This post is also available in Gujarati at http://agniveer.com/why-i-dont-eat-meat-gu/
Most polluting industry
Because meat and livestock is one of the most polluting industries of the world. Whatever ecological damage we face today can be attributed significantly to this non-essential industry. (refer United Nations document on meat industry being culprit for climate change, land pollution, water depletion and loss of biodiversity at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm)
Cause of hunger and poverty
Because meat is cause of hunger and poverty in the world. Just as I myself hate being hungry and under-nutritioned, I feel the same for millions of my brothers and sisters born from same mother earth. If I could have killed myself to satisfy their hunger, I would have gladly done so.
But for all I know, if people stop eating meat and adopt vegetarian ways, they could feed at least 10 times more people using the same efforts and energy. This is based on the principle of energy-pyramid which states that the at least 10 units of vegetation is consumed to prepare 1 unit of meat by feeding the meat-producing animals. Refer any text on food chain or energy pyramid. In fact for most of the commercially produced meat that humans eat currently, energy losses are much higher.
Thus each person who stops eating meat is feeding at least 9 more people apart from himself. What could be a greater form of charity than simply avoiding meat! And what could be a greater sin for me than forcing at least 9 people to die from hunger because I love the taste of mutton! Moreover, meat industry also significantly depletes water.
Since I consider entire humanity as my own family, I cannot sleep peacefully with the guilt of being a cause of hunger and thirst for my dearest brothers and sisters and innocent children in my global home.
Vegetarian alternatives exist
Because in today’s era, I don’t see anybody hunting to survive like the lions in Africa. Meat is simply a non-essential addiction. There is no meat-product for which a healthier vegetarian alternative does not exist.
Meat is non-renewable
Because meat is non-renewable. An animal once killed cannot grow more animals. But a plant, even when uprooted, can grow a new plant from its roots, shoots and seeds. Thus the hunger and thirst caused by meat-eating is much more longer term and intense than that discussed earlier.
Life is Beautiful
Because I consider my life to be dearest to me. I consider life of my near and dear ones to be most precious. I see all humans considering lives of their near and dear ones equally precious. If I kill any of them, I am deemed a murderer because I snatched the most precious gift of life.
So how can I commit the same crime on other species who too have a face and brain like me, who also love their life so much, who also face the same fear when they approach death, who also express happiness and grief like me and my dear ones? Simply because I do not understand their language or consider them less intelligent? By this logic, even killing of mental-patients should also be legitimized. Killing of coma patients should also be legitimized. Eating orphans should also be legitimized.
And since they are not, even meat eating is a crime of same order for me.
Question: Then should you not stop eating plants also? After all, even they have life, as proved by science.
Answer: Research has only proved that plants also demonstrate similar processes and cellular structures that are found in animals. Science does not say that plants have a personality like animals. There is no way to prove that plants exhibit same form of sorrow or joy or put efforts like animals. Plants don’t reproduce in a manner similar to animals or stop being able to reproduce more plants like animals after they are killed. There are significant differences in plants and animals, and that is why even science of biology clearly differentiates study of botany and zoology.
So I do not consider plants to have a soul that feels “I am this mango tree”. This coupled with reasons discussed above justify eating of plants, but not of animals.
But even if we assume that plants can feel pain like animals. Still, we can live without eating animals. But we cannot live without eating plants. We simply do not have a choice here. And by eating plants, at least 10 times more humans in our family can get food to eat and water to drink that by tasting a beef-steak. Thus commonsense and basic humanity demands that we show mercy on those at least whom we can allow to live without killing ourselves and torturing our family members. Or else, same reason may be given tomorrow to justify cannibalism as well.
Question: Even lions and tigers eat meat. So what is wrong if humans eat?
Answer: Lions and tigers and other carnivorous animals eat meat because they are designed by nature to do so. If they do not eat so, they would die. They are not in a position to think, analyze, choose and decide what to eat, what not to eat, whether to eat in a plate or in a bowl, whether to cook or not cook, whether to mix 5 varieties of meat with some toppings or eat plain and raw, whether to cook in Tandoor or roast. Since humans possess this finesse, question of right and wrong also is relevant to humans alone.
Now humans have a choice of food – animals or plants. There is 100% evidence that eating of animals causes hunger, pollutes nature and is at par with eating humans. Further eating animals is optional. So a sensible person like me will not eat animals. On plants, there is controversy. People like me believe that they are chemical reactions and not souls with personalities. Others may differ. But in absence of conclusive proof for latter, it would be still wiser to prefer them for food instead of animals and be less criminals in worst case. Further we do not even have a choice in this case.
Say you are forced to drink from one of the two bottles. One is confirmed to contain deadly poison. And opening the bottle will definitely kill 10 other people. For other, there is a confusion on it being poison and no one else gets killed. What would you choose? At least, I would choose the second bottle without second thoughts. Same is that case with eating plants – the natural, humane way of eating.
