Reproduced with permission of Liam Scheff:

It is a personal belief of mine, borne out in continual observation, that what we eat changes the frequency of the vibrations which we tune into. We are not only what we eat – but the cells we build reflect the origin of the food; we ‘tune’ the universe differently, then, by eating different things.

From very expansive, like alcohol and cannabis, to very contractile, like beef and salt, is the range of food energies described by “yin” (expansive, receptive, cool, nurturing) to “yang” (contractile, active, hot, aggressive).

Yin to Yang, Yang to Yin.

Green plants: water, broad, expanding leaves, reaching into the air – more yin.

Root vegetables: contractile, penetrating the earth, spiraling inward – more yang.

Grains: a seed, the life-force for a new plant; concentrated, dense – more yang than leaves or roots.

Fish: A living, self-propelling animal – even more yang. And so on, onto the larger animals, with thousands of pounds of tensing muscles – even more yang.

I have experienced and observed  for 20 or more years that eating a great deal of very ‘yang’ animal food creates a more material sense of things. The disposition that is generated is in some ways more practical, but less expansive. It tends to bind the ‘eater’ to a more constrained or literal worldview, but it also adds to their worldliness and effectiveness in business or political situations. (You don’t see many vegan Ceo’s, or Wall Street raiders).

Eating more ‘yin’ (plant-based) creates a more expansive, philosophical, non-literal, and metaphysical view, in which various philosophies, religions and worldviews are free to intermingle. You can see this on the back of many vegetarian’s cars, in the calamity of bumper stickers about peace and love and so on.

Of course, I can’t prove this to you by isolating a “yin” or “yang” super-particle – but it is my experience that heavy meat-eaters are more bound to literalisms, to rules, to pre-defined cultural concepts; and that longer term veg/vegans are less constrained in that way. Create too yang a condition and one becomes locked internally; too yin and one becomes dissolute and overly ephemeral. Too yang and one is mentally bound to rules; too yin and one feels compelled to throw of even reasonable limits, those which are actually helpful.

We are often suffering from an excess of one or the other, and we seek, through compulsive habit, to equilibrate. Why do people smoke pot and drink? To ‘yin-ize.’ To loosen their livers and heads, and relax their thoughts and bodies.

Marijuana is a very ‘yin’ plant; very expansive. It is a naturally-occurring ‘yinizing’ substance; it is releasing – but in excess, you can see its effects as creating a mind that does not easily focus – the user often sees the interconnections and beauty of life everywhere. But, in overuse, it can easily impede the desire or ability to make critical judgements.

Alcohol is also a yin-izing substance – but its effects are harder on the liver (our central organ of health), and more immediately and longitudinally deleterious.

People take mushrooms and cannabis to have these releasing experiences; but in a long-term plant-based diet, with a balanced macrobiotic-informed cleansing approach, it is my experience that many cultural predeterminisms (to coin an unwieldy word) also tend to fade away. It’s not the lightning ZAP! of a peyote experience – it’s a gentler dissolving of certain false borders, of outdated rules and regulations, of concepts which are not actually real. Or, it has been so for me. I have seen these tendencies consistently, and repeatedly in myself and others. I’m often reminded of this idea by an experience – I don’t have to look for it – it finds me.

Beef seems to create a tendency to a kind of solid, unbending literal nature in people, and a feeling of well-being. Beef eating people have tended to be some of the most arrogant on Earth, historically – (English, Americans) – entirely sure of their way of life. In fact, the wealthier classes almost always seek to dine on larger and larger mammals…I find that telling.

Pork, like beef, seems to create very strong personalities, ruddy and phlegmatic, who like to rut, unapologetically, in their own way of being. Pork seems to create a momentary lift in mood – but it does seem a bit temporary, and creates a longing for more. It’s a very consumptive food – but pigs are a very consumptive animal. (They’ll eat anything, to excess, and they grow very quickly).

Chicken seems to create a kind of ambivalence, and a feeling of persistent anxiety. I think this describes most American liberals (or Democrats), who’ve generally given up lots of red meat (that’s a Republican mainstay), and chosen to eat ‘white’ flesh instead. And you can feel it in their nature – anxious, unsure, uncertain – but worried.

Fish seems to create a high level of activity, and a sublimation of the individual ego, allowing a great deal of productivity, but, often in service to a larger ‘school of fish.’ (Japan).

And you can go on. So, please do. I think you’ll find it’s fun and useful to think about.

The book I read that started me on this path was Steve Gagné’s 1990 version of “Energetics of Food.”

Liam Scheff is author of “Official Stories” and co-author of the upcoming play “Summer of ’74?


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