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dbotari
11-15-2005, 01:05 PM
This question was previously posted in the Spirituality section under the thread "Aikido and Vegetariansm" but is off topic for that thread so I post it here for your consideration.

Ok. Here is a quick question to all those vegetarians out there. If, as many vegetarians do, you do not make a distinction between the human life and animal life when using the "life is sacred" argument for adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, why then does "life" not include plants? I mean no disrespect by the question - it's just one of those things that has always seemed somewhat contradictory to me. If the reason you are a vegetarian is because you value life then does plant life have no value? Any thoughts comments (again I mean no offense).

Thanks,

Dan Botari

Kevin Leavitt
11-15-2005, 01:34 PM
No offense taken. It is a natural question that I believe you will find that most vegetarians have grappled with. It really is a slipperly slope logic as you point out.

Where on the spectrum do you stop??? Where do you draw the line at what is reasonable in the taking of life? It is difficult to decide :)

For me, it comes down to the basic tenants of buddism. 1. Life is suffering 2. Desire is the cause of this suffering. 3. You can alleviate suffering through reducing desire. 4. There is a way to do this. (the 8 fold path.

To balance all this out, you must have a modicum of moderation (as the desire to alleviate suffering is a desire in of of itself!!!!) so, bottomline...you can't win :)

So, moderation or the middle way is the way to go.

So with vegetarism for many people, it becomes a "sliding scale" of priorities and "what I am willing to live with".

Some will choose to eat free range/organic meats, others will become lacto-ovo, still others will become vegan etc.

What works for one may not work for the other!

The point is, at least for me, is it becomes a spiritual practice of compassion and awareness.

For me, it is enough if someone eats meat that they at least consciously choose and think about the animal that they are consuming. Reducing unecessary suffering is what is important.

For many, the practices that bring us cheap meat are simply horrific!

In the end, it becomes a personal choice, or practice. While I choose to not eat meat....I also try and minimize the leather that I consume, the insecticides I use, and the resources I consume on the earth. It is simply unrealistic to live a life that affects or kills nothing, however, awareness of it, and taking steps to reduce abuses...alleviates suffering, and puts us closer into balance with the world and for me, at least, it has made me a happier more empathetic person.

deepsoup
11-16-2005, 06:09 AM
If, as many vegetarians do, you do not make a distinction between the human life and animal life when using the "life is sacred" argument for adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, why then does "life" not include plants?

I've not heard that argument much (I've never heard it seriously advanced as a reason for being veggie), so I'm tempted to take issue with that "as many vegetarians do".

That said, of course human life is a form of animal life. Its easy for people to empathise with animals because people *are* animals. Maybe they just prefer not to eat anything with a face.

If you're looking for illogical, arbitrary choices people make about what they'll eat, made on supposedly moral grounds, meat eaters are probably more fertile ground.

Why, for example, do people (outside France) eat cows but not horses? Why is it ok to eat pigs but not dogs? (again depending on culture). Its all very odd.

Sean
x

RoyK
09-22-2006, 03:30 AM
Ok. Here is a quick question to all those vegetarians out there. If, as many vegetarians do, you do not make a distinction between the human life and animal life when using the "life is sacred" argument for adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, why then does "life" not include plants?

Sorry for popping a very old discussion, but I have new input :D

My thoughts about why there's a distinction between plants and animals:

Eating and Killing animals hurt them, because they feel pain. Why do they feel pain? The pains helps them to avoid threats. They can move and retreat when they feel pain. Knowledge of future pain also drives them to be extra aware and seek safety.

Plants, however, have no need for the pain mechanism, since they can't go anywhere. There's no evolutionary reason for them to suffer. I could also explain in the same manner why they have no use for the same awareness animals and humans have .

I believe that evolution is one of the pillar principles of life (there might be other principles we haven't discovered yet), so I believe plants can't suffer. Therefore, eating plants is not un-compassioante.

hapkidoike
09-22-2006, 05:12 AM
A buddy of mine, who was a vegetarian (I am not, I really enjoy shooting things and eating them, call me a barbarian, I dont care) talked about it in terms of "circles of loyalty" his frist circle of loyalty was to himself, his frinds faimly and so on. The next extended to people in general, then on to "higher functioning mamals", then to the stupid ones, then to invertabrates and so on. Since plants were fairly removed from his first circle, mabye 20 or so down the line he felt ok eating them. But cows and rabbits were signifgantly closer, maybe 4 or 6 down the line, he wasnt comfortable eating them. It is a crude reconstruction of the argument, but I thought it was at least a fair argument, and most vegitarians I know dont use fair arguments.
ikeman

roninroshi
09-22-2006, 05:19 AM
Sunryu Suzuki..."Kill a cabbage,kill a cow...Still killing"

dps
09-22-2006, 06:13 AM
I am not a vegan or vegetarian. I know people who are and have heard their reasoning why. It seems to me their reasoning as to choice of whether to eat or not eat ;eggs, dairy products and certain plants is similiar in the reasoning I use to decide how far I will go in choosing what animal flesh I will or will not eat.