Question: But I am an atheist. I do not believe in soul or God. So plants or animals are all similar biochemical reactions. Why should I differentiate?
Answer: If you are an atheist or agnostic, there is all the more reason why you should eat plants but not animals. Because I assume you admit that you are a human. And being a human, I assume, you agree that hurting other humans is not acceptable in any rational society. I assume that you love your fellow human beings. I assume you consider humanity to be your own family. I assume you care for each and every innocent human being. And hence, I assume you would want to keep at least 9 people hungry and thirsty while you relish on chicken-tikka. And you would not like our future generations to be permanently diseased and in poverty simply because we have been screwing up the environment. I assume that you indeed love your children and would love to gift them with blessings than curse them with hatred. If my assumptions are correct, then an atheist must be frontrunner for “Say No to Meat” campaign. If my assumptions are wrong, then even eating up an atheist is equally justified.
Question: Then even domestication of animals and drinking milk should be crime?
Answer: Well, these are ambiguous topics. There can be views and counter views. One can discuss and debate on these. But regardless of that, at least this is certain that if these were to be crime, then killing of animals is bound to be a crime of much muchbhigher magnitude. So at least we should avoid conducting such great crimes against nature, humanity and animals, even if we differ on these few issues.
For example, we cannot justify killing of human beings on pretext that a lesser crime called ‘corporate fraud’ is not clearly defined in law. For someone who raises a question that domestication of animals and drinking of milk are also crimes, there is all the more reason why such a person should be torch-bearer of movement for compassion on animals and promote vegetarianism.
Question: What will I eat if I am in a place where I only get meat? For example, if I am stranded on an island or am in Antarctica.
Answer: This is a very interesting question! Tell me, how many times you have actually been in Antarctica or have been stranded on an island like Robinson Crusoe? This very question implies that you agree that EXCEPT when you are stranded on an island or a place where you must eat meat to survive, in all other situations, you should not eat meat.
OK So we give you this concession. When you become Robinson Crusoe, eat meat if you indeed believe so. But 99.9999% of human inhabitations and situations don’t demand you to be a Robinson Crusoe! You get ample non-meat food in almost all locations where humans live as a society. After all the animals they eat also eventually have to eat plants. (All food-chains do begin with plants. There is no animal that converts solar energy into bio-energy. Only plants can do that.)
Question: What about eggs? Eggs are good for health and even government promotes eating of eggs.
Answer: Government is also mired in scam charges. Just because government promotes something does not make it rational. Had that been the case, there would have been never a movement against scams and for change of governance!
Coming to eggs, have you ever been in a poultry farm? The way these eggs are produced by ruthlessly torturing the chickens can raise your hairs (assuming you have compassion). Further, it is one of the most unhygienic locations. If you consider that humans should also be motivated to eat excreta after picking from commode and serving on a beautiful plate, then perhaps you have at least one lame reason to defend egg-eating. Because the most modern and expensive egg-farms are no more hygienic than a dirty toilet in a dirty bus-stop of Karachi. (By the way, the most hygienic of the meat-farms are more dirty than you can imagine.)
Also, there is no special nutrient in eggs that is not available in plants in ample. In fact eggs don’t even come close to be termed nutritious compared to common plant food. Eating pulses would be a much wiser and nature-friendly option than invite diseases and destroy environment for eating womb of a bird.
Question: If we stop eating animals, will not their numbers grow up and fill the entire earth? We must kill animals to preserve natural balance.
Answer: This is perhaps the cutest cruel question I have ever heard in my life. Cute because it seems as if an innocent child who first learnt about nature in his pre-school has framed the question. Cruel because one is attempting to project himself as Robinhood who kills to save the planet!
But let’s face the reality. How many of us actually eat animals because of our genuine concern for nature? How many of us are indeed environmentalists? Or is it merely tingling of our taste-buds that we want to satisfy by hook or crook?
Coming to facts, this argument would have been valid had humans as a race would have been eating meat exclusively through hunting like lions and tigers. Now lions and tigers do not create farmhouses to rear deer and sheep so that they can have a ready supply of food.
Humans on contrary have created a huge commercial industry to PRODUCE meat-providing animals and then kill them to fulfil their tastes. 99% of humans actually GROW the animals they kill. And in process of this growth, they destroy the nature like anything.
Thus this cruel question puts the enquirer at par with Osama Bin Laden who justifies his terror attacks as service to humanity! (This is a hard truth that most terrorists seriously believe that they are serving humanity and God by killing others!)
By the way, humans do not eat all the animals and birds. Humans don’t eat carnivorous animals for example. Most humans don’t eat crows, vultures, jackals or scorpions. Why they have not filled the entire earth then?
