The tragic death of Cecil the lion has touched people’s hearts and caused a real uproar. Never before has there been such a passionate outcry among the general public about the cruelty of hunting these noble animals for sport. Even people who didn’t take much notice of badger culling or fox hunting have been up in arms about Cecil.
A friend of mine started quite a debate on his Facebook page when he commented that it was hypocritical to show such concern for Cecil the lion, and then eat animals that had been slaughtered for food.
The first thing that people were eager to point out is that hunting for fun and killing animals for food are two very different practices.
It’s a reasonable point; one might assume that hunting a lion for sport is a pointless activity that only cruel heartless people would engage in, whereas humans have always eaten meat purely to survive.
Is this really the case though? Can you honestly say that you always eat to provide your body with its necessary nutrition, and never for fun or entertainment purposes?
In the Western world where food is plentiful, there are many reasons that we eat. We eat for pleasure, we eat out of boredom, we eat to comfort ourselves, we eat to connect with others around us, we eat to stifle painful emotions… So many reasons exist that have nothing to do with nutrients or survival.
This is painfully obvious from the increasing prevalence of obesity in our society today – people are clearly eating way more than their bodies can effectively process. ‘All you can eat’ restaurants are full of people merrily competing to see who can stuff the most pizza, ribs, or hotdogs into their straining bellies. Is this really that much different than hunting animals for sport? After all, the end result is the same – senseless and unnecessary death.
I’m not just talking about animal food here. Whether it is a burger or a banana, somewhere in the world someone has worked hard to grow and produce the food you are eating. We are all aware that food corporations often exploit those in developing countries, for instance using child slaves in chocolate production, or stealing precious water resources to manufacture soft drinks.
So – what can we do, aside from minimising our consumption and shopping as ethically as possible?
An antidote to modern eating
Conscious eating is the practice of eating in which you are completely aware of the food at all times. No distractions; simply eating slowly and mindfully, appreciating each mouthful, and following the body’s signals to stop once you are satiated.
Of course, it is a lot easier said than done. The myriad of diversions that we are constantly faced with – TV, internet, telephones etc – make it a real challenge to stay present and focused on anything – let alone eating. In today’s busy world it is almost expected of us to multi-task where food is concerned, whether that be breakfast-on-the-go, business lunches, or drive-through fast-food restaurants.
But it’s worth giving it a try. This simple but incredibly powerful practice has a surprisingly positive effect on the body. Digestion improves, any unnecessary weight just drops off, and you often find that you only need a fraction of the food that you usually do.
So what do you think? Is it worth the effort to think twice about what, and how, you are eating? Do you owe it to yourself and your body to respect and acknowledge the food you are eating? Would it be too much to ask to spare a few seconds to slow down and give thanks to all the sentient beings that were sacrificed or exploited in order to provide your sustenance?
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Lisa Murphy is a hypnotherapist & counsellor based in Glasgow, who specialises in anxiety, stress, and weight management.