Food as a Universal Language: Nourishing Souls and Uniting Hearts


Food as a Universal Language: Nourishing Souls and Uniting Hearts

Food as a Universal Language: Nourishing Souls and Uniting Hearts


Yes, I’m a humanitarian, but I’m also a pragmatic spiritualist. I’m also a fan of MMA and billiards and all types of sports. I’m also a vegan chef, and an author. I’m more than [someone who] promotes the idea of food being a medium to connect with our divine nature and to connect with people on a very deep spiritual level… So that’s one of the challenges I’ve always had is how to define myself. – Paul Rodney Turner

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Paul Rodney Turner: 0:00

When I offered them food at the restaurant, all of a sudden I’m like an equal to them, I’m like their best friend because I’m feeding them. So I realized early on that, wow, food is a powerful communicator. It is the best communicator in the world. It breaks through all barriers that divide us. Because you may have so many political things which divide you, like politics, nationality, race, color, whatever it is, language even. But when you put a beautiful meal down in the middle of a table, all of a sudden we’re family.Ella Magers: 0:36

Hey there and welcome to Rise and Thrive with me, ella Majors. I created this high-vibre podcast from a place of profound curiosity, fierce compassion and the deep desire to connect you with the wisdom of inspirational wellness, health, fitness and conscious leaders and change makers. Here’s to discovering our blind spots and embracing life as the adventure it is. The time is now. Let’s do this. Hey, hey everyone, ella here and I’ve got such a deeply meaningful episode today with a human that I’m so very honored to have on this show. His name is Paul Rodney Turner. He’s Australian born. He’s the current director of Food for Life Global, which is the world’s largest vegan food relief organizations, with projects in over 65 countries. The charity’s services include free schools, orphanages, eco communities, medical care, animal sanctuaries and large-scale food distribution kitchens that serve over 2 million freshly cooked meals daily. All right, I’m going to say that again 2 million freshly cooked vegan meals daily. How extraordinary is that? Paul is a former monk, a veteran of the World Bank, an entrepreneur, holistic life coach and a vegan chef who’s authored six books. I’m actually reading his book titled Food is Yoga right now and it’s phenomenal. I’m loving every minute. Now I will say that this interview ends really abruptly. I didn’t know. He had to go pick up his son from school, so we had a little miscommunication about the timeframe. So just keep that in mind and stay tuned, because we will pick up and do a part two soon. So stay tuned for that. All right, I think I’m just going to leave it there, because this episode is so inspirational that I want to get right to it. So let’s do this. Hey, paul, thanks so much for being here.Paul Rodney Turner: 2:56

You’re most welcome. It’s a pleasure to meet you for the first time. I was looking at your website and I was very impressed.Ella Magers: 3:03

Oh, thank you, yeah, and then we started to chat like we have so much to chat about. And then we were like let’s record this. We were just chatting about your sanctuary and, yeah, you know, before we even dive into that, though, one of the questions I like to start with is kind of a little bit esoteric one. And so if we think about kind of beyond the bio and all the things that you’ve done and accomplished and all the change that you’ve initiated in the world, if I asked you who is the human being we call Paul Rodney Turner, Like how would you respond to that?Paul Rodney Turner: 3:38

I actually had a feeling you were going to ask something like this.Ella Magers: 3:41

Really.Paul Rodney Turner: 3:42

Yeah, it’s like you know. Look, I put on this hat today and I was thinking, wow, I look like a golfer.Ella Magers: 3:47

You do kind of look like a golfer.Paul Rodney Turner: 3:49

Yeah, and it’s so easy for people to like, just in a very simplistic way, to define themselves and of course it’s not that easy. And especially like people like myself, I’m very eclectic, so I’m sort of all over the place. Yes, I’m a humanitarian, but I’m also a pragmatic spiritualist. I’m also a fan of MMA and billiards and all types of sports. I’m also a vegan chef. I’m also an author, so how do you sort of put that into one statement? It’s actually quite difficult, but I did actually come up with something and let me see if I can pull it up on my website. I came up with a phrase. I think it’s on the website, it’s paulrodneyturnercom. No, it’s not on that one, it’s on another one. I can’t remember now what it was, but it was something to the effect that I’m an eclectic spiritualist, I’m a pragmatic spiritualist looking for answers in life, and so you know that’s one of the challenges. I’ve had to be honest with you, because for a while I was branding myself and I sort of still do as a food yogi. But obviously I’m much more than a food yogi. I’m more than simply just promoting the idea of food being a medium to connect with our divine nature and to connect with people on a very deep spiritual level. That’s something that I talk about in my book, food Yoga, but obviously there’s more to me than just that, so that’s one of the challenges I’ve always had is how to define myself.Ella Magers: 5:10

Oh my gosh, this is resonating so much with me what you’re saying right now, because I feel the same way. There’s so many layers in it to kind of define that. And to this day I mean I’ve done a lot of things right. And when somebody asks, oh, what’s your title, I’m like, oh my God, I don’t know how am I supposed to pick a title? It seems like the hardest thing in the world and I did not know you were into MMA. This is very exciting.Paul Rodney Turner: 5:34

