The Meat of the Problem
Published on August 3rd, 2009 | by Harmonist staff38
The debate over climate change has reached a rarefied level of policy abstraction in recent months. Carbon tax or cap-and-trade? Upstream or downstream? Should we auction permits? Head-scratching is, at this point, permitted. But at base, these policies aim to do a simple thing, in a simple way: persuade us to undertake fewer activities that are bad for the atmosphere by making those activities more expensive. Driving an SUV would become pricier. So would heating a giant house with coal and buying electricity from an inefficient power plant. But there’s one activity that’s not on the list and should be: eating a hamburger.
If it’s any consolation, I didn’t like writing that sentence any more than you liked reading it. But the evidence is strong. It’s not simply that meat is a contributor to global warming; it’s that it is a huge contributor. Larger, by a significant margin, than the global transportation sector.
According to a 2006 United Nations report, livestock accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Some of meat’s contribution to climate change is intuitive. It’s more energy efficient to grow grain and feed it to people than it is to grow grain and turn it into feed that we give to calves until they become adults that we then slaughter to feed to people. Some of the contribution is gross. “Manure lagoons,” for instance, is the oddly evocative name for the acres of animal excrement that sit in the sun steaming nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. And some of it would make Bart Simpson chuckle. Cow gas—interestingly, it’s mainly burps, not farts—is a real player.
But the result isn’t funny at all: two researchers at the University of Chicago estimated that switching to a vegan diet would have a bigger impact than trading in your gas guzzler for a Prius. A study out of Carnegie Mellon University found that the average American would do less for the planet by switching to a totally local diet than by going vegetarian one day a week. That prompted Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to recommend that people give up meat one day a week to take pressure off the atmosphere. The response was quick and vicious. “How convenient for him,” was the inexplicable reply from a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. “He’s a vegetarian.”
The visceral reaction against anyone questioning our God-given right to bathe in bacon has been enough to scare many in the environmental movement away from this issue. The National Resources Defense Council has a long page of suggestions for how you, too, can “fight global warming.” As you’d expect, “Drive Less” is in bold letters. There’s also an endorsement for “high-mileage cars such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids.” They advise that you weatherize your home, upgrade to more efficient appliances and even buy carbon offsets. The word “meat” is nowhere to be found.
That’s not an oversight. Telling people to give up burgers doesn’t poll well. Ben Adler, an urban policy writer, explored that in a December 2008 article for the American Prospect. He called environmental groups and asked them for their policy on meat consumption. “The Sierra Club isn’t opposed to eating meat,” was the clipped reply from a Sierra Club spokesman. “So that’s sort of the long and short of it.” And without pressure to address the costs of meat, politicians predictably are whiffing on the issue. The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, for instance, does nothing to address the emissions from livestock.
The pity of it is that compared with cars or appliances or heating your house, eating pasta on a night when you’d otherwise have made fajitas is easy. It doesn’t require a long commute on the bus or the disposable income to trade up to a Prius. It doesn’t mean you have to scrounge for change to buy a carbon offset. In fact, it saves money. It’s healthful. And it can be done immediately. A Montanan who drives 40 miles to work might not have the option to take public transportation. But he or she can probably pull off a veggie stew. A cash-strapped family might not be able buy a new dishwasher. But it might be able to replace meatballs with mac-and-cheese. That is the whole point behind the cheery PB&J Campaign, which reminds that “you can fight global warming by having a PB&J for lunch.” Given that PB&J is delicious, it’s not the world’s most onerous commitment.
It’s also worth saying that this is not a call for asceticism. It’s not a value judgment on anyone’s choices. Going vegetarian might not be as effective as going vegan, but it’s better than eating meat, and eating meat less is better than eating meat more. It would be a whole lot better for the planet if everyone eliminated one meat meal a week than if a small core of die-hards developed perfectly virtuous diets.
I’ve not had the willpower to eliminate bacon from my life entirely, and so I eliminated it from breakfast and lunch, and when that grew easier, pulled back further to allow myself five meat-based meals a month. And believe me, I enjoy the hell out of those five meals. But if we’re going to take global warming seriously, if we’re going to make crude oil more expensive and tank-size cars less practical, there’s no reason to ignore the impact of what we put on our plates.
Ezra Klein can be reached at email@example.com or through his blog.
This article originally appeared on washingtonpost.com.
