If Plants Are Consciousness, What Happens When We Eat Them?

Last week The New York Times ran an article, Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious? The new evidence that plants have a type of “conscious,” joins a host of other research indicating that plants are intelligent, understand where they are in space, respond to threats and obstacles, and communicate with each other. We’ve known for years that plants grow faster and lusher when you play the right music or speak nicely to them, but now there is evidence that plants form memories. Does that mean they remember that you were kind to them? And what does it mean now to eat them? What, if any, are the moral or ethical implications?

Just to be clear, I’m pretty sure that we have to eat something, so I’m not advocating for fasting or breatharianism (the belief that one can survive on sunlight and fresh air – and yes, this is real).  As an 80-90% vegetarian I’m already big on a plant based diet, and debating making the jump to full time veggie.  Furthermore, what started as a simple recognition that I feel better when I eat less meat and more plants, has begun to take on ideological overtones as more is uncovered about the horrendous abuses in the meat industry. It is no longer possible to ignore the glaring cost of what we put on our plates in terms of animal suffering, environmental damage, and waste of resources.  Continuing to support any part of this system with my food dollars has become untenable.

I think that in an ideal world there is a way to “ethically” eat an animal. Perhaps a Native American or indigenous rite of recognizing, honoring, asking permission and thanking the spirit of the animal before slaughter would come close. Eating nothing but what one has hunted oneself would likewise add a mindfulness to the process that is lacking now.  My question today is, do plants deserve the same “soul” recognition and mindfulness in their handling and consumption?

I suspect the answer is yes. And while I’ve never been a big one for saying grace before meals, I have for years thanked the plants that I am dicing, chopping, sauteing, etc., for their nutrients and sacrifice on my behalf. I feel bad for unused food in a way that I didn’t before – now it’s not just a question of wasted money, but a needless sacrifice of an energy that was prepared to nourish me, if I had remained mindful. Thinking this way also means that I am more mindful of portion size and not being greedy, which may also explain why I feel and look better when I eat this way. And for that, I give thanks, too.

 


Asking the Big Questions

| by Cheryl Shainmark

A dear friend of mine, Nick Borrell, says that when you ask the BIG questions, you open a window into the Universe. As he puts it, “It creates the opportunity for fresh air to flow in and for a fresh answer to emerge.” It invites the enormous energy of creativity to pour in, and you must be very careful to leave the window open long enough to get the answers you seek — you must be patient. Now, in the beginning of the New Year, is the time that we traditionally ask the big questions: what do we want in our lives? What do we want in our world?

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Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I just finished reading “Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It,” by Kamal Ravikant. I have to say that this slim volume completely jumpstarted a whole new spiritual practice for me. I don’t usually rave (in print, at least)… but this is one of the most accessible, transformative books I have ever read — and at 57 pages, you’d have to be in a coma not to get through it. Actually, if you are in a coma I will come and sit by your side and read it to you, because I want “Love Yourself” to be the earworm that gets stuck in your head. You’ll thank me later.

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Moved By Mountains

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Moved By Mountains – Several years ago I dreamed I flew as a hawk, high above seared mountains, gazing down on granite soil marked only by occasional stunted evergreens. In my dream I soared and twisted, riding the air currents until I actually felt dizzy and then, as soon as I thought, “This is too much!” I woke up in my bed. I remembered the details vividly, though I had never seen those vistas in real life. Last week I saw the mountains of my dreams, that is, the dry stretch of the Rockies where the rain does not fall.

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Zen and the Art of Home Buying

| by Cheryl Shainmark

It used to be that buying a home – a house or condo – was one of the more fraught experiences we had as adults. People seem to move more frequently now, but I think for many of us it can still be stressful. It’s still one of the most expensive purchases many of us will ever make and, no matter how well researched, represents both a gamble… and a commitment. Most of us would be immobilized and still living in our first home if we really thought about it too much — so we do our due diligence and then take a deep breath, cross our fingers, and jump.

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Tell Me A Story: Stirring Up Cellular Memories with Meditation

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I have been meditating for over fifteen years now and find it an essential part of my life. Many have written about the substantial physical and emotional benefits, and while I’ve certainly found that to be the case, too, I’ve also noticed that there is a component of releasing “cellular memories” that is rarely addressed. People shy away from phenomena that are not so easily explained, but whether you call it “cellular memories,” “past lives,” or releasing “old patterns,” I have found that there is something extraordinary happening that also brings welcome relief to the body and the spirit.

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Take A Walk on the Wild Side: Encounters With Animals in Nature

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Most of us have had the experience — wonderful, heart-stopping, sometimes terrifying — of unexpectedly encountering an animal in the wild. It may be the tranquil sight of deer off in the woods, or a hawk circling in the canyons of Manhattan. It can be scary, as in some of the recent bear sightings on the East Coast, or inspire reverence for the raw beauty of the creature sighted.

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Have You Seen the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas in Montana?

| by Cheryl Shainmark

This video has lighted up our imaginations! Can you say road trip? Dateline NBC has captured the peaceful and sacred feeling of this wonderful site, called The Garden of a Thousand Buddhas. Located just north of Arlee, Montana, the multi-acre garden is nestled on a beautiful valley that is part of an Indian reservation for the Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Created through the visionary guidance of Gochen Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche, the Garden aligns positive properties of the physical world…

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Anchoring the Reality That We Want

| by Cheryl Shainmark

We’ve all experienced this phenomenon before: you’ve never heard of a particular item, idea, or person and then once you do you find it popping up all over the place. It’s as if the whole world (or at least everybody you know on Facebook), all got the same buzz at the same time. Of course, we all know that someone had to be “the first” — the first to think that thought, invent that item, do the research, say or do or discover something new — and that everybody else caught on later….

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To March or Not to March: When Science Gets Political

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Data is data, science is objective, and the facts should speak for themselves, right? The answer is… complicated. The choice of what to study can be very subjective, constrained by preconceived ideas, and driven by special interest groups, or funding, (often the same thing). Data has always been open to interpretation, and – even before Kellyanne Conway coined the phrase – “the facts” were sometimes ignored in favor of “alternative facts.” But what’s scaring some scientists now is the anti-science, climate change denying stance of the Trump administration, and the fact that data is disappearing.

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