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A big question you might have is, “Do Wiccans eat meat?” You may be unclear about whether or not meat consumption is recommended or even allowed within Wicca. You may have fellow Wiccan vegan friends, and you are wondering whether you should do the same.
The good news is that there are no official mandates or dogma in Wicca about any particular diet. Unlike the Jewish faith and its Kosher diet, the Muslim faith and halal food, etc, Wicca doesn’t give any specifications.
Some Wiccans don’t eat meat, and some do. Some even kill their own food (see my article on Wiccan hunters). Whether or not you consume meat or animal products is a personal choice for you.
The short answer? You are not required to be a Wiccan vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, or anything else. Choose the lifestyle which best supports your spiritual practice.
However, this then places the responsibility on you. How do you define your faith? How do your eating habits either support or contradict it? Do you want to make any changes in your diet? I will help you answer these questions and more.
1 Harm None
“An’ it harm none, do what ye will.” We all know the Wiccan Rede right? This is one of the main tenets. How does it apply to our everyday lives? Many Wiccans feel that all of us are connected to the same spiritual energy in the universe– the concept of Oneness.
Humans are not superior to animals, but rather equals. They believe that animals deserve our compassion, and that killing an animal for the purpose of consumption is an act of harm. For them, veg eating is just an extension of the principles of the Rede into their daily lives. There is actually a long history of such principled philosophical restriction by the ancients like Pythagoras, Plato, and Ovid.
There is a further distinction to be made though. Vegetarian means that you don’t consume meat, meaning that no animal was killed to be your meal. Vegan takes it a step farther, avoiding food or drink consumption of any animal product– meat, eggs, dairy, etc. They may also extend this to clothing materials like leather, and bath and cleaning products which may be made from or tested on animals.
Vegans argue that there is no way to use any animal products with a clean conscience. A demand for animal products inevitably leads to factory farming, cramped cages, and exploitation. And by extension, consuming these products is incentivising and paying for the mistreatment and murder of animals. You may not be harming the animals directly yourself, but you are complicit in the system.
2 Food is Sacred
Food is so much more than something to fill you up. Wicca is an Earth-based religion, and food comes directly from the Earth. It has magickal energies that must be respected. Here are some of the ways in which food is sacred:
- Food has magickal correspondences. On top of that, it can be consumed for sacred purposes. It can strengthen intentions and heal. You can utilize its energies in your practice.
- The Wheel of the Year is based around food. You may not have thought about this before. Each sabbat marks a specific milestone during the year related to planting and harvesting.
- Food is a way to bring people together. It’s symbolic and is a way to celebrate, much like a feast or a birthday cake is.
Aside from specific diets, many Wiccans alter their eating patterns when working with the divine. They may fast or eat lightly during the day of a sabbat, ritual, or moon phase. They might also fast or do a dietary cleanse for a few days before as well. Some Wiccans may also choose to do these things at a certain time each year, similar to how Catholics honor Lent.
Going hand-in-glove with living by the Rede, many Wiccans believe that “harm none” extends to the environment as well. This is something that most Wiccans can generally agree on– that the environment is sacred and must be safeguarded at all costs.
For Wiccan vegans and vegetarians, this includes eliminating animal product consumption. They understand that animal agriculture is not sustainable and it is the single largest harm to the environment today. It’s great to ride your bicycle to avoid pollution from driving, but the impact pales in comparison to the impact of animal farming.
The meat and dairy industries are the biggest damagers of the environment. It represents a larger proportion of all greenhouse gases than the gases from all forms of transportation combined. The world is just not meant to hold billions of disposable animals.
Cows alone produce 150 billion gallons of a greenhouse gas called methane each day (hint: it’s the gas which makes up farts– both human and animal). The billions of tons of waste from the animals (read: poop) seeps into nearby bodies of water, poisoning them. The livestock industries have a huge ecological footprint and destroy the biosphere with each passing day.
We all want to be fit and healthy. For vegetarians and vegans, many of them feel their diet helps them in achieving a healthy lifestyle. Popular opinion tells us that animal products are necessary to get enough iron and protein in our diets, and on top of that, they taste the best too. There is peer pressure, or at the very least skeptical questions, about the necessity of animal products in our nutrition.
