Philosophical questions

Sia Louise

Jun 7, 2016
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  1. Vegan
Sorry this is so long, I don't even know if I'm posting this in the right place or if anyone will read it, I'd just really like to hear other peoples' ideas and opinions.

So I've been passionate about my veganism for a long time. But I’ve been getting very upset recently and extremely angry, to the point where it’s really affected my whole wellbeing. Feeling like I had to battle everyone around me, even those closest to me, as one of the minority of sane people in an insane world, shouting and screaming against a tide of brainwashed people; waking up every day thinking about all the animals suffering in the world, seeing the injustice everywhere in everyday life. But then after I watched yet another video about veganism, this time a speech, I had some different thoughts of my own.
Ok so. The way I see it is this:

Everything living has to eat something else that is living to survive.
Plants generate themselves by photosynthesis and sunlight but are part of the earth and decay in its soil,
Every human being will eventually be recycled by the planet when they die,
Our bodies are full of tiny cells, bacteria, that eat us,
Animals kill other animals,
And each animal instinctually tries to survive; animals have a brain, a nervous system to feel pain and sentient consciousness (unlike plants).
But they do not have the same level of consciousness as us.
But unlike plants, animals evolved to move around to eat other organisms.
Everything that lives relies on other things that live, because instead of seeing the world as separate,
Humans, plants, animals (basic categories),
I can see the world as though it’s one organism,
Giving birth to itself, dying, decaying and eating itself,
It’s a constant cycle of consumption,
The planet literally eats and consumes itself,
Even on a cellular level,
And everything is connected,
The bio-diversity is rich and amazing and creates one whole self-sustaining eco-system.
It makes sense as humanity evolved to use the flesh, skin and bones of animals to survive and live.
It makes logical progressive sense also that we reached the point of industrialising that cultivation.
But with that came a disconnect from nature and therefore ourselves.
I think now having reached this stage of evolution, in my part of the first-world, eating and consuming animals has become more of an addiction, a habit or convenience, at the detriment of the natural world.
And I think with our elevated consciousness and intelligence comes responsibility.
We can chose.
And there is so much cognitive dissonance that the food people eat or products they consume were once an animal or belonged to an animal.
I personally wouldn’t harm or kill an animal, unless I was put in a survival situation and even then I can only speculate on what I would or wouldn’t do, and I wouldn’t want to pay someone else to torture or kill an animal for me.
I want to live compassionately, I can’t stand of suffering of innocent beings, people or animals, but suffering is fundamentally a natural part of life.
In Buddhism that is the first noble truth.
Nature and animals do not have an ego, but we do, which makes all of this living on the earth together thing tricky…

But the point is, is eating animals really inherently wrong? Is it so wrong to recognise that we are all part of one earth that lives and breaths and endlessly recycles itself? Can you humanely kill an animal if you recognise that it’s life is your own, that we are all connected and all profoundly one, one cosmic energy moving in synergy?

As Alan Watts writes in Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts unknown, page 12:
“[…] under the surface of both sky and water there is the grim business of preying. Men and birds against fish, fish against fish. The tortuous process of life continuing by the painful transformation of one form or body into another. To creatures who do not anticipate and reflect imaginatively on this holocaust of eating and being eaten, this is perhaps not so terrible. But poor man!”

And page 13:
“But man with his astonishing ability to stand aside from himself and think about himself – in short, to comment on life, man has done something which confuses his own existence down to its roots. For the more sensitive he is, the more he finds the very act of living in conflict with his moral conscience. Upon reflection a universe so arranged that there is no way of living except by destroying other lives seems to be a hideous mistake.”
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Yes, I agree, animals kill other animals to survive, but that's it. They kill them to survive. We can survive without eating animals and animal products.
Animals kill other animals when they're hungry. We kill other animals to sell the produce, but of course the huge amount of meat and dairy products never gets sold, so a lot of it goes to waste each time and the animals die in vain.
Animals kill other animals, because even if they could survive without meat, they don't know any better. As you said they don't have the rational mind as we do to realize 'oh this animal is suffering, it is running away and is screaming because it is scared and in pain'.
Also lastly we do not only kill animals, we torture animals. From imprisoning them inside tiny cages, to stealing their babies right as they get born, to raping them and making them literally drop dead from the exhaustion, to killing them in a two dozens inhumane ways... And that is not synonymous with a cat toying with it's prey.

