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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216 thoughts on “Does Eckhart Tolle eat meat?

  1. As all truly enlightened persons perceive every other being as of the same essence as themselves, they would not knowingly and selfishly cause any other being suffering, pain, fear, distress or death.

    The idea of a truly enlightened person justifying the cruel treatment, harm, and depriving of life of other animals to sustain their own life is therefore inherently contradictory.

    All beings value their own life. No animal, fish or bird chooses suffering, pain and death.

    As it is extremely easy now to live perfectly normal, healthy, full, compassionate, lives on vegan diets, therefore we can safely conclude that any person who justifies eating the flesh of slaughtered animals to satisfy their own tastes and self-centred desires is NOT a completely enlightened being.

    SUMMARY: No truly enlightened person will preserve their own well-being by basing it upon the suffering of other beings.


    Ramana of Arunachala never ate meat.

    Jesus and his earliest followers were part of the Essene community and were strict vegetarians.

    The first five Sikh gurus were also vegetarian, as were their disciples.

    Prince Siddhartha the Buddha (the awakened) according to the earliest texts did not eat meat nor did he allow his monks to eat meat, not even if it was received as alms.

    The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra presents itself as the final elucidatory and definitive Mahayana teachings of the Buddha. On the very eve of his death, the Buddha states there that “the eating of meat extinguishes the seed of Great Kindness”, adding that all and every kind of meat and fish consumption (even of animals found already dead) is prohibited by him.
    He specifically rejected the idea that monks who go out begging and receive meat from a donor should eat it: “it should be rejected… I say that even meat, fish, game, dried hooves and scraps of meat left over by others constitutes an infraction… I teach the harm arising from meat-eating.”
    The Buddha also predicted in this sutra that later monks will “hold spurious writings to be the authentic Dharma” and will concoct their own sutras and falsely claim that the Buddha allows the eating of meat, whereas he says he does not.
    Likewise, a long passage in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra records the Buddha speaking out very forcefully against meat consumption and unequivocally in favor of vegetarianism, since the eating of the flesh of fellow sentient beings is said by him to be incompatible with the compassion that a Bodhisattva should strive to cultivate.


    1. Thank you Christopher for your extremely thoughtful and well presented comment. Is a dolphin evil because it eats fish? I have my head into the nutrition space very deeply and I see so many people who try really hard to be vegans only to have health crashes a year or two down the road. Sometimes it takes longer 15, 20, 25 years as was the case with Lierre Keith who wrote The Vegetarian Myth. I have seen miraculous healings when people eat only meat and stop eating foods that are harmful to the human body such as grains, some vegetables and for some people… dairy products etc. It is not compassionate to suffer oneself for decades eating a malnourishing diet. I also know of people eating carnivore diets who are the brightest, most caring people around. The big fish eats the little fish and that is the way of life. There is no death-free food.


  2. I was very disappointed to read nothing but excuses from Mr. Tolle on why he eats animals. Very sad, his book left me with the impression that he had to be vegan. SMH


  3. We are all one and we all give and take from one another the energy is always being transferred from one being to the next because we’re all extensions of the same source the same universe therefore being a carnivore or vegan will make you any greater or lesser than the next being.


  4. Hello!

    I think it is a matter of personal values in which there is no definite right way. I do not think we need to jugde each other, ask who is more spiritual or not based on if someone eats meat yes or no. We do not know their motives. Of course, there will be people who do not have the animals interests at heart. What those people need is understanding. Room for conversation. Room for explanation. People who live a more enlightened life will understand that they have the power to understand others, despite them being “wrong”. To not jugde someones disability to live according to what they think is right. I think the reason spiritual leaders do not tell us what to do, is because they encourage us to do things from within. That separates them from cult leaders and such. And if you find yourself judging other spiritual people for not being as spiritual as you, because they eat meat or for any other reason, maybe you should aks yourself what it is, that is triggering you in this way.


    1. I don’t believe a truly enlightened human being could eat dead animal flesh . Presumably his reverence for nature and all life , only applies when he’s not eating it . We are not carnivores , a carnivore doesn’t have a choice , we do . And we can choose not to have another unconscious human being kill and butcher are fellow beings for our gratification . Most Buddhists are vegan , and it’s Buddhism he’s teaching . Shame , he talks the talk ….


  5. Hello
    Could you please tell where eckhart tolle mention this “life is dynamic whole where life eats life”i couldnot find it.In any of his book or video??


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