The No.1 Problem With The Carnivore Diet

With this article, I want to prevent you from unknowingly making bad decisions while on the carnivore diet. Some of the promoters of the carnivore diet do already mention that sourcing high-quality meat is important, but I doubt that many follow that advice. 

The majority of the increased meat-consumption will be coming from factory-raised animals. Paying close attention to the quality of the meat is a necessary step in order to make the diet sustainable for the environment though. Consuming grain- and soy-fed animals is only making our own health and the health of the planet worse. And I feel this is not getting enough emphasis within the movement. 

Often times it is even stated that factory-raised beef is not less healthy from a personal standpoint. However, the environmental impact is not mentioned, much less emphasized. Taking the source of the meat into consideration, the majority of people are probably not willing to spend the money necessary to raise those animals in the proper way. Which is the proper way? If ruminants are raised out on pasture and eat only fresh grass, this is a sustainable and even regenerative way. It is indeed possible to sequester more carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil long-term, than what is released during the rest of the supply chain, from farm to table. 

I am optimistic that people see this issue with the carnivore diet and put the health of the planet above their personal hopes of achieving improved health, which is in fact very questionable. Many long-lived populations show us that it is possible to live very healthily on a primarily plant-based diet. Not exclusively, but as a large percentage of caloric intake. And if, and this is a big if, those plant calories are sourced locally, seasonally, and from non-mono-cropped fields, they can be cheaper and more sustainable than pasture-raised meats. This of course also requires a huge shift in consumer thinking and habits. This is unlikely to happen in the general population without national/global incentives. 

Consumption of regular meat is the most resource-intensive and environmentally harmful food. Even though many of the claims coming out of the vegan community are largely exaggerated, this type of meat still consumes more resources than eating the grains, legumes, tubers, etc. directly. We can only digest starches and sugar, but ruminants are also able to extract energy from fiber. They can therefore digest the whole plant, which makes the resulting caloric calculation a little more favorable. 

But the biggest negative impact comes from the mono-cropped fields, from tilling the ground and exposing the soil. This is true for grain-fed meat as it is for all other foods grown in this fashion that we consume directly. Therefore, whether you decide to eat meat- or plant-based, you have to ask how the primary plant, that has captured the sunlight and turned it into a stored form of energy, is grown. During this process, is the soil exposed or tilled, are the fields sprayed with pesticides, and is the whole process carbon positive or negative. 

I critique the carnivore movement because it has fallen into a similar trap as the vegan movement. In its thinking it only goes one level deep. But considering the process of growing food holistically is important to make sound food-decisions with consideration of its environmental impact. And for that, it is not enough to just look at the food directly. There are many layers to the impact food can have. A complete analysis includes also the impact of the production of fertilizers and pesticides, the machinery and its gas consumption, processing, shipping, and storage. 

Considering all the above, fresh, local, pasture-raised meat can be one of the most environmentally friendly foods we have. At least in many parts of the world and especially in regions where the climate and soil quality does not allow for crop production. CAFO-raised, imported, corn- and soy-fed (from deforested land) meat on the other hand is the most environmentally harmful food available. Meat is not meat. 

"It's not the cow, it's the how."  - Bobby Gill

Making The Best Of Social Isolation

During these times where communities all around the world are struggling with corona-virus infections, social distancing is one of the measures that we decided to implement. That means more time alone for many people. How can we best deal with this situation? Can true spirituality give us a clue whether there are benefits to time alone and the introspection that it facilitates? 

I believe there is value in time spent alone with oneself without distraction. And even though we might have social distancing rules today, doesn't mean we avoid distraction or communication through online media. In fact, I argue that if we want to gain some spiritual advantage from social isolation, we have to turn off all distractions as well and really spent time with ourselves. 

Those of us who are interested in true spirituality are on the search for the self. If you know your true self, you know the world. Discovering your true being at it's core is the goal of spiritual practice. If you do not want to suffer emotionally from social isolation, dig deeper, do not run away from yourself, and instead use the opportunity to contemplate the self. 

Ask yourself what you are and separate belief from reality. Every one of us starts out in a confused state regarding this matter. For a lifetime we believed we are a person. That we are a human with a personality. But this person is merely the role we act out, for ourselves and especially for others. With social isolation, one guard of the false self, the mask, can drop away. We can let go of the roles we play. And go one level deeper. 

Here we can, maybe for the first time, acknowledge that we do not actually know who or what we are. That we believe, very strongly, that we are human, but that this believe is not truth. For truth, we know directly, without a doubt. You look inward and rest with the question, over and over again, "what am I?" Thoughts, feeling, concepts, world-views… we see all of that pass by in the mental space. Are we one of those things? Are we an explanation? A thought, a concept, a feeling…? 

