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Macrobiotics & Veganism

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Guest Post by Marlene Watson-Tara


I was in my element being among so many wonderful friends, colleagues and fellow vegans at the World Vegan Summit in California.   On returning to Scotland, I received a message from someone who had been in the audience saying that Macrobiotics is not vegan. I find the idea of someone insisting macrobiotic eating includes animal products is worth refuting so as a long time vegan I felt compelled to write this short essay.

Macrobiotics – the word itself is of Greek origin ‘Macro’ meaning big/large, bios meaning life so the word simply translates to the ‘good life’ living your life to your full potential.

What is a macrobiotic diet?

Macrobiotics and a macrobiotic diet are two different components of the same idea. Macrobiotics refers to the philosophy of learning to live in harmony with the natural laws of nature and our personal environment in order to experience a full life, as the word means. A macrobiotic diet refers to the adjustments of personalized nutrition to balance symptoms. The considerations are: eat what grows, eat what grows in your environment, eat what grows without contamination and eat according to your body´s needs. It is a way of understanding the effect that different foods have on the body. The dietary templates seen in many books are general guidelines not prescriptions for a specific person.

Many of the traditional macrobiotic teachers were very clear that eating a vegan diet was the “most advanced way of eating” and an increasing number of modern teachers emphasize a vegan macrobiotic approach. Many of our Macrobiotic colleagues around the world are long time vegans.

The Macrobiotic approach to health reflects thousands of years of experience, observation and research in Asia. The medicine of the Far East understood that the body is a self-healing organism when treated well. Our bodies are designed to strive toward a special balance referred to in Western science as homeostasis. Macrobiotics is about stimulating the body’s natural desire for well-being and capacity to heal itself rather than attacking the symptoms of disease. In this process of self-generated healing every aspect of life is considered to play a part. The type of physical activity, the emotional state, family relationships and spiritual outlook are all-important aspects of the healing process. Diet plays a special role since it is essential to blood quality and can be easily controlled as is depicted in my ‘chant’; ‘Food makes the blood – Blood makes the cells – Cells make the tissue – Tissue makes the organs and Here We Be.

The philosophy of Yin and Yang is used to classify foods according to the season and patterns of their growth; the way they nourish the body, the environment of their origin and how they respond to cooking. This understanding enhances modern nutritional analysis and allows for a more creative approach to food selection. It is this dynamic method of classification that makes Macrobiotics so unique. The system has the flexibility to meet personal needs regardless of age, sex, activity, environment or physical condition.

I wear many hats all leading to the one goal, to inspire and encourage as many families as I can to go vegan. I am a passionate Vegan Advocate as well as a long time Macrobiotic Health Counsellor and for me, it is a perfect marriage. Eating a vegan diet works with macrobiotics on so many levels. If you haven’t embraced the principles or philosophy of Macrobiotics I always encourage new and long time vegans to give it a try. Why? Because being vegan doesn’t automatically mean ‘healthy’ for humans or for the environment. I am all about Eating as If All Life Matters, and I cook with an ecological footprint in mind, with food slavery in mind, with seasonality in mind, with locally-sourced food in mind. I aim to be as genuinely holistic as I can. I have heard so many times. Oh Marlene, you are only about the animals…. NO! I am about all animals, human and non-human alike.

My partner Bill and I see many vegan clients for health counselling who have a variety of health issues ranging from digestive problems, weakening of the immune system, B12 deficiencies, low white blood cell count, skin problems, lack of vitality and so much more. Here in Europe, when we have taught at some vegan events, we have found it very difficult to get anything to eat!!! Cake, cake and MORE cake is on every vendors table. There is enough sugar to rot the tusks of an elephant. The huge amount of processed foods eaten by some vegans does not create health. We do not require fake meat, processed soy sausages, and vegan cheese. This type of vegan diet is high in fat and sugar so we encourage all to fill their plates with rice, beans, vegetables from land and sea, fruits, nuts and seeds and using the best natural sweeteners such as rice syrup and barley malt for healthy desserts.

I have combined all my learning from over 40 years of teaching to help others connect the dots. We are but one, all beings, humans and non-humans alike deserve love and respect. My heart soars doing this work and for me that is the essence of macrobiotics, seeing the big-picture, and doing as you would be done by as my wee dad used to tell us.

Back in the time of Copernicus most would have said it was impossible to convince everyone that the earth revolved around the sun rather than the other way around, but it did eventually happen. That inspires me to believe that we’ll see a vegan world. Education, education, education is key.

Bill and myself have a very simple philosophy that we teach our students. We teach, encourage, instruct, mentor, praise, influence, guide and inspire each and everyone of them. It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief and once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. When they embark upon their studies, most say… oh I could never be vegan. Two weeks later, our students embrace veganism.

Along with their graduation certificate, my students receive books on The Abolitionist Approach. If you aren’t familiar with it, watch Professor Gary L. Francione speak in my series.

You can’t change your life, without changing your life.

In good health.

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  • G B

    So “macrobiotic” means “livin’ large?” 😀

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