purposes in this lifetime.  This understanding can inspire us to treat our body with kindness and respect and to do the same for all the people we meet.

It’s essential to remember that cows, pigs, fishes, chickens and all the other animals are similarly made up of trillions of cells and are also staggeringly complex. There is an overwhelmingly enormous investment of universal intelligence in animals and it is the foundation that allows them to fulfill their purposes and celebrate their lives on this beautiful and intelligent Earth. And yet, we are all born into a culture that compels us from infancy to disrespect and destroy this massive storehouse of intelligence in animals by enslaving, raping, and killing them by the billions, stealing their purposes, and sacrificing both their and our own intelligences and purposes. It’s completely unnecessary and is invisible to us, and it obstructs our strivings for meaningful individual and social progress.

Turtles1 by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleBy consciously refusing to buy and consume animal foods and products, we are respecting not just the inherent intelligence of animals and ecosystems, but also our own intelligence, and we are sowing seeds for awakening and liberation. World peace is based on respect for our intelligence and the intelligences and purposes of all beings. This respect is the missing foundation for health, freedom, awareness, and the possibility to fulfill our lives together in harmony on this abundant and completely misunderstood Earth. Deep thanks for your caring heart and your awareness that yearns to savor and celebrate the magnificent intelligence that flows through birds, flowers, trees, forests, oceans, squirrels, squashes, starfish, elephants, and planetary systems: all of us and every dimension of our lives. Blessed be.

Honoring Mothers and Ending Slavery

Will Tuttle : May 10, 2019

By Dr. Will Tuttle

A disturbing trend over the past couple of decades is the ongoing proliferation of human trafficking and slavery. It’s well known that de facto slavery conditions exist in a number of industries, such as for children on cocoa plantations in Africa, and carpet, clothing, and electronics factories in India and elsewhere, men on fishing boats in southeast Asia, and millions of women and children in the sex slave trade internationally, including in the U.S. and Europe.

Researchers studying the problem report that there are vast sex trafficking rings throughout the U.S. that prey especially on children, and that the problem is under-reported and difficult to stop due to corruption and profiteering in law enforcement and the courts, as well as in governmental agencies that deal with children.

According to a recent study reported in USA Today, youth and child sex slaves are forced to have sex on average over five times daily and there are hundreds of thousands of adults who are buying sex with children, and who are rarely brought to trial. In a recent case, a man who was arrested was asked about his conscience, and if he felt any remorse for the terrible damage that he was causing children by buying and having sex with them. His response was telling: “I don’t want to know how the sausage is made.”

Years ago, I wrote an article titled “The Most Pervasive Form of Child Abuse” published in the June 2001 issue of VegNews before it was a magazine, contending that being compelled as children to eat the flesh and secretions of animals not only harms us physically, but psychologically and morally as well. With every meal, we’re consuming a narrative of materialism, reductionism, and exploitation of the weak by the strong. The subtext is, “Don’t make the connection.” “Stay shallow and don’t see deeply, feel deeply, or care deeply. It’s just an object: a burger, an egg, a breast, a wing, a piece of cheese.”

We are all profoundly wounded by being born and raised in a culture organized around animal agriculture, which is, at its core, a relentless and ritualized sexual attack on the sacred feminine dimension of life, specifically on females, mothers, and offspring. The core practice of animal agriculture is forcibly impregnating females and sexually abusing and killing the beings who are the result of raping them. This is happening millions of times daily; it’s the hidden dark side of our culture. We are compelled from infancy to not only participate and pay for this, and thus cause this ongoing tsunami of sexual violence, but also to then actually eat it and routinely feed it to our unsuspecting children. This injects them with the same toxins and wounds that have been perverting us and hijacking our awareness for generations now, driving ten thousand years of war and patriarchal oppression.

The wisdom at the heart of world’s spiritual traditions is basically unanimous: whatever we sow, we will reap. How can we ever expect that we as human beings are worthy of a culture that is free of slavery and the sexual trafficking and abuse of women and children when we are enslaving billions of nonhuman animals and sexually abusing the females and their offspring? It’s well understood that all the female cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, sheep, goats, and other animals who are imprisoned for food and other products are forced into pregnancy on what the industry terms the “rape rack” when they are mere children in human terms. Cutting costs in every way possible, the industry minimizes feed costs by manipulating young females into early pregnancy through drugs, hormones, and selective breeding.