Yeah, I saw you with the glove. Yeah, I was following UFC back in 1994.Ella Magers: 5:39

Interesting.Paul Rodney Turner: 5:40

Yeah, me too, but listen, I was a monk at the time.Ella Magers: 5:44

OK, yes, oh my gosh, this is really fascinating, ok.Paul Rodney Turner: 5:49

I was a celibate monk from 1983 until 1997. And so in 94, when I was introduced to MMA, like one of my friends who was a mixed martial artist, he says, hey, check this out. And he put the VHS tapes in and he showed me, like you know, hoist grassy winning C1. And I was like, wow, this is fascinating, cause I was always a boxing fan. Early on, from when I was like 10 years old. My dad was a boxing fan, I was a boxing fan, so I used to watch all the boxing matches, the rumble in the jungle, all of those ones. I watched them live on television, black and white, and so I never gave up. That you know attraction for that sport, cause I just think it’s fascinating. You know, mono or mono, best man wins. And it’s a very fascinating sport because it’s mixed martial arts, Meaning you just don’t know what’s going to happen, like anything can happen at any time, because you’re using all the skill, using every limb, and you’re sort of trying to solve a puzzle in the form of the opponent in the ring and it’s quite fascinating. So there’s a fair bit of intellectual processing going on as well. It’s not just all brute force and a lot of people don’t get that.Ella Magers: 6:56

No, they don’t. I got a lot of pushback for a little while. You know people not getting in there like you’re supposed to be compassionate, and yet there’s blood involved. But this is so different. This is. It’s so much skill, it’s an art, it’s an art form and the people that are doing it are there because they love it. They love to be in that ring, they love to be having that one on one and it’s such a meditation. It really is and I can’t wait to talk about like mindfulness around eating and food and all that, but also with you know, martial arts. It’s this space that you get in that makes it for me very easy to meditate, because you can’t be anywhere else and perform. You can’t be anywhere else. You’re going to get knocked out Like you were forced to be in the moment. Be right there.Paul Rodney Turner: 7:42

Yeah, you have to be super focused and ultimately, what’s happening is each contender is testing themselves. So it’s really a battle against their will, a battle for themselves, like it just so happens that there’s another person across the ring. But at the end of the day, what they’re interested in doing is overcoming their limitations, pushing beyond their fears, you know, controlling their lower urges and just becoming stronger and better and greater in their life. That’s what it’s all about. And so you’ll see that after a tough battle, 99.9% of the time the two contenders will embrace and say you know, thanks for a great fight and they’re respectful, and they sometimes will bow down, which is really astonishing to see. After witnessing, you know, the brutality, then you see them just softening up and realizing that they’re both spiritual souls, they’re both on a path, a spiritual journey, trying to find their identity and so on, and it’s a very powerful experience for them.Ella Magers: 8:42

Yeah, and I love this and I jotted it down. When you said the pragmatic, spiritualist piece like of can you explain a little more about what you mean by that?Paul Rodney Turner: 8:51

Well, as I said, I was a monk from the age of 19 to 33.Ella Magers: 8:54

So and how did you get to be a monk?Paul Rodney Turner: 8:56

Well, first of all, I was a regular kid. I wasn’t like a nerd or anything. I was somewhat intellectual, looking like I wanted to get a computer when I was 12 years old, I think it was like. I can’t remember what brand it was. It was 64 kilobyte memory, something you’d put together, you know, like a kit, a computer kit. That’s back in the day we’re talking the 70s.Ella Magers: 9:17

Yeah.Paul Rodney Turner: 9:18

I was into astronomy at the age of 15. So I would look at the night sky and so I was also like I was into sports, played soccer, played rugby league, played cricket. I did all of that stuff, got into fights, regular boy in that sense. But I was also very philosophical. So I was always looking at things and meditating and thinking about things. In my early days, my younger years, I practically was very shy to even talk or I’d just sit there and just listen, you know, just take everything in and just contemplate and wonder what’s going on and try and analyze things, so that sort of planted. Particularly when I got into astronomy, you know, I would stay up all night looking at the night sky and asking questions, the big questions like who are we? Why are we so small? The universe is so big, how did this all happen? You know, what’s the purpose of life? I’m literally asking those questions at the age of 15. It was not prompted by anyone, it just had a natural inclination to ask those questions. A few years later I was introduced to Eastern philosophy, which began to unravel those answers, and I realized, okay, there’s more to life than simply eating, sleeping, mating and defending, which is what the animals do All right eating, sleeping, mating, defending that’s what we all do it. But human form, human form of life, is a very special gift, and so we’re meant to do more than that. We’re meant to use our God-given intelligence to ask those questions and inquire and ask and find out what is the purpose of life? Why are we here? Why am I in this body and another soul is in a dog’s body, or a cow body or a sheep’s body? What is making that decision? You know what’s the reason for that? These are questions that everyone should be asking. So I was asking those questions at that age and I decided you know what, I’m gonna try and find out. And I decided to become a monk. So for the next 14 years I was a celibate monk, living a very strict lifestyle.Ella Magers: 11:06

