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4 years ago  ::  Aug 12, 2010 - 7:46AM #1
Simonh
Posts: 11

I've been a vegetarian a number of times during my life, but at the moment I'm into my fourth year of a meat free diet. When I'm out with other people at a restaurant, or at a barbecue, or at someone else's house for dinner, often people will ask me why I am a vegetarian. Even in the 21st century a vegetarian lifestyle seems slightly odd to some people. Indeed, while vegetarianism is better catered for (no pun intended) in society in general, here in traditional Ireland I still get the odd look and the odd question. Often people ask, "is it for health reasons?". In the past others have asked, "is it because of BSE?" (There was an outbreak of so-called mad cow disease in Britain and Ireland a number of years ago). Others will ask me, "is it for ethical reasons?".


No one in my family is vegetarian and most of my friends are not vegetarian, apart from a couple I know of. I have no wish to offend anyone who eats meat and I will even prepare and cook meat for my family, though I'm not particularly endeared with the process. My reasons for avoiding meat or principled rather than pragmatic -- or from moral reasons rather than health.


The reason I initially became vegetarian was because of a TV programme I had watched about animals. It was highlighting the difference we make with certain animals e.g. it showed a New York lady who travelled 30 miles every day on two different buses in order to visit the grave of her pet dog. Every day she would kneel at the graveside deeply sobbing. Alongside this was the image of a market in southern China that was selling all types of meat that were hanging from hooks on the market stalls. In many ways it was a game of 'Guess the animal' as you weren't quite sure what type of animal had been recently killed, was hanging there for all to see. There was one carcass that had recently been flayed in oil and seemed to still be throbbing. It appeared like a type of dog, though it was difficult to be completely accurate. The question posed by the narrator of this documentary was 'why do we treat some animals with love and respect, and why do we treat other animals as simply a source of food?'.


It was at that point that I decided to become vegetarian, the reason being that because I could not physically kill an animal myself I thought it wrong to ask somebody to do something that I could not do myself. Neither I realise that there are many things that I cannot do myself that I ask others to do, e.g. when I am ill I go to my doctor; when I want to fly somewhere a pilot takes me there; when there is a leak in a pipe in my house a plumber locates it and fixes it. In my mind anyway, the killing of an animal was a different thing than fixing a leaking, or getting on a plane, or having an illness diagnosed. And as there are many choices for me in terms of my diet, vegetarianism seemed the way to go. Of course, were I living in a country where food was in short supply then of course I would eat wherever food was available to me -- that includes meat. But as it is, I live in the affluent West, and I have many options as regards what I eat.


That spell of vegetarianism lasted nearly 3 years until I gave in to peer pressure and resumed eating meat for the sake of convenience. I didn't feel good about going back to meat, but I soon resolved any internal conflicts and was chomping on steaks and burgers like the next person. But things changed again while into the subject of Evolution. Thanks to people like Ken Miller, and to an extent to Francis Collins, I came to the realisation that I am an animal -- different in many ways to the other animals, but still an animal. DNA made me aware that what I was previously putting into my mouth was a cousin, albeit a distant cousin. It struck me that one of the responsibilities of being a self conscious organism was that we had to take responsibility for our actions, simply because we are aware of the consequences of such actions. I resolved not to eat another the sentient being for as long as I had a choice. Of course, that's not to say that I would never eat meat, nor is it to say that I don't like meat, but until I've got no other option I will desist from the meat diet.


I suppose the question is this. It seems alright for Evolution deniers to eat meat, especially the religious ones, because they believe that all animal life was put on Earth solely for the benefit of humankind. Animals were needed to be eaten. Or so the argument goes. But for those of us who are Progressive in our faith, is it all right to accept Evolution and yet to still eat meat?


Your thoughts and comments would be greatly appreciated. 

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 12, 2010 - 1:21PM #2
Phantasm
Posts: 767

I think The Theory of Evolution is true and I eat meat.  I don't sense any conflict when I eat a burger.

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 12, 2010 - 9:35PM #3
Stardove
Posts: 15,944

Welcome Simonh to the Discuss Progressive Christianity.  I am also a vegetarian for about two decades.  I don't believe I could ever eat meat again after so many years of going without it.  My husband is not a vegetarian, but at home we normally do not have meat at meal time.  He keeps tuna on hand and will eat meat, if we go out to eat or get fast food.  We eat a lot of the Morning Star brand of "fake meats"  Love the products Morning Star makes.  Only one of our four children is also a vegetarian.


