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November 02, 2014

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Going back to biology and Neurology classes, I remember how many things in common human and animal brain and nervous system have in common. Something that always is in my mind is about Pain receptors that every conscious being has. All living beings have pain receptors all over their body. That means when we harm in any form any of them we cause a lot of pain...Of course we know that when we are in severe pain and state of fear, the whole body and cells reflect this kind of state. Most of us ,know that animals are able to provide Unconditional Love, sth. that very rare you find nowadays between humans...

Killing is sporting only when killing zombies.

Life feeds on life in this world. No debating that, but I wouldn't mind avoiding being part of the killing. The trouble is my ancestors were Pleistocene Ice Age hunter gatherers. Their genome is my genome. They were hunters and had a physiology hard wired for efficient use of protein and fats including saturated fats and cholesterol. This stuff is good for me. Yes, saturated fat and cholesterol are good for me. My body thrives on it. It is much better for me than grain and carbohydrate which the vegetarian diet is commonly based on. So, I kill and thank the animal for its sacrifice knowing full well that one day I will be food either to be eaten by worms or an animal or my ashes will nourish a tree or bush or maybe a zombie. Such is life. Atoms just swirling around from one form to another.

I kill and thank the animal for its sacrifice

What a crock! The animal doesn't sacrifice itself...the killer justifies itself.

I am with cc here.
Human is capable to twist things around so they look nice. And this twisting is guilty that mind is in big illusion. And again with 200 pund barbell or 100 pushups you dont have time to twist you just sweat cry and shout..but guess what you experience present.


cc, your nit-picking is where the crock is. You're like a trollish bug that predictably crawls out from under a rock. I usually don't respond to you for that reason. It's not constructive because "construction" is not what you are after.

You know what I meant.

Obviously the animal didn't walk up to me and offer itself as a sacrifice... "Here I am. Kill me. I offer myself to you so that you may live and prosper. In fact, if I could, I would put an arrow through my heart so you wouldn't have to go to the trouble".

I am making no justification other than my body needs meat in order to function optimally. To get meat, you kill.

You're like a trollish bug that predictably crawls out from under a rock. I usually don't respond to you for that reason. It's not constructive because "construction" is not what you are after.

True, I don't come here to construct anything. I come here to comment on dumb, dishonest, dimwitted, incoherent, and otherwise noteworthy comments. Thanks for being a major provider of grist for my mill.


Obviously the animal didn't walk up to me and offer itself as a sacrifice

Then why be misleading? Don't complain about nitpicking if you're going to keep flourishing your nits.

Brian,

One is agnostic about so many things. But this is one thing I am very clear about : eating "flesh" is "not good". No two opinions about that. Not to preach to others, but as a personal choice that as it applies to me.

What really gets me is how they stick those "no animals have been tickled or otherwise harmed in filming this" messages you see on TV shows and movies. When you think of the people who filmed those things, and the people who watched it, all eating all kinds of animals for dinner, one is amazed at the seemingly unlimited human capacity for hypocrisy.

- - -

Tucson,

I hope you don't think we vegetarians are ganging up on you. I enjoy reading your many comments in past posts, but here at least I think you're bang wrong.

Please don't take this personal, but what I'm thinking is best expressed by a personal-ish example. Just making my point, which is :

Suppose Hannibal Lecter and some of his friends spent a week in your neighborhood, and made away with some people you hold dear. And then sent a note saying : "Burp, and thanks for your sacrifice. Thanks for keeping me healthy and my taste buds happy. I open myself to facing the same fate some day, given the kind of company I keep."

Would the word "evil" then come to your mind?

That kind of thing is obviously illegal, and you would seek and probably get legal redress, but leave aside the law for a moment. Think just of the ethics of the issue. Would you call H Lecter evil?

If you would, then would a deer be justified in thinking deer-eaters evil (assuming deer can conceive of good and evil)?

In short, then : are deer-killers and deer-eaters evil?


Again : Apologies for the personal example. No offense meant.

would a deer be justified in thinking deer-eaters evil

Yes, and the self-justifying deer-eaters most of all.

