Vegetarian Debate

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Cernos
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Vegetarian Debate

Postby Cernos » 07 Nov 2006, 00:37

I was wondering about how many Druids are actually vegetarians. I'm guessing theyre are alot but I don;t think it's necesary. You can choose to live your life the way you want, but I think it's fine to not be a vegetarian. I feel that Druids are not above nature but part of it, and in nature, animals eat each other all the time, and the ones who don't eat, get eaten. Anyone who feels differently, I would love to have a debate about this topic.
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Postby SidheAingeal » 07 Nov 2006, 00:45

I pretty much agree with you. The only reason I would choose to not eat meat is if I felt the animal had not been killed humanely.
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Postby Kat Lady » 07 Nov 2006, 00:49

Here is a link to a discussion on the subject that was started previously in the Pub. Many views here. Basically, I believe it is a personal choice.
http://www.druidry.org/board/viewtopic. ... an&start=0
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Postby Sequoiarealm » 07 Nov 2006, 01:24

Hi Cernos,

    I agree it is a personal choice. I personally choose to be vegetarian. One reason I choose to do so is health another is that for me it's apparent that this is the simplest yet most far reaching form of activism. It takes 1/6 the land to feed me that it takes to feed a meat eater. You mention choice and I agree about choice. It is in HUMAN makeup to have choice this is part of the thought process that seperates me from the "animals" you mention who kill as part of nature. Im not a lion nor am I bound by the conciousness of a lion. I hear people use this analogy for killing other people and war as well. For me, I just don't buy it. We think differently than animals with "lower forms of conciousness" this much should be obvious imho.

Just my opine,
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Postby meghanst » 07 Nov 2006, 08:03

I choose the vegetarianism that many people follow in South India where small sea creatures and fish are often called the vegetables of the sea. If I could kill the animal myself and I needed and wanted the food and it was part of my social customs, I would be happy to kill it but I’d kill it humanely and with dignity and prayer. I heard a farmer talk once about slaughtering lambs and he said if they were approached calmly and petted, they hardly felt their throat cut and they died peacefully as opposed to the horror and terror in slaughter yards.

The conditions most domestic animals live and are slaughtered under are horrendous. Years ago I bought a leg of pork for Christmas and had it naturally cured by the butcher. When we cooked and cut it, one part had a very strange look and smell so we didn’t eat it. When I took it back, the butcher said that it was a small, young animal that had been badly bruised in-transit to slaughter because they are tightly packed into vehicles and transported long distances. I was so distressed by the thought of what the poor animal went through that I haven’t eaten meant since.

As Druids the question should not be about whether we eat meat but as to whether we allow and encourage this type of treatment of animals by purchasing this meat.
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Postby DaRC » 07 Nov 2006, 15:32

I'm mostly vegetarian, a bit like Earth in the Hitchhikers Guide is mostly harmless :wink:.  
My wife is vegetarian (but with a very occasional penchance for rare steak - go figure) and before I met her I had been vegetarian on and off for various reasons.  With regards to diet though, from what I have read, human's aren't designed to eat meat every day.  Two to three times a week at most.  So as chief cook and bottle washer in the house I decide  the balance of the family diet.  The kids get a lot more meat as a) they're fussy b) they're growing.

On a normal week I'd cook a couple of vegetable pasta meals, a vegetable soup, an egg based dinner, a lentil / pulse dish and a couple of (farmed) fish meals.  I try to get a balance between eating pasta, potatoes and rice for carbs.  
By reducing the focus on meat in a meal then you increase the focus on the vegetables - this is where many eating a westernised diet fail - and the sheer variety and seasonal changes in vegetables (ok I include fruit such as tomatoes and squash) keeps food interesting.

My basic eating philsosophy is if you can't face killing it you shouldn't eat it and that includes fish.    I don't enjoy killing and am quite happy to let a professional do it but if push comes to shove hand me the butchers knife.  

The basis of my dietary philosophy though is to get the highest quality, locally produced, natural products that I can.   I want to know that the farmer who raised the sheep is passionate about caring for his/her animals and producing something of quality.  I'd rather save my money and spend 10 times as much on local happy sheep wandering the hills that are raised sensibly than on mass produced, force fed animals kept in an industrialised way.  If these means I eat meat once every 10 months then so be it.

