the great vegetarian debate

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: Veganism

Postby fragrant herbs » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:20 pm

catmoon wrote:
Hanzze wrote:Her in Cambodia are many cats and dogs eating only rice and vegetables. I guess its was kharma and not the vegetarian food.
As a militant vegan would probably die soon if there is only meat left to eat. :-) A mind thing I guess :-)



Well, let's ask a vet.

In addition, unlike humans, protein is the stimulus for insulin release in cats. Cats have adapted to high protein diets by being insulin resistant. This maintains blood glucose during periods of fasting, convenient for a cat in the wild, but not so good for pets eating a lot of carbohydrates.

"When you take an individual that is genetically programmed to consume high protein and low carbohydrates, and you put them on a high carbohydrate diet, what happens is their insulin resistance works against them," she said. "Their blood glucose concentrations are too high ... they can't overcome that, and they start to release more and more insulin in an attempt to reduce blood glucose levels." This doesn't work, however, and the cat eventually develops type 2 diabetes mellitus. The cat gets amyloid deposition in the pancreas, exhaustion of the pancreatic cells, and glucose toxicity from consumption of large amounts of carbohydrates.

According to Dr. Greco, it all comes down to common sense. "We must use a cat's natural diet as a guideline."

-Denver Colorado, American Veterinary Medical Association.


Dogs of course are quite different and can tolerate a much lower protein diet than a cat can.

So if you see a cat living on vegetables and rice, you may confidently assume it is either quite sick, or will be soon.


Dogs don't do so well with vegetables and grains either and come down with all kinds of disease.

The domestic dog and the wolf are one and the same. Dogs are not
omnivores, as some have claimed. Dogs are carnivores, exactly like
wild wolves. Geneticist Dr. Robert K. Wayne at UCLA has conclusively
proven that the domestic dog is a subspecies of the wolf. Subsequent studies
have verified this conclusion.

Next, it must be understood what wolves actually eat in the wild,
especially when they are not pressed by loss of habitat and human
intervention. Contrary to some claims, wolves do not eat the stomach
contents of their prey nor do wolves consume much vegetable matter.
The preferred food of the wild wolf is the meat, bones, and organs of large
hooved Mammals. In times of scarcity, desperate wolves will try to eat a variety of food items, just as would any starving creature, but they strongly prefer to eat
meat, organ, and bone. Dr. L. David Mech has been studying
wolves for decades, and has published many books and articles on
wolves and their diets.


Dr. Wayne's website:
http://www.eeb.ucla.edu/indivfaculty.php?FacultyKey=501Dr. Mech's website:
http://www.davemech.org/biography.html

I feed my own dog a raw diet, which isn't easy since I have to buy the chicken and other organ meat or other meats. But as a responsible dog owner I want her to be healthy, and my own vet said that she was on her way to a heart attack due to her weight. Grains which are in all dog foods are very fattening, and it isn't easy for a dog to digest them either. She has lost a lot of weight since putting her on this diet back in September, and she has a lot more energy and clean teeth. People who feed their dogs this way take them for blood work before and after and see the results. I supposed those are the people who need more proof than I do.
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Re: Veganism

Postby Blue Garuda » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:38 pm

Individual wrote:Yeshe:

:good:

I would like to be a vegetarian, but it would be so much trouble for me. Until recently, I have been eating a diet of junk -- microwaved pre-cooked foods, sodas, etc. -- and I think I may have been close to death by heart attack because of this.

For me right now, the Middle Way involves a healthy meal of grilled fish and chicken, with microwaved rice and vegetables. How animals and the world are impacted is a distant concern -- a long-term goal, but something I'd have too much difficulty implementing right now.

So, as I see it, eating meat (in a culture where it predominates) isn't the same as murder; it's more like a subtle form of laziness and ignorance.


These days eating healthy veggie food which is convenient is easy- including stuff you just chuck in the microwave, so I don't accept that you can't do that.

However, lots of vegetarians are good at reading the ingredients of food products (to avoid gelatin etc.) and there are some really unhealthy processed veggie foods out there with palm oil, salt and sugar just as bad for you as any other junk food.

Intention, intention......
We all kill by accident, simply by walking about or even by digging up our vegetables. However, that is a far cry from knowing that there is a direct relationship between creating the market for meat and directly and deliberately causing death by what we decide to eat.

