When I converted to Buddhism, I became a vegetarian. My perfunctory understanding of Buddhism led me to this. If the first precept of Buddhism is “Abstain from harming life”, it was reasonable to see vegetarianism as an appropriate lifestyle change to accompany my religious change. So I have not eaten meet (Outside of the Grandmother Clause incidents) for about 3 and half years, which means the family has not eaten meat with any regularity in that time.
But starting today things are changing.
Hazel has become friends with a neighborhood child. She goes over to their house to play and on Monday of last week, she came home with an electric blue raspberry lips and tongue. Not unusual for a child, but she hadn’t eaten her dinner, oh well. That evening after we put her to bed, had our normal evening routine which includes telling Hazel to get back in her bed, we realized when we went to bed, several hours later, she was still awake. The next day, we found out that she had not had just one electric blue raspberry candy, but several candies. She says five, but that has become her default number to be thrown out to any question in which a numeric response would be appropriate, so our guess is that the actual count is much higher. Not unexpected for a two year old, but clearly the sugar had an effect on her system. Saturday, I took Hazel to the movies, we enjoyed watching RIO, but I made the mistake of getting some Skittles, which she wanted and called me out several times during the movie when I was trying to sneak them.
That night, she was wired, again.
The next day, Easter Sunday, I knew she was going to have a lot of candy, but I underestimated how much she was going to eat. When it came time to go to bed, we had to fight to keep her in bed, she was asking for more candy, like a two year old should. She kept getting up and coming out of her room, even when we warned her that if she got up again, we would have to take drastic measures, particularly in regards to her Easter candy. Needless to say, she was up out of her room less than 2 minutes later. Last chance had been had. Time to pay the piper. I marched her downstairs, we got the bag full of candy out of the fridge, I gave it to her and told her to put it in the garbage. She did (I retrieved the candy (in the bag) and took it to work).
It was the hardest thing I have ever done as a parent. She cried. A lot. She sobbed. She wanted her mother, not me, understandable.
I felt like an ogre.
After Esther and I talked her down, we eventually went up stairs, put her back in bed, gave her a kiss and then listened on the monitor as she retold the dark room about what I had done. Talk about feeling like you’re being punched in the gut. Monday, we have a friend over for dinner followed by desert of chocolate cake and reduced cherries. Fantastic. And not two minutes after the sweet, sweet cherry hit Hazels lips, she was tearing around the house like a sugar-hopped up maniac.
Clearly, Hazel reacts quickly to sugars, and clearly they last for a long time. Something needs to change. I don’t want her to be rapid cycling between sugar highs and hypoglycemic crash. I want her to be a little more even. I know she is going to have more energy that I do, she is two, but the range in her energy needs to be leveled out.
I have been listening to Dan Benjamin’s shows from the beginning. I knew he was Buddhist, he published a great primer on meditation. I figured he was vegetarian because he seems to be pretty serious about his meditation practice. So when he starts talking about being on the Paleo diet, I was confused. So confused I sent off an email to him. (Wording be remembered, not actual transcript)
Very interested in your being Paleo and Buddhist. How does that work? Doesn’t the first precept say “Do not kill?”. Just curious. Love your shows.
I didn’t get an email back, but a few months later, he how he integrates being Buddhist and eating Paleo. I wasn’t convinced, but it did get me thinking and reading. The most succinct explanation of eating meat and being Buddhist I read on Urban Dharma.
What is boils down to is:
Towards the end of the Buddha’s life, his cousin Devadatta attempted to usurp the leadership of the Order of monks. In order to win support from other monks, Devadatta tried to be more strict than the Buddha and show Him up as indulgent. Devadatta proposed to the Buddha that all the monks should henceforth be vegetarians. The Buddha refused and repeated once again the regulation that he had established years before, that monks and nuns may eat fish or meat as long as it is not from an animal whose meat is specifically forbidden, and as long as they had no reason to believe that the animal was slaughtered specifically for them.
I will gladly admit that I was naive in my initial interpretation of the first precept. In my transition to Buddhism, I needed something to focus on, some way to remind myself of what I was believing and why. I am now much more wise with regards to my religion and have done much more to have a deeper understanding of what my belief system means. And. Something has to change with my daughter’s diet. Being a vegetarian leads pretty easily to being a starchitarian.
Definition: a person who only eats starchy foods (like bread or french fries)
Word History: starch and -tarian (from vegetarian)
Example Sentence: The starchitarian loved potatoes.
And that diet is not good, plus it has a lot of sugar which I want to reduce in Hazel. So. Esther and I have gone Paleo. I am eating meat again. For 30 days. If I don’t feel significantly better or Hazel’s energy level hasn’t evened out, we will go back to eating a primarily vegetable based diet. I am going to blog about what I eat and how I feel.
More to come.