That’s amazing. So at one point, because I think about really just in the last maybe 10 years of my life, even though my dad was Buddhist, he started practicing Zen when I was young. I’d go to some ceremonies and stuff. But when you get to that place of where you really experience yourself from that consciousness level, of then seeing the two separate selves, the consciousness self and then the ego self, At what age did you kind of understand that? Was that before you became a monk?Paul Rodney Turner: 11:38

No, it really kicked in when I was 19. And what happened was first of all, as I said, at the age of 16, I was asking those questions, reading books, but I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t mentally ready to take that any further. It was just more of a fascination, like okay, this is interesting, this is interesting information. But it wasn’t like something that I wanted to base my life on. But at the age of 19, where I was much more mature, much more a young man, now evolving, and then I had a psychedelic experience where I had literally an out-of-body experience. Aside from the psychedelic experience, I was actually practicing what’s called out-of-body. What do you call it? What’s it called when you there’s techniques you can do, breathing techniques, can you literally?Ella Magers: 12:22

Oh, holotropic.Paul Rodney Turner: 12:24

Yeah, it’s not holotropic, but it’s like an out-of-body experience At nighttime when we sleep. There’s an astral body that we have. The astral body is made of the mind and intelligence and it’s like a subtle form of you that leaves a physical form when you sleep and you enter into an astral realm and that’s actually where you recharge. It’s sort of like there’s an energetic plane there where you actually recharge. And that’s why, if you laid down for eight hours at night and didn’t actually fall asleep, you don’t actually get refreshed. You don’t get recharged. You need to. Actually the subtle body, the dream body, needs to leave the physical body and recharge and then come back in. And also the part of the reason why there is this experience is it enables us to fulfill certain desires on the subtle plane which we couldn’t do on the physical plane. So it’s also an opportunity to fulfill our dreams and wishes and to figure things out. It’s a problem-solving mechanism as well, anyway. So there are techniques you can use where you can actually induce this. Naturally, it’s called astral projection through breathing techniques. So I actually did this at the age of 18. I was laying on my bed and I started to. My body was falling asleep, but I was staying conscious and I started coming out of my physical form and I was totally aware, totally awake. And then, as I’m coming out, and I’m seeing myself literally come out of my physical body, my body’s laying on the bed, I wasn’t dying, I was just conscious. During the astral, during the dreaming state, I was aware. And then I heard someone say look at him, he thinks he’s good. I heard these voices in the background. I didn’t know where they were, but someone was watching me doing this and was laughing about it like joking. There was someone on that astral plane watching me do this. It sounds a bit crazy, but I still remember to this day and it’s over 40 years ago. So then, as a result of that, that sort of led me to realize okay, there’s more to this world than the physical form. I’m more than just calories and atoms and blood and bone and scan. And that’s not me, that’s just my vehicle that I’m using to navigate this material world. I’m a much powerful force, I’m a spark of God’s splendor, I’m literally godly in nature. But I’m limited by this physical form. Because this is my coming out. I need to have certain experiences, learn certain lessons in this physical male form and, like you have the same thing, you have lessons that you need to learn in your female form. But it doesn’t define us, because if I said that I’m Paul Turner, born in 1963, I’ll just turn 60, that would really be like saying that if I had a book here and I read one page of this book, I could tell you what the contents of that book was, and it’s just not right. Or one frame of a movie. So literally we have to see the big picture and understand. This lifetime that we’re experiencing is literally one page of a very long book, and so it’s impossible to define ourselves by this one page, by this one human experience.Ella Magers: 15:18

Right, wow yeah.Paul Rodney Turner: 15:20

All right. So once you had this out of, body.Ella Magers: 15:23

no, this is right up my alley. This is what my life is all about these days, like exploring this stuff, and so when you had that out of body experience, you started to understand this and you felt called to really devote your life to it. Is that how it?Paul Rodney Turner: 15:38

Yeah, and I had that. So I had that astral projection experience where I literally felt I saw myself leave my physical form and I was totally aware it wasn’t dying. And also I come to realize later on when I had other similar experiences and I didn’t know what was happening. And it’s called when people have this experience where they can’t move in their bed, what’s the time that I’m losing, I’m forgetting. When people have an experience where they’re laying on the bed and they feel like they can’t move. They’re awake but they can’t move, yes, and then the astral body is coming out. So you’re actually still conscious, the astral body is coming out. Because it’s coming out, you then lose control of the physical form. So you think someone’s holding you down and actually what’s happening is you’re just aware of the astral projection. That’s what’s happening. So it made me realize, okay, there’s more to life, there’s much more to this game than simply this physical body, and I felt that the Eastern teachings really provided a lot of guidance in that, like understanding that. So I decided at the age of 19, 20, I think I’d turn 21 up Before I joined the astral. I was already practicing, practicing celibacy, chanting mantras, reading the Bhagavad Gita and so on. And then finally I decided you know what I’m just going to go all in on this and just find out if it works for me. I had no idea that I would do it for 14 years. I just thought it was maybe a couple of years or something like that. But I ended up staying. I stuck with it and during that time as a monk, it was very spiritually purifying, but I also was teaching myself skills, so that when I stopped being a monk I actually had certain skills that I could use in the real world. I taught myself computers, copywriting, communications, marketing and so on while I was a monk. So I wasn’t an average monk in that sense. I was always very thirsty for knowledge and not just sort of following a blind path, but actually wanting to always improve myself in different areas.Ella Magers: 17:37