Great article. I like his honesty. Just think if Americans just stopped eating fast food what a positive impact it would have on the planet.
Al Gore conveniently left out this solution. Coming from a family of cattle ranchers it didn’t surprise me.
Such an article coming from an apparently reasonable and sensitive person–not a militant, moralizing type–carries a lot of weight. I guess for me it is hard not to seem moralizing–though I try to be reasonable–when I look at the arguments for avoiding eating animals, which after 40 years of refraining seem so natural and common sense. From my perspective, the “right” to eat meat is a type of unconsciousness that we are killing a living being on the one hand, and doing great damage to the environment on the other. When I first began my spiritual life, vegetarianism was rare, and the impression I got from talking to people was that not eating hamburgers or hot dogs was un-American, unhealthy and very strange–even bizarre.
Although vegetarianism is more accepted, the question remains how to change the perception that what we eat is only a personal preference, like what kind of car we drive. From the perspective of the healthy care of the earth, meat eating is radical, not vegetarianism. It would appear that only when meat eating becomes the new cigarettes, being tied to disease and degradation of our quality of life, will it be possible to change the perception of some that meat is “real food for real people”.
I think it is a great thing to move to vegetarianism in modern times,seeing the current environmental situation. But if sometimes devotees go too far in trying to prove that meat eating was not existent in Vedic times. Kshatriyas did consume meat and brahamanas did consume it as part of sacrifice until the decree of Agastaya. Even hunting deers to get deer skin for meditation can be considered a kind of violence and this hunting was practiced extensively in Vedic times. Certainly there was no massive slaughterhouses like today.
My point instead of trying to prove how meat eating is bad solely on the basis of scripture, more relevant reasons like the ones above should be given.
Muslims argue against the reasoning we have against meat eating. They say that animals maybe more developed species than plants, but is it better to kill a child with less functional senses compared to a child with fully functional senses?(Saying animals and plants are both living entities) Their reasoning is that the main point is sacrificing food for God and they follow the Quran in sacrificing animals. Anyway too many animals cannot survive on the limited natural resources and the nature will weed them out, so it is alright for us to sacrifice animals. In nature, we can see that high reproduction of animals leads to survival of the fittest and many animals are eliminated anyway. This is their reasoning. It is a complicated issue because SP says God has provided for all animals and there is no scarcity of food, though there is documented video evidence of increase in animal population followed by decline due to insufficient resources. It is very hard to harmonize all this.
I think that the downsides of mass animal slaughter and the distinction between the cow and other animals is a realistic focus for one desiring to bring about change. For centuries humans have eaten meat, but for only a short period have they made it so readily available that people cannot think of eating without eating meat. This is an extreme and it has extreme consequences.
I understand it is relevant and feasible to give the downsides of mass animal slaughter. It is historically documented that until the advance of refrigeration technology meat consumption was not that high in the western world. Certainly people cannot thinking of eating without meat in the west. In places like Mexico, Latin America though meat is consumed, people can think of eating without meat more easily.
How do we actually make a distinction between cow and other animals to the Western world? I recall SP once a cow dies, it can be given to people to use the flesh. Is that recommended? What is reasoning for keeping bulls and cows that do not give milk, especially when we have machines to do the work of a bull?
It is not difficult to make a distinction between cows and other animals. Historically speaking it is arguably the cows that domesticated humans, taking them from hunting and gathering to agriculture. Their contribution to human society is immense. Yes, bulls can be replaced by machines as long as there is oil. But overall I have no heart for arguing against a utilitarian approach to this issue.
Yes I agree too much of utilitarianism leads to anthropocentric view of nature. But is it ok to give the cows and bulls for people to consume once they die like SP suggested?
I was just saying even giving up fast food would be very beneficial. It is the fast food industry that makes meat cheap, convenient and thus appealing. You can’t get a veggie burger in a drive through anywhere for even a few dollars but you easily find a fast food dollar meal menu.
Meat is expensive and American families who have to buy their own quaity cuts or buy free range alternatives probably consume a lot less. Most fast food consumers probably can’t afford to purchase much meat otherwise. It is really a luxury item for most of the world.
yes reducing fast food is useful for the environment. For me as an Indian, it is so easy to distinguish between cows and other species due to my conditioning. But how do we distinguish non-milk giving cows and bulls from other species for the western people?