Some have no choice, due to the environment they live in, but where we have a choice I would like to think that I choose the form of eating that causes least harm, but I can't think of any diet which causes no harm at all to other beings. For example that palm oil which finds its way into veggie food may well be at the expense of rainforest habitat.

There is a dilemma here. If I fly in a plane I may think that it is OK as I don't intend to kill insects whose karma brings them in contact with the plane. But what if I know those deaths have always happened and that my flight will certainly kill (unless it is unique) - surely then the killing becomes intentional, just like buying meat it creates the cause of death.?

It's hard enough making you own mind up, but I feel sorry for those friends and restaurants who have to guess what we mean when we ask for 'vegetarian' food, let alone 'vegan'. Veggieburger cooked on the same grill as meat? Tuna?
Nightmare! LOL :)
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Re: Veganism

Postby Hanzze » Wed Nov 17, 2010 1:16 pm

The more mindful the less you kill. You even would not have the desire to fly :-) Step by step! Give away the shoes is a good training.
As the master of Kung Fu Panda told us - there are no accidents :-)
Just that! :-)
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Re: Veganism

Postby Inge » Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:53 pm

Urgyen Chodron wrote:
Inge wrote:I have been vegan more than 10 years now, but feel mentally and physically like shit most of the time.


I am sorry to hear this. Have you been to see a doctor to find out why? I would encourage it.


Thanks for the consern. Yes, I have seen doctors, and they find nothing. My tibetan doctor says I have wind disease.
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Re: Veganism

Postby Hanzze » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:35 am

Dear Inge,

did you ask him what would be the best to eat, to heal it?
Just that! :-)
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Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby Luke » Sat Nov 27, 2010 11:36 pm

I am a vegetarian (except in some circumstances when I'm offered meat by others) and I strongly feel that not eating meat is more ethical than eating meat, but I keep thinking about one logical argument which bothers me.

If I understand things correctly, Buddhism views the lives of all non-human beings as being of equal value (I think Buddhism believes it's worse to kill a human than it is to kill an animal).

Anyway, then imagine that a person killed one large animal like a cow or a bear and ate the meat from that animal for three or four weeks along with maybe some bread or pasta. Wouldn't this diet result in the death of fewer sentient beings than a vegetarian diet would?

If Buddhism states that an insect's life and a cow's life both have equal value, then logically, it should be much better to kill one cow than to kill dozens of insects while growing many types of vegetables and fruit.

Is there some flaw in this line of reasoning?
Last edited by Luke on Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby fragrant herbs » Sun Nov 28, 2010 12:10 am

Vegan diets are not bloodless diets," Davis said. "Millions of animals die every year to provide products used in vegan diets."

Few studies document the losses of rabbits, mice, pheasants, snakes and other field animals in planting and harvesting crops. Said one researcher: "Because most of these animals have been seen as expendable, or not seen at all, few scientific studies have been done measuring agriculture's effects on their populations."

Davis presented his research last fall at a meeting of the European Society for Agriculture and Food Ethics, in Florence, Italy. There he questioned the conclusions of animal rights proponents and offered alternatives using the Least Harm Principle. Central to his argument is the unseen mortality that accompanies the production of row crops and grains, staples of a vegan diet, in agricultural systems large enough to sustain the human population.

Davis proposes a ruminant-pasture model of food production, which would replace all poultry, pig and lamb production with beef and dairy products. According to his calculations, such a model would result in the deaths of 300 million fewer animals annually (counting both field animals and cattle) than would a total vegan model. This difference, according to Davis, is mainly the result of fewer field animals killed in pasture and forage production than in the growing and harvest of grain, beans, and corn.

http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2002/Mar02/vegan.htm

http://oregonstate.edu/dept/ncs/newsarch/2002/Apr02/davis.htm

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=97836&page=1

It's obvious that some animals die when their land is taken away for farming, Norris says, "but you take it away only once." It doesn't lead to the continuous slaughter of animals for human consumption, he contends, because once the land is turned into a farm, there aren't that many animals around to kill.

so it isn't just that insects are killed but other animals are killed as well in the process of growing vegetables, etc.


Just goes to show that even if you desire to do no harm, harm is done.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby Indrajala » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:52 am

Luke wrote:I am a vegetarian (except in some circumstances when I'm offered meat by others) and I strongly feel that not eating meat is more ethical than eating meat, but I keep thinking about one logical argument which bothers me.

