Going Vegetarian

I’m 27 years old and have been a meat eater all my life. I’ve always loved meat and I still do. Right up until a few months ago, I would proudly proclaim that I was a “pure non vegetarian” and would disdainfully ignore any vegetable preparation on the table. I would consider my meal to be a failure if I so much as touched a vegetable with my knife and fork.

Till a few years ago, I had always held that animals killed for us would never have come into existence in the first place, since we breed them for food. Therefore (my logic went), we had a right to eat them since our net effect was zero. Something like cutting down a tree if we had grown it in the first place. But I’ve come to realize that this reasoning is false. Once life – and when I say life, I mean conscious life – is created (by whatever means), it belongs to itself. We still don’t know how consciousness is formed and so in a sense, we’re not the true creators of it.

But even if we were, we still don’t have the right to do what we want with life that we generate. Otherwise, my mother could kill me since she’s responsible for my birth. I don’t believe in a divine creator, but even if there was one, he or she would have no moral right over my life since once I am created, I am my own person.

Image Credit: Sandra Mora

Going Vegetarian

Going Vegetarian

But even now, this doesn’t stop me from eating meat. I have no ethical problems with eating animals for food as such. Animals can die to feed others – that is the way of nature. But there is something else that gives me pause. Every life form has the right to defend itself. When a tiger kills a deer, the deer can run and the tiger has to earn the right to eat it. In our civilization however, I’ve come to realize that it’s not fair that animals are mechanically killed and eaten by a person who has never even seen them. They have no chance to defend themselves. Doomed from the day they’re born, they are shown no respect and are powerless. It is this aspect of their death – more than anything else – that has been troubling me for a while.

I feel comfortable hunting an animal for food. If I had a (fair) weapon and the animal had a good chance of saving itself, I think I could kill it and eat it without ethical problems. The key for me is the knowledge that the outcome is not a foregone conclusion. The way we kill animals these days, it’s just not right they have no means of defense.

These thoughts had been building up in me for a couple of years now. I had reached a tipping point, and had decided that on my return to India (at the end of 2009) I would take the plunge and go vegetarian. The thought gave me nightmares. Vegetables! Me, the confirmed meat eater – it was unimaginable. But I knew I had to do it.

Then something happened that hastened my resolve to go veg by a couple of months. I saw the documentary called “Earthlings”, which revealed the systematic torture of animals who are killed for our food, clothing, and entertainment. That was enough to make me stop eating meat at once. I could not be party to something like that. It was out of the question.

So here I stand – Bhagwad Jal Park – former meat eater extraordinaire. I still love meat. I probably always will. And if I can get it in a way that respects the natural laws of life, I won’t hesitate to eat it. There must be no torture, and no foregone conclusion for the animal. The meat has to be earned by hunting and cause swift death.  But given the way we currently obtain meat, it seems highly unlikely that I would ever get to taste it again…

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Comments

  1. Your blog post made me smile, I don’t know why. :)

    Perhaps, because we all build our own convoluted systems of ethics and try to negotiate through it. This makes ethics so subjective and it shows. I was born in a ‘pure’ vegetarian (lactovegetarian) family. I’ve just ‘tasted’ chicken, prawns and fish. Why? Just to test my ‘scientific’ conviction that after all, animals and plants were made of same atoms and molecules, so why discriminate!

    I found the taste and ‘consistency’ of meat largely repulsive, except for roasted seasoned chicken. Beyond a point, I told myself there was no point trying to be so ‘rational’ and that’s the last I’d tried something nonveg (three years back).

    In all the debates I’ve seen, I think the ethics of using animals is perhaps the most complicated one. I say that I’m actually quite ambivalent about it despite having thought a *lot* on it by my standards. And yet, in the end I realized that there were no rational answers – only emotion-based preferences.

    I had a *very long* debate with someone on the issue, here:

    http://achupichu.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/ball-of-karma/

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  2. BTW, you must read ‘Stupidosaur’s’ comments there. He’s by far one of my favorite bloggers. Almost never blogs about politics, current affairs, etc. and a very, very bright and talented person.

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  3. “…. revealed the systematic torture of animals who are killed for our food, clothing, and entertainment. That was enough to make me stop eating meat at once. ….”

    Not partaking of entertainment is also upto you, but please dont stop wearing clothes :-)

    … unless you are sure the result will provide entertainment, maybe :-)

    thanks,
    Jai

    Reply

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