Observe, acknowledge, let go. Just be with the question and maybe the answer will reveal itself in unexpected ways. And social isolation brought you here. There is no one to isolate from. There is no one being isolated. There is only being. All is experiencing, judging, conceptual grasping. If you believe the thought of social isolation, you are isolated. As you are doing it, you can also stop. It's your choice. I say, go with the truth. 

Reasons You Dislike Meditation

In case you do not have a meditation practice in place yet and dislike the idea of extended periods of regular meditation, this article may help you understand why and how you can fix it. 

Focus is the key to impactful meditation
Blissful, transformative states can be achieved by meditation.

Meditation is in essence the practice of ever-deepening concentration on a subtle part of experience. This can be the breath, a mantra, a bodily sensation, even a question or consciousness/awareness itself. You may have experimented with different meditations only to find you mind wandering and thinking about what you want to do if you get away from this meditation. Maybe your body was aching and you were distracted by pain. Let me tell you, all of this is also going on in seasoned meditators and still, for them, meditation can be the most delightful activity of their life. 

What is the difference in their practice? And why do they naturally come back to this practice over and over again? What are they doing differently that makes it so enjoyable? 

The answer is quite simple and may be surprising. It is not about making the position more comfortable or choosing the right object of concentration, changing around mantras, techniques, etc. The critical step in making a meditation practice enjoyable is to make it harder and more challenging. Your meditation practice has to be so challenging that you cannot let your mind wander and lose its awareness of the present moment. 

How can you make a concentration practice challenging? By becoming engaged with the present moment to the point where 100% of your concentration and focus is right on the subject. If you observe your breath, you are so focused, you notice every distracting thought the split second it arises. And you let it go. Every distracting sensation, you observe from its very origin. You let go of all of it, because your only goal is to be as mindful and aware as possible. You follow down this path of pure concentration with laser-like focus. Like an artist performing live, who cannot be distracted for a single second. 

In meditation, it's even less time than that. You goal should be not be distracted for 1/1000 of a second. For example, a recommended practice for beginners is to focus on the breath. And sometimes even count to ten, to not lose focus and become absorbed in thought. I would argue this is too easy and not actual awareness of the present moment. With this practice it is easy to "meditate" on the concept of the breath. Yes, you are focus, but not on the actual sensation of the breath but with you concept of the breath. You focus on the thought "in-breath", "out-breath"... but you are aware only very shortly at the onset of each change from "in" to "out". With true focus, you would split up every in-breath into sensations that last 1ms, and focus on that, dropping the whole concept that what you experience is part of breathing. 

With increasing ability to focus, you can make the present moment infinitely small, and forget about all concepts surrounding it. When you do that, every 1/1000 of a second, becomes completely new, unknown, in fact unknowable and absolutely blissful. When you connect to this, you will have found your bliss in meditation and become hooked. In this tiniest fraction, that is the actual now, all concepts are gone. There is no you here, there are no problems, no concerns, only pure delightful beingness.

Often times we approach our meditation practice with an attitude of relaxation. But this will only make it harder. We will enjoy our meditation less. The counter-intuitive step is to go at it hard. With the rock-solid commitment to not let go of concentration for a single second and actually focus on the now with ever-increasing clarity, that it becomes infinitely short and infinitely everything at the same time. Meditate like this and you will be blissfully surprised by the places it takes you.

Belief and Knowing

We all know the difference between knowing and not knowing. We try to replace not knowing with knowing. Knowing makes us comfortable and not knowing makes us uncomfortable. Not knowing may feel like a flaw in our character. Why do we not know? We should know! Right?

This notion is very wrong and can lead us into the realm of unconscious believing. Rather than admitting to ourselves, that we do not know, we try to avoid the discomfort by adopting a belief instead. Reading or hearing something from someone else is still not knowing. Believing what we read or hear is believing, but not knowing. 

This may be fine in some areas but is problematic if the benefit of knowing can only be had with true first-hand insight. And avoiding the struggle to know by adopting a belief can leave us without resolving the issue. It may only serves to avoid momentary discomfort and prevent genuine knowing. 

A belief is fundamentally the same as not knowing. Realize this! If you say I believe such and such, it would be more helpful to say, I do not know about such and such. What is the purpose of a belief? In most cases, you will find it has no benefit. Just admit that you do not know and go on. Learn to become comfortable with not knowing. What is the benefit of this? Form a mental place of not knowing you at least create the possibility of true knowing. Whereas when you freely adopt beliefs every time you encounter something you do know, it will prevent you from ever discovering what's actually true directly.

In spirituality, this is especially critical, as spiritual insights cannot be transferred through the adoption of a set of beliefs. Spiritual teachings are meant to give you direction for your practice and ways to generate immediate insight, not give you a new world-view to believe in. If you learn that you are one with the universe, the concept itself will not change anything for you, even if you deeply believe it. Admit that you do not know until you do. This way you create the possibility for the truth to reveal itself to you. Beliefs block it. 

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