If I understand things correctly, Buddhism views the lives of all non-human beings as being of equal value (I think Buddhism believes it's slightly worse to kill an animal than to kill a human).

Anyway, then imagine that a person killed one large animal like a cow or a bear and ate the meat from that animal for three or four weeks along with maybe some bread or pasta. Wouldn't this diet result in the death of fewer sentient beings than a vegetarian diet would?

If Buddhism states that an insect's life and a cow's life both have equal value, then logically, it should be much better to kill one cow than to kill dozens of insects while growing many types of vegetables and fruit.

Is there some flaw in this line of reasoning?



Many insects are killed in the planting and harvesting of wheat which makes that bread and pasta.

Moreover, the way animals are raised now is with feeding them grains like corn. The production of corn kills insects, but on top of that feeding that corn to the cow (14 kilograms of grain to make one kilogram of beef) means many more insects die to produce one dead cow for human consumption.

Let's say 10 insects die to produce 1 kilogram of barley. It takes 14 kilograms of barley to produce 1 kilogram of beef. So, 140 insects die to produce 1 kilogram of beef plus the cow's life.

I think it follows that by eating just the grain and not the cow, you save 14 times the amount of lives than if you consumed the beef. To make the beef kills far more insects than just producing grains and vegetables.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby spiritnoname » Sun Nov 28, 2010 5:01 am

In what sense are animals equal to human beings in the Buddhist teachings?

Human life is potentially far more precious than an animal's according to Buddhist teachings. Human life according to the teachings is much rarer than animal life and in a human body we can achieve liberation where as animals cannot.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby Luke » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:36 pm

spiritnoname wrote:In what sense are animals equal to human beings in the Buddhist teachings?

Human life is potentially far more precious than an animal's according to Buddhist teachings. Human life according to the teachings is much rarer than animal life and in a human body we can achieve liberation where as animals cannot.

Yes, I agree. I made a mistake in my OP.

I originally wrote, "I think Buddhism believes it's slightly worse to kill an animal than to kill a human."

But I meant to write, "I think Buddhism believes it's slightly worse to kill a human than to kill an animal."

I edited my OP. Thanks for pointing out the mistake.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby Luke » Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:37 pm

Huseng wrote:I think it follows that by eating just the grain and not the cow, you save 14 times the amount of lives than if you consumed the beef. To make the beef kills far more insects than just producing grains and vegetables.

Aha! Now I see the flaw in my reasoning: I forgot that the cow has to eat something! (I studied math, so I'm often very bad at practical thinking. Lol.)

Okay, that takes care of the cow scenario. Hmm...what about raising carnivores like lions or bears? But then you'd have to feed them meat which would probably be from an animal which was probably fed grain or other plants, so that would result in killing even more animals in total. Ah, I'm seeing the light.

From a Buddhist point of view, it would be better to eat one cow than to eat 20 chickens, though. However, not intentionally killing any animal is certainly much better.


Wow, very interesting articles! Thanks!

***********
The modern meat industry is clearly quite terrible ethically, but here is an interesting question. Which person's diet results in the deaths of fewer animals: a modern vegetarian or someone in a primitive hunter-gatherer society?

In a hunter-gatherer society, they don't kill insects through farming (well, some jungle tribes DO eat insects, but let's assume for the moment that the tribe in question does not). The animal might kill insects unintentionally while grazing, but this isn't the fault of the humans who hunt it.

Also, hunter-gatherers don't kill very many animals when compared to cattle farmers because hunters in primitive cultures have to expend a lot of time and energy to successfully kill a large animal.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby Luke » Sun Nov 28, 2010 2:39 pm

Huseng wrote:Moreover, the way animals are raised now is with feeding them grains like corn. The production of corn kills insects, but on top of that feeding that corn to the cow (14 kilograms of grain to make one kilogram of beef) means many more insects die to produce one dead cow for human consumption.

But what about cows which are allowed to graze on grass? Might that result in the deaths of fewer animals than vegetable farming?

(i.e. one cow being killed plus maybe a few insects which were killed accidentally vs. killing hundreds of insects by harvesting fields or by using pesticides)
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby Indrajala » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:46 pm

Luke wrote:But what about cows which are allowed to graze on grass? Might that result in the deaths of fewer animals than vegetable farming?