I think the average educated American who is a bit health conscious knows red meat is not good for them. Most people I meet and who know I am a vegetarian will say that they don’t eat much red meat or only eat fish or white meat. There is almost this inherent shame to consuming red meat. The Mad Cow Disease epidemic a few years ago furthered that notion in a rather gruesome manner.
As the pop icons and movers and shakers of our society move further and further from the “meat and potatoes” menu and as their collective interest in yoga and eastern philosophy trickles into the mainstream it may eventually create a more sympathetic ear to the plight of the cow in this country and the profound connection between the species and humanity. This seems to be the natural cycle of change.
Your average Joe or Jane will consume whatever is readily available and affordable.
I would add that the “food consciousness” of many Americans has been at least incrementally elevated by popular authors such as Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, etc.). Like Al Gore, however, Pollan seems afraid to accept the full ramifications of the issues he raises. He lamely endorses “humane meat,” and is in general dismissive of vegetarianism.
Nevertheless, to his credit, Pollan has effectively exposed and critiqued various outcomes of agri-business and factory farming — from the lab, to the field, and onward through the digestive tract. His books and articles have without question reached new audiences. Thus I would characterize his overall influence as positive, although rather shy of revolutionary.
With respect to the Washington Post editorial, I found it to be refreshingly bold for a paper of such prominence. The fact that a lobbyist group responded is in some ways an auspicious sign, for it reveals the industry’s (increasingly warranted) fear that the thin veil disguising meat (especially cow) as nutritious, patriotic, humane, sustainable, etc, is gradually being lifted.
Good points Gopala dasa. I first saw Pollan’s, Ominivore’s Dilemma at my local Jamba Juice in Stockton, CA. Pretty mainstream exposure.
Unfortunately, the people who read this sort of articles are those who don’t need to, and those who do, will never stop to read it.
I’ve worked for two major environmental nonprofits over the last six years and it’s amazing (and disheartening) how few people ‘in the field’ put 2 and 2 together when it comes to diet and the environment.
Both groups I’ve worked for (including my current employer) are land conservation organizations. As a group, we’re trying to make sure we’re not left out of the climate change discussion, because conservation is a huge component of the issue that goes largely unmentioned — yet we never say a word about a simple shift in diet that could have such an impact.
Oh, surprise. The meat industry responded with a piece of its own:
I brought up these questions in another article. Perhaps it was better brought out here.
Apart from the ethical and environmental reasons, I am more interested in a ‘scientific’ basis of the co-relationship between state of consciousness and eating meat.
Vegetarianism is one of the practices that seperates Gaudia-Vaishnavism from other religions. Please allow me to take the stance of the devil’s advocate and ask some questions that I have heard before.
In Christianity there are many accounts of very saintly people who have eaten meat. In Islam as well as other religions there are very saintly people who consume flesh, fish and eggs. Is Vegeterianism Gaudia Vaishnavism’s predeliction or is there any objective basis and proof that there is an irrefutable connection between vegeterianism and spirituality?
Can you absolutely prove that a person would not go back home back to Godhead by chanting Hare Krishna while eating meat?
You say that God does not eat food that is related with exploitation and violence. In Krishna’s pasttimes Krishna is killing demons. But we don’t consider Krishna’s fighting with the demons to be violent in an absolute sense since even the demons that satisfy Krishna’s desire to fight are liberated. So in that sense, wouldn’t any food item that came in contact with the all pure Supreme Personality of Godhead automatically be pure? Aren’t all ideas of purity related with matter, whether it be flesh or wood, arize from mental conception?
In the Bhagavad-gita, in Krishna’s Universal form, we read that the Universal Form, in the form of death, was devouring the warriors from both sides of the battlefield. There is the description that they were entering into the mouth of Krishna’s fiery universal form like moths entering a burning fire. So it seems that there are forms of Krishna that do eat meat.
In the Mahabharata we read that Bheema, a pure devotee of Krishna, used to eat meat. Why did he choose to do so?
God does not hunger for the food the devotee offers, but for the love with which one makes the offering. Why? Because God wants us to enjoy the bounty of love through which we become God-like, through which we become lovers.
Since its not the food that matters but rather the condition of the heart, then can meat be offered with love?
Krishna in the Gita says, ‘In *every* act there is violence but one should not stop doing one’s duty.’ So since there is violence in both killing of animals or killing of plants, are we assuming that because we humans are closer to being like animals rather than like plants, that killing animals is more violent than killing plants?
