Vegetarianism – Why don’t you eat dogs or cats?

So long as a desire for meat persists, vegetarianism is useless. It is helpful only when it results from an attitude that I will illustrate with a little story.

Not very long ago, someone was asked: “Why don’t you eat meat?” He replied with a counter-question: “Why don’t you eat dogs or cats?” “One just can’t”, was the answer. “Why can’t you?” “Because I would find it disgusting.” “Well, that is just what I feel about all meat.”

That is the point. When pleasure in eating meat has gone, then to abstain from meat may be of some use in relation to the spiritual worlds.

Until then, breaking the meat-eating habit can be helpful only for getting rid of the desire for meat. If the desire persists, it may be better to start eating meat again, for to go on tormenting oneself about it is certainly not the right way to reach an understanding of Spiritual Science.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 58 – Metamorphoses of the Soul, Vol 1: Lecture 6: Asceticism and Illness – Berlin, 11th November 1909

Translated by Charles Davy and Christian von Arnim

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Preeviously posted on April 2, 2018

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Letter from Steiner to Walther Köhler

In the year 1921, Walther Köhler (1870-1946), a church historian, publicist and Professor, asked Steiner to lecture theology students on the relationship of anthroposophy to religion. Steiner was also invited as guest to Köhler’s home. Here is an excerpt from Steiner’s reply to Köhler:

Dear Professor,

My heartfelt thanks for your amiable letter and kind invitation. I will gladly make the presentation on July 19 under the conditions you specify, and will arrive at your home on July 19 at half past 12; but my coming will give rise to one difficulty. I have been a vegetarian for the past 20 years, and although I am not dogmatic about it, I can no longer eat meat because I cannot stand it after such a long time. Therefore, would you be so kind as to forgive me and accede to the additional request of ignoring me during meals, as I believe that weirdos like me just have to be satisfied with what else is on the table. […] [rest of the letter is missing]

Dornach, July 21, 1921

Source (German): GA 39 – Briefe: Band II: 1890 – 1925 (nr. 647 – page 477)

Anonymous translator

Previously posted on July 9, 2016

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Meat / Animals / Bacteria

The bad about eating meat is the lasting effect of hurting and killing animals. These martyred animals return in the form of creatures who turn their forces against the bodies of the descendents of those who once killed them. Bacteria are re-embodied tortured, killed and eaten animals.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – Esoteric Lessons – Part II: Cologne, May 9, 1912

Previously posted on March 19, 2020

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To eat meat or not to eat meat?

Certainly it is not for anthroposophy ever to assume a fanatical or a sectarian attitude. Its task is only to tell how things are. One simply cannot say that people should eat only plants, or that they should also eat animals, and so on. One can only say that some people with the forces they have from heredity are simply not strong enough to perform within their bodies all the work necessary to destroy plant fats, to destroy them so completely that then forces will develop in their bodies for producing their own fat. You see, a person who eats only plant fats — well, either he’s renounced the idea of becoming an imposing, portly fellow, or else he must have an awfully good digestive system, so healthy that it is easy for him to destroy the plant fats and in this way get forces to build his own fat. Most people are really unable to produce their own fat if they have only plant fats to destroy. When one eats animal fat in meat, that is not entirely destroyed. Plant fats don’t go out beyond the intestines, they are destroyed in the intestines. But the fat contained in meat does go beyond, it goes over into the human being. And the person may be weaker than if he were on a diet of just plant fats. [….]

But it is no use being fanatic about these things. There are people who simply cannot live if they don’t have meat. A person must consider carefully whether he really will be able to get on without it. If he does decide he can do without it and changes over from a meat to a vegetarian diet, he will feel stronger than he was before. That’s sometimes a difficulty, obviously: some people can’t bear the thought of living without meat. If, however, one does become a vegetarian, he feels stronger — because he is no longer obliged to deposit alien fat in his body; he makes his own fat, and this makes him feel stronger.

I know this from my own experience. I could not otherwise have endured the strenuous exertion of these last twenty-four years! I never could have traveled entire nights, for instance, and then given a lecture the next morning. For it is a fact, that if one is a vegetarian one carries out a certain activity within one that is spared the non-vegetarian, who has it done first by an animal. That’s the important difference.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – Nutrition and Health – Dornach, 31st July 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn

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Nourishment instinct of children (2 of 2)

Only those children sneak sugar who have something wrong with their livers — it is then actually cured by the sugar. The others are not interested in sugar; they ignore it. Naturally, such a performance can’t be allowed to become a habit; but one must have understanding for it. And one can understand it in two directions.

You see, if a child is watching all the time and thinking, when will Father or Mother not be looking, so that I can take that sugar: then later he will sneak other things. If you satisfy the child, if you give him what he needs, then he doesn’t become a thief. It is of great importance from a moral point of view whether one observes such things or not. It is very important, gentlemen.

And so the question that was asked just now must be answered in this way: One should observe carefully what a child likes and what he loathes, and not force him to eat what he does not like. If it happens, for instance, as it does with very many children, that he doesn’t want to eat meat, then the fact is that the child gets intestinal toxins from meat and wants to avoid them. His instinct is right. Any child who can sit at a table where everyone else is eating meat and can refuse it has certainly the tendency to develop intestinal toxins from meat. These things must be considered.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – Nutrition and Health: Lecture 1 – Dornach,  2nd August 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn

Previously posted on May 5, 2016