(i.e. one cow being killed plus maybe a few insects which were killed accidentally vs. killing hundreds of insects by harvesting fields or by using pesticides)


Unfortunately most cattle are not raised like that anymore. Traditionally they were.

My grandfather raised his cattle humanely. They just wandered around vast fields eating grass and pooping. They were not mistreated. His dairy cows were beautiful animals that just ate grass and were never separated from their calves. I remember him walking into the sunset and coming back with them from the field over the hill. They milked the cows twice a day. He didn't even have to force them to come. He'd just go there and they'd follow him back. Milk was taken and they'd go back to the field at their leisure. The calves never had a lack of milk. It was a mutually beneficial relationship between humans and cows. In the harsh cold winter the cows and calves were fed grain and given shelter.

And then once or twice a week the milk truck would come to BUY milk and cream from my grandparents. The company came to them to purchase fresh milk and cream.

When I read Indian stories of beloved cows I can really understand why.

Unfortunately it is mostly factory farms now.


Keep in mind that if we grew vegetables and grain in the traditional way there would be minimal killing of insects. When you plow the field you kill worms yes, but that is not intentional. When you cut up a cow for beef, you have to intentionally end the life of the cow. When you plow the field the intention is not to slaughter all the worms in the soil.

I think the ideal diet would be one made up primarily of fruits picked by one's own hand and dairy taken from well treated and loved cows.

That isn't really possible for most of us nowadays though.

In any case, not eating meat is also good for the environment and your health. Meat production on the scale of what it is today is absolutely horrible for the environment.

Also keep in mind this: by eating meat you directly support the trade of the butcher. The economy of meat, which is based on the slaughter of sentient beings, only exists because there is a demand for the product. Those butchers would not be killing animals and sewing the seeds of rebirth in hell if you and everyone else refrained from buying their product.

So not eating meat is also good for your fellow humans. No meat consumption = no butchers.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby Blue Garuda » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:58 pm

We all kill, unless we live like the Jains who wear masks so as not to breathe in any insects, eat only produce which does not kill the plant, and whisk the path they walk upon to remove insects.

The difference, significant to Buddhists is 'Intention'.

Eating and wearing animal products involves deliberate killing. Meat is in the supermarkets because there is a demand, so there is no escape from causing death (and whatever suffering may accompany it) if you create that market.

If beings are killed as a result of crop production, it is either deliberately (pesticides) or accidentally.
Organic produce may be less fatal to other beings, but I'm no expert.

If our intention is to cause the least harm, we may still blunder about and maybe cause more deaths than a meat-eater. A Buddhist who wishes to avoid meat may have to decide if the lives of a few hundred insects and small mammals is less harmful than the death of a sheep or a cow. Of course, this is not an 'either/or' situation. If we produce plant-based food and instead of eating it ourselves, we feed it to animals and then eat the animals, we have the same level of killing as a vegetarian who eats the plant food, plus the death of the animals. I believe there is also a strong argument that eating the crop yourself is also more efficient than eating the animal which ate the crop.

However, I have a problem, and a possible solution, with regard to 'Intent'. It goes like this:

I met a party of strict Jains who are dedicated to causing least harm and have no intention to kill. They flew by jet from India to the UK and back again. I thought this was strange, as thousands of insects almost certainly died as a resulkt of their decision to travel. They knew it would happen, so is that 'intent' to kill?

Thier explanation was that they could not control the karma of other beings who accidentally came into contact with the plane, and could not know for sure what may happen, therefore there was no intention on their part and although there is a consequence to their karma of accidental killing, it is obviously a minor consideration.

Back to the meat eaters and my desire to behave in a way which causes least harm. So what about monks who accept whatever food is placed in their offering bowls, including meat - as long as the animal was not killed 'for them'. I may be controversial here, but to me this seems like a major cop-out. Back in time, if an impoversished villager gave a monk meat, it's pretty certain that it was killed for him, maybe even in the expectation of gaining 'merit'.

In modern times there is no need at all - many omnivorous humans live very healthy lives without eating other beings. If people choose the karma of eating meat then that's their choice - whereas the beings killed for them have no choice at all.

I choose to contribute to no intentional killing and wonder how many would continue demanding food involving killing if they had to do it for themselves - often meat products are well disguised, even in their names, so that the squeamish aren't reminded that pork is dead pig, beef is dead cow, etc.

