Does Eckhart Tolle eat meat?

Eckhart Tolle with the Dalai Lama

Yes he does, according to his partner Kim Eng.

It’s such a curious question isn’t it: “Are spiritual people, truly enlightened people, vegetarians?” And the answer is clearly “not necessarily.”

If you look at the great spiritual masters, there’s no common theme with regards to meat eating. Buddha wasn’t rigid about it and said it was okay if you were offered it, the Dalai Lama follows this path and is vegetarian at home but will eat meat if away.

Jesus fed the 5000 fish and loaves which he magically produced. Jesus said “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15:11. And “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.” Luke 12:22

And enlightened master Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, of “I AM THAT” fame, had no issue with meat eating or even smoking. Here’s an excerpt from I AM THAT…

Q: My body influences me deeply. In more than one way my body is my destiny. My character, my moods, the nature of my reactions, my desires and fears — inborn or acquired — they are all based on the body. A little alcohol, some drug or other and all changes. Until the drug wears off I become another man.

M: All this happens because you think yourself to be the body. realise your real self and even drugs will have no power over you.

Q: You smoke?

M: My body kept a few habits which may as well continue till it dies. There is no harm in them.

Q: You eat meat?

M: I was born among meat-eating people and my children are eating meat. I eat very little — and make no fuss.

Q: Meat-eating implies killing.

M: Obviously. I make no claims of consistency. You think absolute consistency is possible; prove it by example. Don’t preach what you do not practise.

Similarly, here’s what Ramana Maharshi had to say on the subject:

M: Habit is only adjustment to the environment. It is the mind that matters. The fact is that the mind has been trained to think certain foods tasty and good. The food material is to be had both in vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet equally well. But the mind desires such food as it is accustomed to and considers tasty.

D: Are there restrictions for the realised man in a similar manner?

M: No. He is steady and not influenced by the food he takes.

Eckhart Tolle sees life as one dynamic whole; an inter-connectedness, an inter-action, oneness. Life eats life, everywhere…

I saw on TV the other day, whales hunting. They pincered a shoal of fish and then came from underneath to catch thousands in one mouthful. Does that make a whale evil?

Orca hunting
Is a whale or a dolphin evil for eating fish?

Having had my head into nutrition for over 20 years, I’m uncomfortable from a health point of view with pure vegetarianism (and the dairy industry is crueler than the meat industry so I’m told by vegans).

Interestingly, I’ve seen Eckhart Tolle dodge this question many times in seminars and TV interviews. He just advises to…

Be present with whatever your food choices are and then the right food choice will happen for you… it needs to come from within rather than as something from without.

This view is perfectly echoed by non-physical beings Abraham, channeled by Esther Hicks…

Imagine if you could let being aligned be your first priority — a lot of vegans would be inspired to a lot of eating that their veganism would not allow, but the source within them would call them toward.

— Abraham-Hicks

Yet another echo of the same perspective from Adyashanti:

Safransky: Could killing animals to eat them come from wholeness?

Adyashanti: Sure. Life is killing. If we eat a vegetable, we’ve killed it. If we eat an animal, we’ve killed it. To be a living organism is to kill. There is no life without death. When we die, we’re going to be nutrients for something else.

I don’t see life as “anything goes,” but I have seen wholeness move through different people in different ways. That’s why I’m always talking about action that comes from wholeness, not from division, nor rejection, nor grasping, nor pushing away. What motivates us when we’re not pushing or grasping, not relying on conditioned concepts of right and wrong, good and bad? Is there something else that can move us? And what is that? Action that is an expression of a clear and undivided state of consciousness is what the Buddha meant by “right action.” To exercise right action we must be functioning from a place outside of all egoic self-interest. We must be awake within the dream and be able to express that perspective.

The take-home message…

…from these spiritual masters is clear: Be whole, then see what you do.

