Is Meat-Eating Violence?
By partaking in eating meat, especially in the old days before prepackaged, supermarket foods, and fast food, one had to think of where to find the animal, how to kill it, how to prepare it for consumption, and then how to cook, eat and preserve it. Hence, the whole process of eating animals was ‘himsa,’ because one had to think of all this, possibly speak of it (planning the killing, etc.) and act on it by killing, preparing and eating the animal. In Indian history, we have the seminal example King Ashoka (circa 273-232 BC), who - from being a ruthless warrior - not only became a Buddhist, but also promoted ahisma and vegetarianism in his later life.
When we eat the flesh of a dead animal, we not only partake in ‘himsa’ in our own spirit, but we can also become affected by the spirit of the dead animal. In order to have been eaten the animal had to die. In dying, it felt pain, it struggled, cried, tried to continue living as long as possible. Since it was slaughtered, it died in fright, pain, mental and emotional anguish and struggle. Then it has to be skinned, gutted, processed and packaged to end up on a plate, decorated and consumed in human pleasure. In human pleasure, one does not think of the pain of the once living animals on the plate. Hence partaking in eating meat, one is not just ingesting and digesting protein and nutrients, but the feelings of violence which erupted in the animal from its unnatural death.
Author: Jennifer Polan for About.com:Hindiuism