However, underpinning this, is the saying "moderation in all things - including moderation" so yes, very occasionally, I buy exotic food from far flung places that has been flown in and at the other end of the scale I will go to a burger bar (usually only to wonder why afterwards).

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Postby Giess » 08 Nov 2006, 00:20

I'm far from being a vegetarian but I do believe in an ethical responsibility when it comes to finding out where your meat comes from and making sure it is ethically treated.  

I'm fortunate enough to get almost all of my meat from my uncles farm in north Wales, where I have been able to help look after most of the animals myself and know they are properly treated.  

I'm sure if I didn't have this luxury I would eat almost no meat, and only that I was sure came from reputable sources.

On a similar note, I'm not particularly informed about this but isn't fish farming basically battery farming fish? I can't see why moral objections regarding land animals don't equally apply to fish.

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Postby meghanst » 08 Nov 2006, 00:42

[quote="Giess"]isn't fish farming basically battery farming fish? I can't see why moral objections regarding land animals don't equally apply to fish.

Hi Giess
Fish will die very quickly in a 'bad' environment and I know this from keeping various aquariums and how quickly they can die even in a 'good' environment. Small birds are the same. Also I follow the Hindu belief system that the higher in the evolutionary chain the worse it is to mistreat or kill an animal and this seems very logical. For instance how many people would be upset about killing cockroaches? Or mosquitoes that can carry malaria?
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Postby Sequoiarealm » 08 Nov 2006, 01:40

Hi all,

     I applaud people becoming more conscientious about how animals are treated in their various locales. I have a question though. Im in no way trying to provoke or make anyone mad--I truly am interested in the logic. I find myself raising an eyebrow as I read some posts. Before I ask let me reemphasize that I think vegetarianism is a personal choice and I don't judge others based on this choice.

    How does one reconcile the idea of 'ethical responsibility' with regard to animals in part of the thinking, and then speak about killing the animal? I could be wrong but it does sound a little like, "Treat animals with respect because they are living creatures, but killing them is okay". Seems a paradox to me. So Im seriously wondering (not being arguementative here) how does one say, "Crowding animals is bad but killing them is alright"?

Curiously awaiting your thoughts,
Sequoia
Last edited by Sequoiarealm on 08 Nov 2006, 04:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Lady Nimue » 08 Nov 2006, 02:33

Hi Cernos....thank you for the topic and welcome to the Board!
I am vegitarian, but had spent many years as a meat eatter, until it no longer resonnated with me.I have chosen not to eat mammals....but the operative word is chosen. After many years as an animal rights activist and learning about the behind the scenes truths...I dont miss it at all.
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Postby Cernos » 08 Nov 2006, 03:53

Thats a good point about the land use. The world is shrinking, especially forests. I know that eating meat only increases land clearence for grazing. A good example of what can happen to a forested country is Ireland, In the 1720's Ireland was 60% forest, know its a small 2%. This shows what can happen if a people lose track of there enviroment.
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Postby Wren MacDonald » 08 Nov 2006, 10:51

Hello:

Yes, I recommend reading the thread that Kat Lady pointed out that we had a while back, as many views on this topic were already posted there.  I am veggie, as I believe it is the ethical choice, for these reasons:

a) less land use to raise plants than to raise animals
b) inhumane factory farms (and that is where most meat, at least in this country, comes from nowadays)
c) less killing overall, as you are killing less plants to get one vegetarian meal than the amount of plants that go into creating one meat meal
d) less water use raising plants and not animals
e) health reasons (think heart health, cancer, obesity rates, etc)
f) the pollution from factory farms is horrible too (think water and ground pollution from the huge concentrated amounts of manure (they actually have a term for the pits where it all gets dumped but I can't think of it right now) and mass methane creation from cattle farms)

However I accept that not everyone is going to agree with me, or they have different needs/priorities, etc., so I don't try and convert other people.  For example, my best friend is such a carnivore that we probably balance each other out in the end, but she doesn't try and shove a burger down my throat and I don't try and shove tofu down hers, and we're good.  :D  I am actually the only vegetarian I know in person so I'm used to being the freak in this regard.