Caitanya Mahaprabhu has told us not to eat meat, and as Gaudiya Vaisnavas we follow his teachings. He is Krishna speaking for himself on this issue. He told Chand Kazi that it was irreligious and compared killing a cow to killing one’s mother.
Though there are saints in traditions that have used meat, I am sure that they would not approve or animal farming and mass slaughterhouses in their present form. Regarding dealing with people who do consume meat, Gosvamis set an example by dealing politely and gently with a meat-eater muslim king like Akbar who was sympathetic to the Vaisnavas.
I hope you’ll forgive me for saying this, but trying to take an objective (a seeker who is not a vaishnava) stance, the arguments for not eating meat are rather weak.
In other words, unless one can show a strong co-relationship between state of consciousness and meat eating, I would say that our stand for vegetarianism is weak on a spiritual basis. Sure, ecologically, energy use wise we may have good arguments for vegetarianism. But our primary purpose is spirituality, not saving the earth nor being energy efficient.
So it seems that we rely on a lot more emotionalism and need to make the case for vegetarianism from other angles than just how meat eating affects state of one’s conscioiusness. I have always found this to be a weakness.
One should cause as little harm as is necessary to live in this world. Ahimsa is niyama of yoga sadhana. If it is not necessary for humans to kill animals and eat them (who are higher on the food chain and more sensitive to pain and loss) in order to live, what justifies them in doing so. It is not a question of spirituality, but of the morality and ethical behavior that underlies spiritual life and experience. The environmental issues are also ethical and moral issues of today. Furthermore, if one is interested in Krsna consciousness, then one should follow Krsna Caitanya’s advice. Otherwise there may be any number of alternate states of consciousness that one can attain even as a carnivore.
In the limbs of yoga sadhana given by Patanjali, ahimsa is there as a niyama and all right handed spiritual path . Only in Tantric traditions of the east, there is extensive use of meat and perhaps you have access to good states of consciousness even from those practices. While there is license for meat,liquor etc during grhasta life and Bhima utilized it, it is important to note that Bhima along with the Pandavas was following ahimsa in the last stage of his life in forest. Therefore only in lower stages of karma yoga, meat may be permissible.
People may have consumed meat during there grhasta life but vanaprastha and sanayasa required ahimsa, unless they are caught in situation like vishvamitra muni left to consume dogs.
Going through the four regulative principles that Srila Prabhupada outlined, it is easy for me to visualize how intoxication affects a persons state of consciousness. It is also fairly easy to show how randomly changing sex partners and whom we are attached to affects consciousness. I can also see how living life haphazerdly like it’s a continous gamble can make a person an emotional wreck.
And I don’t have any problem with your moral, environmental and ethical reasons. I agree with you, for all those reasons, it is better if people avoid eating meat.
When this question was asked, you replied affirmatively:
Yes I agree too much of utilitarianism leads to anthropocentric view of nature. But is it ok to give the cows and bulls for people to consume once they die like SP suggested?
It is just that vaishnavas make such a big deal about the co-relationship between state of a person’s consciousness and eating meat. Infact, vaishnavas regularly denigrate ‘meat-eaters’ and use them as examples of people whose consciousness is polluted. But, infact, it seems that there is no co-relationship between eating meat and the state of a person’s consciousness.
So my conclusion is that it seems that meat-eaters are the scapegoats of vaishnava culture. For all its claims to be scientific every religion has its dogma. Is it ok to assume that the ills of meateating is just Vaishnava dogma?
As far as I know, the ills are karmic.
I wanted to make a weird and subtle point.
As Maharaj pointed out, karmically speaking, it is the participation (in any way) of the act of killing that creates the sin.
So theoretically speaking, if there was a way to ‘create’ meat without killing a living being, there would be no bad karma in eating the meat, it seems.
In other words, imagine in a science fiction like scenario 200 years from now (or less with all the stem-cell research going on today), that they figured out how take biological cells with nano-technology to manufacture meat. Let’s say that they could grow meat organs in the lab. Then this would be Vaishnava kosher meat.
