I don't think if any food animal would be capable of human language, that they would narrowly equate eating their mothers and sisters with just the egos of the followers of carnism whose plate they would end up on. Nor would they care if you can become enlightened either way. Thus it has bigger consequences than just ego.
1.Why would they need language to equate anything to anything else?
2. Gaining the approval of animals is not the point of dharma practice, so whether they care about if I "can become enlightened
" is irrelevant.
3. Just to clarify a term, "ego" in Buddhist usage is more than just some sense of "inflated ego" or whatever. It goes beyond even a conscious awareness. it is the experience of continuous being
I am not disagreeing with you that killing animals to eat them causes them suffering. Anybody can see that. When I took 5 precepts, after being a vegetarian for some 16 years, my teacher explained that if I ate meat or something with meat in it, this is not breaking that precept. But i cannot order something to be killed. I can''t go to a lobster restaurant and pick out a live one and tell them to cook it for me. So, since this forum is about Buddhism, and not just about whatever ethics for whatever reason, that is why i am bringing that up.
Of course there is plenty of suffering that comes from butchering animals. And of course, if people keep buying meat, people will continue to make it available. That is an important concern. But it is not the main point of concern for the purpose of practicing dharma. A person might say, "because I am a Buddhist, I choose not to eat meat, or wear leather, or maintain my existence in any way from the suffering of others, as much as possible" and this is very commendable. But this is only the way Buddhism inspires you to live your life. Aside from that nice inspiration, it is not the point of Buddhism.
A lot of people, especially people who have migrated to Buddhism from one religion or another, are looking for some moral high ground. they want to be good people, and they want Buddhism to be the thing that makes them good people. but in many ways, this is just transferring a religious value system onto Buddhism. They want eating meat to be a sin. they basically feel it is a sin to eat meat. But buddhism doesn't have sins. there is no judge that you will stand before, after you die who will look at all the good and bad things you did. That's not Buddhism, and that's not even what karma is about.
The reason for doing and not doing things in buddhism, things such as killing, and so forth, is not to keep something from dying or even from suffering. Everything dies. All beings suffer. This is the first teaching of the buddha. All beings are suffering. Yes, it is important not to cause suffering. but there is no way around it. All beings are suffering.
If you kill a being, you are directly
instigating a chain of events. You yourself are causing the separation of the aggregates (components) of the body (and also the mind) of that being to begin the process of separation. So, whatever karma is coming to fruition in that being's life, which resulted in that being's composites being together at that moment, you are just cutting into that. It's like you are stopping the movie right in the middle. And that action carries a lot of weight. That is why killing is prohibited, but eating meat which is offered to you is not prohibited.
That is the fine line of distinction. It's not saying that eating meat is good, or that not eating meat is stupid. The Buddha laid down rules to keep people on the path to liberation from suffering. That's all. they are like hand-rails on a narrow footbridge over a deep valley. It's not "wrong" to let go, but if you fall off and die it will be very hard to climb back up again.
So the purpose of "right and wrong" in Buddhism isn't about how you perceive
the suffering of others. You know, it's terrible to kill a pig but okay for your white blood cells to attack a bacteria? Why don't we cry when we see movies about microbes? It is all a matter of perception. It is subjective choosing on our part. Maybe the agony of the microbes is greater than the pig. But we don't know.
I have seen a lot of disturbing things in movies. The impact of the movie in my memory lasts even longer than the animal would have lived! It's great when seeing the suffering of others motivates people to try to end that suffering. That is probably how human civilization progressed this far.
But the Buddha dharma goes beyond that.
If you say, "I will never eat meat because it is morally wrong to eat meat" then this is just copping a moral attitude in order to solidify your own ego trip. "look at what a good person I am, how purely I live or try to live!" and then, what often follows is denouncing those who are not as pure! Or, somebody works very hard to make meal for somebody, and that somebody turns their nose up at it. "I can't eat that. The pan it was cooked in still had some bacon grease in it." And now everybody suffers.
When monks beg, they have to take whatever food is offered to them. They have to leave all their attitudes behind, and just suck it up and be grateful for the generosity of the giver. So, the problem arises when people interject a second set of moral values, because they have been inspired by Buddhism to lead a compassionate and mindful life, and they stop there.
If you don't realize your own true mind, it doesn't matter what goes into your belly or where it came from. You may save a herd of cattle in this lifetime, and that will be a very good thing, but that will be all you save.
You might enjoy reading "The Zen Teachings Of Bodhidharma" translated by Red Pine.
He talks about this very thing.