And speaking of dietary needs, I often wish I could go vegan, but for me this isn't very feasible... I have seriously cut down on my dairy and egg consumption, however I don't think I could ever completely give them up as I am hypoglycemic and when I need to eat, I need to eat, and if I need protein instead of carbs (or the reverse, for that matter) to balance out my blood sugar than I have to eat it soon or else I'm a roller coaster mess, and frankly, in most places it's not easy to find a vegan meal that meets my instantaneous blood sugar needs (depending on what I need right then).  So if I'm at home and I'm baking a cake, yes, I can use the soy milk and the egg replacer mix; but if I'm out running errands and I need some protein or I'll turn into crazy sugar crashing lady, I will grab a slice of cheese something or other.  So I completely understand that some people's dietary needs dictate the type of food they eat.  Even Ingrid Newkirk, the head of PETA, has to take beef-based insulin for her diabetes, as the synthetic version didn't work for her and she had no option if she wanted to keep her health up.

Anyway, it is a personal choice but I've never been one for shoving your causes down other people's throats.  Debate like this is good because it helps people see other points of view, and may also give information to people that are trying to still make a choice about it, but saying that "my way is better" about anything I think is pretty presumptious.  My ethics are not your ethics and yours are not mine (nor are our needs the same).  Also, if someone goes veggie due to "peer pressure," I don't think it will stick, as you have to want to make a major change like that for YOURSELF, imho.  People often resent being forced into certain positions, and end up going in the complete opposite direction out of rebellion.  So guilting someone into giving up their beloved steak isn't doing them or your cause (vegetarianism) any good, again imho.  ^_^  Definately if someone says, "I'm interested in going veggie, can you tell me about it/give me suggestions?" I'm all for it but trying to convince someone who doesn't want to go veggie I think is a waste of energy.

Anyway, once again just my two cents on the matter.


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Postby DaRC » 08 Nov 2006, 13:58

Giess - I fully accept the thought that farmed fish is effectively like factory farming them.  I do try to buy organically farmed fish but this doesn't help the fact that they are kept in pens.  However IMHO it's the best of a bad lot - buying fish caught from the wild is merely encouraging the current unsustainable rape of our seas.  Only by consumers buying farmed fish can the market be developed and then the conditions for the fish be improved.

My ideal would be that farmed fish would be an interim measure whilst the following occurred:
-   all mass/factory fishing across the world was stopped for 5 years to allow fish stocks to recover
-   identified breeding grounds became protected (by the navy) reserves
-   re-stocking programs were introduced into the identified breeding grounds

Then on-going re-stocking programs would balance what we ate so that we replace what we take from the seas.

Sequiarealm - that is a good question and one that I would answer thus; in the UK (and across much of the world) Man has had a major involvement in creating the landscape.    My beloved South Downs are the product of years of sheep / cattle / rabbit grazing - this has created a unique ecology where many rare species thrive.  The land is not really suitable for raising crops - although farming subsidies means many farmers keep on trying which is not good for the ecology - so to preserve the unique ecology it is necessary for sheep / cattle grazing to be commercially viable .    The rabbits were introduced by the Romans/Normans for food, all the domestic breeds of animals only survive because Man eats them.   Even domestic breeds kept for other purposes (e.g. dairy herds or wool sheep) have a by product (e.g. calves or an excess of sheep for the land) where the most effective solution is that we eat the by product.  

So from this logic and within my landscape; to preserve the land it needs to be farmed, the farming will have a by product of meat.  That meat has to have a commercial market.  I am a part of that commercial market.  On the flip side though the animals needs have to be considered.   When the animal is free-roaming and by it being farmed it maintains/enhances the landscape it is a double bonus - the animal is happy and the landscape is preserved/encouraged.

The final part is it's death - now our gov't (in it's infinite wisdom) thought it would be better to centralise and commercialise slaughtering animals.   This is, arguably, a bad practice for the animals as it means they often have to travel a long way to the abattoir.  Local abattoirs would, probably, be better for the animals IF it could be ensured they were well run.

