Many buddhists have long espoused vegetarianism as the proper diet for human beings, but since buddhism broke away from tantrism and vedism as spiritual education sources, a lot of this ethos comes from the latter spiritual stream’s assumptions that vegetarianism produces a higher vibration in the body that allows a greater ability to spiritually transcend.
Did you know that Buddha’s last meal was actually a pork stew? These current buddhist modes are a modern invention and do not belong to the ancient origins of buddhism. In ancient times, the focus was like that used for the islamic halaal meat – that animals sacrificed to feed us should at least be honored, blessed, and nurtured well until their death.
There are, however, a lot of logical reasons for eating vegetarian, instead of the often blogged – ‘do not eat other sentient beings’ crap. But let’s remember that scientific studies that examined kirlian photography concluded that plants feel pain, too, and therefore, just because they don’t communicate in obvious ways with us does not necessarily mean they are non-sentient.
Plus, I put to you that if plants are sentient, then eating them alive, as we often do, goes against the current mores of political correctness where acts that hurt another sentient being are considered abuse or torture.
Want to eat a carrot raw? Imagine cutting and eating a live fish and the judgement that comes from western society upon people who do that?
Further, cooking live plants and their products should bring horror to the face of those who don’t like to know things must be killed for our food. Because if we are to be really ethical, we should not eat any living thing at all under that ‘don’t eat other sentient beings’ scenario.
In the end, the true bottom line is that all is energy, whether plant or animal.
When we eat a living body, whether plant or animal, it is just the shell of the avatar residing in it. When the shell dies, the spirit avatar moves on and recycles to a new life. The body that the avatar inhabited is simply a sacrificial gift to keep our own bodies alive and healthy.
Even that scenario has its drawbacks for those honestly invested in ethics, because raw vegetables and salads can be assessed as being ‘still alive and feeling’ when we eat them. But that’s when the mystical mode of self-sacrifice for others, or for the greater good, comes into play.
Apart from the ethical considerations and worldly logistics, any food should be eaten with gratitude for that sacrificial gift of life, and any food should be taken as a blessing. In pagan lore, we honor the sacrifice of all elements of our meals, and say we ‘must not take for granted what is given, but must always remember to return some to the cycle of life.’
By all means, look after and honor the animals who die for us – but let’s have some perspective beyond personal opinions. Because the argument that keeps cropping up is vegetarianism versus carnivorism, and vegetarians like to get scientific by basing their argument on the apparent worldly logistics with regard to animal husbandry compared to agriculture. However, there are flaws and drawbacks when it comes to mass farming on both sides of that food supply equation.
Either system of food supply is unsatisfactory, because mass farming upsets the balance of nature. Animal husbandry en masse upsets things like the ozone layer and causes devastation to the landscape. Agriculture upsets things like the water supply and also devastates the landscape. Often, wherever mass farming has been plied in history, devastations to the landscape have seen persistent droughts and deserts established. So the real factor in both methods of food supply is not what to eat or why to eat it, but that the human race is now so vast on this planet that its systems are out of whack.
Even a hundred years ago, the average age of a human being was actually only 30 years old at death. We had more children but more children died before becoming adults. Death was so much a part of the natural way of things that churches were painted with death scenes, and images of the grim reaper, to remind people of this fact.
Today, our society is built on the premise of cheating death. To do that, we have developed infrastructures and health programs, medicine and modes that prolong life as much as possible. And today, we have gained an average of 20 years extra life span than our ancestors once had. (Yes, I mean only 20 years, meaning a 50 year end age, because the mooted ‘you can live past 70’ actually comes to few of us, still).
So now we have a problem supplying the massive planetary wide population burst of human beings, hence the need to farm on massive scales never before suffered by the planet.
And this has an inherent problem. Because the planet does not have infinite resources. What it does have are recyclable resources. Rain falls, flows, steams, goes to cloud, and falls as rain again, which we drink. Plants thrive, die or get eaten, rot or are excreted, nourish the soil, and other plants feed on that fertilizer, beginning the cycle all over again. Animals do the same as plants, whether or not they are herbivores or carnivorous. So the problem is that our world is based on a system of recycling, not of new or synergistic generation. It has a finite capacity. And that is why people are starving, and that is why people will continue to starve in the future – because no matter what scientists or farmers do to increase the supply, the planetary resource stock is a limited pantry.
It is not our right to live long and healthy lives at all. It is our right and blessing to have a life on planet Earth and to enjoy its gifts for as long as we are here, and in return it is our obligation to die in our due time so that our bodies can keep on feeding the cycle of life. And that is the bottom line under all arguments, that is persistently being ignored. Death is a natural part of life.