Since I was a child, I wanted to give up eating meat! Not that I didn’t enjoy it…I loved my mom’s Sri Lankan chicken curry, or my Dad’s Beef Badung, and I have eaten Venison by the truck load. It was amazing! When I was growing up in Sri Lanka, on my way to school I saw herds of cattle being dragged to a slaughter house nearby. It was not a pretty scene! So when I sit at the dinner table and I see a meat dish on the table, the memory of those poor distressed animals would flash back into my mind. So I refused to eat meat, but my parents(being meat-eaters) would warm me of the perils of giving up eating meat. “You will not get adequate protein” and “you will grow skinnier” they warned me, and coaxed me into eating even a little bit. I did comply, but however my body having its own intelligence decided for me…soon I became allergic to meat! It was such a relief when they stopped forcing me to eat meat!
After several years, as my memory of the distressed cows faded from my mind, I resumed eating meat with no repurcusions. But some where deep within me, I knew there was an inner wisdom guiding me to quit. So I made a compromise with myself. I decided to quit eating any flesh such as beef, pork and chicken and decided to be content with eating fish and seafood for several reasons. Having been raised on an island, fish and seafood was part of our natural diet and I also enjoyed the taste as well as how I felt after eating. Perhaps, our human intelligence can guide us to foods that make us feel whole and well. Fish was such a comfort food for me.
Well call it an expanded consciousness, if you will, but lately the internal debate about eating another living thing has re-surfaced! I have been debating whether my own selfish reasons for eating fish could be any longer justified –considering that no animal or fish would be willing to undergo even the slightest suffering and to be put to death just to please someone else’s taste buds! Do they really have a choice? But we do!
I can understand when a carnivorous wild animal like a lion kills its prey to satisfy its hunger…because it has no other choice. Carnivores are genetically wired to eat that way..they cannot survive eating plants or grass! But we humans..have so many choices and no shortage of foods like grains, beans, lentils, vegetables and fruits. We also have eggs and dairy products, if we choose to enjoy them. Although my vegan friends may disagree with me, I can still occasionally have the pleasure of supplementing my diet with them, since I have the comfort of knowing that the chicken who lays the egg is not put to death; neither is the cow who gives us milk!
So it all goes to show that we make our food choices based on the level of our own understanding…We can make conscious decisions based on whether the food is good or bad for us…whether it is good for our environment, whether it is safe to eat, and whether we can continue to ensure a safe and adequate food supply for future generations. Yet for some people, none of these reasons will withstand the their strong desire or craving for the taste of meat.
So choosing to be or not to be a vegetarian, will ultimately rest on their own conscience –which stems from one’s own inner level of consciousness and how they relate to the outer environment.
All the reasons given for choosing a vegetarian diet..whether they be religious, ethica, or ecological are irrelevant.