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Should Christians Be Vegans?


PaulS
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A topic guaranteed to spark debate - what do people think about eating meat and eating/using animal products (dairy, leather, blood & bone fertiliser, etc)?

 

Should Christians respect God's creatures and not kill them for their own use, or did God give humans 'dominion' over animals so we could eat them?

 

Even taking God out of the equation, where do you stand and why on using animals for food and/or other purposes?

 

Disclaimer - I am a recent convert to a predominantly vegan diet because I finally allowed myself to acknowledge that I felt that killing animals was an injustice to the animals and ultimately cruel. And this from a guy who has killed his own animals for food, killed them for control (foxes & rabbits), spent school holidays on a dairy farm, and who felt ripped off if I didn't have meat in my lunch and dinner!

 

Cheers

Paul

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Paul,

 

It does seem to me that we have been given 'dominion' over the plant and animal kingdom, at least at this present time. Not saying killing animals or plants is 'right' or 'wrong', 'moral' or 'immoral', just that there are many other life forms sharing our planet that are at our mercy and at the mercy of each other and subject to consumption by those higher on the chain.

I personally see nothing inherently lacking compassion (excluding of course poor treatment and killing methods by some humans) in the food cycle itself . I certainly would agree that we humans have both the means and a great responsibility to do our best to maintain balance, and a grateful attitude for and compassionate treatment of other life forms that contribute to our survival. It seems certain to me that we could sustain life for ourselves as vegetarians if we choose but i don't see that making it a requirement to stop raising domesticated animals for consumption or to refuse meat.

 

Perhaps someday we will progress to a point where even raising and eating plants may not be necessary for our survival and we will manufacture synthetic foods for our consumption? Perhaps we will evolve physically to the point where the energy from the sun, and water alone will be all that is required to sustain human life? However , until that day, if ever, the universe being neither moral or immoral, bringing forth drought, volcanoes, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, disease etc. and other natural disasters beyond our conscious control may continue to irradiate with indifference parts of civilization, man, and animal and plants alike. Death seems to me to be a change in form perhaps to non-form rather than the end. Consequently, i do not see the tragedy in the humane raising and killing of livestock for consumption and other uses.

 

Joseph

 

Disclaimer - :) , i am a meat and vegetable eater and respectful of those who choose differently.

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Paul

The short answer - if you want to.

 

From Campbell/Nietzsche:

But when the camel is well loaded, it struggles to its feet and runs out into the desert, where it is transformed into a lion — the heavier the load that had been carried, the stronger the lion will be. Now, the task of the lion is to kill a dragon, and the name of the dragon is “Thou shalt.” On every scale of this scaly beast, a “thou shalt” is imprinted: some from four thousand years ago; others from this morning’s headlines. Whereas the camel, the child, had to submit to the “thou shalts,” the lion, the youth, is to throw them off and come to his own realization.

Edited by romansh
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Paul, I can't speak for others except myself. I have been a vegetarian for over 40 years. I first became vegetarian because I felt it was good for my health. The vegetarian animals have long intestines and the carnivous ones have short ones. It seems petrifying meat in our system can be a problem. I use to eat meat four times a day because I played football and wanted to get over 200 lbs. I loved the full feeling meat gives, a kind of security, but after three years of being a vegetarian I started to enjoy the light headness more than the full feeling. When I became a monk in India we had to mediate four hours a day, do yoga two hours and study the sutras for the rest of the day. To do this especially the meditations vegitarian diet was important. It was easier to corrale my wondering mind. When I met my wife she tried being a vegetarian for two years, but felt she needed more protein. I didn't care and still don't care. I love her for who she is and not because she was a vegetarian. She is a fantastic cook. In Korea being a vegetarian means eating vegetables with your meat. My two sons also ate and eat meat because they were growing and now they are grown and it is their decision so I think people have to eat according to their life style. One of my brothers bought 40 acres in Hawaii and is trying to live self sufficiently. He is almost there. He was an off and on vegetarian, but now he shoots the wild pigs on his property and grows his own food. I just saw him and he looks healthier that before. Of course he is more active, which has a good deal to do with it. I am happy for him because he is living his fantasy. I lived in Hawaii back in the jungle, on the mountain and beach for almost two years before I realized it was a lot of hard work. The Robinson Corusso fantasy is past tense, but I had time to formulate my inner journey on my way to become a monk and now a married man. The Earth School teaches the lessons we are to learn individually so we need to listen to the inner voice that teaches. The vegetarian diet has served me well for my physical health, clear mind and peace to let things be the way they are.