One life @djfoto87

People’s pre-judgement on the basis of this issue would be detrimental to their own enlightenment. Because if you saw as Eckhart does, life as oneness, then you would probably also not be overly concerned about any particular FORM, as all the forms are continuously morphing and changing. In fact, there is only life and it is ONE life, there is no death anywhere to be seen! And… life eats life, everywhere. My cat isn’t evil for eating mice.

What do you think? Do you think vegetarians are more spiritual? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

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210 thoughts on “Does Eckhart Tolle eat meat?

  1. Very interesting read. I appreciate all of the opinions and information. I was raised in a meat eating household, and for many years I thought I needed to eat an AIP diet (auto-immune paleo) to regain my health. I guess for me the thing that shifted was realizing it wasn’t just about me. That maybe animals aren’t here for our needs. That me eating them certainly isn’t what’s best for them. I looked up the definition of ‘humane’ and one of the answers I saw said “an easy way to decide if something is humane is to ask yourself if you’d want it done to you.” Well I wouldn’t want to live my whole life in a dark metal building, in fear. I wouldn’t want my babies ripped out of me or my milk to be painfully and incessantly pumped for someone else to use. I wouldn’t want my eggs to be stolen, or for my life be cut shamefully short. Maybe the question isn’t about how we can be the most spiritual, but simply the most consciences, the most kind, and to do the least harm. Also we know that animal agriculture simply isn’t sustainable for our one and only planet, that eating meat increases your chances of heart disease immensely, and it’s becoming increasingly expensive. I guess if all of life is one, and life eats life, I think I understand the point there, (maybe I don’t, Ekhart and everyone in this chat likely, is so far beyond me) But I still do believe in right and wrong. And I believe in doing as little harm as possible. I know everything comes at a cost, my existence included. And if you live in a climate where there is little vegetation, yes you’ll need to mainly live off of animals. But if you’re going to the grocery store, you have a choice don’t you? If it causes less harm to another being, and if it’s better for the planet, and is still relatively healthy, I guess I don’t see how that doesn’t make the most sense? Help me out. I’m honestly trying to learn.


  2. Hello, Michael. I have a question. Is a female mantis evil because eating the male after mating? If no, why can’t humans do the same thing?


    1. Hi Nikita, no, a female mantis isn’t evil for eating her mate because the behaviour evolved for the best outcomes for the species. It’s in the nature of a female mantis to eat her mate… probably in times of low food available this instinct becomes strong. Apparently males can sense when she’s hungry and avoid mating at these times. Humans didn’t evolve this behaviour but do have brutal instinctive patterns which come out in times of extreme stress.


      1. It seems like you’ve missed my point. You can’t justify cruel behavior of humans by saying that some animals do that too. You can’t kill your spouse or your children and then say that it’s all natural, the cycle of life and death.


      2. I’m not justifying human cruelty. I am saying it’s not inherently cruel to eat animal foods. The gazelle could not exist without the cheetah and you could not ponder the morality of eating animals if your ancestors had not eaten a lot of them. That’s ironic.


      3. While it is true that you can get yourself iron-deficiency or other problems while not eating meat, it is also true that many people don’t eat meat for decades and don’t have any major health issues (for instance, monks in Mahayana Buddhism). Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the more popular monks who fully supports veganism and he’s turning 95 this year. Living in the 21st century, it shouldn’t be that hard to consult a nutrition specialist to design a balanced diet. You also might use supplements in case you lack some nutrients. Therefore, it’s just laziness and lack of care and understanding that keep people from going vegan or at least vegetarian. Even cutting down meat consumption to 2-3 meals per week is too hard for most people, that’s how much they cherish their desires.


      4. Nothing is inherently cruel. However, humans avoid certain acts because we understand the suffering it causes. And you don’t need to think of your ancestors to recognize the suffering that is present right now. Do eating meat and the whole meat industry harm animals? Yes. Do you really have to eat meat to survive? No. Why do you keep eating meat then? The answer is obvious.


      5. I eat meat for health. Veganism isn’t creating health and causes suffering to humans. Disease rates are crazy these days. We need a reliable model of health and that isn’t veganism. It doesn’t work.


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