For me the journey began while on vacation with a friend who was a vegetarian and she talked about how bad meat and fish (due to chemical in the ocean) were for our bodies.  After a couple of weeks of not eating hardly any meat I decided to give it a try.  Well here I am all these years later and still do not eat meat or seafood.  I do not insist that others not eat meat in my presence. 


One family gathering not long ago I found myself cooking hamburgers for everyone else.  Big gathering and about 50 patties were needed.  The blood and grease kind of got to me.  My sister-in-law said I was a real trooper to be the only vegetarian and cook the meat.  Actually I got it thawed and bloody and then it would go outside to a grille.

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The sun rises every morning and sheds light, vanquishing the night's darkness. The rooster also rises every morning only, unlike the sun, he simply makes noise. But the darkness of the night is dispelled by sunshine, not by the rooster's crowing.The world can use more light and less noise. Where I can, I want to be light.

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 19, 2010 - 4:02PM #4
Simonh
Posts: 11

"For me the journey began while on vacation with a friend who was a vegetarian and she talked about how bad meat and fish (due to chemical in the ocean) were for our bodies.  After a couple of weeks of not eating hardly any meat I decided to give it a try.  Well here I am all these years later and still do not eat meat or seafood.  I do not insist that others not eat meat in my presence."


 


Stardove, I applaud your twenty years as a veggie, though I have to say that my reasons for giving up eating animals were not based on health, but on Evolution. Or to put it another way, I can't eat a sentient cousin of mine.


 


P.S. over here in Ireland our meat free products are called Quorn (the big Supermarkets have their own ranges and there's also Linda McCartney's stuff but even with being a massive Beatles fan I still don't really like it. Don't tell Paul! Tongue out)

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 19, 2010 - 9:21PM #5
Iwantamotto
Posts: 8,476

LOL, y'all think YOU have it bad?  Try growing up wanting to eat peanut butter sandwiches, mashed potatoes, apples, toast, and mac and cheese ... ONLY.  See how much fun THAT is.  :)


I'm not too sure what evolution has to do with my diet.  I mean, I believe that we are a flexible species with the luxury of learning to eat just about anything.  I'll eat meat now, mostly tuna salad or beef ... but I think I earned it, what with being abused regarding my dislike of it initially.  Now I like it and dang it, I'll eat it if I want.  :)

Knock and the door shall open.  It's not my fault if you don't like the decor.
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4 years ago  ::  Aug 20, 2010 - 1:26PM #6
Stardove
Posts: 15,944

Just one of my four children is a vegetarian she just turned 31 and is the baby of the family.  As a child she would slip her meat to our dog.  So she began very early not wanting to eat meat which was served at every meal. 


Back then we would buy our beef from a cattle rancher we know.  They were corn feed cattle and  when around one year old he would call us to get in touch with the butcher and he delivered the yearling there for us.


RIP Curtis (rancher)

Beliefnet Community Wide Moderator ~ Peace Love Stardove
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The sun rises every morning and sheds light, vanquishing the night's darkness. The rooster also rises every morning only, unlike the sun, he simply makes noise. But the darkness of the night is dispelled by sunshine, not by the rooster's crowing.The world can use more light and less noise. Where I can, I want to be light.

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4 years ago  ::  Aug 20, 2010 - 9:39PM #7
Iwantamotto
Posts: 8,476

There's some cows that feed in a field near us (when we first moved here it was all grass and nothing else).  I saw some people crouching over a calf recently.  I hope it was ok.  I fear the heat may have gotten to it.

Knock and the door shall open.  It's not my fault if you don't like the decor.
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4 years ago  ::  Sep 07, 2010 - 6:00AM #8
Simonh
Posts: 11

Heat getting to cattle here in Ireland is never a problem. The greatest danger for them is drowning - especially during our "Summer" Yell

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4 years ago  ::  Nov 11, 2010 - 6:58PM #9
Bob_Bennett
Posts: 916

Hello Simonh,


 


When Jesus was questioned about his diet by the Jews, he replied that what you put in your mouth was not important, but instead it was what comes out of your mouth that it important.


 


In more contemporary teachings of our time, Jesus recommends blessing the animal from which your food comes.

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