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Thanks very much for those thoughts, Joseph. I like that perspective.

 

I don't think we can call killing other beings humane though, whichever way it is portrayed, but I can appreciate where you're coming from. Certainly less cruelty is better than more cruelty.

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Rom,

 

Would you extend 'choice' to every activity in our lives, or are you selective about what you say people should be allowed 'choice'?

 

For instance if society thought killing animals was just as 'bad' as committing paedophilia, and made laws against eating meat, does it then become less a 'choice'?

 

Cheers

Paul

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Soma,

 

So the killing of animals didn't play a part in your decision, just the health choices? I'm curious because I sense that you like to practice peace, yet I see our animal agriculture industry an anti-thesis to peace, certainly for the animals but also for the individuals involved. Surely nobody can enjoy driving a bolt through a cows head, or slitting another animals throat, or running thousands upon thousands of live chickens through slaughtering facilities hour upon hour. Surely there must be a human toll?

 

Cheers

Paul

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Rom,

 

Would you extend 'choice' to every activity in our lives, or are you selective about what you say people should be allowed 'choice'?

 

For instance if society thought killing animals was just as 'bad' as committing paedophilia, and made laws against eating meat, does it then become less a 'choice'?

 

Cheers

Paul

 

I would extend choice to evert activity full stop. We make choices in the same sense a river chooses its path as it meanders across a plain. That we see things as good or bad is interesting, but I think we will find good and bad matches our desires and fears ... so to speak.

 

This is really closely related to the free will thread and I do not wish to derail this thread.

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Thank Rom,

 

I am still trying to understand what you mean about making food choices. Are you suggesting it matters not what our choices are in this regard other than for our own self-realisation?

 

Paul

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Thank Rom,

 

I am still trying to understand what you mean about making food choices. Are you suggesting it matters not what our choices are in this regard other than for our own self-realisation?

 

Paul

If it matters to you, then fair enough. I'm sure to someone somewhere your food choice will matter also. But the universe itself will continue to unfold whether or not you have lamb with your mint sauce.

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Too true Rom, the universe will continue. But I am still confused. Are you suggesting our choices matter or not? Your first post seemed to me that you were suggesting choices matter only to/for the choice-maker. Am I understanding you correctly?

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Too true Rom, the universe will continue. But I am still confused. Are you suggesting our choices matter or not? Your first post seemed to me that you were suggesting choices matter only to/for the choice-maker. Am I understanding you correctly?

They might matter to other people who have strong bias one way or the other. But our choices do have effects ... I am not denying that. For example if tomorrow I flipped a switch and everyone went vegan ... what would the consequences be, especially to all the existing farm animals?

 

Evolution of farm animals is somewhat directed at the moment, but what would happen to these animals? Would we castrate them all and let them live out their lives. Thereby causing the extinction farm animals and change of the current landscape of farmland. By flipping that switch I would responsible for some kind of "bad".

 

If you don't want eat meat, fair enough, but I would argue against using the word should. Should is the first step towards dogma.

 

ps

As an after thought ... I need to be careful here ... my not using should could become my dogma, if you see what I mean.

