I Eat Meat Because I Love Animals #animalwelfare

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A lot of my friends are vegans so I realize I won't be making myself popular here… But I've had this article lying around for a few months now & it's something I honestly believe. Therefore it's on my blog. I hope it doesn't cause too much offense and does cause some thinking.

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I Eat Meat Because I Love Animals

With health, as with many things, yesterday's answers and solutions are not necessarily today's. I was a vegetarian for six years, vegan for most of that time and, barring the occasional indiscretion, 100% raw vegan for 18 months. Although I gave up cooked food to improve my health, I gave up meat for environmental and animal welfare reasons. I just couldn't live with the idea of killing another in order to sustain my own life – or worse still to excite my palate.

However, as you can see from the title of this article, I am now not only a meat eater, but I genuinely believe that I'm ethically in a better position than I was when I was vegetarian or vegan. It's not that I was doing anything deliberately wrong back then, I was simply misguided and misinformed.

The argument for veganism goes as follows: animals, like humans, should be free and we should not impinge upon that freedom. That includes keeping them in fenced fields and milking them and definitely includes killing them and eating them. When I followed this path, I felt I was evolving spiritually as I deepened my compassion for the world. I was more sensitive to the suffering of others and therefore increasingly reluctant to become the cause of it.

From the point of view of the heart, this is an entirely reasonable line of thinking, however, we humans are more than just emotional beings – we are highly developed intellectual beings too. And rather than leaving us cold and logical, one of the marvels of this intellect is that it actually allows us to empathise more deeply with another heart: another heart that may function very differently to our own. In fact, whether that heart is human or of another species, we often need our intellect working in tandem with our heart to bridge the gap and truly experience the feelings of another.

So, with our minds engaged just as much as our hearts, we come back to the argument: animals should be free. But what does freedom mean to a pig, or a goat? Undoubtedly some humans, but not all, would see a fence as a restriction on their freedom. But does an animal, given ample room to play and exercise, look at a fence and feel a burning desire to get to the other side? Upon meeting the barbed wire, rather than brooding about the injustice of their imprisonment, would they not simply turn around and forage somewhere else? What I am saying is that a golden cage is no cage at all to many animals. Captivity, if it is carried out with with kindness and respect, means safety for the captive and in reality results in greater freedom to play, eat and express natural behaviour.

But surely, slaughter is an impingement on an animal's freedom right? Not so. This is a tough lesson for the evolving heart to learn, but there are plenty of humans, let alone animals, who would rather be taken care of and die a quick death, than live in freedom but possibly die in a prolonged and painful way. If you had to live a lifetime as a pig, which would you rather: the risk of some nasty demise or injury in the wild, or a safe happy life followed by quick trip to the slaughter house that ends very suddenly?

Like I said, it's a hard lesson for the heart to learn and the closer you get to the actual slaughter of the animals, the harder it gets. And it should be hard! One should never take the life of another lightly. But by accepting and embracing the 'red in tooth and claw' of the natural world and being willing to honestly put ourselves in the footprints of an animal, we can allow nature to express itself in the kindest way possible.

As part of my project to improve conditions in pig farming, I recently visited a free range pig farm. I realised that were I a believer in reincarnation, I would gladly and gratefully come back as one of their pigs and much prefer it to the life of a wild boar here in Tuscany where I live. They were happy, peaceful creatures, treated with love and respect by the farmers. By eating them I give them that life. It's good karma to eat them and their well-being is inseparably linked to my own.

Virtually every indigenous culture the world has ever seen has eaten meat – cultures probably wiser than our own in may ways and certainly with a far more profound connection to the land and the animal kingdom. Are we really so much wiser than all of them? We must think extremely carefully before making such an assertion. Perhaps veganism is an evolution to a new dawn for humanity, or perhaps it is simply an understandable reaction to the gratuitous cruelty of modern man's farming system. For my own part, I feel we are better off embracing the natural world that has existed for longer than any living civilisation. Our kindness and empathy must be within that context, otherwise it cannot be real, sincere or lasting.

As I said earlier, I eat meat, fish and dairy because I love animals. Since becoming a conscious omnivore, the health of my body depends directly upon the health and well-being of land and sea creatures, wild and farmed. This is man's natural relationship with the world. I believe that the vegan movement, whilst well meaning, is both a disconnection from nature and a dead end. Rather than campaigning for the abstinence advocated by veganism, we should work towards greater consciousness of and connection with the food sources that have sustained us for many millennia. I put it to you that spiritual evolution is characterized, not by change, but by a deeper understanding of what is already there.

Published in: on February 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm  Comments (7)  
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