Can anyone please explain what the moral difference between the two acts depicted above is?
I am really sick and tired of half-dead souls trying to justify killing and exploiting other animals for food, profit, clothing and other selfish reasons.
"Oh well! Plants have life too! What do you have to say to that?" is usually their response. And from the look on their face you can usually tell that they feel really smug, and happy with themselves for having come up with that thought.
First of all, a person who immediately jumps to "Oh well! Plants have life too!", as a comeback has either not given the subject much thought or is not serious about having a sincere discussion and just wants to win the argument.
The problem with debates in general is that, people usually stop listening to each other and forget the basic reason behind the discussion, and it becomes all about proving the other person wrong. So you see it becomes a war of egos between the people involved, and the debate loses all connections with the subject being discussed.
That's what happens in a vegetarian/non-vegetarian debate too. Rather than really trying to understand what the other person means by saying - "There is a visible and obvious pain and suffering involved in killing animals that is being ignored", we straight off look for a way to find flaw in the logic by pointing out that "Hey! Plants have life too".
If you are a person who can kill a human being, butcher an animal, and cut down a tree with the same amount of ease then you have all the right to put the argument of plants having life forth because you truly feel the pain of humans, animals and plants equally.
But most people say that because they see it is a clever retort, rather than saying it because they truly see the pain of plants like they see the pain of humans and animals.
And more importantly if you are a person who can look an animal in the eye, see the fear, and see his or her desire to live and still kill it, then you definitely can't understand the pain of plants. And you are using the point about plants having life just as a way of defending your ego and point of view.
The discussion is no more about plants, animals, humans, life, kindness, cruelty, evolution, logic, honesty or all the other greater causes of humanity, you have pulled the discussion about human evolution down to your place in the gutter and have made it about you and your ego, and your need to be proven superior to another human being because you still haven't even learnt to look at other human beings equally and are fighting with other people for superiority.
And in this personal selfish war between egos to dominate over one another, the emotion/feeling that was to be understood is completely missed.
Secondly here is what I have to say about the plant argument.
We humans were in the jungle for a very long time, having no notions of right or wrong, then slowly we came out of the forest and slowly evolved into civilizations. Till now we were killing humans, animals and trees all alike.
Then somebody came along and said "Hey! You know what, all men are equal and we should treat everybody equally", and the rest of us were like OK, let us try to treat all men the same way.
But before we could even begin trying to treat all humans equally, somebody came along and said "Oh! All animals are equal and it is wrong to kill other animals for selfish human needs".
And then while we were trying to wrap our heads around the last two moral concepts, science allowed us to understand the life of plants and allowed us to look at them under the microscope and the final realization dawned upon us that plants have life too, and if we consume plants then we are still destroying life.
Now we have these three deep realizations that we need to understand and inculcate.
But wait, as I said we hardly got started on trying to treat each other equally. We humans still haven't managed to accept one another as equal.
Just pick up any newspaper or tune into a news channel and pay attention to some of it and you will get what I mean.
And if we can't even understand other people’s pain like our own, then let us not waste time pretending that we can feel pain of plants.
We just throw arguments like "plants have life" to win an argument without realizing that we have to start with trying to treat one another equally, only then can we talk about treating animals and then plants the same way.
What is important is that you start today and try to treat everybody as yourself a little more everyday and then try to look at animals around you as equal, and may be by then we will figure out a way to survive without harming anything at all. But we shouldn't just dismiss the need for changing ourselves at all right now, just because we cannot see a possibility of changing ourselves 100% all at once.
Let us try to make ourselves a little more loving every day and slowly we will see ourselves become less barbaric and more gentle and kind.
I think to be alive means to have come into existence, (which not to mention is out of one's control), and having come into existence to survive, till death.
So having said that, it is impossible to survive without disturbing the surrounding Eco-system at all.
For example, to walk across a grass field, one has to step on the grass and that's going to cause some damage, and there is no way around that.
But as intelligent beings, we should survive/exist causing as less pain/suffering/damage to other living beings and environment.
And that is the difference between killing billions of animals each day, and not killing billions of animals each day.
It is a simple concept-Cause as less suffering as possible.
We should at least be ready to change our ways of survival and living freely, as we evolve and understand our world more, instead of just stagnating evolution by trying to justify our current way of life by arguments we don’t fully comprehend.
There is another set of people who like to play the superior species card.
