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On Food and Karma


What do you do when your father-in-law is on his way for a 12-day visit?

Bake scones. Chocolate chunk scones with the help of Vegan with a Vengeance.

Then bake vegetable lasagna, courtesy of The Candle Cafe Cookbook .

And make a list of his favorite foods to veganize over the next 12 days.

And meditate a lot.

And exercise a lot.

And probably drink a lot of wine.

Wish me luck!

I posted an article I wrote for Rethos on Zaadz/Gaia, called On Animals and Culture. Not exactly news to Animal Person readers. I’m broadening my audience through those sites, and I’ve been successful at getting a couple thousand new people to read about veganism and animal rights, so I believe it’s worth the effort. I’ve received some wonderful e-mails and comments over at Rethos and Gaia, and I shall continue with those efforts as long as they appear to be reaching people who are on some sort of path–either spiritual or activism–but have yet to incorporate animals into their path.

Lynne left a fabulous comment on Gaia that might throw some of you for a loop:

"I also think about the flood of chemicals released during the animal’s terror. I don’t want to consume terror, pain, and death."

I don’t write much about spiritual matters on Animal Person, though I’m fairly sure my thoughts about the world’s religions and whether or not there’s a god are pretty clear.

Though I do believe in karma, you don’t have to to appreciate Lynne’s comment. In fact, her point is more  urgent. Reread what she’s saying about what you’re consuming. You’re consuming suffering and terror when you eat animals, and that’s certainly not something I want any part of.

I have a bunch of friends who have lived in ashrams (where veganism isn’t always on the menu, believe it or not, as ghee and other dairy products are often consumed), and they’re about as insightful as humans can be regarding the energy of life and death. And most of them still eat animals in one form or another, which I find odd.

And I think I know at least one reason why: karma. But this time, it appears to be misused. When questioned about why she still eats animals despite everything she knows about energy, one friend said to me: "It was the animal’s karma to be my lunch." She actually thought it was acceptable to enlist karma to completely absolve her of any wrongdoing. But karma is about you and your actions, and you don’t get to excuse yourself from doing whatever you want by using karma as a weapon of rationale. This particular friend is obviously yet another person who simply doesn’t want to give up her meat, no matter what happened to it before it reached her plate.

I didn’t think of it at the time, but an appropriate response would have been, "How do you think your karma is affected when you decide to cause harm when you don’t have to?"

What do you think about consuming the energy of suffering and terror? What do you think about karma? And are you surprised to learn that people who’ve lived in Hindu or TM ashrams for years come out and eat animals? (I was stunned.)

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. I wish I could say I’m surprised, but religion (regardless of what brand of myth it is) is generally used as much for a “moral holiday” as it is used for any other reason.

    This is the reasoning I often see in religion:

    Eastern: If karma is the reason the “untouchable” was born into a low caste or as an animal, then they “deserve it” and we can take a moral holiday.

    Western: If it’s the will of “big daddy in the sky” that some beings are born into a world of hell, then we can take a moral holiday. Aside from that, big daddy can sort it all out in the “afterlife” if “he” wants to, but it’s not our problem.

    I don’t care what myth people want to believe in, but when they start harming others in the name of their myth or using their myth as an excuse to claim that others’ miserable existence doesn’t matter (including nonhuman beings), then I see their myth as a source of evil in the world. Since people do use their myths in this way, I see religion/mythology and its stubborn persistence as one of the many great, timeless problems human civilization has faced and faces.

    February 21, 2008
  2. Here are some quick, raw responses. I am not very clear on what "the energy of suffering and terror" really means. I give karma about as much credence as theism, which is to say, none. Humans that eat non-human animals never really surprise me, with the possible exception of certain vegan turncoats.

    As for Lynne's comment, it comes off as rather humanocentric to me. I certainly wouldn't want to draw normative guidance from it. Extrapolated, it would seem to allow for a very Singer-esque acceptance of "painless killing", and ultimately welfarism. Additionally, it would never prohibit all non-human use, just those uses that result in consumption. Of course, she provided just one sentence, but if I were to read far into it, that's what I would see.

    The "flood of chemicals", if in fact representative of something empirical, is more of a minor point of interest to me that anything else. Personally, I am infinitely more concerned about what pain and terror mean to our victims, than what they might mean to us.

    Arguments for why consuming "meat" might damage or disrupt some metaphysical/spiritual property/energy humans have conjured and imagine they possess, or are part of, or whatever… seem potentially as conducive to welfarism as utilitarianism is. Not to mention their limited scope in terms of our broader relationship with non-humans, and the major opportunity cost presented (at least here in the "west") because most people just don't think on those terms.

    February 21, 2008
  3. Not surprised,

    Um. Ditto. I don't care what people believe. I just do want them to hurt anyone for their beliefs.


    I don't think Lynne's comment has anything to do with abolition (in her mind). It's a metaphysical issue, and in my world, many, many people do think in those terms. The comment is simply another way of looking at what animal products are (not merely "represent"): pain. I know you're not into this, but I do believe that abolition has its place in discussions about consciousness and energy. The evolution of these discussions can work for us and help us spread our message. This is why I haven't ditched Zaadz/Gaia, yet. It's a community that is a hair away from making the connections we make as people who don't believe we should be using nonhuman animals. And the chances of me converting omnis in that community are much higher than the chances of me converting the average omni.

    February 22, 2008

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