Edited by romansh
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I see, Rom. Yes, the word 'should' does threaten dogmatism. Perhaps if I used words such as 'would it be more beneficial to mankind if...?', or 'does eating meat harm our planet?', or 'is eating meat really our natural way?', etc. I see how the use of the term 'should' turns all of those questions into a potential dogmatic threat rather than generate discussion and genuine reflection.

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"So the killing of animals didn't play a part in your decision, just the health choices? I'm curious because I sense that you like to practice peace, yet I see our animal agriculture industry an anti-thesis to peace, certainly for the animals but also for the individuals involved. Surely nobody can enjoy driving a bolt through a cows head, or slitting another animals throat, or running thousands upon thousands of live chickens through slaughtering facilities hour upon hour. Surely there must be a human toll?" Paul

 

Many things I read had an impact on my being, but I see those things have no impact on my wife or sons. Where they are I could mention how the animals are pumped up with hormones and those hormones are still in the meat, but even that has little affect. I don't go into the psycology of the animals at the time of death and their release of chemicals from the anxiety because that is not where they are at. If a moment comes I can talk at that level.

 

Paul, you are very perceptive, it is all about peace. When I meditate those stories don't enter my mind, but I can feel jitters, lack of focus or not enough subtle energy to vibrate at a higher frequency. In Eastern thought they classify foods in three categories. Tama guna is the lowest energy with a low vibration. Meat is classified here. The second energy is raga guna, which is an energy that is good for the body, but can distract the mind. Satva guna is a subtle energy that is good for the body and mind in contemplation/meditation. My meditation, the inner journey and inner peace is foremost in my life so my meditative peace is important. I have sat and could not get beyond the senses or the mind and it is not fun. I love to space out.

 

My sons and wife would not understand, but someday we might be able to have this conversation.

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Soma,

 

I like that concept of Satva Guna (although I'm not so sure that dairy can really be included in our modern world as this industry does cause harm to the organism that provides the milk). Allowing all sentient beings to live a peaceful life is central in my reasoning for dropping animal products from my diet, however I find our society is so animal-product-centric that it is almost impossible not to somehow participate in treating animals as commodities, but I'm working on it.

 

Cheers

Paul

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I see, Rom. Yes, the word 'should' does threaten dogmatism. Perhaps if I used words such as 'would it be more beneficial to mankind if...?', or 'does eating meat harm our planet?', or 'is eating meat really our natural way?', etc. I see how the use of the term 'should' turns all of those questions into a potential dogmatic threat rather than generate discussion and genuine reflection.

 

To hammer home my point (if I may)

Harm our our planet, natural, beneficial ... these are all perceptions, perfectly valid ones of course.

 

If a gamma ray burst from a nearby star, caused the exinction of human kind, would that be natural, beneficial to life forms on Earth and could it be considered harm?

 

Campbell proposed three broad classes of religion

1) Ones that embraced the great circle of life - to go all Lion King on you. These are typified by the early aboriginal religions.

2) Those that want want to minimize the impact on the Earth ,,, Jainism and some Buddhist traditions are exemplars.

3) And finally those that want to make this Earth a better place, The Abrahamic ones are classic examples of this.

 

Personally I go for 1) as a guiding light. Veganism I would class as a 2) and if you put a 'should' in there somewhere it becomes a 3).

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But Rom,

 

Can they simply be 'perceptions' if I don't have free will? In line with your free will essay and thread, it would seem I am not making the choice to observe things this way.

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But Rom,

 

Can they simply be 'perceptions' if I don't have free will? In line with your free will essay and thread, it would seem I am not making the choice to observe things this way.

 

I am not sure I understand the question completely, but I will have a go anyway.

 

Our perceptions are just that perceptions. They are a reflection of our universe. Your perceptions might be different from mine simply because the universe is unfolding unevenly.

 

We make choices all the time; so does the computer you type on. It is just that the choices that we are making are not free. Are you denying that the underlying biochemistry in the brain (and elsewhere) is responsible for the choices we make? This of course is a gross simplification, but in essence it does not make the choice you make anymore free, just more complex. This applies to your feelings, will, perceptions and thought in general.

