Saturday, July 12, 2008

Non-Violence as Daily Practice

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

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Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, my wife who is a vegan went away for the weekend and I thought that "now was my chance" to eat a lot of meat. On Friday night I went to the local store to buy a steak, but 2 things happened. 1. the price was insa ne and I just couldn't spend that much and 2 it didn't look that appetizing. So I chose not to buy it. I thought on the second day I really wanted the steak so I went back picked it up and walked through the store with it, but I looked at it and it didn't appeal to me anymore. Again I went home and had vegetarian chilli . I wonder if others are starting to get turned off by the price of meat or the look of it in those plastic trays.
I still eat some meat in hamburgers but who knows that may come to a stop as well. What are others thoughts on this, I would like to get a discussion going on the subject

Compassionate Consumption said...

Thank you so much for your comment - what an interesting experience you had. I would love to hear from others about what they are feeling when purchasing meat, fish etc. I understand the price was an obstacle but could you explain a bit more what you were thinking or feeling when you said "it didn't appeal to me anymore"?
I must say that I am still discovering things about this whole relationship between humans and other animals. I recently read that keeping pets was a form of exploitation. Having several pets (and a lifetime pet keeper) this startled me awake and I have been thinking about this now.
Thank you again for sending me your comment. I do hope it does generate discussion!