No, I am not a cannibal. :)

grondahl
09-22-2006, 06:20 AM
Sunryu Suzuki..."Kill a cabbage,kill a cow...Still killing"

But the production of meat requires a lot of killed plants. To produce 1kg of meat you have to feed the animal 100 kg of plants (soy, oat, corn, grass ec).
So by skipping the animal part you can actually kill 90% less plants than the other way round. So of two bad choices the vegetarian one is less harmfull.

You can of course just look at it from an ecological point of view, a vegetarian lifestyle requires much less resources than a meat eating one. At least if your not living a traditional iniuit or sami lifestyle, fishing and hunting on the tundra where eatable vegatables are extremely scarce.

Kevin Wilbanks
09-22-2006, 09:54 AM
I avoid eating mammal meat, particularly factory-farmed. I have much less problem with wild-killed meat. I'd rather not see birds suffer, but I'm not all that concerned about it. When you get down to fish and arthropods, I'm not concerned at all.

I think when you rack up the various rationalizations and justifications people use for their non-meat-eating ways, most of them are not the actual reason for where they draw the line. The real reason is emotional - they simply have an averse emotional reaction to the idea of animals suffering or being killed, and/or a visceral reaction to the look, feel, and taste of meat. I don't believe many people make the choice based on some convulted arguments about ecological efficiency or the evolutionary similarity of our digestive systems to non-meat-eaters or whatever - most of these arguments have big problems, and are too dry to be real motivators.

Where one draws the line is largely a matter of how similar the animals in question are to us. It's a matter of how similar the animal has to be before one feels bad about it. Personally, my line is mammals. I feel sympathy for mammals because they have facial and postural expressions and especially behavior patterns that I recognize as similar to my own. Dogs have such similar social and emotional patterns that we are able to communicate, bond, and live with them as readily as other people.

So, I think the question of "why not plants" is very simple to understand from my perspective. If people really made the decision on the basis of some moral precept about not killing anything it would be an issue, but they don't, so it's not. The fact that it seems somewhat silly tells you something. Plants are so dissimilar to us that no one feels sympathy for them, therefore no one has a problem eating them.

RoyK
09-22-2006, 03:10 PM
Plants are so dissimilar to us that no one feels sympathy for them, therefore no one has a problem eating them.

And ofcourse, many plants produce parts to be eaten, it's part of their reproduction cycle.

The best motivating argument i've seen for vegetarianism is just doing a tour in a slaughterhouse. Or for eggs, seeing how they get rid of male chicks in the egg laying breed.

grondahl
09-22-2006, 03:56 PM
If people really made the decision on the basis of some moral precept about not killing anything it would be an issue, but they don't, so it's not.

If you substitute people with "I" your resoning would make much more sense.

I would have no trouble eating dog, exept that since I have been a vegetarian for the last 7+ years my stomach should probably protest to any meat....

roninroshi
09-22-2006, 06:03 PM
While in SE Asia i consumed Monkey,Dog,Snakes and,Rodents...i didn't enjoy it but the need to eat
was overpowering...i believe that if we respect the being we consume Cabbage or Cow,Fish or Pig...
the result is honorable and retain's the dignity of the consumed...The problem is consumeing the being w/out the thankfulness to their sacrafice... and the greed and lust as a result of that action...
thus a world filled w/violence,greed,averice and destruction...i.e.where we ALL live in this precious moment...

Kevin Wilbanks
09-23-2006, 01:49 AM
If you substitute people with "I" your resoning would make much more sense.

I would have no trouble eating dog, exept that since I have been a vegetarian for the last 7+ years my stomach should probably protest to any meat....

Nonsense. You can eat dog. The human digestive system is amazingly adaptable. Even if you had digestion problems the first few times, you could eventually adapt to an all-dog diet. Humans have lived on everything from a pure grain diet to a pure meat diet, alll over the world. Some are less healthy than others, but humans can make it work. If you think your food choices are based in anything other than your own emotion and gut-level responses, you are fooling yourself.

idarch
10-06-2006, 03:55 PM
I think people make their own decisions in life. I am Vegan and have been for about 3 years and vegetarian for about 10 years previous to that.

I do not judge people who eat meat, they have their own conscious and karma to deal with.

Lots more people are becoming vegetarian/vegan for health reasons as opposed to 'doing the right thing'. We all make choices in life, people say to me just because you don't hear a carrot scream it doesn't mean it can't. But you have to draw the line somewhere...