I hope that provides some more manure for the brain cells.  Cheers, Dave.

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Postby Claer » 08 Nov 2006, 14:47

I'm vegetarian, and have been since I was 5 years old. My parents used to eat meat, but it was from animals they reared and humanely slaughtered themselves. Now they don't have the smallholding, they don't eat meat. As an animal welfare researcher I've visited and assessed enough bad abbattiors and farms to see that there is no room in my diet for animals reared and killed in such ways and conditions. However, I do think it possible to rear and kill certain animals with respect and humanely. It is just that I don't often see it being done that way. Personally, I just don't feel the need for meat in my diet, so I consider it unnescessary to rear and cull my own animals to provide me with meat. I do keep my own chickens for eggs, and my milk comes from a friend at work, who keeps her animals very similar to how I would if they were mine.
Part of my work involves working with producers and farms to make step by step changes to their farms and systems of production (mainly poultry) to improve animal welfare, in line with what we currently understand animal needs to be. It is slow, but many of our farmers in the UK are further on than in other countries.
I wish more people would consider whether they need so much meat in their diet, and where and how it comes from/ was produced.
The RSPCA runs a labelling scheme called Freedom Food, which accepts that many wish to eat meat, but aims to improve the welfare of the animals according to a well researched set of welfare standards. these standards are now starting to be used throughout the world - so improvements are afoot and moving forward.
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Postby Nineflowers » 10 Nov 2006, 01:05

I come from a long long line of farmers. I'm a veggie. I think the only reason people eat meat is because they're so remote from the process. Have no problem with people who rear and kill meat for themselves - there's no hypocrisy in that.

Next village to us there's a slaughterhouse. Every day the lorries go through with cows, pigs or sheep in. Last week, I heard a load of pigs come through.  Now I grew up next door to a licensed slaughterer - he used to kill pigs in a barn, a few yards from our land, so I'm used to hearing pigs squeal. These pigs weren't squealing. The only word for what they were doing, as the lorry drove the last few yards to the slaughterhouse - was 'screaming'. Anyone who's heard that can no longer pretend animals don't know what's about to happen to them... To kill them humanely, at the end of a decent, free range life, in ones or twos, is one thing. The stuff you buy in a supermarket doesn't die that way.  

We used to keep pigs - my father tells me they were more intelligent than the average dog.

Ask anyone who has raised cows how intelligent they know or whether they know when they are being led into the slaughterhouse.  Same story.

Plus non organic meats are full of drug residues and chemicals. I once heard a radio programme that said most butchers these days can only father girls - apparently there are so many artificial hormones injected into animals, that handling the flesh all day, it gets into the bloodstream. I dunno if that's true but I want to believe it!

I'm not sentimental about animals - have seen both my parents wring the neck of the pultry we'd then eat. My uncle was a poacher - we often had a brace of something hanging behind the kitchen door. That is a different thing to the intensive farming methods of today.

Ditto fish - there won't be any cod left to catch in the waters round Britain, if it carries on. Farmed fish are full of antibiotics.

I think you can be a druid, or a heathen, or any sort of pagan and eat meat. But only if you hunt it/farm it/slaughter it yourself. That is how the ancestors lived. Because I was taught how to wring a foul's neck, I know - if pushed - I could do it. But I don't want to - ever. So I'd be hypocritical to eat the stuff.

It also has a spiritual dimension in that if we are accepting rocks and stones and trees have a spirit - so do animals. I couldn't kill a person (or hack down a tree), so why would an animal be an exception?

My position's complex, I guess. I have no problem with folk eating meat - if they've been involved in the process directly. Otherwise, I think it's vile.

