the great vegetarian debate

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alan
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the great vegetarian debate

Postby alan » Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:00 am

Vegetarianism has devolved into a simple-minded cult that refuses to accept new dietary science. Don't be like that.
We now know that some fats are good. You should eat them.

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tiltbillings
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the great vegetarian debate

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Aug 05, 2011 6:10 am

alan wrote:Vegetarianism has devolved into a simple-minded cult that refuses to accept new dietary science. Don't be like that.
We now know that some fats are good. You should eat them.
Damdifino what you are talking about. "New dietary science?" Must have come out yesterday. Nothing I have seen in any reputable dietary science before yesterday that says a vegie diet cannot be balanced and healthy and that vegie fats cannot meet the various omega and other such requirements.
.


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This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

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chownah
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the great vegetarian debate

Postby chownah » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:52 am

Alan,
I was vegetarian for years and ate alot of soy too and it was the healthiest period in my life....I worked hard at my job in the woods and could keep up with the best of them....so...should I accept my experience on the healthfulness of a vegetarian diet and soy or should I go by what I read on the internet?
chownah

PeterB
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PeterB » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:17 am

Ben wrote:It doesn't.
It was to give some people pause for thought to stop thinking about themselves and their preoccupation with what they put in their mouths (and those of others) and perhaps avert their attention to those who have nothing are fleeing famine, disease, lions and militia and are starving.

73577336_f51d0f7df8_o.jpg

Hear hear Ben...frankly so much of this discussion seems to be at base narcissistic, given the actual position of much of the world's population...who would love to be able to pick and choose or become vegan gourmets.
The whole debate starts to become one of the indicators of affluence..
There is also a relationship to the fact that the "third world" has no incidence of eating disorder. Some wealthier sections of Indian and Chinese society are just seeing their first cases of anorexia and bulimia..
Vegetarianism is of course not an eating disorder, but among some vegetarians and in particular vegans it is possible to see a similar preoccupation with food. often food with a minus sign in front of it.
Scouring lists of ingredients to eliminate any connection with animal products seems to me to be not only a waste of our short lives, but to be an example of narcissism.
And to be in spirit a million miles away from the aim of Dhamma. Which is liberty from that which enhances our self sense.

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the great vegetarian debate

Postby Mawkish1983 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:30 am

For me, the urge to become vegetarian is growing stronger and stronger. I cannot convince my wife though; she is the reason we still buy meat and I have no willpower. If something is in the house, I'll eat it.

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:56 am

Ben wrote:It doesn't.
It was to give some people pause for thought to stop thinking about themselves and their preoccupation with what they put in their mouths (and those of others) and perhaps avert their attention to those who have nothing are fleeing famine, disease, lions and militia and are starving.


Meat-eaters are just as pre-occupied with what they put in their mouths, that's why they get so defensive in debates like this. Or perhaps they think that metta is only reserved for humans?
And of course there would be a lot less famine if we all stopped eating meat.

Spiny

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:02 am

PeterB wrote:And to be in spirit a million miles away from the aim of Dhamma. Which is liberty from that which enhances our self sense.


And continuing to indulge a craving for meat when there are alternatives freely available isn't enhancing our self-sense? :shrug:

Spiny

PeterB
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PeterB » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:23 am

I made a conscious choice to eat a vegetarian diet 23 years ago, and after a wobbly year or two have kept to that.
I really don't care what anyone else eats.
I see no reason to believe that people " crave " soy burgers any less than people " crave" beefburgers.
I do note that beefburger eaters over a certain age do not on the whole bore the arse off everyone they come across concerning what they do or do not stick in their gobs.
Unless they are Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons beefburger eaters do not construct an entire persona around lunch.
And I have no impulse to influence anyone in the matter.
Buddha Dhamma is not the spiritual dimension of my Vegetarianism.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:20 am

One thing I haven't seen touched on here is the way in which meat industry practices have become a game-changer in the debate. Yes, people have been arguing for time on end about the ethics of eating meat, and I'm not going to say it's impossible to justify in principle.

But regardless of one's position in the abstract, what goes on in CAFOs (aka "factory farms") is very hard to defend. Plain and simple, it's animal torture -- if you treated a dog or cat this way, you could be jailed for years. In the US, some states have actually had to introduce loopholes into their animal cruelty laws in order to keep these operations legal.

And if the cruelty factor doesn't make one stop and pause, the environmental, economic and sanitary aspects should -- CAFOs are a major contributor of greenhouse gases (more so even than the transportation sector, by some accounts) and they produce toxic runoffs that get into the waterways. Some of the larger producers routinely ignore regulations because it's more profitable to suck up the occasional fine.

Even if you oppose these practices but still want to eat meat, you don't have a whole lot of choice because CAFOs have driven most of the alternatives out of business. That, by the way, was why I gave up meat; I intended to be a "conscientious omnivore", but practically speaking this is hard to accomplish given what's actually available on the shelf.