"Oh! We are on top of the food chain; we are superior to the other animals. And in nature stronger animals eat weaker animals”, or something on the lines of “I didn’t evolve to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.”
I feel that there is no animal more inferior to a human being who thinks he can do whatever he wills with other animals because he feels superior to them. How is that different from rich people, politicians, and the rulers of this world treating the rest of us like insects?
But when we are at the receiving end, we complain and when we are at the delivering end we cite the same sick racial mentality as our defence.
Talk about hypocrisy.
As far as food chain and wild animals eating other animals is concerned- Let me break it down for you.
Animals like Lions/Tigers/Hyenas are biologically conditioned into their paradigm; they cannot help but feed on other animals. If they don't kill other animals for food, they will die. Also this is Nature's way of maintaining a balance. Through such food chains- the population of different species is kept in check.
But we humans are not biologically conditioned to only eat animals and if we kill animals for food, we do so for taste and appetite which are luxuries and not necessities for survival.
And there is a big difference between killing an animal because you can, and killing an animal because you need to as far as your decision making is concerned as an individual.
Lot of people love to pose this particular hypothetical when this topic is being discussed – “So if you found yourself in a situation where you had to either kill an animal and eat it or die, what would you do?”
Here the person is not really interested in knowing what I would do in such a situation. That is least bit of his or her concern. The person is only trying to justify continuing killing animals by trying to show that even I might do it if I had to.
Honestly, answers regarding such hypothetical situations where a person has been pushed to a point of desperation for survival cannot be answered sitting comfortably in a room. I don’t know what I would do in such a situation would be my honest reply.
I think I would let myself starve to death than live at the expense of another’s life.
But in a day to day reality we hardly face situations where we have to choose between life and death and we act on what we want to do rather than what we need to do. And it is this day to day behaviour that we are talking about here, not some apocalyptic end of the world scenario where there is no food around. We are talking about human behaviour in a normally functional society and so let us stick to that and not wander off topic trying to justify our current lifestyles with such ludicrous comparisons.
Also many people feel that non-vegetarians are helping maintain the balance of nature's food chain which I think is not the case. We lost touch with nature and her balance a long time ago.
Let us try to discuss this together.
We kill animals on massive scales every day, and due to the profit based structure that our food industry is fundamentally based upon, the whole process is designed to minimize costs and maximize profits, and so in this mechanical system, the well-being of animals is completely left out of the equation.
Besides that, because of the massive demand for non-vegetarian food, we are eating away all the balance nature tried to preserve through food chains. We are doing a lot of things to nature, but preserving balance is definitely not one of them.
We are over fishing the seas to a point that majestic fish like Great white sharks have been pushed to the list of endangered species, millions and may be billions of animals are killed every day for food.
The way we treat our cattle is no different from how Nazis treated Jews during WWII. If you want visual evidence of this then watch Earthlings, and you will find out where your food comes from and at what cost?
The fact of the matter is that we humans, to satisfy our taste and appetite put animals through the same torture and pain that Jews went through at the hand of Nazis during Holocaust every day and we don't even know it. Nobody wants to know where their food comes from.
Jews were at least saved from Nazis by other countries. For these animals there is no hope. I think most of these animals must have lost all hopes of living and wandering free. These animals will have no happy stories to pass down to their younger generations.
It’s a grim reality, theirs.
It’s a grim reality, theirs.
Everybody likes to sit in their living rooms and talk about the problems in the society, without having a clue about how they are contributing to the problems themselves. It is ignorance at individual level that creates such a clueless society.
"Nobody seems to have a clue about what is going on."
Everybody likes to hide behind- "Well! You can never be too sure you know."
I say “Well if you can never be sure, then put your empty head on the pillow and go back to sleep. As we can see you are sleep walking through life anyway!"
Everybody wants to see peace and love in the world, they want to end all wars and cruelty, and stop the useless killings and all the hatred, they want everyone to be treated equally and with care and gentleness and then these same people go back home and slit a chicken's throat, hang it upside down and leave it there to drain out all the blood, and then cook and eat something that was just alive, and looking at them a few minutes ago.
And then these same people wonder why there is so much violence in the world.
It's simple! It's the same violent tendency whether it is towards a member of the same species or another species is of little importance. A person can either be cruel and barbaric or gentle and kind, but he can’t be both at the same time.