You seem like if I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna go all in kind of person.Paul Rodney Turner: 17:42

Yeah, it’s pretty radical decision, but I was excited. To be honest with us. The night before I joined I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I chanted mantras for 10 hours to purify my body. I thought, if I’m gonna offer my body to God, I want to make sure it’s pure. So I literally chanted mantras for 10 hours non-stop. And then I joined the ashram and then that night I couldn’t even sleep because I was just so excited.Ella Magers: 18:07

At what point did food really come into play here, in terms of your relationship with food, in terms of this food yoga thing?Paul Rodney Turner: 18:15

Well, my first service as a monk was to pay meals, help the cooks in the temple to prepare meals and serve the homeless in Sydney, australia. So that was my first. Interestingly enough, before I joined the temple, I actually had this idea. Well, I’d like to be a cook for God, because I sort of had an inclination to get in the kitchen and just make stuff and create things, because I was an artist and so cooking was like an art form for me. So I really liked that idea. If I’m gonna join the temple, what will I do? I’m not gonna chant mantras all day. I gotta do something. So I thought of myself as a cook and, wouldn’t you know it, the first service I was offered was to help prepare meals in the kitchen for the homeless. So I got this idea that, wow, this is a great way to communicate with people. I had that experience because people were looking at me, naturally thinking, wow, this guy’s strange. You know, he’s wearing robes, he’s shaved his head, he’s a bit of an oddball and they’re judging me by the physical appearance, not understanding that I’m just a regular person like them. But I’m just trying to find spiritual answers. I wasn’t special in any way, I was just trying to find answers and this is part of that process. Was, you know, getting rid of the false ego, shaving your head, changing your clothing, living very simply, chanting mantras, eating a regulated diet, a vegetarian diet? It wasn’t vegan then and anyway. So when I offered them food at the restaurant, all of a sudden I’m like an equal to them, I’m like their best friend because I’m feeding them. So I realized early on that, wow, food is a powerful communicator. It is the best communicator in the world. It breaks through all barriers that divide us, because you may have so many political things which divide you, like politics, nationality, race, color, whatever it is, language even but when you put a beautiful meal down in the middle of a table, all of a sudden we’re family, we can unite around that food. So that’s what became the tagline for my charity Food for Life Global uniting the world through pure food, because that’s the way that we address world hunger. It’s not just about feeding bellies. Of course that’s important. We want to fill people’s bellies, but at the end of the day, what’s important is the food itself is prepared with love, it has the ingredient of love invested in it and when you share such loving, pure food. It has the ability to unite people, and this unity is the cause of all problems in the world. If we unite as a global family, then things like hunger and poverty will disappear overnight.Ella Magers: 20:45

I can’t help but think when you’re talking about this. So when I went through a whole burnout situation and depression a year and a half ago, two years ago, I started listening to the Ram Dass here in Now Podcast, so I listened from the beginning to all 300 episodes, whatever, but one of the themes throughout it was, like every morning, that’s how I started my morning, and one of the themes throughout was he would talk about how, when he was seeking enlightenment, and he would ask Maharaj, how do I find enlightenment? And his answer was always feed people. And so I heard that over and over again. This story no, no, no, yeah. But I want to go and do this and meditate for 20 hours and he’s like no, feed people. And for you to bring that in with the love and with this intention behind it and have it be vegan food too. Can you talk about food yoga, like where that term came from and what that?Paul Rodney Turner: 21:40

means yeah, so I created. This is my book. I don’t know if you can see that.Ella Magers: 21:43

It’s a little funky with the background, I’ll take the background off.Paul Rodney Turner: 21:47

Hang on, I’ll take the background off. No, no, no, no.Ella Magers: 21:50

That was blur.Paul Rodney Turner: 21:52

Real background right Were you all listening.Ella Magers: 21:54

You can check us out on YouTube. We will have the video.Paul Rodney Turner: 21:57

This one. There’s the real background.Ella Magers: 21:58

There we go, yes.Paul Rodney Turner: 22:00

So that concept of food yoga came up when I was writing this book, and essentially the idea was spiritual veganism, like introducing a spiritual aspect to the experience of eating plant-based, because at the end of the day, even if you’re a vegan, you’re still committing some harm, right? Yes, obviously it’s less. Obviously it’s less, but we can’t avoid violence in this world. Is this the nature of this world? One man’s food is another man’s poison. One man’s pleasure is another person’s suffering. That’s just the nature of the material world. It’s like it’s given takes. Black and white. It’s how things flow. There has to be some destruction for evolution. There has to be death for birth. It’s the end of the yank of nature. You can’t avoid it, you can’t just have all. There has to be some giving for some taking.Ella Magers: 22:51

That’s the 3D world we live in. Right, that’s this kind of matrix of dualistic.Paul Rodney Turner: 22:57