Ben wrote:It was to give some people pause for thought to stop thinking about themselves and their preoccupation with what they put in their mouths (and those of others) and perhaps avert their attention to those who have nothing are fleeing famine, disease, lions and militia and are starving.


There's no contradiction between being more heedful about what we consume and being attentive to global suffering. On the contrary, it seems to me that the two go hand in hand. I share your concern, but you're putting forward a false dichotomy.

Maybe it's different Down Under, but in the United States, at least, it's not like we're suffering from an overload of overly conscientious, finicky vegetarians and vegans. Rather, what we see here is a great deal of utterly mindless consumption -- and the rise in obesity rates (and other food-related health problems) shows it.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PeterB » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:52 am

I may be wrong Lazy Eye .but I interpreted Ben's remarks not in the context of western society at large, but in the context of Buddhist forums...where an unhealthy obsession with what other people put in their lunch packs seems to to be a large part of the the raison d'etre for some people posting at all.
When we consider the way that food in general is produced focusing on meat production is much too narrow.
We moved back two years ago to the Greater London area after almost nine years in the west country of the UK...whole tracts of this largely rural landscape are now devoid of most insect and bird life...Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring " has come true outside of the towns and villages...whole tracts of land which support impeccably vegetarian production are wastelands...
No insects, no birds, no mammals no amphibians no reptiles...no wild flowers...just monoculture deserts of meat free oilseed rape, completely vegan fields of wheat and barley..and nothing moves under the sun apart from those products of monoculture.
Ironically, given the context of this debate the exceptions are those fields in those farms where there are livestock. With the concomitant insect and bird life and those that predate insects and birds as part of the big cycle.
No one is free from their engement with the processes of death..whether dedicated carnivore or purist vegan . As anyone who has ever raised veggies will attest it is not possible without killing.

And I havent even mentioned my wifes big concern....nematodes. :o

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Nicro » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:00 pm

PeterB wrote:frankly so much of this discussion seems to be at base narcissistic,



Exactly.

PeterB wrote:I see no reason to believe that people " crave " soy burgers any less than people " crave" beefburgers.
beefburger eaters do not construct an entire persona around lunch.
And I have no impulse to influence anyone in the matter.
Buddha Dhamma is not the spiritual dimension of my Vegetarianism.


And right here.
The above reasons show why I find this whole argument pointless, as well as futile. All the hardcore veggie heads who base themselves in some way around there diet will go to the death defending it, when no one else cares.

Eat what you want to eat.

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Ben
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:42 pm

Rob I completely understand where you are coming from.
I'm just a bit flabberghasted by the discussion and that there is presently an acute situation in East Africa where millions of people are facing starvation.
My original comment was put out there to give our members some pause for thought. To stop thinking about themselves, their self images, about what they put in their mouths, judging others by what they are putting in their mouths and just think for a minute about those who are dying of starvation.

Just this morning, I listened on the radio one Somali refugee's story of how she walked for thirty days with her two children to get to a UN food station and along the way both her children were taken by lions.

I would reckon it would put a lot of things into perspective.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Lazy_eye
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Aug 05, 2011 12:44 pm

PeterB wrote:I may be wrong Lazy Eye .but I interpreted Ben's remarks not in the context of western society at large, but in the context of Buddhist forums...where an unhealthy obsession with what other people put in their lunch packs seems to to be a large part of the the raison d'etre for some people posting at all.


Yeah, that's a good point there, Peter. Part of the righteousness syndrome that we see a lot on the forums, and not just about this issue. The righteous rebirthers, the righteous no-rebirthers, the righteously celibate and non-celibate, the righteous teetotalers and consumers of drink... something about the nature of discussion boards tends to bring it out. And I don't exclude myself. :)

When we consider the way that food in general is produced focusing on meat production is much too narrow.


I agree it's part of a much larger issue, yes. Factory agriculture presents problems as well.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PeterB » Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:31 pm

A conversation that I had with Trungpa Rinpoche occurs to me.
I wrote about it once on E Sangha and was duly shouted at..but here goes... :smile:

Trungpa R. " We have just had two big walk in freezers installed at Samye Ling.
Now we will be able to buy whole carcasses in order to cut down on the numbers of sentient creatures dying in order for us to eat "

Me "I am not sure I follow Rinpoche ..."

CTR..." Oh of course I forget you are a westerner and so you assume that one cow is more sentient than a thousand beetles ".

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Lazy_eye
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:30 pm

PeterB wrote:A conversation that I had with Trungpa Rinpoche occurs to me.
I wrote about it once on E Sangha and was duly shouted at..but here goes... :smile:

Trungpa R. " We have just had two big walk in freezers installed at Samye Ling.
Now we will be able to buy whole carcasses in order to cut down on the numbers of sentient creatures dying in order for us to eat "

Me "I am not sure I follow Rinpoche ..."