Dear Appreciative Reader,

That's OK. There was nothing mean-spirited toward me in what you said, and even if it was mean spirited, I wouldn't care. This is a blog available to all sorts of weird creeps with personality disorders (not you). I just don't take it personally. It's their problem. May they find Jesus, Xanax, or something.

I understand vegetarianism. I was a strict vegetarian for 27-28 years. I never ate meat of any kind or fish or eggs. Never, unless it was by accident. Sometimes for years I would eat no dairy products either. I was vegan, fruitarian, raw food, macrobiotic, lacto-veg, mazdaznan and more, at one time or another. I was grossed out by meat eating. Meat eaters were a lower form of life I had to put up with. Why couldn't they see the moral superiority of vegetarianism and the high ground I stood on? Too insensitive I guess.

I don't feel like writing a long technical and philosophical article here so suffice it to say that in the long run the high carbohydrate based veg diet was not good for me. I do best on a protein and fat based diet. I think most humans do if they face the facts. I explained a little bit more in a comment above. Still, we can survive on a veg diet and many will do OK if they do it right with good food choices and smart supplementation. Some, even without that. There are exceptions. Whatever makes you feel best. In this one life I have to live I choose to be as healthy as I can be instead of adhering to an ideal that doesn't match my metabolism. So, occasionally an animal loses out to that rationale and is sacrificed for my well-being (there is that damn sacrifice word cropping up again. Shit!) Anyway, life has a brutal underbelly beneath all the colorful foliage and verbiage. It feeds on itself. I accept that even though it doesn't care if I do or not. It's gonna do what it's gonna do without mercy.

Sure, if a bunch of cannibal Hannibals swept through town I would consider them evil and try to stop the SOB's. However, I would consider their problem to be mental rather than one of physiological need. The strong will survive. Such is life and life's tough and then you die.

Add any contradicting cliché's you might have. I'll listen.

Tucson, if you killed and butchered the animals you eat, you wouldn't bother to explain or justify your meat-eating. You'd kill, butcher, and eat without a twinge of guilt, scoff at those who haven't the stomach for it, and spare us your rationalization.

So, it would be better to eat irrationally?

Brings to mind the "Turbaned Peeper" who terrorized, for a time, the early 1960's San Fernando Valley, home of hodads, greasers, and concentrated smog breathers.

This guy would run through laundromats stark naked except for a turban on his head. He was seen sneaking around looking in windows. This freaked people out for some reason. Maybe the turban wasn't tied right.

Eventually, they found out where he lived and arrested him. His place was bereft of furnishings or possessions but his kitchen shelves were stocked full with two items only:

Twinkies and whiskey.

A vegetarian diet well considered?

Maybe to him.

Brian, any idea how one puts in bold, italics, etc in these comments here?

Using the usual bbc/html tags doesn't seem to work. When I tried it, it applied the style to the entire text following (as opposed to just the text enclosed within the tags).

My computer knowledge (at least of html and bbc) extends no further than just knowing of those tags, so I gave up after two tries, and just posted the comment in plain text.

Dear Tucson,

Read your comment just now. It seems my comment did give offense, then, despite my apologies. (“…even if it was mean-spirited, I wouldn’t care.” Also : “Add any contradicting cliché you might have”—And here I thought my Hannibal analogy was rather neat and original!) I assure you I had not meant to be at all snarky in saying what I did.

The Internet is a funny place. In the real world you either know someone or you don’t, but online you get to have these funny half-way quantum-ish effects. You don’t know me : I’ve written just five or six comments on Brian’s blog till date, and you probably don’t remember them. On the other hand, I know you very well indeed from your comments here! Starting from the earliest ones, I’ve read up a good deal of Brian’s blog posts and the accompanying comments (both of which I loved, incidentally, and often found great food for thought there). I’ve enjoyed your generally balanced exposition of your own Advaitic/Dzogchen-ish realizations/thoughts, as well as your accounts of your RSSB practice and subsequent disillusionment. And I have generally found your breakdown of others’ insupportable positions of blind faith done gently and knowledgeably, and in a very balanced manner. Basis your many comments here, you seem to have far greater experience and knowledge of the things that Brian’s blog deals with than I myself do.