Our efforts to curb and stop human trafficking are merely ironic in the face of the massive industrialized and invisibilized trafficking of animals that pervades and defines our culture. Going vegan and understanding the deep connections between animal abuse and human abuse is a significant contribution to the healing and resolution of the human slavery and trafficking problem that causes untold misery and suffering in our world. Until we publicly proclaim and explain these connections and they become part of our social conversation, we will never make meaningful progress in our quest for justice and respect in our human world. Eating and buying animal foods and products always requires trafficking and sexual abuse of animals, on both small backyard operations as well as on large-scale factory farms. This injustice permeates every cell of animal flesh, cheese, wool, leather, and egg, and screams for our attention, to wake us up from the cultural trance into which we’ve been indoctrinated, and to heal the traumatic wounds that have been inflicted on us by animal agriculture. The vulnerable—animals and children—always bear the brunt of the full fury of our desensitization and delusion.

Giraffes by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleThere is only one way forward. Human liberation is impossible without animal liberation. There will never be any human justice without justice for animals. The fact that in the thousands of pages of writing about human trafficking and sexual abuse of women and children, there is virtually no mention of the propelling force—the massive trafficking and sexual abuse of animals—demonstrates how deluded, indoctrinated, and blinded we are by our culture’s food rituals. It’s long past time to speak up and embody the truth of compassion and justice for all living beings, and for all mothers and all the children of all species, so that we are finally worthy as a species to live in greater harmony on this beautiful and beleaguered Earth.

This Mother’s Day, let’s remember the millions of animal mothers whose babies are stolen and killed to be eaten and used, and let’s reflect on the ongoing trafficking and sexual abuse of men, women, and children in our culture, and discuss these connections with our friends and family. Slavery begets more slavery. Freedom requires us to question the indoctrinated narratives justifying our exploitation of animals, and to do our best to embody kindness and respect for all. We can all contribute our voices and actions and help build the positive future for all beings that is beckoning.

Satyagraha: The Magic Button

Will Tuttle : January 14, 2019

By Dr. Will Tuttle

It seems that at a certain point, every vegan yearns to discover the magic button that they can push that will light up the consciousness of their non-vegan friends and family members, and transform them into vegans. For vegans, it seems completely anti-rational, self-destructive and untenable that their acquaintances—upon hearing of the devastating effects of animal agriculture on innocent animals, as well as on ecosystems, wildlife, hungry people, and human health—nevertheless continue to take out their wallets and vote for animal-sourced foods and consume them and feed them to their unsuspecting children. “I see it, why don’t they?” “I care, why don’t they?” “I changed, why can’t I get them to see, to care, to change?”

           As vegans, we desperately yearn to find the magic phrase, or image, or set of ideas, memes, gestures, and vocal intonations that would be able to reliably pierce the armor of indoctrination and soften the hearts and open the eyes and minds of the people with whom we share our world. We eventually realize that the search for this magic button is like the search for the fabled fountain of youth or the mythical wish-fulfilling jewel. The fountain of youth and the wish-fulfilling jewel are actually within ourselves, and to transform the world we are called to transform ourselves.

We understand gradually that we are all wounded by being born and raised in a herding culture organized at its core around enslaving, mutilating, raping, and killing billions of animals every day, and eating them and using them as mere objects for products and other uses. As infants, we are all born into this, and it wounds us on every level. Not only is our physical health harmed, and our society and our Earth, but at a deeper level, we are harmed psychologically and also spiritually and morally. This ethical harm is perhaps the most serious wound. Relentlessly stealing the purposes as well as the physical and mental integrity of billions of animals, we collectively lose our purposes and our integrity, and co-create systems of human exploitation, waste, and injustice that are destroying the web of life and our basic cultural sanity. We begin to realize that the violence and conflict we experience as humans is both a direct and secondary result of the abuse that we perpetrate on animals. The animals and our violence toward them are made invisible by our herding culture’s established traditions, language, institutions, and assumptions. We are collectively wounded by our indoctrination, and blinded to the devastating consequences of our daily actions.

