Monday, August 31, 2009

Why I'm vegetarian

I think this is the second post in the last few weeks that has been written in response to something that Magaly wrote, and this time she posted about a certain encounter with a vegan. Hmm, I guess a good way to start this post about vegetarianism is to share how I first became vegetarian.

I'd sort of thought before about becoming vegetarian, but I loved my meat too much. Seriously, my two all time favorite meals were a cheese whopper (hold everything but the meat, cheese, and bread, please) from Burger King, and a nice steak with baked potatoes. But one day that all changed.

I was petting my cat, Kokopelle, and I was thinking about how in some places people eat cats. I was thinking "Oh my gosh, I could never do that! They have their own personalities, their own characteristics, and this and that and..." Suddenly it hit me: so does every other animal. At that moment, I became vegetarian.

(I do want to take a minute to point out that being vegetarian is not for everyone. Some people get sick when they try it -- my mom did. So pay attention to your health if you become vegetarian, and if you start getting sick I highly recommend you either check it out with your doctor, or simply start eating meat again.)

Magaly also points out in her post that plants are living beings as well. It took me a while before I really started thinking about it, and when I did the result was inner turmoil. I was really upset, and didn't know what to do. I didn't want to continue harming living beings in order to stay alive, but in order to continue living it's necessary.

After struggling with it I finally came to terms with the circle of life:

Death is life, and life is death.
To live one must die, to die one must live.
To live one must kill, and in death one gives life.

Simple really, in a way. I just had to realize it, and then come to terms with it. By the way, I put it (and something else later) in a weird way because really these have become...I'm not sure how to say it. At the core of my beliefs, I guess is a good way to put it, and so I want to emphasize their importance in my decisions.

I continued to be vegetarian, but for slightly different reasons. During this time of inner turmoil I came to the following realization:

Life is sacred,
all life equally so.

So my next concern was: how do I preserve life, while continuing to live myself? I decided to simply try to do as little damage as possible, which meant continuing to be vegetarian. (Ok, so maybe there's a better alternative, but I'm not aware of it.) After all, plants are always at the bottom of the food chain. That cow you had for lunch? Yep, lots of plants went to feed it. So, not only are you eating that cow, but to my way of thinking there is also all those plants that the cow ate before becoming your lunch that should be taken into consideration.

I hope I did a good job of explaining that last bit. On the few occasions I've explained it before I usually just confuse people. If that's the case again, say so and I'll see if I can reword it in another post. But basically, I decided to put myself at the bottom of the food chain.

These days, even though I consider myself a "devout vegetarian," I do eat meat on occasion. But I really don't feel like typing that all up now, so I'll explain the reasoning behind that later. I will say, however, that the decision to occasionally eat meat is based on my spiritual practice.


mrsb said...

I think you said it well :O)

All food should be sacred. No matter what it is, it came from life.

Sarita said...

That's exactly what I eventually figured out.

Bennu said...

Though I'm not vegetarian or vegan, I do sympathize with you and find your pain relateable. I decided more than three years ago that I wasn't going to eat certain animals based on their level of sentience.

I think it absolutely abhorrent to kill and eat chimpanzees, gorillas, dolphins, dogs, and whales. However, I justify the killing and eating of animals like chickens and cows because I figure them to be of less than (near-)human sentience. Also, I reason that cows and chickens no longer live an existence beyond food-meat for humans, the course of their evolution haven been altered to fit our dietary needs. The first of these animals we domesticated are nothing like those we raise today.

Sarita said...

Actually it's my understanding that chickens are really intelligent. Can't say the same about cows, though.