I comment very rarely here, and it would be a real pity if the time we spent together here (via our anonymous comments) ended up creating negativity rather than giving rise to a friendship-of-sorts (an anonymous, online brand of friendship). After all, people who think deeply about these things are rarely enough encountered. Does it matter if we sometimes find ourselves at opposite ends of some issue? Surely we can still enjoy our talk!

Critically examining our personal positions on anything, be it faith or personal habits or anything else, can be painful. It is easy enough to be objective and critical about others’ foibles as well as one’s own past foibles, but it is very difficult to be similarly objective and critical about our current foibles, about ourselves as we are now. And unless we do that, all discussion is pointless, because ultimately each one of us has to effect any change in our own selves, and not in others, be it on matters of blind faith or any other.

Sorry for that long preamble, but let’s shake hands before we talk any further on this, shall we?

- - -

Okay : At one level what you eat is your business, and what I eat is mine. Normally I wouldn’t dream of talking of this sort of thing with people who eat meat (which is most people). I detest preachy righteous people, whether religious or otherwise. But that, vegetarianism I mean, is what we’re talking of here now, right?

So in that spirit, and without in any way criticizing you personally or anything : This is what I think is wrong with the position you’re taking.

You’re saying that eating meat is better for us humans than a vegetarian diet. You’re also saying that for you’ve found this to be true for you personally. Now this is open to debate (certainly the generalization about all humans, and perhaps even as it applies to you specifically). But even without that debate, there is this :

EVEN IF EATING MEAT WERE PROVED TO BE BETTER FOR US THAN AN ALL-VEG DIET (which is by no means proved, quite the contrary many would say), EVEN THEN, ARE WE REALLY JUSTIFIED IN ACTUALLY KILLING BILLIONS OF LIVING, FEELING ANIMALS JUST FOR SOME INCREMENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS? THAT IS THE BASIC ISSUE HERE.

Why is even our health so overridingly important, especially when it is a case of incremental health, that we consider it okay to actually KILL and EAT other living animals and birds? It basically indicates an overweening self-centeredness coupled with a totally dismissive attitude towards other living beings (instinctively, if not as thought-out strategy). If I eat meat (and I did, some years back), I could think of no honest justification except “I like it, it’s good for me, and to hell with those squawking hens and bleating cattle that probably hate pain and dying as much as I myself would hate pain and dying. I’m bigger and stronger and have guns and knives, and they are relatively helpless, and I’m breaking no laws, so I’ll do what I want.” Which justification would not sound … remotely good, remotely humane, remotely noble. With this kind of philosophy, there is no reason really why I shouldn’t one day accept Hannibal’s dinner invitation, if the law of the land ever changed to permit that sort of thing, is there now?

Saying “Stuff happens”, as you’ve done, is a cop-out. Lots of stuff happens. People kill other people, people steal, people cheat, people fight wars, people behave unfairly and at times inhumanely. Stuff happens because we let it happen, stuff of this kind that we do have control on. This kind of stuff wouldn’t if we didn’t let it happen.

Incidentally : My position on vegetarianism here is not about what kinds of hoops some Babaji somewhere or some Mataji somewhere else orders their followers to jump through. It is quite possible to reject all of Christianity and yet practice charity and the other-cheek routine, and similarly to reject RSSB and yet practice vegetarianism. These are two separate things, which need not necessarily always go together. What we’re talking of here is just a question of ethics. A very personal question, generally not to be asked of others (except when actually discussing the issue, as here).

- - -

By the way : just to keep this discussion rounded, as opposed to a one-way attack on “flesh”-eaters : I realize myself the biggest potential flaw in the ethical position that we vegetarians take. Not an actual hole, just a potential one, but potentially a HUGE and fatal hole.

We don’t eat animals, true, but we do eat plants. Like animals plants also do have life, but unlike animals plants do not, as far as we know, have consciousness.

Nevertheless : There have been studies where plants seem to show appreciation for music, for example, and something akin to fear when danger looms.