Now, if I can just work cults and rebirth into this post, I'll have all 3 of the most 'lively' topics knocked off in one go! LOL :)
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Re: Veganism

Postby Inge » Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:05 pm

Hanzze wrote:Dear Inge,

did you ask him what would be the best to eat, to heal it?


Yes, he gave me dietary advice, and also prescribed several different herbal medicines. I followed the advice strictly for maybe a year, but then when I was unable to see much improvement I started losing faith and motivation to follow his advice.

One other thing he told me was that I had to much female energy, and that I had to stop worrying. This I have been unable to do.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby Inge » Sun Nov 28, 2010 8:51 pm

I think you will be unsuccessful to find a diet that is 'blame-free', at least not while remainding an ordinary being. Even if you were to live from wild fruits and berries, on each square meter of forest lives approximately 400 spiders as well as myriads of other beings. Where are you to put your feet?

How many sentient beings are there in a single glass of water?

Some teachers say that also plants and minerals are living beings that we need to lead to buddhahood.

I have read that venerable Hsuan Hua, who often strongly propagated a vegan diet, said that the one important reason for not eating meat was that it increases ones desire and anger. Like the five pungent plants.

For those beings who know how to transform the mental afflictions into wisdom, I suppose eating meat is not harmful, if they don't have vegetarian vows off course. Is this correct?

The same goes also for those who know how to liberate the afflictions?

For renunciates did not the Buddha allow eating of meat that was pure in the tre ways?

Is not thinking that such pure meat comes from a slaughtered animal just speculation - fantasy?

Someone said that the monks who receive alms have to eat whatever they are given, is this correct? I ask because I have also heard a story about monks who received meat, and who brought it back to the monastery and instead of eating it performed rituals for the dead animal.
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Re: Diet and minimizing harm to other beings

Postby fragrant herbs » Sun Nov 28, 2010 10:59 pm

Some teachers say that also plants and minerals are living beings that we need to lead to buddhahood.


I have felt this way but never knew if it were true or not.

I imagine, like you said, that in walking we kill many things, but the only thing we can do is not eat something that we purposely know was killed for us to eat. There isn't much that we can do about the insects that are killed in planting, nor the animals that are plowed over and have lost their homes, not unless we have our own garden on which to live, and as I found living on some property in Oklahoma, you can starve even if you have fruit trees and plant a vegetable garden. I have had fruit trees for 3 years, and this year was the first year they were loaded with fruit, and then they all sriveled up and died. My veggie garden yielded very little in his heat. It is obvious to me that many people would have died if they had not eaten meat in years past.
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Re: Veganism

Postby Hanzze » Mon Nov 29, 2010 3:41 pm

Dear Inge,

what do you think of, when ever in the next time somebody invites you to a normal dinner, do not explain why and how, just take there invitation and let it be as it is.

Just enjoy what is given!

Be unfeminine feminine
Just that! :-)
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Re: Veganism

Postby Clueless Git » Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:39 am

Ervin wrote:What is your opinion on the topic?

Thanks

Although I was vegan before I read it something Thich Nat Hanh said has always stuck in my head. Was along the lines of "you cannot be free from the causes of suffering whilst being a cause of suffering".

I have also read that the buddha specificaly named birth and death as two major forms of suffering. Sickness and old age being the other two that made up the four in the passages I read.

The meat industry is a cause of unatural births and unnatural deaths on an absolutely massive scale and sickness is indemic in the vast unnatural livestock herds.

It would appear that old age is the only form of suffering from which animals in the food chain are actualy spared.
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Re: Veganism

Postby Inge » Tue Nov 30, 2010 9:42 pm

Hanzze wrote:Dear Inge,

what do you think of, when ever in the next time somebody invites you to a normal dinner, do not explain why and how, just take there invitation and let it be as it is.

Just enjoy what is given!

Be unfeminine feminine


I don't know what would be the benefit of that. Why do you think this is beneficial?

Some times I have done this allready. For instance I usually try to avoid the fiven pungent plants, but when they are served I just eat, and don't say or do anything about it. Also a few time when offered things that contains milk products. Even one time meat. How is this beneficial. I don't know how to properly deal with the kleshas, neither applying antidotes, transorming them or liberate them, so isn't it then better to try to not let them arise?

What do you mean with "be unfeminine feminine"?
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