Exactly. But so with food, even as a vegan, we’re committing some suffering to living entities in some way. The idea of food yoga and this is what I learned from my experience as a monk. In that tradition it’s called the Vedic hospitality, the traditional Indian hospitality culture, wherein it was very common for the householders to invite their friends or neighbors for a meal if they were hungry. They wouldn’t eat their meal until everyone else was satisfied, so the wife would prepare the meal, the husband would go outside Is anybody hungry, please come. If you need food, come and eat and then only after they had eaten would the man and the family sit down and have their meal. So it was a culture of selflessness and giving and understanding the power of food to show love and respect to another person. So food yoga is all about nourishing your body, mind and soul. It’s not just about nourishing your body because, yes, we understand there’s so much research on this. When you eat a plant-based diet, it’s great for your physical body because in so many different ways your body is designed for a plant-based diet. We have, biologically, we’re better suited for a plant-based diet. There’s so many benefits there. But there’s also the subtle aspect of our being, which is the mental and the consciousness. So food has to also nourish our mind and spirit as well, and the only type of food that can do that is food that’s prepared with a loving intention, because one of the ingredients of the purest food is the intention, the love that’s invested as the person’s preparing it. So that was part of the tradition that I grew up in as a monk, that when the cooks would prepare the meals, they wouldn’t even taste the meal while they’re preparing it. They would prepare it without tasting it, and even if they had to cook for hundreds, thousands of people like I’m talking large pots of food, they would not taste that food while they’re preparing it, and then only after they finished cooking, they would take a sample of each portion of, you know, whatever preparation they may, take a portion, put it on a silver platter, make an offering to God, ask God to please taste this food first and say some mantras, and then only would they serve it to the public and taste the food themselves. So it was a very selfless offering, and because of that the food was transforming. It was very, very pure. It was just invested with love and selflessness, and people tasted the difference, even if it was the simplest thing, like rice or dial, something very simple. It was like the best dial that they’ve ever had, the best rice they’ve ever eaten, because they tasted that subtle difference. And so that’s essentially what food yoga is about. It’s nourishing mind, body and soul. It’s using food as a medium of communication. It’s seeing food as a vehicle, as a medium to connect with our divine nature and the divine nature of others.Ella Magers: 25:46

This is so beautiful when it comes to the actual process of eating the food ourselves and I think you know, in this culture where so many people will sit down and just kind of shovel food in their mouth and not even think about it, is there a component of I’m going to be present with the food as I eat? It as it enters my body and can you talk about that?Paul Rodney Turner: 26:07

Yeah, it’s conscious eating, because we always have be grateful right For the blessings that we have, and that’s one of the foundations of a prosperous life is to start with the great thing, grateful, being thankful. If you want to manifest things in your life positivity you have to start from the point of okay, what can I be thankful for? I’m thankful for my mother and father. I’m thankful for my friends, for the food on my table Just understanding the blessings that are surrounding you right now before looking into the future and wanting more and more and more. So when you’re preparing a meal, it’s important that the person preparing it has a loving intention, that this is a gift. I’m giving you something out of love. So it’s like if I bought you a box of chocolates, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to first take one of the chocolates to taste it to see if the chocolate tasted good. That would then contaminate the offering and you wouldn’t feel like it was a beautiful gift. It would be sort of minimized in so many ways if I tasted one of the chocolates. So in the same way, the cook has to prepare the loving intention, selflessness and as a way to honor the efforts of the chef. It’s important to us to eat with consciousness, eat with awareness, with gratitude, with focus, and not be doing a me and other things at the same time looking at videos, reading a book, talking, just sitting and just enjoying the taste as you’re chewing the food, like meditating and focusing on the chewing, making sure you’re chewing. There’s an in the Ayurveda, the Indian health system. It’s called the Ayurveda, which means the knowledge of life. Ayur means life and Veda means knowledge. Ayurveda it says that you should chew grains 32 times before you swallow it. So if you’re eating bread, you should actually chew that mouth full of bread 32 times, Okay, I’ve been telling people 30, so I got to add two more, 32. Whatever, but yeah, the idea of it’s really the way to honor the efforts of the chef. This is a gift. Just be like I gave you a gift and I wrapped it so beautifully and put a ribbon on top. It’d be like if you just tore it up or didn’t read the card first, right, and didn’t actually appreciate the effort put into the gift for you. Sort of like that.Ella Magers: 28:19

Yeah, and then it seems to me it’s also a respect for our bodies, you know to be able to.Paul Rodney Turner: 28:25

That’s real, of course.Ella Magers: 28:26

Yeah, so yeah, the combination of those some things that most people don’t think about or not programmed in that way in this United States.Paul Rodney Turner: 28:34

Well, it’s fast food culture, right, because it’s all about just fueling the body and just getting on with the more important stuff. But actually eating is such an important part of our evolution and in fact the big takeaway from my book Food Yoga is that evolution of consciousness begins only when we learn to master the term. So I’ll repeat that our consciousness begins to expand only after we learn how to master the tongue. The tongue has two functions tasting and vibrating. So what you speak and what you eat will have a tremendous impact on your consciousness. So if you’re speaking positivity, if you’re speaking truthful words, words that are uplifting and so on, these things will enrich your consciousness, expand your consciousness. If you’re speaking negative things, that’ll squash your consciousness. And similarly, if you’re eating foods with a light, high vibration, plant-based, less suffering, high energy, that’s going to expand your consciousness. But if you’re eating dead corpses and rotten or processed foods or foods that’s not even really food that’s just made in the factory, it’s not really just made of all sorts of chemicals and horrible things, then that food is not going to nourish you on multiple levels and it’s going to squash your consciousness. So that’s really the main takeaway from the book Food Jogger is learning to master the tongue.Ella Magers: 29:49