Thankfully for vegetarians, such studies are nowhere near conclusive, and those emotions (fear, pain, etc) observed in plants can, thus far, be dismissed as anthropological projection of our human emotions. As far as we know, it takes a complex nervous system to know pain, and a complex brain to understand and process emotion (both of which animals possess, but plants don’t). And the love in a dog’s eyes, or the fear in a deer’s eyes, is far more real than the (perhaps imagined) fear in a tree that is about to be cut down or a plant that is about to be uprooted.

And that is the potential flaw I was talking of : What if, tomorrow, it is discovered (as in, conclusively proved by science) that plants too have consciousness? Should that happen, we vegetarians will have to drastically revise our ethical position! In that scenario, your particular argument, which you’ve presented here earlier, would certainly carry the day!

Dear Appreciative Reader,

Thanks for the compliments. I appreciate your effort and time in writing your comment above.

You wrote:

"Read your comment just now. It seems my comment did give offense, then, despite my apologies. (“…even if it was mean-spirited, I wouldn’t care.” Also : “Add any contradicting cliché you might have”—And here I thought my Hannibal analogy was rather neat and original!) I assure you I had not meant to be at all snarky in saying what I did."

--I took no offense at all to your comment. "even if" means "even if", not "even though". Your Hannibal analogy was fine by me. I did not take it as snarky. I was referring to my own cliché's like "life's tough and then you die."

You wrote"

--"EVEN IF EATING MEAT WERE PROVED TO BE BETTER FOR US THAN AN ALL-VEG DIET (which is by no means proved, quite the contrary many would say), EVEN THEN, ARE WE REALLY JUSTIFIED IN ACTUALLY KILLING BILLIONS OF LIVING, FEELING ANIMALS JUST FOR SOME INCREMENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS? THAT IS THE BASIC ISSUE HERE."

--'Justification' as a concept exists only in the mind of man. Certainly there is no justice in Nature who is one cruel SOB and has no mercy. Otherwise, why would Nature set itself up to feed on itself if It had any conscience? Where is 'conscience' in all the predation, disease, natural disasters that have killed billions (on this planet alone) and, ultimately, aging that will kill every living thing including maybe the Universe itself? All creatures want to live having been given life and then Nature takes this precious thing away. So, in the absence of human conceptuality, nothing matters. This was the case before we were born and will be the case after we die. We are just a brief appearance whose importance and the importance of 'things' is only to ourselves.

Everything dies, it is just a matter of how. One could argue that providing a humane death for an animal is better than what it may experience in nature, like being eaten alive by predators or starvation or accident or disease. Imagine the different ways a deer dies in the wild. I once came across the carcass of a fawn. It had caught its foot between some rocks and was wedged in there tight. I'm sure there was a great struggle and the mother did her best to free it but she eventually had to give up or be eaten herself by some predator as was the fawn, probably still alive, by some turkey vultures. Maybe a hunter's bullet to the heart is merciful.

Or, take a domesticated cow raised on pasture. It gets to live its life relatively unmolested by predators, munching on grass with its buddies, mating and doing all the things cows like to do which isn't much except for those things. Then one day there is a round-up and off to the meat packers they go. Some are scared, but at least the cow is scared only for a little while as it senses danger and then it meets a quick end. We humans are aware of our impending death for our entire lives and often that death is prolonged and painful. Comparatively, is the cow's fate that bad?

In a fairly recent study scientists determined that fish do not feel pain. Their study indicated fish do not have a center in their brain that corresponded to pain. Obviously they have the instinct to survive and it is possible they experience pain in some way yet to be understood, but in light of this, fish could be an acceptable protein item for some people. Also, no chicken need be harmed to eat an egg. Eating eggs can be no more exploitive of the animals than eating dairy products.

At this point I'm just throwing thoughts out there. I don't want to get into nutrition and biochemistry because the issue here seems to be ethics. I understand and respect how you feel about eating meat. I was there once. It is an emotional issue and feelings run deep. All I can say is, for me, for now, practical considerations override emotion. That may change. I have found that the pendulum swings.

Appreciative Reader, regarding your comment about using HTML tags in a comment...

Actually, your comment was indeed published in bold, as was your succeeding comment, because you'd included a tag for boldface in your comment (which I have edited out).

I don't recommend using tags for this reason. As you said, for some reason they tend to remain "on" rather than being turned off by the appropriate ending tag.

