Sunday, 29 November 2009

Reflections on vegetarianism

There is plethora of causes why one could become a vegetarian. For me, one of biggest driving forces was a number of ethical reasons. I have been vegetarian for over 6 years now and during that time I have been thinking about this topic quite extensively and I came across many comments from my friends. I wanted to share some of them and why I think that some of them are great and definitely worth pondering on and analyzing.

Needless to say, ethical vegetarians are not eating meat because of ethical reasons. They simply don't want animals to get slaughtered and some of them genuinely believe that animals should be treated the way humans are or at least close to it. Even ethical vegetarians do divide in their beliefs. Some simply want animals to live in decent conditions and want them to die without suffering, some of them don't want them to be slaughtered at all. In my humble opinion, by far the most ethical ones are fructarians, then vegans and eventually laco-ovo vegetarians. Fructarians only eat things that fall from a tree or a bush, they don't eat animals products of any kind. Vegans do not eat any animal products i.e. dairy products or eggs.

The reason I became a vegetarian is because I strongly believe that I am not in position to take animals live just for pleasure of it. I wanted to see if I am able to live and nourish myself without animal protein and I have succeeded up to a certain point. It is necessary to remember to replace protein that we normally obtain from meat with protein from plants. Protein is an important ingredient and currently human organism is unable to create it on its own. I say currently, because through the course of evolution in the long term, I reckon it would be possible even to change that. As a matter of fact, there are animals that do produce protein on their own. It is a matter of genes in DNA sequence. Assuming that a vegetarian diet is generally low in protein, mind you that in the long term it can be fixed through the course of evolution or by DNA programming (genomics).

I have experienced lots of problems with vegetarianism. It is like you open a pandora's box. One mental shift leads you to many other thoughts. Should I kill insects? Should I not wash myself like Buddist monks, that way saving bacteria from dying. In a sense it is impossible to survive without killing an organism of some sort. Viruses, bacteria are all organisms. Life and death seems to be deeply rooted in the way the world is structured. So, we are all killing all the time, we have to kill to be able to live, if we don't kill bacteria in our organism then that bacteria will win the struggle and eventually we might even die due to a sickness caused by their frivolous playing tricks habbits. So we established that killing is inevitable, then this raises a question how do we divide organisms into the ones that we think we can kill and the ones that we think we can't. Should we base this on size or on their intelligence? Is it ethically more justifiable to kill a mosquito, than it is to kill a dolphin. Undeniably, dolphins are smarter than mosquitos. That is one possibility but as Peter Singer [a bioethician] says applying this rule is like applying the same principle to human beings. If a certain person is retarded that might actually mean that they will be less intelligent than the smartest monkey. Should this justify that we can kill them and eat them or perhaps enslave them?

You see nature has no mercy, a lion chases its prey to have a dinner. Lion does not understand that he/she could spare the pray. Lion does not have conscious mind. You do, so think about using it. Most people I met in my life don't really care about this at all. Ignorance is truly a bliss and people know it very well. I know it as well because I also need to switch off, if I was thinking all the time I would go mad. Anyone would.

One of my discoveries is that providing enough of vitamins and fatty acids is really heard on one's own without understandning more about nutrition. I used to have omega-3 deficiency that resulted in certain unpleasant things, let me put it this way. So, now I don't forget about omega-3 and A-Z vitamins for vegetarians and I am guilty of sometimes consuming sea water fish for animal protein. So as you can see I am not an angel.

Why it is indeed an interesting topic, because you see in the past, women couldn't vote and black were slaves. Why did we change that? We have altered this through evolution.

I often hear a comment that people love meat and they would never give it up for the taste of it. That is for me worst possible argument one can come up with, because it is like saying I like black slaves and I think to have a slave at home is really good and I would never give up a slave.

Many people do bring up the criteria of conciousness, in a sense that animals do not fear death and it turns out that some animals do fear death actually. There was a monkey that through sign language said that she/he was afraid of to die. Being afraid of death can be classified as a solid criteria of conscioussness.

Another very prepostrous thing is that people actually buy clothes made from furr. For instance, seals are slaughtered just for furr. This is the sickest really because honestly, it is not that hard to buy products that are artificial and at the same time you can use them, so leave poor animals alone.

Testing drugs on animals is also a tricky topic I must admit. If we do believe in inteligence based hierarchy that means that sacrifice of mice should allow humans to live longer. I do believe in layers and humans are indeed smarter [some humans unfortunately have inteligence of monkey :( or worse] but in general they are just more clever. So I personally support testing drugs on mice as long as it cannot be tested in any other way and is necessary to find a cure for a serious or not so serious sickness. That is just my opinion.