And I keep smiling because I’m here in the roosters, so I can’t wait to talk about them. Okay, so here’s kind of a funny little question for the people that are listening. I did a survey recently of our audience to see just how interested people are in the spiritual aspects. These are people that are at least vegan curious and was wondering how many of them were interested in the spiritual aspects. And overwhelmingly people are wanting to understand it and wanting to expand their consciousness. But for the people who are like, what does that even mean? Why do I want to even expand my consciousness? What is that. Can you speak to that?Paul Rodney Turner: 30:24

Well, this gets back to my title of being a pragmatic spiritualist, because, yes, I was a very fanatical spiritual person. I went to the point of becoming a monk. That’s not what your average spiritualist would do. It’s pretty radical. But I’ve come to learn that you can be spiritual without being religious. You don’t need religion. First of all, religion has a way to guide you, like religious institutions are there to provide camaraderie, to guide you, but at the end of the day, you have to fly your own plane. It’s your life, it’s your spiritual journey, not mine. We’re two very unique people and so you have certain experiences to learn. You have certain experiences to have, lessons to learn, and I have my own as well. So we have to fly our own plane, and that’s why it’s important that when people think about spirituality, they have to understand that doesn’t mean you have to become religious. You can be spiritual in even the most mundane thing. For example, you’re digging a hole or something and you’re preparing a garden, so a spiritualist would understand that. Okay, this is a blessing that I’m doing physical labor. It’s good for my health, connecting with Mother Earth like with nature. So I’m grounding myself, which is also good because it’s decontaminating me from the electromagnetic pollution. I’m touching the soil and planting seeds. I’m seeing you know the wonders of nature. So in this way, if you have this meditative way of going about your work, you can be spiritual. You can see the connection with the divine even in the most mundane thing of digging a hole. So you can be spiritual without being religious. And that’s sort of essentially what I’m talking about in my books as well, and I’ve written a few books. That’s another one I wrote as well, the Seven Maxims of Soul Happiness. And I wrote another one called the Yoga of Pool, where I talk about billiards, because I was like a professional billiards player and I would teach people. So what I do? I write a book about billiards and I introduce spiritual concepts into the book. So it’s called the Yoga of Pool. So that way when people are playing pool, they have the spiritual information as well. They can understand that they’re not the mind, they’re a spiritual being, they’re powerful, they can be confident, drawing confidence from their spirituality, not from false ego. So it’s one of the most popular billiards books in the market now because it’s such a different way of approaching billiards.Ella Magers: 32:43

Oh my gosh, I just love all of this so much, and one thing I talk about is like when you get to that place where you’re not to demean life or anything, but kind of playing it like a game, like seeing it as being so curious and so leading with curiosity and compassion, if we can lead with curiosity and compassion and everything that we do becomes fascinating, it becomes an opportunity for growth, and I just love how you put that into billiards.Paul Rodney Turner: 33:11

That’s fantastic. That’s pretty crazy. So the idea is that in every sport, in order to become the best, you need to learn how to control your mind. Like you talked to Michael Jordan, tiger Woods, the mental side of it MMA, mental side of it is critical, because you may have the physical talent and you may be able to do the best wrestler, best puncher, whatever but if you don’t have your mental game in order, where you’re confident and you’re ready to push beyond those times when you’re ready to give up, if you don’t have control of your mind, you’re never going to be a champion. So in this book I talk about that, but drawing confidence not from a false platform of ego where you think you know, I’m just going to pretend that I’m great, I’ll pretend that I’m good. No understanding that. You are really powerful. You’re a spiritual being. You’re a spark of God. You are godly in nature. You have incredible powers deep within you. You just have to access those. So you should be very confident. Don’t be limited by this physical form. This is nothing. This is just your vehicle. It’s like you’re driving a you know Honda Civic and someone else is driving a Porsche. But if you have self confidence and you value yourself and your knowledge and your skills, then you’re in a better position than that person driving a much more expensive car. It’s all about perspective.Ella Magers: 34:29

Yeah, all right, let’s talk about food for life. When was that born and how did you choose the name?Paul Rodney Turner: 34:36

