It is the height of irony that eating a diet based on animal foods, which are complicated, wasteful, cruel, and expensive to produce, is seen as simple in our culture, and that eating a vegan diet based on plant foods, which are simple, efficient, inexpensive, and free of cruelty to produce, is seen as complicated and difficult. Nevertheless, the truth is slowly coming to light, and the pressures within the old paradigm are building as more of us refuse to see animals as objects to be eaten or used for our purposes.
Rather than relying on science to validate veganism and our basic herbivore physiology, we may do better by calling attention to universal truths: animals are undeniably capable of suffering; our physical bodies are strongly affected by thoughts, feelings, and aspirations; and we cannot reap happiness for ourselves by sowing seeds of misery for others. Nor may we be free while unnaturally enslaving others. We are all connected. These are knowings of the heart and veganism is, ultimately, a choice to listen to the wisdom in our heart as it opens to understanding the interconnectedness and essential unity of all life.
We may rationalize our meals by saying that we always thank the animal’s spirit for offering her body to nourish us. If someone were to lock us up, torture us, steal our children, and then stab us to death, would we acquiesce as long as they thanked our spirit?
The vegan ideals of mercy and justice for animals have been articulated for centuries, often from within the religious establishment, and it is fascinating and instructive to see how these voices have been almost completely silenced or marginalized by the herding culture. It seems to be an unconscious reflex action. For example, if we read Jesus’ teachings, we find a passionate exhortation to mercy and love, yet the possibility that the historical Jesus may have been a vegan is a radical idea for most Christians.
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