However, veg eaters keep plants as the staple in their diets, which gives the most vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Here are a few reasons why veg eaters chose and maintain their diets:
- It helps them avoid chronic lifestyle diseases which are common from the standard Western diet: obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
- Contrary to popular belief, it’s simple and easy to get enough protein, even if you are a Wiccan vegan. All food contains some amount of protein, so if you are eating whole plants and grains, as long as you are eating enough calories, you will get enough protein. After all, elephants, gorillas, and bulls are all herbivores and look how strong and powerful they are! A number of athletes are embracing vegetarian and vegan diets, and finding that it actually enhances their performance and builds muscle better.
- Humans are actually herbivores. Based on the length of the human digestive tract, our teeth, and a number of other factors, it has been determined that humans are meant to be herbivores. We do not have sharp meat-tearing fangs, but rather mostly flat teeth which grid up fibrous plants. Humans have a long digestive tract which is excellent at digesting fiber-rich plant material. We are also not “obligate carnivores” like the big cats who cannot synthesize all of the amino acids they need and must obtain them from the flesh of other animals.
- Whole food, plant based, organic diets have little to no processing and so are very clean and healthy. Keep in mind that items like vegan cheese, veggie burgers, and imitation meat products are processed and so not advised by many veg eaters. Actually, whole foods are much cheaper than processed vegan or non-vegan counterparts. Consider the cost of a bag of dried beans which can feed you for a week. Compare this to the cost of eating veggie burgers for a week, and then compared that to the cost of eating chicken or beef for a week. The savings are obvious!
5 Connection to Nature
Aside from clean eating, shunning animal products helps us to get closer to nature in other ways. It allows us to eat lower on the food chain, making us more connected with the Earth and remind us that we are a basic part of nature like the plants we are eating.
It allows us to be grateful for the Earth’s bounties that we are enjoying. The connection lets you enjoy local, sustainable products such as from farmer’s markets.
Finally, plants have the distinct advantage that you can grow them in your own home! What better way to get in touch with nature than to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Even if you don’t have outdoor space for a garden, you can easily grow tomatoes, chili peppers, herbs, and more right in your kitchen.
Fruits and veggies have their own magickal correspondences, so if you are a kitchen witch or practice green magick, you can grow the herbs you need for both eating and spellwork!
6 Mindful Eating
We can feel good eating plants because we know that no animal died or suffered to feed us. We can also take comfort in knowing that our environmental impact is small. This all feeds into mindful eating– thoughtfully considering the origin of our foods.
Most people, including the average meat eater, eat carelessly and selfishly. They don’t know the journey their food took to get to their plate, and what’s more, they don’t care. We can help both ourselves and others by respecting what we nourish ourselves with, and taking responsibility for our choices.
Mindful eating can translate from the day-to-day eating to dedicated spiritual practice. We can use plants’ spiritual correspondences to strengthen our intentions. We can prepare food deliberately and attentively. Finally, w can saturate our food with our own personal energy, and we can make the process of cooking a sacred routine.
Certain foods also have specific importance at various sabbats and times of year, so we can incorporate food into our spirituality that way too.
You might also be looking to join a coven, and find that a prospective coven’s members follow a specific diet. Your coven might also ask that if you join, you respect the group diet. This is another factor you must consider in your own personal diet.
Even if the coven has no expectations about your own eating habits, you will probably be feasting and sharing potluck meals with your coven-mates, and so the communal food may need to be vegan or vegetarian to accommodate everyone’s dietary requirements. You can likely come to an arrangement with your coven even if you are the only Wiccan vegan or vegetarian in the group.
As we can see, there are many compelling reasons to consider becoming a Wiccan vegan or vegetarian. There are also reasons why you may not choose this diet. This is perfectly ok, and it’s also ok to change your diet later on. You don’t have to decide today, and you can always change your mind.
It’s up to you to do what you feel works best for your physical, mental, and spiritual health. No single diet is right for every person, and especially not for every Wiccan. Listen to your intuition and it will guide you to what you need to do.