Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vegetarians are inconsistent

I am not sure how eating meat from one living creature differs from any other, at least as far as the particular impact it has on other living creatures. Dogs, cows, sheep, chickens, fish -- even plants and microorganisms. They are all living creations of Heavenly Father. If we use products derived from living things of any form, we are necessarily participants in depriving them of life. I find very little strength in artificial distinctions between various life forms, deeming that it is okay to use certain biological byproducts but proscribing others.

The existence of all living things revolves around the cycle of life and death in this world. Those of us who are net consumers live at the expense of the lives of other living things. This is inherent in the nature of our being -- it cannot be any other way, without some major biological transformation. To my way of thinking, it rather trivializes the whole issue if we randomly discriminate with regard to certain peculiar food habits.

Particularly in the context of the gospel, I see no basis for promoting extreme forms of dietary regimentation. Many times the Lord has confirmed that abstaining from meat does not have provenance in the commandments of God. While I have nothing against those who make the personal choice for some form of vegetarian discipline, I think these are deep into unsupportable argument if they start advocating that *not* so choosing or living somehow represents a lower level of moral values.

Eating meat is not sinful, therefore abstaining cannot be regarded as a particularly superior virtue.

As far as raising objections about the way domestic animals are raised, it appears to me that those proponents of certain arguments in this domain have an agenda that they wish to serve first and foremost, and they care very little about the consideration of other points of view, and they care even less about the accuracy of their own propaganda. Near as I can judge, "factory farming" is a pejorative used by people who don't know much about farming. People that farm or have association with farming as a business endeavor generally have a different view.

In this, as in all things, I assume a general axiom of moderation and common sense. Indeed, the phrase "prudence and thanksgiving" is explicit in the Word of Wisdom and strongly implied in most other related scripture and counsel.

The best choices are informed by correct principles...

And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God; For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance. (Doctrine and Covenants Section 49:18,19)

Another good passage to study on -- from Doctrine and Covenants 59:

16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
20 And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.
21 And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.


pgk said...

I attended the Bluff Arts Festival last weekend and a young writer named Amy Irving (I think) read an interesting passage from her book due for release in February, I think it was (can't remember the name of the book--sorry). She explained that she was raised in a hunting family and was reared on the meat harvested on these trips.

If I remember correctly, the passage she read, or else paraphrased, told how she came down with a very serious flu that even after it had passed left her robbed of her strength. For weeks she suffered, unable to even lift her arms to brush her own hair or walk outside to the mailbox. She visited doctors, but nothing helped until she saw a Chinese healer who told her that among other things, she needed to eat the foods that normally sustained her. She went out and bought a T-bone steak and brought it home and cooked it up. She said her vegetarian husband took one look at the steak, shuddered, and left the house. After she cooked the steak, she ate every scrap off it and sopped up the juice with bread and ate that. That night, she was able to brush her own hair for the first time in weeks and the next day she walked around the block and her health steadily improved.

I'd never heard a story like that before and thought it an interesting counterpoint to the usual nature-writer angst about consuming other creatures.

Thanks for the interesting post.

Jim Cobabe said...

PGK -- what an amazing story, a theraputic t-bone. I laugh out loud at the very idea! :-)

While I don't object to any of the various "vegetarian" doctrines, I am bothered by those who practice this discipline with a "holier than thou" demeanor. I personally am a totally opportunistic and omnivorous gormand.

pgk said...

"While I don't object to any of the various "vegetarian" doctrines, I am bothered by those who practice this discipline with a 'holier than thou' demeanor."

I think that many people feel deeply upset about the levels of exploitation they experience and participate in daily and some try to do something about it--change their behavior, change others' behanior, get mad, etc.--but they don't know what to do. Not for certain. So they choose something that seems obvious, like eating meat, become militant about it, and try to change the world. I suspect that how angry and militant they become has some relationship to tragedies, injustices and exploitation they have experienced personally.

Of course, some vegetarians, just like a percentage of the people who behave this way about other things (like leaving the church, extreme censorship, gun laws, etc.)are quite conscious of and reasonable about what they're doing and why. They pursue their courses quietly and leave others alone rather than try to control others' behavior. Or they put their reasoning to you if you ask, leaving you free to take it up or leave it lying.

Anyway, I suspect such militant or "holier than thou" (as you call it) behavior is a form of sorrow and/or fear.