If Aikido is about love then that love should be expressed to all living things. For some it will mean humans, for some it will mean humans and animals and for some it will mean human, animals and plantation.

My personal opinion is that Aikido and vegetarianism/veganism do go hand in hand. In our dojo of about 12-15 people, we have 3 vegans and at least 3 vegetarians including our Sensei.

I have found a much greater health benefit in being a Vegan. A friend of mine once said, the lion who eats meat sleeps for most of the day whereas the gorilla who lives on a non-meat diet is much more active and much more closely related to us.

Lorien Lowe
10-09-2006, 12:05 AM
Plants don't have a nervous system!!!
I'm surprised no one has mentioned that yet.

-LK
(not a vegetarian)

Brad Pruitt
10-09-2006, 12:02 PM
But they do feel on some level. Read " The Secret Life Of Plants " . I am not a vegetarian but I do see the reasoning. I believe you should have a conscious respect of whatever it is you are eating.

Kevin Leavitt
10-09-2006, 02:04 PM
I would agree Brad, moderation and mindfullness is what is important. It is possible to be a vegetarian and still not be mindful and over consumptive.

That said, I think you find characteristically that most vegetarian/vegans are fairly mindful people, but it doesn't necessarily follow that we are.

Guilty Spark
10-09-2006, 08:44 PM
Hey Ivan, interesting post.


I do not judge people who eat meat, they have their own conscious and karma to deal with.
Curious, subtle jab that meat eaters are going to have bad karma or am I reading that wrong??

I have a lot of respect for Vegetarians and Vegans. Really anyone who chooses to do their own thing despite what people around them are doing.
People doing the vegan thing as a fad I'm not so impressed by. I know a guy who pretty much makes his girlfriend "be" a vegan like him. Artsy fartsy type as the saying goes. Not shy about preaching how bad meat and animal products are etc.. Of course theres always exceptions to the rule. Drinking milk is forbidden but cheese is okay (somehow). There's a bunch of other silly contradictions in my case example but I don't wanna turn this into a personal attack. (everyone is different)
Some people do it for the "right" reasons, others are followers or do it for less than lofty reasons I guess.

Working with vegetarians in a physically demanding environment I've found while they may be healthy, they are not nearly fit. That is, they become tired much more quickly than meat eaters and require more food/energy. Sometimes it's not a problem, sometimes its a huge one and they shut down fast. It's defiantly a difficult choice to make and difficult path to walk. I think it's great as long as their not condemning others.

I have the up most respect for life, human animal and plant. I don't hunt animals but I have nothing against responsible hunters. It's a part of the ecosystem. I'm a nature lover but understand the need to cut down trees etc.. (so long as efforts are taken to replant and repair). I mean if you want to get over-technical, every time you walk on the grass you're killing plant life right?

Kevin Wilbanks
10-09-2006, 09:46 PM
Working with vegetarians in a physically demanding environment I've found while they may be healthy, they are not nearly fit. That is, they become tired much more quickly than meat eaters and require more food/energy. Sometimes it's not a problem, sometimes its a huge one and they shut down fast.

This doesn't have to be true, depending upon the person and how vegetarian they are.

I knew one guy who was a vegan dynamo who had more energy than everybody, but he also didn't look very healthy: skin and hair problems, underweight with dark circles under his eyes. Actually, most every long-term vegan I've ever seen was underweight and had frizzy, brittle hair and bad skin. It's hard to pull off a healthy vegan diet, especially if one wants to be involved in something athletic. The problem is that an all-plant diet is inherently deficient in B12, calcium, overall protein and sometimes fat, omega 3 oils, and a couple of amino acids, off the top. If the diet contains too much whole grain, antinutrients in the grain make it even worse. Making up for all these deficiencies takes careful planning and extensive supplementation, which few people do.

Less restrictive "vegetarian" diets can be easier to pull off. Cutting out mammal meat seems to have made almost no difference to me. I could probably also cut out birds and end up with equivalent dietary performance to omnivores, so long as I made sure to eat a lot of fish, milk products and nuts, and kept taking a multivitamin with iron. Once you take out all meats, you've got probably got fat and protein problems, which have to be addressed with supplements. Take out dairy and you've definitely got additional protein and B vitamin problems.

Since so many essential nutrients occur in low proportions or virtually not at all in non-animal foods, this has to be made up by eating concentrated, processed food supplements. A vegan diet adequate for building muscle mass would be almost half protein powder and pills. B12 in particular is almost impossible to get enough of from vegetables unless they are slathered with feces or dirt full of insects and microrganisms, yet this vitamin is plentiful in meats - the supplements are made from a specific kind of yeast or from bacteria. I think this tells you all you need to know about the arguments that humans aren't designed to eat meat or that vegetarianism is healthier. If humans are designed to be vegetarians, how come an essential nutrient is nonexistent in this diet, and many others are difficult to get without resorting to peculiar dietary plans, exotic ingedients, and high-tech food processing?