This means that all comments after a comment that used boldface, or whatever, takes on the appearance of that comment. I then have to edit the "offending" comment to take out the HTML tags.

I leave a lot of comments and don't find that an inability to use bold or underlining or whatever much affects my writing. So I recommend sticking with plain text.

What we’re talking of here is just a question of ethics.

I don't see the question of whether I should eat animals or not as a question of ethics. Not eating animals because it's deemed wrong doesn't make one any more sensitive to suffering.

If you're insensitive enough to kill and butcher and eat animals, there's nothing to be done because that's the kind of beast you are. Animal lovers can do what they can to get you to quit or to inflict less suffering on your victims, and vegetarians can try to make you feel guilty, but you are what you is. If anything's unethical, it's the animal-eater's attempt to justify his appetite for flesh.

CC i salute you!!! In the last few post you done it. No gimmicks no gibberish just essence. Maybe you are my ole friend just maybe . ..i was just playin my bass of this song so enjoy a few minutes... Moon
Bob Marley - Zimbabwe 17th April 1980 – http://youtu.be/JnpBtRlfdjc

To be consistent, "sensitive" vegetarians should keep in mind that agriculture, which involves both the clearance of land to plant crops and the protection and maintenance of those crops, results in many animal deaths and environmental disruption, not to mention displacement of species habitat causing die-offs of some animal populations. It is estimated that, in this way, modern commercial agriculture of grain, legume, vegetable and fruit crops actually results in a greater number of animal deaths and therefore suffering than the commercial meat industry. For example, countless insects, rodents and other mammals, reptiles and amphibians are killed by machinery and chemicals in the planting, maintenance and harvest of commercial crops. The belief that becoming vegetarian will somehow spare animals from suffering is not necessarily based in fact, depending on how their vegetarian diet is sourced and produced. Vegetarians, should be careful of the method of production of the food they eat to be consistent in their desire to "inflict less suffering". In light of this, it could be argued that the primitive hunter, relying on the meat of only a few large animals for his/her annual survival needs, actually inflicts less pain and suffering to animals than the modern vegetarian who relies on commercial food crops.

To be consistent, "sensitive" vegetarians should keep in mind that agriculture, which involves both the clearance of land to plant crops and the protection and maintenance of those crops, results in many animal deaths and environmental disruption, not to mention displacement of species habitat causing die-offs of some animal populations.

This applies only to agribusiness and large scale monocrop commercial farming...industries owned and operated almost entirely by animal-eaters. Sensitive vegetarians grow as much of their own food as they can, and purchase the rest from farmers whose methods do not harm animals or destroy their habitat.

cc wrote:

"Sensitive vegetarians grow as much of their own food as they can, and purchase the rest from farmers whose methods do not harm animals or destroy their habitat."

--So, cc (or any vegetarian reading this), assuming you are a sensitive vegetarian, is that what you do? Do you ever go to restaurants or purchase food products containing commercial-agribusiness produced ingredients? Do you consume milk products? Do you consume these things in a social setting where such foods/ingredients are all that the host, even a vegetarian one, has to offer?

It should be kept in mind that all milk products require that the source animal become pregnant. Most male offspring are used for meat/pet food/fertilizer and only a few are kept for purposes of insemination. When they grow old they are most often used for meat/pet food/fertilizer rather than kept in a pasture until they drop dead. Same with the milk-producing female. When it gets old and unproductive, it also is processed for meat rather than kept in a pasture until it drops dead. So, to avoid supporting killing of animals a sensitive vegetarian will be exactly that.. a vegetarian.. one who subsists on vegetation and consumes no animal products at all.

Then there is the issue of leather. Sensitive vegetarians will also refuse to use leather shoes, belts, gloves and other leather products as well as avoiding the use of cosmetics, drugs, emollients and other products derived from animals.

Then there is the issue of feeding a dog or cat or any carnivorous pet, which to be consistent must not be fed a meat based diet.

Also, a sensitive vegetarian, consistent in their principles, is a vegan, one who eschews the consumption and use of any animal derived product including honey and pollen which involves the inadvertent killing of bees.

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