May 03, 13
The Dalai Lama eats meat. Why this bothers me can best be summed up by my favorite quote from Norm Phelps in his book, “The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights“:
Thinking like a lawyer or an academic logician and claiming that it is acceptable to harm another sentient being for our own selfish benefit based on hair-splitting distinctions and nimble logic is contrary to the teaching of the Buddha.
I ate meat for 32 years. It wasn’t until then that I read enough to realize that animal flesh simple is not necessary for humans. What a relief! To know that eating meat (and obviously dairy) wasn’t necessary. I can’t tell you how good it felt to find that out.
Since we don’t need it, and there are alternatives everywhere, eating it is really only an act of preference. Okay, some people prefer it, that’s fine. They’ll come around.
The Dalai Lama eats animals. Having people kill animals for him to eat is the opposite of compassion.
May 23, 12
In an MSN article today – a headline article – a Pit Bull mourned his friend for fourteen hours after she was killed by a car. Here’s the link, if you want to depress yourself for a while. This is front-page news because people still want to believe that only humans have “higher” emotions such as grief and love, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
When people write, discuss and link articles like this, it is usually because they are saying, “Well of course the dog feels that way,” and “How sad!” It is not until they think about what they eat that people will cite some outlandish fallacy to describe why this dog is different, and eating a pig or drinking cow milk is perfectly fine.
I disagree strongly with the idea that dogs mourn while chickens do not, and science backs up my belief.
When news articles and discussions like this come up, it’s a good time to interject some observations. Before people get to the point of citing inherited cultural stupidity as if it were their own (“Jesus ate fish 2,000 years ago therefore yay bacon and foie gras“), this is an excellent time to bring up a few discussion points:
- All animals mourn the losses of their loved ones. (See also: my “bear machines” article). These dogs are no different than pigs. What makes us so certain that we can inflict this kind of mourning on innocent animals?
- Killing the dog painlessly still inflicts a harm upon her friend, the survivor, even if you do not accept that removing all future experiences from killed animal is a harm. (Try telling a grieving family member that their grief is not suffering).
- Pigs are allegedly smarter than dogs. (Not that it matters). When we eat pork chops, bacon, pig lard, we create scenes like this for them.
- The location could change but the grief would be the same. Standing in line waiting to be slaughtered does not magically render the animals happy to smell blood and hear the screams of their friends and loved ones ahead of them in line.
- Going vegan= eliminates, among other things, the mourning a mother cow does when her child is ripped away so humans can steal her milk.
Many of us accept that animals love, play, fear and fight. We need not eat them to survive, therefore we cannot justify eating them for pleasure.
Quoted in The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, I find this inspiring and moving. There are deep connections between the state of earth’s animals and earth’s human animals.
Omnis mundi creatura
quasi liber et pictura
nobis est in speculum;
nostrae vitae, nostrae mortis,
nostri status, nostrae sortis
All the world's creatures,
as a book and a picture,
are to us as a mirror;
our life, our death,
our present condition, our passing
are faithfully signified.
More info by A. G. Pluskowski.
The one on the left will be ground up with about a thousand siblings so you can eat his mother's eggs.
Is it immoral to cut a dog’s throat because we like the sound of the blood gurgling onto the soil? To stomp on a box of kittens because the squishing under our feet is lovely and refined? To sever a lizard’s tail and legs, leaving her to bleed to death, because the trail of blood she leaves behind makes interesting patterns?
Most of us would say yes, these acts are immoral. Would they be any better if the aggressor was paid to do it? If a young man is paid ten dollars every time he crushes a kitten to death, is the act then acceptable? How about ten thousand dollars? Of course not.
We agree that receiving pleasure from the sound, sight or feel of bloodshed is immoral (if not downright creepy), as is profit.
What if the pleasure is taste?
If the pleasures on our ears, under our feet, or upon our eyes are unacceptable reasons to inflict harm, why do we make exceptions for the pleasures of the tongue? It is just another organ.
Eye, nose and skin pleasure may be seen as entertainment. If we agree that killing for mere entertainment is bad, then certainly crushing kittens to death is bad. Stabbing a cow to death for entertainment, then, is also bad because a cow is no different a moral specimen than a kitten is.
The difficult part of talking to meat and dairy consumers is helping them understand that eating flesh and non-human milk are unnecessary. Because these food items are not necessary, they are entertainment. Buying steak at a grocery store which also sells beans and fresh vegetables is no more defensible than stomping on a box of kittens.
We must reject killing not just kittens, but also cows, chickens and all living beings, in pursuit of the specific sensations given to our tongues and noses.
There is no magic morality purifier device built into our taste buds. Criminals are not released on the condition that they greatly enjoyed the crime. And, despite what the bacon advertisements tell us, pigs are not happy to die today because a plate will hold their body parts tonight.
Our enjoyment is as irrelevant as profit. The price paid per kitten squished has no effect on the immorality of the act. Be it ten dollars or ten thousand dollars, funding murder is funding murder. In the same way, a tickle or a taste does not change the exploitation.
Let us be consistent with our beliefs. Being so is much easier than trying to explain to our children why assaulting kittens is bad, but assaulting pigs is okay, provided we eventually eat them, too.
Summary: Do not blame being an asshole on this organ.
In this first Snargleplexon podcast, I introduce myself and give a little background about how and why I failed at being vegan a few times before it finally “clicked.”