It is important to remember all this is just a profit for a group of people, people profit from killing and enslaving innocent beings. Vegetables and fruit don't get advertised, so why does milk and meat? It is like every other advertisement, we don't need it, but they need to sell it to us.
They tell us how much we need it, we need meat for protein, cause where else would you get protein from, right? You need calcium from our cow milk, there isn't calcium anywhere else, believe us. And we do, we buy into it and we don't question it.
Sia, I sometimes have those thoughts too, and I agree, it can get very frustrating if we allow it to.

It's true, different animals eat other animals - it's the way of the world. There are even plants that eat insects (venus flytrap) and plants that kill other plants (google allelopathy).

If I was in a survival situation, and me or others with me were starving, I probably would be forced to try and hunt and kill (gasp, horror).

Thankfully most of us do not have to live like that anymore. Further more no other creature on Earth consciously with cold-blooded intent collects and raises animals from birth just to exploit and ultimately slaughter them.

There is indeed a cycle of life and death - but in my eyes, the meat and dairy industry is a completely artificial influx of pain and suffering that is completely unnatural to this world... and on such a large scale that it is mentally scarring.

I believe your original question was: "Is eating animals really inherently wrong?"

I would argue against the majority of vegan and say no - it is not inherently wrong. Everything we do and own will involve a certain amount animals to have suffered, directly or indirectly. We can minimise it but not completely. Insects will die in many of the vegan foods we eat, after all, enjoy ;)

What IS, in my opinion, inherently wrong is purposefully raising living being from birth with no purpose than to exploit and slaughter them. Especially when there is alternatives out there.
Thanks for your great response! Each point you raised resonated with me wholeheartedly.

I was volunteering yesterday at an animal charity stall at a local festival, and it was interesting to interact with the public after they were shown the reality of where the majority of their meat comes from, and like you say the needless exploitation and suffering of animals born to die. We had virtual reality headsets which followed the life and death of a sow in a factory farm.

I think everyone who eats meat should know exactly what they're actually buying and consuming. Like Paul McCartney apparently said, "if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian."

And it goes back to what Daya was saying, dairy, egg, meat - etc, are industries created to make money. They don't want people to know the truth. So it's important to be a voice for the voiceless!
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My pleasure. The points you made also resonated deeply with me. That quote by Paul McCartney is so true... There is such a thick, beautiful curtain covering the food industry that noone wants to pull it back and look at the horror of what happens behind it..
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Hi Sia Louise,

Is eating animals inherently wrong? I'm going to say no. If eating animals is not inherently wrong, then the logical extension of this statement is that killing another human being is also not inherently wrong; but this is a tangent and has nothing to do with your question. Let's put everything in a larger context. Does eating animals have consequences? Yes. But realize that NOT eating animals also has consequences. It just depends on which set of consequences you are willing to accept and deal with.

Put yourself in this scenario. There are 7 billion people on this planet. All 6,999,999,999 people eat meat and do not feel anything about it; no feelings of remorse or guilt, nothing. Now it's your turn and you eat meat. However, you're different from all 6,999,999,999 people; you actually feel bad, you feel remorse and guilt. These feelings are your consequences and yours alone, and no one else's. All that matters are the consequences that you yourself have to deal with. I don't believe the cycle of life and death is in any way relevant, I do not believe it plays a factor. If eating meat makes you feel bad, then don't eat meat.

Best Regards,
Your Construct
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