In Shamanic practice, all things have a spirit and a soul, including the food we eat.
When we eat, the food that we take in gives us nourishment and sustenance, giving up it’s existence in order to help sustain ours. Because we completely consume the energy of our food, it’s important to remember to be grateful to that food. All edible food was once either alive or a part of a living being, that has given up its life for our well being.
Vegans take their gratitude to a new height and refuse to eat anything that comes from any animal.
While I’m not a vegan, I do take a page from their playbook, at least in what I choose to focus on when I plan my meals. For every meal that includes meat, I balance with a meal that is only vegetables, and every meal includes an acknowledgement of the spirit within that has given up to me that I may live.
Shamans see things in terms of balance and reciprocity.
When I eat food, I create death in order to sustain life. The food is broken down into nutrients and calories and fats and other things that my body needs to live, just as plant matter placed in a compost pile breaks down into the things plants need to live. All things rely upon the death of countless beings in order to sustain themselves; recognizing and acknowledging this is a central tenet of shamanism. So, when I cook, serve food to loved ones, eat a meal, I silently acknowledge the deaths that sustain me.
I am grateful when I eat, because my food has participated in the give-away.
The give-away is when something dies for you, or gives you something you need. A bird feather found on the ground that you incorporate into art is a give-away. When you drop your change into the Salvation Army bucket, that’s a give-away. Eating is a give-away, sharing a meal is a give-away. When someone or something gives-away to you, it behooves you to be grateful for it.