Of course there is the need to eat accompanied by the need to survive. Thank god, our forefathers and their forefathers decided to keep only three meals a day. I wonder what if they agreed upon some additional meals a day. And then there is the need to keep healthy. And here we have this notion that no meal is complete without meat. People can’t imagine organizing a party or any kind of celebration without meat items. This comes at the cost of hundreds of animals’ lives; cows and pigs and goats and chickens. And there is the need to live longer and happier, but at the cost of millions of other lives. Some meat connoisseurs claim their meals are tasteless and that they feel dizzy without having to consume meat in their meals. And then there is compassion – the defining quality that separates human lots from the animals – associated with Buddhist principles. As Buddhists, we condemn killing even an insect.
But again, every day hundreds of animals lose their lives because of our insatiable desire for meat. If such an action suits us the Buddhists is for anyone to judge. Vegetarianism needs no Buddhist masters to encourage it; rather it should be born out of our love and compassion for the suffering animals. It has to be understood from our experience of a minimal pain that we go through when a small thorn pricks our fingers. In other words every animal, big or small, deserves our sympathy. Feeling empathetic to the plights of animals is paving our way to turning veg.
I am not a reincarnate lama or a Buddhist master trying to preach any doctrine here. All I am saying is that if we slowly start looking beyond our appetite for meat and turn vegetarians, killing and violence to animals would decrease in the world. There are many alternatives –our dieticians recommend green vegetables and doctors urge us to involve in active and healthy lifestyles minus junk foods. That’s the way to live healthy life devoid of any lifestyle related diseases. There are so many ways to make meals tasty.
Once an American friend asked me “how come Buddhism prohibits any form of killing, yet meat is freely available in the country?” I found satisfaction in telling him that in the villages, our farmers never kill animals and meat is eaten only when animals die. To which he sarcastically remarked, “That means once pigs are fattened, people take them to the nearby cliff and start pushing them slowly off the cliff. And once the animals fall down, they claim the pigs died on their own.” Maybe some people weave such stories to tell visitors, but it offers us some acumen now. We claim we don’t kill. But we eat a lot of meat. That becomes indirect killing. If not many people relish meat, more hands would develop mercy. And finally, an Indian butcher had this to say specifically to Bhutanese meat lovers: “How much ever we slaughter, the meat is still insufficient to Drukpas.”
Let’s promote compassion and spread love. Let’s go empathetically green by turning vegetarians, all of us, gradually, one at a time.