CTR..." Oh of course I forget you are a westerner and so you assume that one cow is more sentient than a thousand beetles ".


Trungpa's remarks would carry more weight for me if the choice today was between traditional animal husbandry and industrialized agriculture. But it's not. It's mostly between industrial meat and industrial agriculture. CAFOs kill insects and birds as well, and trawling is wiping out entire ocean species en masse. Soon the only seahorses left will be in storybooks and aquatic museums.

There's also the issue of volition. Based on the Pali Canon, I can't see a way to construe deliberately slaughtering an animal as anything other than an unwholesome act. You decide to kill it, you take an action that will kill it, and it dies -- horribly, in many cases (it's worth remembering that pigs, for instance, are intelligent and capable of emotion -- quite similar to dogs). I don't think the Buddha took a similar view of animals or insects accidentally killed in the process of farming, although pesticide use is obviously problematic. Still, we're not Jains.

Vajrayana and Mahayana have a somewhat more flexible approach to ethics; certain sutras teach that it may be justifiable to kill one sentient being if it will save hundreds of other sentient beings. I suspect this principle played into Trungpa's thoughts on the subject of meat-eating. The downside, though, is that it has been used in Mahayana countries to justify violence. Chinese Communists, Japanese nationalists and Tibetan guerrillas have all invoked a similar rationale.

That said, I do think we have to look at the context. Even though I'm a vegetarian, I would consider supporting independent farmers who follow humane and environmentally sound practices. (I'm more aligned with the "animal welfare" than the "animal rights" POV). And if for some reason I traveled to, say, Greenland, and lived with a Inuit clan, would I start delivering lectures on vegetarianism as they prepare to go out and hunt polar bears? No way.

People in many parts of the world don't have a choice. We do. For most Westerners, meat is not a necessity; we eat it simply because we like it and don't want to give it up. And that is perfectly understandable.

Ben wrote:I'm just a bit flabberghasted by the discussion and that there is presently an acute situation in East Africa where millions of people are facing starvation.
My original comment was put out there to give our members some pause for thought. To stop thinking about themselves, their self images, about what they put in their mouths, judging others by what they are putting in their mouths and just think for a minute about those who are dying of starvation.

Just this morning, I listened on the radio one Somali refugee's story of how she walked for thirty days with her two children to get to a UN food station and along the way both her children were taken by lions.

I would reckon it would put a lot of things into perspective.


Yes, that's true Ben. Shouldn't get so wrapped up in one issue that we forget the larger perspective.

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Dan74
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dan74 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:09 pm

Just watched Food Inc on the plane. Worth a look especially for our North American friends although it would probably be relevant elsewhere too.

http://www.foodincmovie.com/

I think it is not necessary to personalise this debate and to speculate on the people's motivations as if the only reason to be mindful of what one eats is conceit and spoiled Western sensibilities. It may be but it doesn't have to be.

Ben's point about the famine in Somalia is well-taken but we still have to make choices when we go food-shopping or when we order meals at a restaurant. And isn't it better if these choices are informed by the appropriate facts as well as the right view and compassion to the best of our abilities?

This is what such discussion can be helpful for - to illuminate the relevant facts and tease out the real issues here I think. There is no point in posturing and trying to prove that my way is better than yours and I don't think this is what most people are doing. But there is a point in sharing information and trying to understand the relationship of the choices we make to our Buddhist practice.
_/|\_

alan
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby alan » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:36 am

Thanks for the link Dan, I'll check it out. Along those lines, I'd highly recommend the book "Fast Food Nation".
Ben, I love your big heart. We're all moved by the situation in Somalia.
But--I don't see the connection between that tragedy and our individual food choices.

Here is my attitude: Since the health of our bodies is directly affected by our nourishment, doesn't it make sense to learn as much as we can about how to eat properly? I know, these can become emotional disputes, with one ideology arguing another. I'm suggesting the best course of action is to let go of clinging to ideas formed many years ago, and act rationally based on the latest information. There is a new consensus in dietary science, and it does not support the low fat vegetarian approach. I've seen the results in my own body--I'm more muscular and have much lower body fat than I did in my veggie days.

I've tried many approaches throughout the years and am always looking for new information. I offer you the best of what I know now. I offer it because I like to help.

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Ben
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Ben » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:46 am

Thank you, Alan.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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tiltbillings
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Aug 06, 2011 2:51 am

alan wrote: There is a new consensus in dietary science, and it does not support the low fat vegetarian approach. I've seen the results in my own body--I'm more muscular and have much lower body fat than I did in my veggie days.

I've tried many approaches throughout the years and am always looking for new information. I offer you the best of what I know now. I offer it because I like to help.
But can you generalize from your experiences to everyone else?
.


++++++++++++++++
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

alan
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby alan » Sat Aug 06, 2011 3:02 am

What else would I use as a basis other than my own research and experience, my passion to get this right, and my desire to share?


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