Then we could change the regulative principle from ‘no meat-eating’ to ‘no killing.’ 🙂
May seem like a silly point today, but at the rate that technology is going, might be subject to debate sooner than ya think. 🙂
I have personally experienced a correlation is consciousness in my life. Yet, I have seen people who consume meat(like my professor etc) who are much superior than me in their consciousness, ethics and morals. I myself have improved as a person because of the change in diet and perhaps we have to examine how people change before and after their switching to a vegetarian diet, rather than comparing different people. Different people may be in different states already due to their past life. I think that it is my first spiritual life of any significance.
I agree that hating meat-eaters as demons is a strong problem in devotee community. Rupa Gosvami’s use of aesthetics in his writings has its origins in Abhinavagupta,who is known to have selectively used specific meats as part of Tantra. And we have Aquinas, Akbhar etc who ate meat and we can still appreciate them for their insights following the example of the Gosvamis. It is obvious that the Gosvamis did not interact in an inconsiderate and curt manner with people just on the basis of their meat eating and we can follow that lead.
This is my point. The sad thing for me is that there are many devotees who focus a lot of energy into promoting vegetarianism in society when they have a super-ficial understanding of the depth of Vaishnavism. They put a lot of energy in promoting vegetarianism, as if it were a spiritual quality instead of understanding the richness of Vaishnava philosophy. I feel that this is misplaced priority of time, energy and resources that could go into cultivating spiritual life more directly.
Because vaishnavism has traditionally been a part of a vegetarian cultural environment (in its roots in India) we make certain assumptions of its importance. I feel that many times Vaishnavas drive people away by making vegetarianism the pillar and the bare pre-requisite before beginning spiritual practice. We make it a symbol of distinguishment between the ‘spiritual haves’ and the spiritual ‘have nots.’ Many times, Western Vaishnava culture sees vegetarianism as the most distinguishing symbol of those we identify as lovers of God. As Gaura Vijaya pointed out, looking at it historically, this is just not the case. I feel that many times we do it because of our own need to be a spiritual snob.
I feel that we could focus on many other areas where we are compatible with people from other religions and lifestyles but in our own snobbery we make huge distinctions where there is little spiritual significance. We unnecessarily create differences.
This issue is so rampant that ‘hating on meat-eaters’ has become an integral part of Vaishnava culture in the West, as if that is a badge of honor of a Vaishnava.
This may be more a case of your experience of Vaisnavism within a particular sect. Although hate is a very strong word, I would say that I am much more disgusted with many in the dress of Vaisnavas than I am with meat eaters.
Hear, hear Maharaj! That is why I am grateful and looking forward to a magazine like the Harmonist paving the path of the future of Vaishnavism. I feel like the Harmonist is providing a mature non-denominational common ground Vaishnava voice amidst all the factions.
I don’t know any saint who eats meat, although I do recognize that it may be possible. What I do experience on a much larger scale, though, is people who buy neat pieces of flesh in the store without thinking twice about it. In a way not thinking means not being conscious, or in this case, suffocating once consciousness and conscience. The proof is that most of these people wouldn’t have the courage or the slightest pleasure in killing a chicken or pig themselves, or not even witnessing. Another proof is that many times, when I tell people I am a vegetarian, most are quick to tell me how little meat they eat themselves, or they get all defensive, as if they attached to my statement: “And you who eat animals are the devil personified.” I don’t imply anything like that, but they do feel guilty. That never happens when I say I prefer tart apples to sweet ones that are soft, but sandy. So, as it’s true that a saint can keep a high consciousness while eating animals, it is much more evident how eating meat, especially the way it is done nowadays, does suffocate one’s consciousness, or at least obfuscate their vision.
To be absolutely fair, though, it is also true that for those few who still live in the country and have witnessed or performed animal slaughter all their lives, killing an animal is as normal as it would be for me picking an apple from the tree.
Where I live there are no apples, but we thank our cow after milking her, and feel genuine gratitude for our eggplants and tomatoes or zinnias; if we have gotten to this level of consciousness, we owe it no doubt to our philosophy and good association, but being free from the contradiction of cultivating compassion and killing surely helps.
It is harder for me to practice spiritual life strictly and be open-minded and non-judgmental at the same time. When a person is in a fanatic phase, it is easier to practice spiritual life because you can feel superior to others, you can enjoy condemning everybody and preach from a high pedestal to pick up the lower fallen souls.
I saw similar things in strict brahmins who looked down upon everybody and felt superior.
Without fanaticism, you really have to rely on a deeper taste inside that is not to easy to come.