Perhaps one of the most interesting comments I have ever heard from one person is that it might perhaps be better to let them live and kill them so at least they can enjoy life a little bit. I must admit that this statement has really caused me to scratch my head. It is a very strong argument, the only problem is that you are the one that kills, so an animal has no choice but to be slaughtered. We are all gonna die anyway. This brings up an interesting topic and extremely controversial as well, whether in future we might need to have obligatory euthanasia for retired people as they keep living longer and longer. So you are 80 and you go to some clinic... Gosh.... I am scared but that only shows how difficult ethical problems are to solve and that right or wrong as a concept is changing over time.


Grazyna said...

Hi Mat!
One thing not clear to me yet is if you eat eggs but that's not so important.
I admire that you're a vegetarian. I'd love to be one. But let's back to your topic. The part that hit me most is the one about DNA altering through the course of evolution. Well..that could work...actually lately I've been thinking about it a lot and I've reached a conlusion that it could ba a good road to take.Why? It works in two ways. Toward an unbalanced nutrition you are capable to ruin singular cells, tissues, organs and so the same can happen to your DNA or at least a small part/parts of it. In the consequence diseases appear ( of course not only eating badly leads you to the illness, there are other factors ). The opposite result one can achieve is to heal with balanced nutrition.Don't think it's easy. Many people much more intelligent than me dedicated whole their lifes to study this issue ( with excellent results in some cases ).But there's still much to be discovered.Hmmm...the tricky thing is that their methods aren't actually based on no-meat diet...hmmm ...but they sustain it can help to get out of trouble.So if the mankind stopped to consume meat for enougt time (I don't know how much that would have to be )that could influence our DNA a lot.Well, needless to say let's start from ourselves.
Whereas to killing bacteria I wouldn't worry too much and I'm skocked reading about monks who don't washe themselves just because they don't want to kill bacterias.I don't really think that is the reason they don't have a shower.First bacterias are the most numerous, most powerful, the most enigmatic and best adopted living creatures on the whole earth and if these's any life in the universe we'll ever discover it will be them. They're incredible, they're absolutely everywhere changing easily their form,stucture,way they breath ( from oxygen to anaerobic ),what they eat. Even our blood, all our tissues are full of them and we don't even know it which is sometimes very bad for us. Some scientists claim that many of our diseases are caused by their exaggerated massive presence in our bowel ( and not only ). They're just overwhelming. Bacteria were existing long before us and they will reig the earth long after the humankind will be totall extinguished. There would be so much to say about those amaising creatures. Second thing is that in my opinion Buddish monks not washing themselves create a sort of acid skin barrier protecting them from may types of bugs and bacterias as a matter of fact ( my father does that also:). Guess what happens to bacteris that gets in contact with that dies and I thin monks do know that. hmmmm... I also think there's nothing wrong with killing anumals to eat as long as you do that using tools the nature equipped you with, like hands but also intelligence. As long as you face other animal as a hunter or prey, whatvere, you have a right to kill him/her or he will make you out.We konw of course it desn't work like this anymore.People are becoming beasts because they eat meat the don't deserve. Did you notice how aggresively behave persons who eat a lot of meat? Did you notice the smell of their skin? I smell badly when I go ahead with meat for more than 1 day consecutively.With regard to omega 3 you can count on my suggestions but separately:)After what I wrote I should become vegetarian immediately...well it's not about changing only my attitudes but also others what happens when you have family...tough...however, we will give us a try one day together hopely.

winnetou said...

Thx Gajek. I do eat eggs. Your comments are amazing. Thank you so much! I know it can be hard to implement this on family level. All members of the family need to agree and understand. Do you think it can work?


Anonymous said...

how do suppose a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian marry? if the vegetarian hopes to teach the child the values they learned just like they learned them? i want to let myself fall in love, but this unexpected barrier is making things difficult

winnetou said...

It is interesting that you mention: "I want to let myself fall in love." I doubt we do have that sort of control, we do have control to control that feeling and not marry or be in relationship but that is not what you have asked anyway.

I think there is hope, you may change your mind, the partner may change his mind or the compromise can be reached, like let's eat fish and chicken and let's leave poor cows and pigs alone. Indeed it can be a bone of contention and I even know why it happens. Different psychological types have different perception of morality. Often people that fall in love have different perception of morality, so having said that you may have an increased probability to fall in love with someone that has different moral standards than you have. Remember that vegetarianism is just an example, there are many moral related problems that you two will have to face every day. I would think about them as well. Hope it works out for you.

winnetou said...

Actually lion has conscious mind but does not understand what is right or wrong. Does not have moral code.