 

All this leads to something similar the Buddhist concept of not-self.

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I would deny that there is any conclusive evidence concerning the underlying chemistry of the brain that accurately identifies just why the brain's biochemistry makes our 'choices' the way it does. We can demonstrate the science of it happening perhaps, but not whatever is behind it. Maybe 'you' are behind your biochemistry and we can't demonstrate that yet.

 

But that aside, with the universe unfolding unevenly, how does that actually play out in your life and making decisions? Do you then feel absolutely no responsibility concerning the decisions you make, because after all, they're not your decisions? Or do you mean to say that the decisions you make, which aren't actually yours anyway as they are really the universe's decisions, don't matter so que sera sera?

,

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Paul, You have a lot of integrity. I was young in my early twenties when I became vegetarian, now I am 66. The life style has served me well. I lived overseas for twenty years in many countries and did not get sick. My only caution is to make sure you get a complete protein, which is easy because you just have to combine nuts, seeds, grains and dairy if you eat it. I have read that B12 is difficult for vegitarians. The universe is an actity and it is inspirational to see you are active. Your thoughts on your spiritual journey have attracted this life style, which will create more thoughts amd attract peace. If you change and eat meat you still would have learned a lot on your journey. It is like going to a new country. Everything is made of atomes, molecules and chemicals. They are in our food, air and water. They affect us our emotions, thoughts and awareness. I hope you get high, not only from the ideal, but from the chemicals. Joe

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Thanks Soma,

 

I ensure plenty of leafy greens and legumes are in my diet so protein isn't an issue, and I take a liquid B12 supplement daily.

 

I have lost 10kgs in the process (over 3 months) and that's without any sort of dieting other than making sure I eat a plant-powered diet.

 

I have always struggled with weight, in the sense that I was recently up to about 30kgs (66lbs) overweight, and any 'diet' I tried worked in the short-term (1 month) only to rebound on me with my weight going up again. Now that I am focussing on eating healthy rather than denying myself so as to lose weight, I find the weight is falling off by itself.

 

I do also feel more at peace that no animal has to die or suffer for my food choices. That's not an "I'm better than anyone else" statement but a personal one that for me matters to me. I know not everyone else feels that way about killing animals for food and that's their path.

 

I'm also at a place where I feel ready to learn practising meditation too. Wish me luck!

Cheers

Paul

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Paul that is great. How is your mind? Is it more clear? You are already meditating, you just aren't conscious of it. The draw of the senses is so strong, but when we withdraw and go inside we are meditatng, when we observe our mind and its interactions we are meditating. Animals I am sure sense the new you so now you can go in the lions den without fear of reprocutions.

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Animals may be able to sense that I am no threat to them Joe, but I might hold off on entering any actual lion dens for the time being. :)

 

I'm not sure if my mind is more clear as yet. Sometimes I think it is, other times I think it's pretty busy! I have a lot going on in my world at present which complicates things, but which I think is all the more reason to try and regularly practice some set-aside meditation time. At least I'm hoping that will help slow my head down a little.

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interesting topic. I turned vegan in January, both for health reason (actually my husbands health) and out of compassion. I don't want to be judgmental but I hope and pray more people will get more conscious about where their food comes from. When you have to hunt and kill i believe you get a better understanding of the cycle of life. It is really easy to go to the store and buy your ready packed meat but I also believe in just being grateful for the choices you have. If I would be a poor woman in Africa, owning a goat and having 2 children the choice of vegan would not be there. The problem lies with our world of over consumption, I have a hard time with cows being raised on feedlots, chicken who never see sunlight or are caged for their entire life. I also believe that a happy animal gives you a different energy and that we are all different individuals who have to find out what works for us in certain parts of our lives and transformation can occur.....or not. So should Christians be vegan, my answer would be no but i would say a christian in my vision should be conscious.

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