            As vegans, we are healing these physical, psychological, and moral wounds both in ourselves and in our world. Our task is to nurture and deepen this healing in ourselves, and also to become increasingly adept as healers to other people who have been similarly wounded and are still trapped in the cages of conformism into which they were forced from infancy. As vegans, we are healers and light-bearers. To the degree that we are authentically healing our inner wounds and opening to the light of inner truth, we are able to help others heal and to awaken from the dark trance of violence that is the essence of our culture, which is animal agriculture in all its forms. Liberating animals is the direct path to human liberation, peace, and justice.

The light that heals and liberates is the light of truth. The truth that all of us, vegans or not, know in our bones is that animals suffer as we do. We also understand that our lives and our welfare are interconnected, and that all life is interdependent.

The ancient Sanskrit word for truth is satya, and graha means insistence or force. Satyagraha, or truth-force, was a central tenet of Gandhi’s approach to social change. Satyagraha can be seen as the magic button that we can discover within and that we can all use to help transform our world. When we speak our truth with respect and kindness, we are fulfilling our mission as light-bearers and healers, and as world-transformers. The hardest part is to uncover this inner truth and to articulate it clearly and without judgment or trying to manipulate others to change.

Sometimes people ask me what the most effective formulation of this underlying truth might be. For example, if we’re in an elevator and only have a half-minute or so, what words could we say to convey the essence of healing truth to another person? What seeds of truth could we sow in their mind and heart? The good news is that even though it’s counterproductive and wrong-headed to try to change others, and reliably prompts them to resist, defend, and fight back, we can nevertheless plant seeds of positive change in others through our words, actions, creative expressions, and example. By deeply and fully embodying vegan values of kindness and respect, our words, gestures, and actions become congruent, and we can plant seeds of truth with effectiveness. Congruence is the key, and with it, satyagraha, truth-force, works through us.

So, in a nutshell, these are the words that we can speak and embody: “I am deeply grateful that I discovered that the only reason I was eating animal foods for all the years that I did was because I was just following orders. Fortunately, I realized that those orders were not in my best interest, or in the interest of our world, and so I’m not doing it anymore, and it’s fantastic.”

That’s it. When we express this truth, in our own words of course as befits the occasion, on an elevator or anywhere else, we are conveying a simple and basic set of transformative ideas, which is our truth. Usually it’s best not to say a lot more, and to let go and let the seed we have planted germinate and grow organically.

Done with respect and without any underlying motivation to manipulate others, we plant a depth-charge, as it were, a potent seed of light, truth, and healing in the consciousness of the person. It will sprout and grow and help them to heal as well, because that is what truth-power does. Basically, our experience is all the same growing up in this herding culture, and our personal truth is also a universal truth.

The only reason any of us eats animal foods is because we’re just following orders, and we all know this deep down and also understand that it’s not in our best interest. When any of us articulates and embodies this fundamental, world-transforming truth, and then follows up with how fantastic it is to be free of this indoctrination, we are essentially opening the door to the invisible cage that keeps human beings imprisoned in destructive, anti-rational behavior. At our core, none of us wants to be a mere automaton blindly following toxic and destructive orders. We can point out that we have discovered this for ourselves and how liberating it is, and this is non-threatening to others and beckons them out of the prison into which they’ve been born.

If we do it well, the person will forget us and the conversation, and yet the seed we planted in a seemingly casual way is alive deep inside them, growing every day, and propelling them to awakening and freedom. It is their own wisdom and compassion that are actually growing, and when they go vegan, it will not be because they are being shamed into it or pushed, but because their own inner caring and basic intelligence is liberated and activated. An inspired, creative, empowered vegan is born.

  So even though there is no outer magic button, we do have within us the capacity to be an instrument of satyagraha, and to speak our truth, which is a universal truth, planting seeds that will positively transform our world:

“I am deeply grateful that I discovered that the only reason I was eating animal foods for all the years that I did was because I was just following orders. Fortunately, I realized that those orders were not in my best interest, or in the interest of our world, and so I’m not doing it anymore, and it’s fantastic.”

This embodied truth is an unstoppable force for awakening humanity, and each of us can strive to ever more fully discover and express it, and to live and celebrate it, for the benefit of all.

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