What is so spiritual about eating animals? Well that depends on your standpoint. For many cultures and religions the sacrifice of animals to be eaten is culturally, socially and spiritually significant. The society I have been raised in is one such society, a roast joint of meat on a Sunday, a Turkey at Christmas or Thanksgiving if you live in the USA, a prime steak as an extravagant Saturday night treat. For people of other faiths, the idea of eating flesh of any kind is abhorrent.

As a vegetarian, I stand by the idea that eating meat is cruel and unnecessary and yet, until recently, as an on/off, part-time vegetarian, I still did it. Until recently it would still happen that my head or my stomach ruled my heart and I would happily tuck into a bacon sandwich.

Let’s be final about this. I do not love meat; I prefer the vegetarian option every time. I believe all animals on the planet to be equally splendid souls; none should be viewed as lesser. I hold no water with the belief that any creature was put here for us to eat. Yes, it remains true that a deer may well be placed here for the lion to prey on. But I am no lion; I do have a choice, and a conscious – when I choose to engage it. I love those darned furry things, yet continuing to eat meat stood in direct opposition to this so-called love of animals. I was a hypocrite with blood on my hands.

So, if I believe that eating animals is unpleasant and unspiritual, why did I continue to do so for so long? I will be honest here; sometimes it is easier to just not think about the consequences of our actions. The poor creature is already dead (once it is conveniently delivered from slaughterhouse to supermarket). I can afford it, and it smells great roasted. In such instances I chose not to engage my consciousness. Which I am ashamed to say is just about as ignorant and arrogant as you can get.

However, I cannot be unconscious any more. I want to love animals genuinely and that does not include the ingestion and digestion of their bodies. There are no options. For me it is vital that I never eat meat again.

The reason I feel so strongly about this is because I have now engaged my brain with my soul, and there is no turning back. My spiritual soulful conscious thought knows this. I think that all animals, and all living creatures are part of this world. I believe us all to be connected on a basic, fundamental level. I have preached my way through the pages of this book about how important it is to be good, forgiving, and compassionate to our fellow humans. Yet I truly believe that animals are made of the same psychic, spiritual, energetic matter as the rest of us.

Animals have souls. Animals deserve to live the best life they possibly can. I shall have no part in causing their lives to be a misery.

Animal rights are a frontier that many traverse only partially. We may wail and mourn for the puppy that was cruelly tortured and abandoned, but we think nothing of the life of torture and deprivation of basic comfort inflicted upon chickens, the dairy cow or other animals whose lives are irreparably limited for the benefits of our hungry stomachs.

You would not condone the slavery of humans, so why condone it on our fellow living creatures? Is it because they cannot speak, because they submit to our will, because the Bible says that we can use all plants and animals as we choose to?

Our consciousnesses must be raised, and this topic is vitally important in that battle. We must start to look outside of our own minds at some point on our spiritual pathway. Yes the mind is a great place to start, followed by our hobbies and our habits, but soon we must turn to the state of the world. What we eat, how our food is produced and the effect this has on the well being of the planet, on so many different levels, must be addressed. I was going to pussyfoot around this subject. That was only because I was pussyfooting around it in my own life.

I cannot afford to do that any more if I want to like myself and live what I believe to be correct. I must commit myself to my spiritual cause. It is time to get fierce with my food. It is time to wake up and realize that what we eat can affect our spiritual sanity, our level of personal spiritual awakening and the lives of millions of animals and people worldwide.

Let me be blunt. I believe that eating animals can block your spiritual progression. If you are in denial about the harm that is caused every time you sit down to a meat-laden meal then you are not raising your consciousness to a spiritual level. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but I sincerely believe it to be true.

Animals are not happy when they are kept in confined spaces, they mourn and moan when their offspring are taken from them and they live in confinement, only to be killed. If all things are made up of energy, and our thoughts can become our lives, then surely animals’ feelings go straight into the energetic remnants of their flesh. Which we then consume, and so we eat their misery and we eat their fear. This cannot be good.

When meat comes packaged in cellophane it is easy not to allow those thoughts to enter your mind. It is easy to see a great deal on offer and put yourself and your family’s finances first. But really you are not doing yourselves any favors because while you grabbed a bargain, you are living against your better knowing. Nor are you being kind, loving and generous to the world around you.

In buying meat you are purchasing a product that has caused great suffering to the creature that died to provide it. You cannot get away from that fact. Your consumer choice is promoting the suffering of that cow, duck, chicken, pig or turkey. You are saying yes to abominable cruelty and telling the people who make those products that you want more.

Of course there is the option of free-range meat. I questioned this for a while. I figured that if the animal has had a happy life, then maybe eating it was ok. This, however, is again just my mind overruling my heart. No matter how happy that animal’s life, and how painless the death of it might be, it is not my place to choose if that animal lives or dies.

My natural spiritual position is one of non-violence, peace, love and respect of the planet and all who abide upon her. Eating meat does not fit into that equation. When I eat meat it goes against my soul’s knowing and the knock-on effect of this is that my spirituality stalls. So now, for all these reasons, I do not eat meat.

I believe that because of my choice to live consciously in all aspects of my life I am psychically raising the bar. I am respecting my place on this earth as a spiritual being who is connected to all other things.

Excerpt from The High Heeled Guide to Spiritual Living by Alice Grist. Published 2011 by John Hunt Publishing/Soul Rocks.