Published on January 27, 2009
Screaming Chicken Productions Presents
A Religious Argument For Vegetarianism
Although not commonly taught or practiced in western faith, vegetarianism, and likewise veganism, share many of the same principles of peace and harmony as all major world religions.
Stewardship over the animals means that human beings are obligated to are for other animals, and subsequently consider veganism/vegetarianism.
All major religions, and basically anyone in general, will tell you that they would be against the unnecessary suffering and death of any animal.
“ It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly” – Catholic Catechism
sgarhse Catholic Cathecism
People of the Jewish faith follow kosher laws to prevent suffering in animals, and to ensure that “animals are treated with tender and mercy”
Those who subscribe to the religion of Islam believe in the words of their prophet that "Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment”.
Many eastern religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism all hold the belief of Ahisma which is non-violence, and subsequently these religions extend their view of non-violence to incorporate animals.
Non-Violence To Animals
All religious views are kind to animals and agree somewhat along the lines that it is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals. But what is unnecessary suffering and death to animals?
Out of all forms of animal use, the agriculture sector is the largest, accounting for over 99% of all animal use and death in North America.
This use of animal agriculture can be considered morally unnecessary when one considers the following:
Firstly, The Americans Dietic Association, and Dietitions of Canada state that “…Vegetarian diets are healthful, nutrionally adequate, and provide health benefits…”
Dietians of Canada
Also, entire nations have had religious vegetarians sustaining themselves off little or no animal agriculture for thousands of years. Religious vegetarians consist of Hindu’s, Sikh’s, Buddhists and Jains.
Therefore, we can conclude that animal products are unnecessary. Once one has established that animal products are unnecessary to sustain life, the arguments in support of the continued use of animals agriculture cannot be taken in form of necessities.
The golden rule of treating others the way you wish to be treated can be found in any religion and in any religious text. It resonates world wide and calls one to lead a just life.
The Christian disciple Matthew writes; “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for these sums up the Law and the Prophets”.
“ Do to others what you would have them do to you”.
The Prophet Mohammad of the Muslim faith told his disciples to “ "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you”.
sgarhse The Prophet Mohammad
The faiths of Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism believe in the theory of Karma, which can be summed up as “ the law of cause and effect, according to which every action bears positive or negatives consequences, either in this life or in future lives”
Every Action Bears Positive or Negatives Consequences
The golden rule is also written in the Jewish Talmud explaining to followers that; “ …which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow”.
This golden rule is universal, and every religion advocates it. Following the golden rule is certainly a good way to live one’s life. Whether animals are to be included in this rule is debated, however.
The founder of the Unitarian church, Jeremy Bentham, maintains that sentience is sufficient criteria for one to be included in the golden rule. Bentham writes “the question is not, can they reason? Nor can they talk? But can they suffer?”
Professor of Philosophy, Tom Regan also demonstrates this golden rule by saying “I think everyone has the capacity to stop and think and say, ‘If I knew you, I wouldn’t eat you.’ And in some ways, it really is that simple”.
‘ If I knew you, I wouldn’t eat you’.
Expanding our acceptance and encompassing animals as others will lead us to become more compassionate towards them.
And lastly, during this modern day and age, as religions have changed becoming more compassionate in many areas, so too should religions widen their circle of empathy to incorporate animals.
Vatican II marked major changes for Catholicism, developing more inclusive rules for lay people. In a similar way, those in the Hindu faith have reformulated some of their contemporary texts, developing more inclusive rules for their followers
Also, throughout time, there have been many reformers of faith ranging from Gandhi who eradicated the Hindu caste system to Martin Luther who reformed the Catholic faith to create equality within the lay people and to Buddha who reformed the Hindu faith.
These examples demonstrate that there have been major reforms and reformers in religious history. As time progresses, religions are becoming more and more accepting of others who are different than them.
Perhaps animals too, could be incorporated into one of these next big changes? In this present year of 2009, there are so many delicious and nutritious alternatives to animal flesh, so much so that animal protein is not required.
Dr. Peter Cheeke sums up this argument quite well. “Do we, as humans, having an ability to reason and to communicate abstract ideas verbally and in writing, and to form ethical and moral judgements using the accumulated knowledge of the ages…
… have the right to take the lives of other sentient organism, particularly when we are not forced to by hunger or dietary need, but rather do so for the somewhat frivolous reason that we like the taste of meat?”
“ Frivolous Reason That We Like The Taste of Meat?”
When one extends their circle of compassion to animals, one will inevitably follow a diet of herbivorous nature. These diets are easier on the earth’s finite resources, and following these diets is the best thing one can due to reduce anthropogenic emissions.
The future definitely looks friendly for animals in religion, and like Philosopher Peter Singer says:
“ Just as we have progressed beyond the blatantly racist ethic of the era of slavery and colonialism, so we must now progress beyond the speicieist ethic of the era of factory farming.... We must take the final step in expanding the circle of ethics”.
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