It is our ability as human beings to disconnect one's self from the suffering of another living being that allows us humans to be violent with one another and other animals.
I am sure that this world will not know peace till there is cruelty to other animals. Pure barbaric cruelty and violent tendencies are very deep rooted in us from the times we were in the jungle and this primitive instinct knows no boundaries.
The fact that we are still so barbaric and cruel is what concerns me. It shows that evolution has still not gotten our species very far out of the jungle as yet.
We are still struggling in the deep thick jungles of our minds where darkness and uncertainty rules and the mind doesn’t know right from wrong because it can’t see anything in the darkness of ignorance. Our mind is living in constant fear trying to keep us from making any changes to your lifestyle because that might threaten our survival.
Your animal brain is keeping you from opening up to the love of other animals and from feeling oneness with other living beings.
This is not a debate about plants and animals anymore. It is about evolving out of our cruel violent tendencies. Human evolution requires us to be more intelligent and kind and loving.
No man can evolve into a better human being/conscious being and still inflict pain on fellow living being.
For me the choice between vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism is very simple. I see contact between me and another human being or another animal as an interaction, and I would like to confine my interactions with other people and other animals to ones that give love and happiness and want nothing to do with hurting or torturing anyone whose pain I can understand.
Today I can understand the pain of animals and humans so let me start by trying to treat humans and animals with a little more love everyday and maybe I will come to a point where I can look at plants the same way too, or maybe I will never understand the pain of plants. But what is important is that I am ready to go where my honest understanding takes me.
We have to be ready to evolve and move ahead and to do that we have to slowly get rid of our barbaric violent tendencies and become more kind and considerate to our environment in general.
A few quotes on Vegetarianism along Similar lines of Thought
Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar. -- Bradley Miller
For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love. --Pythagoras (6th century BC)
A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. --Leo Tolstoy
Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. --Albert Einstein
We don't need to eat anyone who would run, swim, or fly away if he could. --James Cromwell
As long as there are slaughterhouses in this world, there will be battlefields - Leo Tolstoy
So, eat what you want, but don't try and justify it with incomplete logic.
On an even deeper level, the discussion about vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism seems to get further detached from the argument about plants and animals and becomes more about human ego or human image.
To be more specific, the discussion becomes more about the concept of ‘me’ and ‘my’ that is the result of the image we create for ourselves and for others.
So each individual calls him/herself ‘me’ or ‘I’ and considers all people, objects, animals, places, concepts that are close to one’s heart as ‘my’ or ‘mine’.
Now the moment we bring the concept of ‘me’ and ‘my’ into existence, there automatically comes into existence something that is ‘not-me’ and ‘not mine’ and that is where all problems start.
The direction in which people channel their good, friendly, loving side and their indifferent, cruel, and selfish side seems to be based on what people consider their own and what they consider not theirs.
I wouldn’t say it is impossible, but it will be very hard to find a person who can kill torture his own pet animal or his own loved ones because for that person all these things are ‘his’, but the same person might be ready to kill an animal or a human being that is not ‘his’ to satisfy his own needs.
Everybody lives inside their own self-imposed boundary of me and my, and all people and animals are fighting with one another from behind and over these boundaries.
So people are fully capable of loving other people and other animals as long as they consider these people or animals as their own, and these same people are equally capable of being savage jungle beasts to people or animals they consider strangers.
So the main culprit behind all violence that our planet has ever seen seems to be the concept of ‘me’ and ‘not me’. All animals including humans destroy life around them to support and feed and protect what they consider precious and ‘mine’.
While other animals are hard wired into that paradigm, we humans on the other hand have stumbled upon the possibility of growing beyond this self-centred paradigm that leads to nothing more than wars, killings, fights, and suffering and actually attain peace. And the only way to move towards a more peaceful social paradigm seems to be to expand the circle or the concept of ‘my’ to involve a little more of the universe every day.
Expand your circle of love till it includes everything around you step by step, and then you will understand what it means to be at one with nature.
Only when we are ready to evolve freely to become better people as individuals, will the society evolve and only then will the world be free of all suffering, pain, war and cruelty to one another and other animals.
It is not a debate anymore. It is not about humans, animals or plants specifically; it is about coming face to face with our cruel tendencies and rising above them. Once you rise beyond barbaric cruel tendencies you will find love, and that love will extend to fellow humans, animals and plants alike.