Well, food for life goes back 40 years actually 50 years, 74, when it started by a group of monks. They were responding to their spiritual teacher Prabhupada his name was, and he saw some children fighting with dogs over scraps of food behind the temple and he was so shocked by this he said my God, there’s children fighting with dogs over scraps of food. This should not happen. So he told them no one within 10 miles of our temple should ever go hungry. You need to start feeding people in the local community now, and this is a great service that you do for the community. So they started feeding people and then that concept expanded around the world. A few years in like, in 83, I became a volunteer for food for life. Back then it was very grass roots, there was only maybe a dozen projects around the world and I became so passionate about this project that I decided to make it my focus for my service. And then in 1993, I was asked to set up the headquarters and actually formalize this whole project and then expand it around the world. So I left Australia, migrated to the United States and set up Food for Life Global and began training. I wrote a training manual, began traveling around the world, training volunteers and expanding the project. That’s now in 65 countries, over 200 projects serving over a million meals a day. So the name Food for Life came about in 1980 when it was still very much a grass roots project and it was called Hare Krishna Food for Life. When I took it over and I expanded it and created Food for Life Global, I wanted to position it in such a way that it was non-sectarian and so that anyone could be involved in this project. You don’t have to be a Hare Krishna or a Hindu, it doesn’t matter. The concept of like preparing food with a loving intention and sharing with the public, that’s a universal concept. It’s not like it’s exclusive to India or Indian culture. So I made Food for Life Global non-sectarian. I changed it from vegetarian to vegan because I realized that’s the higher principle and we’ve been expanding ever since. So that’s sort of where it comes from. And then, if you look at the name Food for Life, it’s sort of like food for life food for soul. It’s not just food for the body, it’s food for body, mind and soul.Ella Magers: 36:50

Yeah, and over a million meals a day, I mean every day. That’s amazing and like that’s unbelievable, almost to think about how you’ve set that up to be able to make that happen, still being a relatively small, you know organization. Can you talk about how you’ve managed to do that?Paul Rodney Turner: 37:09

Yeah, food for Life Global is a headquarters, so we’re not like controlling all of the day-to-day activities of the projects. We’re like a support office, a media headquarters, a marketing headquarters, fundraising headquarters but they’re all doing their own local fundraising. They have the local administration. We’re not micro-managing them. We’re providing the guidance and support that they need to training the marketing and that sort of thing for them. So we’re a support office and so that’s why we are at the headquarters. You know we’re small but we oversee a global network which is very big.Ella Magers: 37:40

And do you call them affiliates? Affiliates, so the affiliates create their own, you know mini.Paul Rodney Turner: 37:47

According to our guidelines. So we provide the guidelines. Okay, in order to be an affiliate, you have to follow these rules, one of them being vegan meals. And then we raise funds on behalf of the network and we give grants to our affiliates. They do their own fundraising, but when they need, like we recently gave $20,000 to buy a van and one of our projects in Nepal, $5,000 or $10,000 for, like, emergency relief. So we’re raising funds all the time and giving grants to our local projects.Ella Magers: 38:13

And these are all home cooked like all made with love food.Paul Rodney Turner: 38:18

Freshly cooked that day, nothing prepackaged, nothing frozen, nothing from a food bank. It’s all freshly cut that day, Like the fruits and vegetables are washed, the rice and dal is washed, made that morning, served to the public. So we’re very unique in this way because at the level that we operate it’s highly unusual if not, it doesn’t happen outside of food, If no one does it the way we do it they always have like package food the World Food Program primarily does like bags of rice and grains. They provide the resources but then they’re not usually prepared meals. But we freshly prepare these meals and serve them directly to the public. And a massive scale.Ella Magers: 38:57

Yeah, it’s incredible. And at what point did you expand your mission and include rescued farmed animals? You want to tell?Paul Rodney Turner: 39:08

them when I met my wife Juliana, so 10 years ago.Ella Magers: 39:11

How did you meet?Paul Rodney Turner: 39:12

10 years ago, we met online because I was looking for a translator, while I was traveling around the world promoting the food yoga book and also documenting food for life for a documentary, and I says, look, I’m coming to South America, I’m looking for a translator, and I found her and we ended up just taking it beyond being a translator. She became my wife and I then became introduced to her project, which was very small at the time, and then I helped her expand it and develop it over the years 10 years ago, so, yeah, so during that time I was fruitful. I’ve already had the mission to tagline uniting the world through pure food and she made me realize, well, that doesn’t just mean humans, you know, it means animals too. I mean, at the end of the day, we’re all earthlings. Even if you’re a cow, we’re all earthlings. Right, we all belong here. So we should show respect for all life, not just the plants and not just the people. But what about animals? And so we included feeding rescued animals as part of our mission as well.Ella Magers: 40:15

And she already had a sanctuary.Paul Rodney Turner: 40:17

She already had a sanctuary, the farm. She started the first farm sanctuary in all of South America.Ella Magers: 40:25

Wow, it’s amazing.Paul Rodney Turner: 40:26

She was the first one to do that like farm animals. And now we have about 150 animals bulls and cows and goats and sheep and rabbits and chickens and dogs and cats and horses and lots of pigs. And right now she’s doing a tour. She’s got a school kids. Right now she’s doing a tour of the sanctuary. So the schools come all every weekend. We have new schools coming. The kids get to learn about the animals. They get to learn Like. The other day she introduced one of the kids to one of our bulls and she said look, bulls are just like dogs. Watch what happens if you just run up the hill. And they started running up the hill All the children. The bull started following them and jumping up and down. And then they ran down the hill and he did the same thing and they realized, oh my God, he’s like a dog. And so just in a very cute, natural way, they realized oh, if he’s like a dog, why am I eating bulls? So she’s really educating them and giving them the big picture, understanding that they’re all sentient beings. They just so happen to have a different physical form, but at the end of the day we’re all spiritually connected. So it’s a very powerful education experience here for the kids and as a result the national government has actually included animal welfare clubs as part of the national curriculum. So she’s actually had so much influence that now they’re including that as part of the training education for the children in the country like learning to respect animals. So that’s really powerful. I have to get going.Ella Magers: 41:53

