Is there a need for animal and dairy foods in macrobiotic practice? Macrobiotics is not a traditional way of eating, but it is traditionally based on patterns established by the world’s long standing civilizations. I find it fascinating that these civilizations were plant-based, whose mainstays were grains, beans, vegetables and soups, supplemented by pickled, and fermented foods. These civilizations included animal and dairy foods in varying degrees, but mostly in limited quantities, and not daily. We acknowledge and respect these traditions and patterns as well as the people who created them. Macrobiotic philosophy allows us to evaluate and understand whether or not these practices are still necessary or beneficial.

Macrobiotics considers not only personal health, but social and environmental health. Considering there are more than seven billion people today on the planet, what one person or group does has an effect on everyone else. We can no longer separate ourselves from the environment. It becomes more apparent every day that we can not support a global population of meat-eaters. I think it is important to consider what macrobiotic practitioners recommend to others. Animal and dairy food recommendations can potentially influence thousands if not millions of people. The question for us today is: what place do they have in our present and future practices?

Over the years, the nutritional content of foods has diminished. This has lead some to think supplements and/or animal and dairy foods should be included in a plant-based diet. I question this because macrobiotic children, in almost every case, are stronger and brighter than their friends who are not practicing this way. In addition, my clients are still recovering from terminal illnesses on plant-based diets without nutritional supplements and animal and dairy foods. How are these things possible if food can no longer nourish us? The changes in our food, activity, and lifestyle practices, especially since World War II, have created the need for a more conscious effort to be well-nourished in a vegan/plant-based practice. In general, people need more variety and high quality plant-based protein in their diets.

There are instances where animal and dairy foods are appropriate. People in Northern climates with long, dark winters may need to include some animal foods in addition to fish. The Inuit people In certain cases, people have become depleted from a lengthy, restrictive vegan/macrobiotic practice, or from excessive medical treatments, or from certain illnesses. In these cases, animal and/or dairy foods may be necessary for certain periods of time to help people reestablish their health. The point is, in these instances, animal and dairy foods are recommended as transitional foods for a temporary period to recover digestive and overall health.

Macrobiotics has the potential to guide us toward a healthy, productive future, for ourselves and the planet. I believe it is important to use our combined efforts to discover and develop the ways that are best suited for everyone.