BTW, when Norbu Rinpoche says that being a vegetarian is "miserable" compassion, he is primarily referring to Vajrayāna Buddhists who advocate vegetarianism. Why? Because there are methods in Vajrayāna which assist the animals in question achieve liberation who are connected with the production of our food, whether they are destroyed through pesticides and cultivation or through slaughter. Thus, even if one is a vegetarian one may not justify one's choice not to eat meat through resort of arguments of compassion since one is leaving behind animals who are slaughtered for meat.
He also makes it very clear that the writings on vegetarianism by Shabkar and so on are direct towards common people who are not real Vajrayāna practitioners. Since they have no method and no understanding it is much better that they not eat meat. Also the Buddha taught in Mahāyāna sutra that we mustn't eat meat.
This is just crazy and also speciesist. Why not also have the obviously superior Vajrayana humans also eat other inferiors who are also humans -- cannibalism, to liberate them? I think it is unfair to humans to not eat them also, so they can be liberated from samsara. Why do animals deserve better? Also, if we are gonna descend to this level of crazy, why can't we object and just eat hair or nails? Is that not enough?
Since everyone is currently calling Thrasymachus out (and with some good reason, I myself gave him some pretty stern disagreement in a recent thread), I'm going to have to say I actually agree with this part to some degree. I've been practicing Vajrayana for years myself, and I do genuinely believe in the power of prayer to help liberate beings. But when it comes to this type of thing, it bothers me on a very deep level. Perhaps more than anything I ever encounter in Buddhist teaching to be honest. It's not so much that I'm suggesting people need to be vegetarian. There are other things more important to practice. I also think people should do the good things they can, and still be Buddhists even if they can't do everything. Being a practitioner is not about upholding some kind of "purity" or being perfect. I see it similar (well, in some ways) to celibacy, where one could say it's maybe "better" in some ways for your practice to be, but not required whatsoever.
But it truthfully sickens me, when something so clearly brutal from an objective, removed from any religion, perspective is almost presented as if it's better, or equally beneficial to beings. When it comes to things like this, I think we need to step back, and see what it would look like to someone that wasn't a vajrayana practitioner. The bottom line is, the argument against what is absolutely horrific (modern day factory farming), is doing something that is invisible, and has no real-world proof of benefit. Yes, I have faith in teachings but I do not believe every
teaching ever, even from great Lamas is necessarily morally correct. Prayer is important, but it should never override doing 100% harmful things. It reminds me of seeing Christians emotionally torturing gay youth in the real world, and then them reassuring me it's fine because their invisible god will actually make things better for them in the long run that way. There is literally no difference, it is comparing black and white horror to a subjective religious belief that it may not harm/or benefit them.
I'll try to make one more comparison:
So you are not directly
responsible for the animals death. And then, you choose to eat it long after it's dead, and then justify it with a prayer for it's benefit, thus making it okay. Let's say there is a human that is kidnapped for sex slavery. She spends her whole life in absolute torture, birth to death. You go to a restaurant. They have a secret offering, where they've killed these sex slaves, and let customers have sex with their bodies. You are taught that you can liberate a dead body by saying a prayer while you have sex with it, if you happen to be making a choice to have sex with it. But, you have to pay the restaurant a large sum of your money, and every time you do it it not only encourages them, but the money goes towards buying more sex slaves and continuing the trade. Would you do it, give them your money, and continue funding the practice even if someone told you saying a prayer during might
help liberate this person? And to people that say you might as well participate in something because it will never change, do you feel that it was morally right for people to participate in the slave trade, because it was the total norm at the time? What if you bought some slaves, but the only freedom you gave them was saying prayers they could no longer hear?
Meat eating bothers me to a certain degree, but religious justification, and saying not participating in a cycle of horror is no different than participating while mumbling certain words and thinking certain thoughts, truly upsets me deeply.