In my view, the foundation behind any spiritual practice, religion or faith is it's ethical principals. I try to evaluate the choices I make, including the food I eat, based on the underlying ethical implications, which necessarily includes considering the impact of my food choices have on animals, personal health and the health of the planet.
The ability for higher reasoning is what is often sited as the trait that distinguishes human beings from other animals. The true expression of higher thinking is the ability to think beyond oneself and to choose compassionate actions. To make war, cause horrific suffering to billions of animals and destroy the planet does not grant us higher status. To that extent, I choose to eat a vegetarian diet which does not actively contribute to the mass torture and slaughter of our fellow beings, destroy the environment and have a grave impact on global warming.
I'm not a particularly radical or politically minded person. My food choices in the past followed convention. I ate meat and dairy products because it's what I grew up doing, as most of us have. As I became aware of the suffering and abuse of factory farmed animals, I made the connection between my compassion for animals and the food I consume and stopped eating the creatures I love.
I have so often heard people say that they can't view graphic imagery of animal abuse because they love animals and it upsets them too much. Yet many of these same people eat animals on a regular basis and thereby perpetually support the gross suffering which they claim to abhor. Although I too resisted looking at photographs and video footage at first, ultimately, these are what made me wake up and change my ways. It was as if my conscience was bleeding and I knew I needed to do what I could to do right by my fellow earthlings. No one is helping the animals by avoiding confrontation with their reality. To avoid confronting animal abuse is to protect oneself with the false sense of not being culpable as long as it is not seen. I remind myself that whatever horror I feel in seeing graphic footage is nothing compared to what the animals suffer. It is time to grow up and make conscious choices that reflect our convictions. I encourage everyone to look, watch, learn and change.
Here are a few quotes from famous people on the subject of human and non human animal relations.
"In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people." - Ruth Harrison Animal Machines, 1964
"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Auschwitz begins whenever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they are only animals." - Theodor Adorno, German philosopher and sociologist
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