This is part of the view from my school balcony.You can also see a dead plant in my flowerbed right after my first unsuccesful effort to uproot it.
Given the fact that I love my plants and personally take good care of them, I was understandably upset about it. More so because I couldn't understand why on earth this particular one withered and died when it received the same amount of care as every other plant and all the rest of them are thriving just fine.
When I tried to uproot it -to plant a new one- I found out why.
As soon as I got hold of the root,myriads,legions of ants started crawling all oner my hands and arms, biting, yes biting me viciously. You see they had built their nest directly underneath the roots of the plant and I was about to expose their evil, destructive plans.That was what caused the death of the plant.They chose the poor shrub to serve them in the multiple role of cover,shelter and food .
They, of course, had every legitimite reason in the world to do so,their survival depended on it. But the fact remained that they killed another living thing, my plant, in order to do so, right?. And I am sure that if I let them, once they were done with it, they'd move on to the next one. And then the next. Until my entire flower bed was completely ruined. A flower bed that I have paid money for and devoted time and care for.
So of course the decision was easy.I uprooted the plant, unearthed the soil along with the ants and their nest in it and threw it away. And saved my flower beds from doom.
See, in all of nature the same pattern is repeated over and over again. Eat or be eaten. The survival of the fittest,etc etc. The ants kill my plant. Spiders or me kill the ants. Hell, I kill spiders too, but spiders, in their turn, might kill me. Certain people can't or won't kill spiders, just as certain spiders can't or won't kill me, but others can and would, if I let them.
So, what is my point here? My point is, God/nature could have made us self sustained, like, being able to feed and take energy directly from the sun and earth and water, no need to rely on other organic forms to provide food for us. But that's not the way it works. It never was and it never will be. Some animals eat plants, then they are eaten by other animals who are eaten by other animals. There are even certain plants that kill each other on their quest for survival. A never ending circle.
Now here comes the tough question:
What justifies my eating plants more than my eating animals?
First off, before I go on with my argument, let me begin by saying that I admire vegeterians./vegans Really, I do. Not because of what they eat, though. I admire and respect them because they have the courage of their convictions. I admire and respect them for their willpower, for the consistency between their beliefs and actions, for their compassion for the animal kingdom,etc. I love animals too. I fight for fair and humane treatment of them. I am as much appalled and opposed to the cruel and unnatural mass production of them in those farms of horrors as anybody else. Experimenting on animals is another issue that makes me seethe with anger and indignation.
So why am I not a vegeterian? I sure do fit the profile, after all. Actually, there have been many cases that I posed this question to myself: shouldn't I become vegan/vegetarian? Isn't this the obvious, ethical thing to do?
Invariably the question was met with unease and opposition from my higher self, or soul or whatever you choose to name it. Having learnt to trust those gut feelings, I faithfully obliged, telling myself that not everything is for everyone. But this last time-a couple of months ago actually- that I asked the same question to my (shamelessly carnivorous) higher self, I received an explanation along with a 'No' and it felt right to share it with you, not because I would like to convert anyone to my way of thinking or justify my choices, but because I hope that maybe someone might be inspired by it and use it as a starting point for their own quest towards truth.
So I pose again the same guestion here:
What justifies my eating plants more than eating animals?
What makes the life form of a plant less sacred and more worthy of destruction (and consumption) than the life form of an animal?
Is it the fact that the animal has more self awareness than the plant the deciding factor? But if awareness is the deciding factor, then would killing or abusing a severely mentally handicapped person who totally lacks self awareness and has no touch with reality be OK with you? I mean, why not? If the amount of awareness a living thing is capable of having decides their fate,then is killing a fish more justifiable than killing a dog, since the latter is more self aware? And what makes you thing that the fish is less self aware than the dog or that the plant, also a living thing, is lacking in self awareness more than both the fish and the dog?
''Oh, but the plant doesn't feel any pain when killed or abused'', is your next arguement. Well, to begin with, how can you be so sure of what a living form so totally different to your species feels or is capable of feeling or how pain is registered and felt by that form of life? For those of you believing in aliens,would you consider eating an alien or their offspring, dead or alive, if their life support systems and their ways of registering pain and feelings were totally different to yours and if they couldn't communicate their pain to you, just as the case with a plant (or its seeds) is?
Did the ants in my flowerbeds suffer more when they died than the plant suffered when the ants were killing it? If you honestly think so,what evidence is there for you to support it beyond the data of your own senses which are specific to your species and not to the plant's? Is boiling a lobster alive more abhorrent to you than having a radish uprooted and chopped up while it is technically still alive?
What's next? Eating flesh is barbaric and not at all befitting to a human being? One of the classic vegan arguments is that we have superior intelligence. With our consciousness and our intellect we should know better than to eat another animal's flesh. The fact that predators eat meat is because of their barbaric animal instincts, they claim. Opinions about taste,of course,are highly individual. Some Hindus who will not eat animal flesh readily drink their own urine for the sake of health. Whether each of the above mentioned activities is more degrading and disgusting than the other or any other is a matter of opinion. And as for the barbaric aspect of killing an animal, the fact that most prey are eaten while they are still alive testifies to the heartlessness of nature (compared, say, to the slaughter house, where death is comparatively much quicker). Also, to suggest that our higher consciousness makes us more superior to flesh-eating animals is clearly hypocritical, as it negades the very same animal kingdom worth that it supposedly tries to elevate.
The notion that humans are designed to be vegeterians rather than omnivores is not supported by scientific data, either. Here's a relevant study, to start with. Or if you' d like to investigate the ethical and planetary implications of being for or against vegeterianism/veganism, this link is a good starting point.
So for me,it's that simple:
On this planet every living creature, from the microbe to the human being, needs to feed by destroying and consuming another living thing, be it an animal or plant or another form of life. Usually,ruling out cannibalism, a species won't feed on members of its own species, purely for biological and survival reasons. Aside from this exception, the argument about what kind of life form should be consumed seems not an ethical one but a matter of individual taste, after all. Death is inevitable for all living things and part of life as we know it here.
Treat every life form around you with respect and humanity. But please understand that when it comes to food, nature dictates that all is fair in love,war and feeding..
Love, peace and sharing