Okay.Paul Rodney Turner: 41:56

I’m happy to do it again if you want to do it.Ella Magers: 41:57

a part two yeah, let’s do a part two, because I could just talk to you for hours. So, yes, where can people find you, support you?Paul Rodney Turner: 42:07

So Food for Life Global is really easy one. It’s fflorg. Fflfoxfoxlinaorg. Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary is Juliana’sAnimalSanctuaryorg. You can reach me. Food for Life on Instagram is Food for Life Global. Facebook Food for Life Global. Pretty easy to find me and I’m usually. My handle is Paul Rod Turner. On social media.Ella Magers: 42:29

We’ll put all of those in the show notes.Paul Rodney Turner: 42:32

Yeah, thank you.Ella Magers: 42:33

Yes, oh, thank you so much. Thank you for what you do, thank you for all the change you’re sparking in this world and just for the beautiful human being that you are.Paul Rodney Turner: 42:42

Oh, I appreciate it. Thank you so much. I’m trying my best. At the end of the day, we’re all going to be leaving a positive legacy. We’re all gurus, even if it’s at the micro level of just being an example for your children. But at the end of the day, we have to leave a positive legacy and pass on wisdom, share our experiences and make the world a better place. Make the future generations better and better. Thank you.Ella Magers: 43:03

Amazing Thank you. Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Rise and Thrive with me, Ella Majors. I truly hope you found it inspiring and, if you did, please help me spread the word by leaving a rating and review on your favorite podcast player and by sharing the show with your friends. As you probably know by now, my life’s purpose is to use my voice to make this world a more conscious and compassionate place, and your reviews and shares make a huge impact. And last, I’m getting a ton of insanely positive feedback about my short and sweet monthly newsletter called the Way. It’s called Short 4, the Way Out is Through. I give my top five latest badass discoveries, insights and explorations, like vegan products and recipes. I’m obsessed with books and shows I’m loving and workouts that have me fired up. Head on over to my website, EllaMajorscom, to sign up and check out all the other awesome resources I have for you and projects I’m involved with, and Hogs and Kisses Farm Sanctuary, where our mission is to create the best life for farm animals while inspiring compassion for all living beings. Thanks a lot and I’ll see you on the next one.


Yes, I’m a humanitarian, but I’m also a pragmatic spiritualist. I’m also a fan of MMA and billiards and all types of sports. I’m also a vegan chef, and an author. I’m more than [someone who] promotes the idea of food being a medium to connect with our divine nature and to connect with people on a very deep spiritual level… So that’s one of the challenges I’ve always had is how to define myself. – Paul Rodney Turner


Have you ever considered how a simple meal can speak volumes, transcending languages and borders?

Director of Food for Life Global, Paul Rodney Turner, joins us to unravel the fascinating story of food as a universal language and its power to connect us beyond words. His own journey from monkhood to leading a global non-profit serves as a testament to food’s ability to bring people together, nourish the soul, and foster unity across diversities.

Our conversation with Paul dives deep into the philosophy of food yoga, revealing how intentional cooking and eating can be a form of spiritual practice that enriches our lives. We learn about the transformative experience of preparing food with love, the spiritual harmony achievable through a plant-based lifestyle, and how such acts create a ripple effect of compassion and mindfulness. This episode is a celebration of the sacredness embedded in the culinary arts and the profound impact it can have on our well-being and sense of community.

Together, we delve into a world where spirituality meets everyday life, and where each bite we take can be an act of love and connection. Join us on this journey of discovery and make your meals a bridge to a more conscious and compassionate existence.


Official Bio: 

Vegan food relief organisation with projects in over 65 countries. The charity’s services include free schools, orphanages, eco-communities, medical care, animal sanctuaries and large scale food distribution kitchens that serve over 2 million freshly cooked meals daily.

At the age of 19 Paul was initiated into the Vaishnava tradition and lived as a monk for 14 years. He is a former board member of IVU (International Vegetarian Union); was a senior IT consultant for the World Bank for 10 years, and along with teaching food yoga, he is an accomplished Indian gourmet chef and raw vegan chef. His hobbies include numerology and yantra (talisman) design.

During his volunteer work for Food for Life, Paul has visited over 73 countries, conducting training seminars in 35 countries and regions of the world, as well as coordinating numerous disaster relief projects, including the Asian tsunami of 2004, Katrina hurricane in 2005, and the Japan Tsunami in 2011.

He is an author of 6 books including, FOOD YOGA, The Five Noble Truths, and How to Build a Successful Food Relief. During his volunteer work for Food for Life, Paul has visited over 73 countries, as well as coordinating disaster relief for the Asian tsunami of 2004.



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