From the absolute view point, everything is a dynamic interaction between krsna and his energies. Nothing goes anywhere, matter is transformed and jiva stays the same.
But even Sankara had to speak about a vyavaharika reality for spiritual practitioners, lest they artificially abuse their power. So for a beginning practitioner, it is good to have all these things in place. In the spiritual world, cowboys can be fishing etc and we should be careful to not impose on moral earth-centric conditioning on krsna and his pastimes. Therefore it is good to know,”vasudeva sarvam iti”. With the sight on the Absolute where everything is accommodated, we can still practice with the instructions given by the Gosvamis and Sri Guru.
I find it useful to think that violence is sometimes gross (animal slaughter)and sometimes nuanced. I find the nuanced violence in moral judgment and criticism of others to be an insidious way of causing massive injury to others and ourselves. I believe this is why when speaking to someone about the “disgust of meat-eaters” I find their way of talking about another person the most violent act. The injury caused to animals, like most things we do that injure another life, is done out of conscious awareness of its impact and with little malevolence. Criticism and judgment I feel is done quite intentionally as a means of making ourselves feel superior. This is not merely an act of self promotion, but an act of destruction to others. I was critisized on more than one occassion for my ‘moral standing’ and I found that criticism so injurious and cruel, I cannot help but wonder, “Who is the one with the moral dilemma?”
I have a devotee friend who ALWAYS critisizes animal killing, making everyone feel quite inferior and cruel. And time and time again, I have watched him humiliate people, look smug and then walk by a homeless person on the street and ignore their existence if not verbalize disdain for them.
If we are to cause some harm in the world as a necessary part of having a footprint, at some point we must ‘choose our battles’ and show some compassion for our human limitations. We can’t be cruelty free.
It is interesting to see how much controversy surrounds this seemingly simple issue even among the devotees.
To some extent I do judge people based on their reaction to meat eating and killing of animals. IMO those who have no moral qualms about eating meat and killing animals for food have a much less developed consciousness then those who became vegetarians out of compassion for suffering animals. Those people who see animals as their spiritual kin impress me far more then most self-declared ‘people of God’ who see nothing wrong with eating veal.
In many native cultures people killed animals in order to survive but felt bad about doing so. Consequently they had rituals and prayers to ask spirits of these animals for forgiveness. I would like to see a once famous former Pope who liked veal pray for forgiveness to the spirits of the animals killed to satisfy his palate. Unless meat eating people do so, I will find their spirituality seriously lacking. But that is just me…
They have different restrictions in kosher or islamic foods. For instance, if you read Torah there is a list of animals that may not be eaten.http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm
Others have to be slaughtered according to jewish law. Certainly every religious tradition has some regulations on consumption of meat. They perhaps did not kill an animal like camel for its use in the desert and an animal like pig for its dirty dietary habits.
Of the “beasts of the earth” (which basically refers to land mammals with the exception of swarming rodents), you may eat any animal that has cloven hooves and chews its cud. Lev. 11:3; Deut. 14:6. Any land mammal that does not have both of these qualities is forbidden. The Torah specifies that the camel, the rock badger, the hare and the pig are not kosher because each lacks one of these two qualifications. Sheep, cattle, goats, deer and bison are kosher.
Of the things that are in the waters, you may eat anything that has fins and scales. Lev. 11:9; Deut. 14:9. Thus, shellfish such as lobsters, oysters, shrimp, clams and crabs are all forbidden. Fish like tuna, carp, salmon and herring are all permitted.
here are a few quotes from henry david thoreau. i found on a nice website: vegetarianfriends.net.
“I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher poetic facilities in the best condition has been particularly intent to abstain from animal food . . . and from much food of any kind.”
“I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other . . .”
“. . . and he will be regarded as a benefactor to his race who shall teach man to confine himself to a more innocent and wholesome diet.”
“No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.”
“The least conscious or needless injury inflicted on any creature is to its extent a suicide. What peace — or life — can a murderer have?”
in the first quote i think thoreau states his opinion on the link between diet & one’s consciousness. even going beyond vegetarianism to refraining from overeating.
i also find powerful his phrase:
What peace — or life — can a murderer have?”
I just read an article about a spider that eats (mostly) vegetarian foods and I found it to be pretty interesting:
I think there are a lot of these fellows at Madhuvan (Costa Rica), but I did not know they were vegetarians. Interesting.