After not eating it for some time, it smells revolting too. There is the sheer practical fact I couldn't stomach it, now!
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Postby Wraithian » 10 Nov 2006, 02:53

swore I wasn't going to get involved in this, if nothing more than the fact that this particular topic has been beat to death several times in the past.  But, here it is again, and I am drawn to comment.  :grin:

I eat meat.  I love meat.  I get sick if I do not eat meat.  I, however, choose my meats ethically when I can.  I buy organic, usually from local butchers, again when I can.  I live in a city.  Owning my own land and rearing my own animals is simply not an option (and that is a lifestyle I wouldn't choose, even if financially able--it's just not for me).  Other factors that play into buying ethical meats is time, and budget.  If I can't afford it, I don't have much choice but to buy from a supermarket.  If I don't have the time to go half an hour out of my way to buy organic, then I buy from the supermarket when I am getting my groceries.  If my situation makes it "vile" to eat meat, then I guess I'm just a vile person.  I've been called worse.  :wink:  If a person has full choice of how they buy their meat, and don't care where it comes from, or how it was culled, then yeah, that's not very ethically responsible.  However, to blanket everyone's actions who eat meat that they do not raise and cull themselves is a bit too general for my liking.  "Ethical responsibility," also entails a bit of, "situational awareness."

I used to volunteer (recent time constraints as well as physical injury have prevented me from doing so as of late) for the Habitat for Humanity programs, as well as volunteering my time to assist low income families/single parents in writing resumes and cover letters for better employment (or even employment at all, for that matter), plus various other humanitarian projects.

I've seen these threads turn into "meat eaters are bad people," situations before, so I thought I'd interject this before things went down that road.  I feel there are better things to judge a person by than whether or not they eat meat, or how they eat it, for that matter.
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Postby Dair Ciúin » 10 Nov 2006, 05:20

It also has a spiritual dimension in that if we are accepting rocks and stones and trees have a spirit - so do animals. I couldn't kill a person (or hack down a tree), so why would an animal be an exception?
But on the other hand, do plants and crops not also have spirits? And if they do, why would the spirit of the animal still be treated with more respect than that of the plant? I'm interested to hear somebody's thoughts on this, because I have never understood the reasoning behind it.

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Postby Saoirse » 10 Nov 2006, 14:16

I was married to a butcher many years ago. He worked for a single shop in the town. He would kill two or three animals per week and took great pride in being gentle and quick with an animal. He himself was a kind and gentle man as strong men often are. He was meticulous in cleaning himself and washing down the slaughterhouse and no one would have known the purpose of the small building by sight or smell unless they were told. The meat he brought home was delicious, untainted by the adrenalin that distressed animals produce. That was years ago.

Now I have to buy meat from the supermarket and needless to say I don't buy much. I haven't bought red meat in years, I can't digest it. It sits like a horrible hard lump in my stomach for hours and hours. I'm at the point now where I have been seriously considering going veggie. The only thing that was holding me back was my sixteen year old son who is growing into a six foot something bean pole.

So what happened yesterday? My lad came home and announced that he didn’t want to eat meat for a while after spending the afternoon struggling to cut up a heart with a scissors in the science lab. Window of opportunity or what? I shall be pulling out my veggie cookbooks today.

The spiritual aspect? I believe that everything was created by and of the Creator therefore everything is linked and has Spirit. Everything we do, good and bad, reverberates through creation and right back at us. When I do something, good or bad, it is my choice, my responsibility, my karma and I accept that. No excuses. Personally, I prefer to do what I consider right and honourable but I am only human and I fail myself all too often.

As for the morality of meat-eating, I think that if your body craves something then your body needs it. I for one would not judge or condemn another for their desire to eat meat, especially someone who is a member of this board. It is their personal choice and responsibility.

Basically, we have to eat something and we should do so with gratitude to and respect for whatever we eat.

Isn’t that the Druid’s Way?

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Postby Aigeann » 10 Nov 2006, 15:54

Thank you to everyone for expressing such personal opinions and especially for not letting your passions run away with you.

                         To each their own-type blessings, Aigeann

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Postby meghanst » 11 Nov 2006, 13:29

"Crowding animals is bad but killing them is alright"?
Sorry if I expressed this poorly, the crowding I was talking about is the horrific crowding on the way to slaughter, so tight that the animals hardly have room to breathe, and that often causes severe injury to smaller animals and sometimes death, and yes I do think humane killing is better than keeping animals alive in horrific conditions. Isn't that why so many people support euthanasia for humans, particularly elderly in much pain.
I've seen these threads turn into "meat eaters are bad people,
We should remember that His Holiness the 14th Dali Lama of Tibet eats meat.


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