Vegetarianism, Veganism & Buddhism

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Vegetarianism and Veganism

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”

Sir Paul McCartney


Carmen’s own story

carmen-vegetarian-childThe dream of a child
This is a picture of me with my rabbit when I was about six or seven. Ever since I can remember I was always drawing. As I love animals I drew pictures of me living on a farm surrounded by many happy farm animals, all happily living in peace together. This was my ideal future, heavily supported by the sweet pictures of happy farm animals in my children’s books and on children’s TV programs.

One day this dream was completely shattered when I learned how animals were treated in reality.
When I learned:

That happy farms don’t exist anymore but have changed to intensive farming.
That most farm animals never see any daylight.
That newly born calfs are immediately taken away from their mothers, causing a lot of suffering for both.
intensive-farming-crueltyThat chickens are piled up in small cages in battery farming.
That sows are chained and cannot even turn or stand up.
Most farm animals are anxious, suffer from stress, and are used up to the max.
Most of them enter the unknown and scary outside world for the first time when they are thrown into a truck, to take the long and fearful ride – without food or water – to the slaughterhouse.
There they experience unimaginable mortal fear hearing the screams and smelling the fear of the other animals being slaughtered and waiting for slaughter…

I clearly remember that I felt so incredibly mislead by the adults when I found out about this!

altar-with-buddha-statueBuddhism brought an even deeper meaning to being vegetarian
Not eating meat acquired a much deeper meaning when I became a buddhist practitioner because of the concepts
of karma and mind.
I learned that all sentient beings want the same as us: to not suffer and be happy.
I learned that each being has a mind and feelings like we have.

Have you ever meditated on what it would feel like being treated as a machine-animal in factory farming?
Or exchange yourself for a lobster that is thrown alive into boiling water. Remember how a single finger, burned from a steaming hot pan, can hurt for days, and now imagine how your whole body would feel -the enormous pain and suffering- and you be desperate to get out – but you couldn’t get out!
You would go through searing hell for many long minutes…

I always think it’s a pity that lobsters aren’t able to scream their lungs out, because maybe that would make us more aware when we do such a thing. (And should you still want to kill a lobster: you can instantly kill the being by a quick stab in the neck before throwing it into boiling water. How would you rather come to an end?).

vegetarians-save-livesSo from ‘not eating meat’ it expanded into ‘not hurting animals’ as well; and ‘not killing insects and flies at my convenience’ anymore. Because seriously, who am I to point at an animal and say ‘You should die!’

I believe that all lives are precious and that animals should live out the natural course of their lives in peace (and hopefully gain a higher rebirth).

These days I cannot imagine ever eating meat again -both in this life as well as in future lives- as I strongly feel that this karmic seed has completely left my system.

I’ve been a vegetarian since I was twelve (my sister was eight at the time we decided to stop eating meat and fish) and I can say I’m very healthy and happy.  It feels very natural to me not eat fellow sentient beings, and I’m glad I’ve been able to save many beings up until now.

Leaning more towards a vegan diet
My sister became vegan in the recent years and I have been moving more and more towards eating vegan.
The vegan diet takes all the above one step further by swearing off all animal products, including eggs and dairy.
It’s a very slow progress for me as I still have the craving for dairy products (being a Dutch girl I’m especially ‘addicted’ to cheese…) but there are so many wrong things in the dairy industry.
I begin to see clearer and clearer how people exploit animals to the max, and it disturbs me more and more. Think for example of dairy cows that are constantly made pregnant, their newly-borns taken away from them immediately, and after a life of literally being ‘milked out’ (and isn’t it strange that WE are drinking the milk instead of their calfs?) they are relentlessly killed.

Interested to learn more?

Some good documentaries on this subject:
Meat the Truth watch it here for free online, in many different languages
Sea the Truth watch it here for free online, in English or Dutch

Up for a challenge?
Online you will find many websites where you can opt in for a vegetarian challenge or a vegan challenge where you can challenge yourself for 30 days into a new and healthy diet and you are coached with words and tasty recipes.

…Just try it!