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Here’s a pretty standard example of meat culture:
Roughly 99.9% of the meat sold in the USA comes from factory farms like those shown in the video. So for a meat eater, supporting the above is normal and routine. Lacto-ovo vegetarians also support some aspects of the above.
For the sake of comparison, here’s a vegan version of a slaughterhouse:
Personally I’m okay with supporting what I see in the second video, but I don’t want to support what’s shown in the first video. When I see a piece of flesh on someone’s plate, I also see the processes that brought it to their plate.
Don’t Plants Feel Pain too?
Some people argue that plants may be harmed by being eaten. I happen to agree. If we care about minimizing harm to plants, then we’ll do much less harm by eating them directly as opposed to grinding them up, feeding them to animals, and then grinding up and eating the animals. If we stopped growing crops to feed to animals and fed those crops to people directly, it’s estimated that we’d have enough food to feed the whole planet five times over. So if you do actually care about plants, then you can greatly reduce your plant harm by eating plants directly.
Another way to reduce harm to plants is to favor fruits that can be eaten without killing the plants. You can eat a wide variety of fruits, both sweet and non-sweet, without seriously hurting the plant that spawned it. And that same plant will often continue to bear even more fruit.
I don’t pretend to do no harm whatsoever, nor do I consider that realistic. However, I don’t buy the argument that just because we may harm something out there — plants, insects, bacteria, etc — that we should throw the baby chick out with the bloody bathwater. I think a more sensible and realistic approach is to keep leaning towards a more conscious, compassionate, and ecologically sound way of eating. Take the steps that are right in front of us. Go for growth and improvement, not perfection. We can always improve. We can always make more conscious choices today than we did yesterday.
But Predators Eat Animals…
Some people argue that since some animals eat other animals, like lions hunting zebras, then we should join in this predatory behavior and do as we please with the animal world. That argument makes some sense if you go hunting, eat your prey raw, and consume only what you need to survive. But modeling the behavior and instincts of predatory animals doesn’t give us anything remotely close to today’s modern meat culture, which is completely unique to human society and unseen anywhere else in the animal world.
In the USA alone, 9 billion animals are run through the routines in the first video every single year. This goes way beyond what happens in the world of natural predators, where the prey animals spend their lives uncaged and at least have some chance to try to defend themselves or to flee.
If you want to argue that we should model predators’ diets to justify meat culture, I encourage you to go ahead and try being a truly predatory person for a while. Do it consciously. Prey on the weak. See where that takes you.
As I shared in the last post, I sometimes feel uncomfortable, sad, or disappointed when I eat with people who choose to support what’s shown in the first video. Some people label me an extremist because I’ve admitted that this is how I feel.
Do you consider me an extremist for deciding not to participate in video #1… or for feeling disappointment and sadness when I see others continuing to support it?
Am I allowed to feel what I feel? Or would you rather that I feel differently about this? Does my discomfort make you uncomfortable?
Regardless of what others say, I made the choice that felt most aligned to me. In this case I feel it’s more aligned to allow the disappointment, the sadness, and the discomfort to be there. I surrender to those feelings.
But Eckhart Doesn’t Feel That Way!
I’m not Eckhart. I’m not Esther. I’m not Wayne. I’m not Deepak. I’m not Tony. I’ve never been introduced as His Holiness.
I don’t claim to be a guru… or enlightened… or anything of the sort. I’m an explorer of conscious growth, sharing what I learn along the way. I conduct my sharing on my own website and social media pages, under my own name. Engaging with my work is always your choice. In that sense I can potentially play the role of friend and guide, but only by your consent.
I’ve been a vegan since 1997, vegetarian since 1993. This is a significant part of my path of growth, and I expect to continue.
If this isn’t cool with you, or if you find my thoughts and feelings on this journey to be unacceptable to you, let me remind you that you’re always free to disengage from my work.
Please also note that I too have this option. If I ever determine that interacting with you no longer feels right to me, then I may choose to disengage from you as well, such as by blocking you from commenting on my social media pages. For example, I find it unacceptable to see pro-cruelty messages posted on those pages. Same goes with personal attacks. Why would I want to engage with people who think it’s okay to go to a vegan’s page and behave like that? The simple truth is… I wouldn’t.
I love engaging with people who seem to be on a similar journey of conscious growth. I don’t need you to agree with the perspectives I share, nor do I expect you to. I adhere to a simple rule in such matters: mutual respect, or disconnect. When I notice that the mutual respect isn’t there, I’d rather cut ties quickly. Slow bleeds are not my style. I find this to be a reasonable standard for interacting with others in a way that balances freedom of speech with prevention of abuse, whether online or in person. You are of course free to uphold an entirely different standard on your web sites and profile pages if you so choose.
If you want to learn more about where your “food” comes from, you can find plenty more information about it with some simple searches. I encourage you to seek out the truth behind where your food comes from, and keep leaning yourself towards greater honesty, compassion, and empowerment in your choices. Don’t mistakenly assume that this process ends at veganism either. This path of learning and growth continues for life.