A wider look at Vegetarianism

Author: Reply by reader
Publisher: MSAC Philosophy Group
Publication date: 1996

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at dlane@weber.ucsd.edu

I want to go back to the home base now.

Having been a vegetarian for more than 20 years, 
I thought I would respond to your new article on "Not eating faces".
Of course I agree completely, but I will play a bit of the devil's

If more people were vegetarian, would more animals would be alive
today?  Actually, quite the contrary would be true. The millions
of cattle and pigs and chickens, etc.,  in production would no longer
be required. Total domestic aninmal production would decrease, with
as you well know, great benefits to the ecology. So not eating faces
is or isn't ethical irrelevant to the number of living animals.

I like your analogy using the trans-human!
And you might apply it  "downward" to the plant kingdom. Surely you have
communed with a huge shadowing ancient oak?
What do we "need" to survive- wood,  strawberries?
Some people eat only seeds and nuts, so that the parent plant is
never killed. Although the parent plant always dies.  
Is there a similar hierarchy in the plant world as in the animal world?
Could we survive on blue-green algae?
As we consider the nature of life, we come to another "face" - the
knowledge that every animal lives by causing death.  This is the nature
of the beast.  I think compassion demands we make the choices you and
I and millions have, which I agree seem to be from an
"instinctual compassion." I think anyone has to
support a lot of denial to ignore the "faces" of their food.

Neither you nor I would think the cheetah is not compassionate by
fulfilling it's hunting nature.  I admit to loving to watch
all the nature films of the big cats. Perhaps it satisfies the beast in
me, within the amoral realm where the hunting killing animal is purely
innocent. Actually it is neither innocent nor guilty - but removed from
the two. As you note, they have no choice.  But we do. And choice
creates morality.

The vegetarian choice also causes death - another indication to death
being a full partner to life. I admit ,in the past, to having a rather
narrow mind about others who were not vegetarian. I have lightened up
quite a bit.  Mostly coming from learning that "There's no business like
My business."
But the issue contrasts the quite different reals of spiritual
conviction and moral/social conviction.
In the spiritual world, it really matters not what anyone else does.
They are part of a 'created' world. As Nisargatdata said - he sees
no suffering at all. In his view reality is perfect, only perception
is ignorant.

In the social world, do we have a responsibility to combat suffering
inflicted by humans?  I really don't know.  Or do I?

I think Nisargadata would say no, but that a person living in the 
"I am" might find himself responding freely to what presents itself to
carry out ahimsa.

The dilemma of having too much sad information of a shrinking world.


E-mail The Neural Surfer directly at dlane@weber.ucsd.edu

I want to go back to the home base now.