Also, this line of thinking can be extended to allow cooking up terminally ill and aged humans. After all, we all are trained since childhood to cite population as the greatest problem facing us.
Someone who has studied ecology at even basic level will not give such unscientific arguments and invite ridicule.
On contrary meat industry has endangered many species to extinction. So if preservation of natural balance of population be the overriding selfless goal, then do not think even a second to adopt vegetarianism.
Question: To kill other animals is a natural phenomenon. All powerful animals kill to eat. So what is wrong if humans also act naturally?
Answer: First, as discussed earlier, no animal ever grows animals. No animal constructs poultry farms and butcher houses. They simply follow their hunger instincts on need basis.
Second, the most powerful animals are primarily vegetarians. Be it elephant, or horse, or hippopotamus, or wild buffalo, or rhino, or gorilla.
Third, animals also live nude, do not read poems, do not clean their parts after shit and do not do a lot of things that humans do. They also do not cook meat before eating. If meat-eating was so natural for humans, then most of us would have been relishing raw meat without using spoons and forks.
Humans were designed to be intelligent. To be able to judge and decide what is wrong and what is right. To be compassionate. To be loyal. To be rational. Thus, if indeed humans want to be ‘natural’, they should protect and not torture animals.
And if this logic be considered seriously, then even cannibalism is also natural if practiced by powerful humans. Of course, there remains no basis for anti-corruption movement. After all it is natural for the more powerful to trample those who are less powerful, as per the enquirer!
But lets be human.
Lets accept it, this is a beast-mindset and not human way of thinking. Humanity is about analysis, love, compassion and urge to protect the less powerful. These traits alone make humans so special and different from animals.
Question: Biologically, humans are designed to eat animals. Look at our teeth, our intestines. We don’t have organs to digest cellulose like herbivorous animals. Hence are we not designed to eat animals?
Answer: Yet another lame excuse to justify cravings of tongue. Humans are designed to be separate from both herbivores and carnivores. Unlike herbivores, humans cannot digest grass. That is why we are not grass-eaters. But unlike carnivores, we are also not designed to eat raw meat. So we don’t have huge canines like lion and tiger. Human canines are at best good for peeling sugarcanes (Consult your dentist before you attempt so though. If you have been eating too much of junk, then sugarcane may peel off your teeth instead!).
If meat was so natural to us, we would have naturally been eating uncooked meat. By chasing, hunting, killing and eating away an animal using fingernails and teeth alone. We would not have required to tie or imprison the animal and then kill it using special weapons. No animal does that.
On contrary, fruits and vegetables can be eaten uncooked. In fact many health-regimes focus on purely uncooked-diet. But meat demands use of fire. The fire is used so that meat is converted to a more acceptable form. These days a raw meat concept is on rage in some places. But medical advice is to have it cooked to ensure there is no infection. And most humans find even the mention of raw meat very disgusting. After all we were designed by nature to be not cruel.
So if biology is your inspiration, be a vegetarian. Our brain, body, intellect and emotions were designed only to be compassionate humans.
Question: But I live in a family and society where meat is predominant food. How can I suddenly stop eating meat and appear crazy in my group?
Answer: This is a more honest question. It is indeed an issue with many genuine honest people who are forced to eat meat due to peer pressure. The way out is to rethink the same issue from a different perspective.
Just assume for a second that you are among a group of cannibals who want to eat your family members. Would you enjoy feasting with them and eating away leg of your daughter, finger of your mother and intestine of your brother with masala curry?
A rational human being considers all living beings as his own family. But even if you consider all humans as your own family, still meat eating means you are killing at least ten of your own family members.
Thus, if we simply start considering the Mother Nature as our mother indeed, problem is solved. Then we care for Mother Nature like we care for our own mother. Then we are deeply touched at hunger and poverty of our own brothers and sisters across the globe, and would not be party to anything that makes so many innocents die and suffer due to lack of food. So instead of being someone ashamed of your honesty, you become an agent of positive change. Instead of fearing that you appear crazy, you feel proud that you are the most sensible.
Question: Does it mean all meat-eaters are murderers and should be hated?
Answer: Technically, first part of the question is yes. Anyone who is in anyway instrumental to death of an innocent is indeed a culprit. But we disagree that they should be hated. Meat-eating is a cultural issue today. Cultural issues are tackled through sensitisation and awareness and not through Talibanization and hatred. Remember, the entire foundation of movement against meat-eating lies in compassion and genuine concern for all living beings. So we should eradicate this brutal practice through humane means.
We do agree that law should be appropriately formulated to discourage meat-eating and promote healthy environment-friendly human-friendly habits like plant-eating. But not through any feeling of hatred towards anyone. We all humans are one single family. We should love each other and encourage each other for improvements. So even if you eat meat, I still love you as a mother loves her new-born calf. And that is why I appeal to you to say not to meat.