Nonetheless, we do have access to exotic ingredients, food processing, and the scientific information required, so if someone wants to eat one of these diets, they can be healthy, and even vigorous, so long as they are willing to put in the planning and effort.

deepsoup
10-10-2006, 02:50 AM
B12 in particular is almost impossible to get enough of from vegetables unless they are slathered with feces or dirt full of insects and microrganisms, yet this vitamin is plentiful in meats - the supplements are made from a specific kind of yeast or from bacteria.

There's a one word answer to vit B12 for veggies over here:
Marmite (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmite)! (Yum!) :)

Gernot Hassenpflug
10-10-2006, 08:13 AM
I am happy with any arguments people have for the choices they make. I personally like the more scientific ones though, like the economy of eating grasses as opposed to a grass-eating animal. But you know, you save possibly tons of grass from digestion every time you eat a grass-eating animal...! Surely that counts for good karma? I am also not averse to inflicting pain on an animal while killing it, why should that be a bad thing, the animal simply acts in its programmed way, and feels pain? Evolutionary-wise, we've developed some traits that allow us (as a species) to adapt, be mobile, while living in a very very limited (altitude and geographical) part of our planet at a time of rather good climate. Making sweeping statements about food doesn't take into account how much we may have to adapt, very rapidly perhaps, in order to continue our survival. Change is the only unchanging element in our development. FWIW

Kevin Leavitt
10-10-2006, 01:09 PM
Guys,

I am a strict vegetarian bordering on vegan since 9/11

I am also a 41 year old, Airborne Ranger, Combatives Instructor, that passed my Expert Infantry Badge at 39 years old that has deployed around the world into a few third world countries. Not once have I had to abandon my principles/beliefs...not to say that it was not always easy and that I did not have to make sacrifices.

Any one that wants to say that it is impossible to be strong, fit, or healthy...please pick up your rucksack, come do a road march with me, and then fight a MMA style match at the end...I will be happy to show you that many of the myths of vegetarianism are simply unfounded.


I think the comment on conscious and karma was not necessarily a stab at non-vegetarians, but simply saying that they have to decide for themselves and contend with how they feel it impacts there karma. Personally that is my belief. I know what I believe is right, and I have enough issues dealing with my own karma to not be so concerned about another persons...which in affect cause me karma issues..so in effect "each must contend with their own karma".

That is how I took the statement.

dbotari
10-10-2006, 01:35 PM
Guys,

I am a strict vegetarian bordering on vegan since 9/11



Is there a relationship there that you care to discuss? Just curious - no offense meant.

Kevin Leavitt
10-11-2006, 01:13 PM
No offense taken. There is a relationship. I had been wanting to be a vegetarian for a long while and had been going on and off the band wagon for about a year.

Having 2 close friends and 5 co-workers killed that morning in the Pentagon was the point that I decided to not turn back...that is all.

To me there are many things we cannot control or influence in the world, choosing to be a vegetarian is on thing I can control or influence.

Killing, violence, just war, unjust war, karma, cause and effect...are all very, very complicated subjects that there are no ideal or clear cut answers most of the time. To me what is important that we all realize that we are all tied together in someway and our actions influence the world in many different ways.

I think this is true of the philosophy of vegetarianism. If everyone in the world stopped eating meat today, it would certainly create an imbalance in the food chain for a while for sure, that might not be a good thing! However, increasing awareness of actions and making more informed choices about the food we eat, where it comes from, and the secondary effects that those choices have on the world is what I think is important.

I think it is true of our practice of aikido, we become more aware of how We ourselves work, how our actions influence others...by understanding that...we can more clearly make informed choices about what actions we take and the decisions we make.

9/11 was a changing point in my life that brought alot of this to light to me. Vegetarianism was a practice that I felt was right for me and serves to remind me everyday of these things...not to mention I believe it is a healthier lifestyle, and easier on the planet and life in general.

dbotari
10-12-2006, 07:17 AM
Kevin,

Thanks for sharing the story.

Lorien Lowe
10-16-2006, 12:20 AM
But they do feel on some level. ...I believe you should have a conscious respect of whatever it is you are eating.
They react on some level to their environment, but it's deeper even than the level of hardwiring that makes the quadriceps jerk when the patellar ligament is whapped. It's hormones and chemical responses, and not consciousness as we know it.

I absolutely agree with you, though, that we should be conscious and respectful of what we eat. There's a lot of distilled sunshine, rain, soil, and simple hard work from someone's hands even in something as basic as a squash.

-LK