Ignorance is Bliss

“For modern animal agriculture, the less the consumer knows about what’s happening before the meat hits the plate, the better.

“If true, is this an ethical situation?

“Should we be reluctant to let people know what really goes on, because we’re not really proud of it and concerned that it might turn them to vegetarianism?”

Peter Cheeke, PhD, Oregon State U. Professor of Animal Agriculture
Contemporary Issues in Animal Agriculture, 2004 textbook

Born in Canada, I was raised as a meat-eater.  Beef steak was our favorite family dinner.  My father occasionally hunted and we ate venison.  Living on a farm, my father shot and killed any small animals that threatened our crops.  He used sling shots to scare birds away from our planted fields.

At the age of 12, I learned about sacred cows in India and discovered surprisingly that some people didn’t eat meat.  The idea of reincarnation and the concept of being a vegetarian were so completely foreign to me, that I assumed most vegetarians were starving, weak or unhealthy from lack of protein, and from ignorance.

Decades later, I have come up with more reasons to become a vegetarian, than not:

Factory Farms: To lower costs and speed-up production, factory farm methods to put eggs and meat in grocery stores are cruel,  inhumane, and cause enormous suffering to the animals who exist in the miserable conditions we have created for them.  When we eat the flesh of an animal who has suffered, we consume that negative energy.

As an alternative, eat RSPCA and SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) approved eggs, chicken and meat.

The  Environment: Scientists believe our ‘mini ice-age’ will not cool down the Earth’s temperatures sufficiently to stop global warming.  The livestock sector plays a large role in global warming because it is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent.  Livestock are also responsible for almost two-thirds (64 percent) of anthropogenic ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems

As an alternative, become a vegetarian.  Start by eating smaller animals (chickens and fish) and work your way down to grains, nuts, legumes and vegetables.

Consciousness: This year, I learned that when we kill and eat a sentient being, we are exerting our will over it and eliminating its choices, and therefore acting in an unethical manner.

The ethical thing to do is to become a vegetarian.

Initially, the point about consciousness made sense to me intellectually.  Regardless, I continued to eat meat.  Over time, however, the point must have sunk in because it started to hit home with every bite of flesh.

Here’s the challenge:  Once you learn something, you can’t unlearn it.  Once you become aware that a certain practice is unethical, when you ‘do it anyway’ there will be consequences.  In a spiritual and karmic sense, there will be a penalty.  While ignorance is bliss, awareness carries a certain responsibility.  Having been raised a meat eater, I’m still wrestling with becoming a vegetarian.  These days, I’m down to fish, eggs and a lot of vegetables.  However, walking away from the dinner table I still keep thinking something’s missing (i.e. meat).

Any thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.  In the meantime, I wish you luck in your awakening.  We’re all in this together!