Question: What would then happen of so many meat-rearing farms and industries? Would it not cause people in these industries to become unemployed?
Answer: No, they would become even more productive. Instead of meat, if they start producing plant food, they can feed at least 10 times more people with same investments. And hence this would boost the economy like anything and bring prosperity to all. And future generations will thank them for gifting them a less-polluted environment and a less-hungry life.
Question: If meat-eating was so unnatural, why humans started eating meat in first place?
Answer: Exactly the same question can be posed for crimes like murder, fraud, racism, gender-discrimination, terrorism and rape. Any evil breeds on ignorance and lack of education. Even if you look into Bible, it states that originally all humans were plant-eaters (Genesis 1.29 for example).
Vedas – the oldest books known to humanity – vociferously suggest non-meat diet for humans. The first mantra of Yajurveda itself begins with an advise to protect the animals.
Over ages, due to lack of wisdom, lack of development, violent periods etc, there was an incentive to focus only on immediate needs than think smartly. Or blindly ape old customs in name of religion or culture. Hence meat-eating became as prevalent as gender-discrimination or racism etc.
When we plan our present and future, we are not at all bothered about why we did not do something in past. We simply rationally evaluate the benefits in present and future, and plan accordingly. That is why we use laptops, speak on mobile phones, watch TV and travel in planes and trains even though human civilisation never had these ever before. What we should be bothered today is not why something happened in past. We should instead focus on what we need to do right now to save our lovely planet and bring nourishment for teeming billions that are facing punishment for our cravings of tongue. We should focus on what we must do today to not be a villain torturing our own lovely children tomorrow.
Question: I thought you would argue as animal-rights activist and I would question why you are not being a plants-right activist. You instead started arguing as human-rights activist. How do I counter you then?
1. The way Supreme Lord has designed this world, if one genuinely starts caring for humans alone, then care for animals would chip in automatically. After all this is just a marvellously symbiotic world where everything is interrelated. You get back what you give.
2. Why do you need to counter something which is so obvious and intuitive? Let us admit that meat-eating is a social-evil that thrives from dark-ages like gender discrimination, racism etc. It is hardly a century ago that we gave voting rights to women. Racism and casteism were legally uprooted hardly a few decades ago. Still movement against these evils continue. So we are not as evolved as technological advances may make us believe. Let us take meat-eating as next evil to tackle, given the appalling situation of environment and given the poverty statistics of the world. We should realise that each bite of meat we relish makes one poor die somewhere in world. And making earth closer to hell for our children whom we love the most.
3. For those who indeed are rational and compassionate, this is indeed also an animal-rights issues. We inherited this tribal mentality somehow that the whole world is designed exclusively for us – the humans. This lust made us destroy the environment and start considering the entire earth as our personal consort. And within last century, the situation has turned so worse that scientists are now worried about what would happen about our basic necessities of food, land and water in times to come.
In medieval times, the lust made us to disregard women as inferior to men in name of even religion. Women, like animals, were considered by many priests to have no soul. Others considered them to be half-intelligent than men and impure.
Many other people, like “blacks” were considered fit to be slave alone. Then in last few decades, the enlightened ones took a journey backwards to rectify the blunders. We thus uprooted racism and casteism. We started considering women as equal to men in social, intellectual and political rights. And now it is time to take the journey a step further and show our concern for animals as well. All these concerns – human-rights, gender-rights, animal-rights – are part of same spectrum and caused out of same ignorance in human mind. So the evolved ones should work to take this next step.
And even those societies that are yet to do their homework on gender-rights and human-rights also could expedite their progress if they holistically incorporate animal-rights as well.
But even if they do not, the dangerous situations of today force any rational person to embrace animal-rights. As a means to fulfil demands of grave human-rights issues like poverty of teeming billions and damage of environment guaranteeing a dangerous future for our children.
So do not counter the light of truth. Be honest, be humble and be rational. Love others as you expect others to love you. The least you can do to showcase your love for your own brothers and sisters and children of future is to replace that chicken-soup with tomato-soup.
Be human, love humans.
Say no to meat!
And remember, you get back what you give.
PS: We did not take up the issue of health hazards of eating meat. This has been amply covered in many researches. To summarise, meat eating is cause of dreaded diseases like swine flu, mad cow and bird flu. It increases risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. A habit that takes innocent lives, promotes hunger, destroys future of children cannot bring positive impact in our lives. You cannot meditate properly if you eat meat. Food has greatest impact on state of your mind, after your deeds. What we suggest is to think simple and honest. In world, you get back what you give. So give compassion and humanity and get back prosperity, health and happiness. Be human, love humans. Say no to meat!