Does Eckhart Tolle eat meat?

Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle

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?

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

And here is another wonderful and enlightening explanation from Abraham about using/killing animals for food. The clearest explanation I’ve come across

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.

Cat and mouse

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.

Best wishes,
Michael Kinnaird

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209 thoughts on “Does Eckhart Tolle eat meat?

  1. There is no spirituality on diet. The fact that someone sees someone else, which his mind considers spiritual to have some kind of eating habits, and than wants to imitate him will only end up in disaster for his body. First find out if what these people say has any significance in our daily lives. And find out for yourself if there is some other kind of living. If this clearing that comes through real meditation which is to see yourself without evaluating than real eating will arise. The organism with its own intelligence will know daily what it wants to eat and what not to. So to imitate is to destroy the organism. Only through clarity of the mind will clarity of eating come.

    1. While I am not certain that the eating of meat is wrong per se, the way in which factory farms treat and slaughter animals is very wrong indeed, leaving the animal with nothing but a life filled with pain. This is certainly not spiritually correct. Perhaps I would feel differently if animals were well-treated and then slaughtered humanely, but this is not the case with most of our sources of meat, therefore in my opinion eating meat is usually not compatible with spirituality.

  2. The act of eating another animal in itself is not the issue. However how animals are now grown to be fed is much different than when all these spiritual leaders lived. In addition alternatives were not as much as it is today. Most people go to the grocery store now. Animals are no longer part of the circle of life but man controls when they born eat breathe move procreate and die. We have taken the God role and in most cases are in conditions which are focused on maximizing profit with little regard to doing what is more humane.

    1. TO: Just a Human Being

      If you asked an animal, he would not like what you have just said. The act of eating animals is as important as enslaving, persecuting, and objectifying them. If we provided them nice and livable spaces, but slaughter them at the end, our PROVISION would be false. We did it for ourselves, to ease on our GUILT and bad conscience – not for animals. Nothing feels better than CARE and KINDNESS.

      Those who EAT ANIMALS and justify it DO NOT see that they are destroying SENTIENT lives – they see animals as objects. On the other hand, they WOULD NOT slaughter their favorite PETS, because they see them as sentient beings. It’s a CONTRADICTION and a confusion on their part.

      Humans are capable of UNDERSTANDING compassion and becoming compassionate. The CAT catches the mice, because his instincts tell him to do so. However, compassion OVERRIDES instincts and lust. This is what ENLIGHTENMENT is. Also, humans aren’t in grave NEED to eat animals. We have other plant based MARVELOUS food resources. Neither have we SENSIBLE or coherent arguments to defend our carnivorous habit.

      Compassion does not only LIBERATE animals from human captivity and destruction, but favorably TRANSFORMS their role in this great “circle of life.” We have to STOP controlling this “circle” and the destiny of others. There is nothing greater than HUMILITY. We hide behind fancy spiritual teachings and arguments, because it makes it EASIER to justify our misdeeds. I personally take none of these “masters” seriously. Their times has passed. Next…

      1. Amazing to read this clear obvious reality response, so many excuses for pleasing their taste buds.
        Very sad.

        “I personally take none of these “masters” seriously.”

        Exactly my thoughts,
        Nice work

      2. Totally agree with everything you said and it makes so much sense. Congrats for explaining it so easy to understand.
        ‘Is whale evil for eating fish?’might be the most stupid question I’ve ever came across to… I am trully dissapointed with Mr Tolle’s way of approaching the subject.
        We don’t need to eat fish as whales do. We can survive without meat and have the judgment to choose something else to achieve our needs.

      3. Just wanted to say that was a beautiful response. It amazes me me spiritual gurus continue to consume the flesh of sentient animals. They love their cats and dogs but when it comes to chickens, pigs, cows, fish etc no big deal its the circle of life and culture tho and it aided in our evolution etc.

  3. The practical element of ENLIGHTENMENT is COMPASSION. However, without compassion, ANYBODY can claim to be enlightened. Enlightenment is just a fancy, yet EMPTY concept. You can learn it, and if you are a charismatic debater, you can convince your self and the crowd just about anything. We are HUNGRY for new ideas.

    However NOT MANY can claim to be COMPASSIONATE, because compassion is DEMANDING. It demands you to act in a SELFLESS way! However, those who eat meat or hurt others are BUSTED on the spot! So, without compassion enlightenment is just the act of SELF-IMPORTANCE and VANITY. It’s good for you, but USELESS for others.

    From the point of view of COMPASSION (passion for all or suffering with others) DOES NOT matter what other “masters” have done or thought. It does not matter who they are. Taking them as examples, imitating and following them is only a momentary relief. INTERDEPENDENCE, the master-follower dependency only leads to false feelings of wellness. They need you, you need them – you indulge in each others STUPIDITY. This stupidity is what really is mistaken for ENLIGHTENMENT. Ultimately, you’ll remain miserable, just like most of self proclaimed “masters.”

    1. Well said Attila. I would not follow any so-called spiritual teacher/leader who eats animals and takes part in their horrific cruelty and suffering. Many are hypocrites. Authentic spiritual teachers are vegan and live what they preach.

      1. Absolutely agree . I assumed Tolle was a vegan , I would expect nothing less . His teachings are still based on ancient truths and as valid today as ever . If you see all life as sacred , and all creatures as fellow beings , then meat is murder .

  4. My two cents
    Human Being are the most intelligent creature on earth so we should act as one. there was a time when human being was not so intelligent when we hunted for food. We are past those time and are now intelligent to grow our own food. So we should act like a intelligent creature on this planet. We know how to grow food and survive. Why take away a life of an animal for our taste buds. We are more intelligent than an animal who does not know how to grow food therefore some animals have to follow hunting protocol. We should not fall to the level of an animal thought process even though we know we can grow our food. Plants do no bleed like animals when they are butchered. More over we are stealing away all the proteins and fats from the meat of the animal that the animal worked hard to build its muscle by eating plants (Take the case of a cow) Cow does not eat other living being or any form of meat. Yet we butcher cow and make beef burgers for our palate and taste buds. we have no authority or right to take away life of a living creature for our taste buds. we can very well survive on plant food and live a healthy life with less risk of having colon cancer or high cholesterol or mad cow disease. Lets take ownership and act like an intelligent creature on this planet. Lets not be a thief and steal away muscle that the animals have made with hard work eating vegetarian food. Lets grow our food and eat and stay healthy. Also eliminating diseases like cholesterol, colon cancer, mad cow disease to name a few. In addition what if the meat of the animal has some kind of virus or disease that effect our health.

  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??

  6. 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 ….

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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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