Vegetarianism: Why and How?

Vegetarianism Why and How

As a vegetarian in a largely omnivorous world, I always get asked the same thing: why? Often this question is accompanied by incredulous or even aggressive comments about my choice to be a veggie, about the adequacy or inadequacy of my choice of lifestyle, or just plain confusion.

I would like to finally set in writing a thorough explanation of why I have chosen to be a vegetarian, what it means to my life, and how I go about doing it. This series of articles should help in some small way to dispose of some of the myths associated with being a vegetarian, and vegetarianism in general. Note that I am not trying to justify what I do in the face of critics.

When last I checked this was supposed to be a free country (hah!), and it isn’t really anybody’s business why I do what I do as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody around me. I believe in my life choice, and if somebody wants me to apologize for it, they should read an article about meat-eating and get away from my CP page.

That being said, I thought I could begin with the ethics and morality of vegetarianism and move on from there.

Part I: Ethics and Morality of Vegetarianism

Basically “violence begets violence,” or so I believe. All violence is causative and cyclical. Killing or torturing something is an act of brutality that reverberates throughout a society and breeds more violent acts. I believe this in a faith-based, unscientific way, but it makes perfect sense to me. When an act of violence is committed towards a person or animal, that act creates pain and negative energies. As a matter of course, that negative pain finds its way into our life and habits, which creates more negativity and pain. In other words “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Violence is repaid with violence and the cycle goes forth unchecked and “blind.”

Animals experience pain and have intelligence that we still have not even begun to understand. Until recently the scientific community believed that fish had a memory that lasted only 30 seconds, and that they felt nothing that we could understand as pain or “emotion.” Now we know that fish have extended memory as well as the ability to recognize different people and objects in the world around them. They appear to have complicated social networks and communicate with each other. This is only the beginning.

As living beings that experience pain, communicate, and recognize the world around them, animals are much like us. As such they should be awarded the one basic right that humans deny to each other, and everything around them: the right to live. I don’t mean that one can’t kill a fly or tick that threatens to give one a disease, for we also have the right to defend ourselves against the natural world (a right that all animals have as well). However, defending oneself from the natural world is not the same as violent wholesale slaughter of species.

You may gather from all this that I am a pacifist, and you would be right. I believe that pacifism is a fundamental tenet of my vegetarianism. I believe that all things are possible without the use of violence, including survival.

More than the right to live, people have the responsibility to maintain and act as stewards of the earth, not mindless wastrels who seek only to take of natural resources until everything- including ourselves- are destroyed.

This is the basis of my ethical stance on vegetarianism. Next up, economic and moral prerogatives of vegetarianism,