the great vegetarian debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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Spiny Norman
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:52 am

Jhana4 wrote:"Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.

Customers make a business possible.



And if we buy meat from a butcher we're saying that there's no way we would get involved in butchery, but we're quite happy for somebody else to do it when it suits us? :shrug:
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby cooran » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:56 am

Hello all,

Not sure if this article by Ajahn Brahmavamso has been posted before:

Vinaya: what the Buddha said about eating meat
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books6/Ajahn ... g_meat.htm

With metta,
Chris
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby dagon » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:09 pm

Jhana4 wrote:
clw_uk wrote:
Interesting that the Buddha classed meat production with such fine endeavors as arms dealing, the slave traide, the drug trade and making poison.



Yet he ate meat and didn't enforce a rule for vegetarianism. In fact the only time he is asked to do so, he refuses.


The demand for meat won't go away, and a lot of meat will end up in the bin, so there is no harm in buying it


The Buddha allegedly ate meat. There are disputes whether or not MN 55 and a similar passage in the commentaries have been translated correctly.
In the two version of the suttas I have found the part where the Buddha states he will eat meat is in parenthesis. I need to research what the parenthesis mean and I am following up on the source of the claim of the translation error. According to the monk who told me this MN 55 should have been translated as "I will eat almsfood if I can't tell if there is meat in it".

As to your second point I think your reasoning is at fault. Current cultural culinary tastes are not laws of physics, they can change. The second part of your second point seems to be saying we have to keep eating meet because if large amounts of people stopped all at once some meat would be wasted by being thrown away ( probably can be used for fertilizer ). That would mean you would have to keep perpetuating an unethical act to keep the results of previous unethical acts from being wasteful.

As far as ethics go, forget about Buddhism and forget about the suffering to livestock animals, many of whom are as intelligent as dogs or young human children. Meat production contributes more to the greenhouse effect of global climate change than the transportation industry. Do you have kids? Do you want them, their friends or your grandchildren to live in the future resulting from global climate change?

If you are interested in the future you should read this essay by an environmental journalist who states flatly he could care less about vegetarianism, but he gave up meat because he is aware of how it is contributing to global climate change and he doesn't want that future for him or his children:

http://www.audubonmagazine.org/articles ... arbon-diet


Methane is created in anaerobic environments and is naturally produced and emitted from wetlands and other natural situations. Mother Nature, however, is not the predominate generator of methane. Humans are. The decomposition of waste, the burning of biomass, the extraction of fossil fuels, the digestion of livestock, and rice cultivation combine to emit more than twice the methane emitted by natural processes.

It is this last source that Mr. Xu is focusing his research on. Most rice is grown in flooded rice paddies, mainly because the floodwater has no adverse effects on the rice plants but controls most weeds and pest insects. The flood water creates an anaerobic environment just right for methane production. Rice cultivation accounts for 17 percent of the anthropogenically produced methane.


http://www.princeton.edu/engineering/eq ... ture4.html

So if we were to be consistent in our arguments then we should also stop producing and eating rice?

metta
paul
Last edited by dagon on Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:23 pm

cooran wrote:Hello all,

Not sure if this article by Ajahn Brahmavamso has been posted before:

Vinaya: what the Buddha said about eating meat
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books6/Ajahn ... g_meat.htm

With metta,
Chris


Thanks Chris. I thought this comment at the end of the article was interesting:
"Nonetheless, we may encourage vegetarianism and if our lay supporters brought only vegetarian food and no meat, well...monks may not complain either."
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:27 pm

dagon wrote:So if we were to be consistent in our arguments then we should also stop producing and eating rice?


No, because feeding grain to people directly is much more efficient than feeding that grain to animals and then eating them. You can feed 6-8 times more people if they eat the grain and not the animals which are fed on the grain.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby dagon » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:43 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
dagon wrote:So if we were to be consistent in our arguments then we should also stop producing and eating rice?


No, because feeding grain to people directly is much more efficient than feeding that grain to animals and then eating them. You can feed 6-8 times more people if they eat the grain and not the animals which are fed on the grain.


The argument that not eating meat would be beneficial to the worlds food supply is sound as far as grain fed animals goes. The arguments that factory farming/feed lots not only bring about more suffering and are an even worse producer of greehouse gasses than more natural models of farming is beyond dispute in my mind. If we look at total food production there are areas that are unable to support grain/vegetable production which would be able to support livestock. If other chose to eat cattle it is not my concern as long as i am not expected to eat burnt bovine bodies.

What my concern is that when an issue is raised as part of this discussion we should be consistent in our approach - the subject of greehouse gasses was raised by some one else which is what i was addressing.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Jhana4 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:02 pm

Almost all meat production comes from factory farms which uses grain based feed. There is land that can't grow food for humans, but that can grow grass for cows. However, that type of land exists in only a tiny amount and could only produce food for an insignificant number of people.

I read that in the book "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. The author did his own fresh research and the author paid a professional fact checker to review his book before he submitted it for publishing.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby dagon » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:15 pm

Jhana4 wrote:Almost all meat production comes from factory farms which uses grain based feed. There is land that can't grow food for humans, but that can grow grass for cows. However, that type of land exists in only a tiny amount and could only produce food for an insignificant number of people.

I read that in the book "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. The author did his own fresh research and the author paid a professional fact checker to review his book before he submitted it for publishing.


Beef production tends to be concentrated, with the top six producers—the U.S., the European Union, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, and Russia—accounting for about 60 percent of global production. Significant shifts among producers have occurred over time. Cattle production worldwide is differentiated by animal genetics and feeding methods, resulting in differing quality types. Cattle are basically residual claimants to crop or land resources. Those countries with excess or low-value land tend to grass-feed their cattle herds, while those countries with excess feed grains, such as the U.S. and Canada, finish cattle with a grain ration. Grain-fed cattle have more internal fat (i.e., marbling) which results in a more tender meat than forage-fed cattle of a similar age. In some Asian countries such as Japan, which is not a grain surplus country, tastes and preferences have encouraged feeding grain to cattle, but at a high cost since the grain must be imported.[15][1


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_feeding

Grain feeding cattle is a waste of food resources, uses petrochemical in a wasteful and damaging way to the environment.
Livestock on grazing lands. About 60% of the world's agricultural land is used for grazing some 360 million cattle and more than 600 million sheep and goats. Grazing animals supply about 10% of world production of beef and about 30% of sheep and goat meat. For an estimated 100 million people in arid areas - and probably a similar number in other zones - grazing livestock is the only feasible source of livelihood.

The great advantage of livestock grazing is that it converts to useful products resources what would otherwise be wasted. In the process, grazing animals play a positive environmental role: they improve the diversity of grasses by dispersing seeds, and break up the soil crust. This is why arid rangelands are a dynamic and highly resilient ecosystem, provided the number of people and animals that the land can support remains in balance. Indeed, the ability to recover after drought is one of the main indicators of long term environmental and social sustainability in arid grazing systems.

http://www.fao.org/ag/magazine/9809/spot4.htm

You statement is correct for the USA and some other counties but not all by any means.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby chownah » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:03 pm

There is enough food produced at present to adequately feed the world's present population. The major agricultural practice which wastes the resources we will need in the future is not range fed cattle production, rather it is the chemically fed, chemically protected mono culture plantations created by industrial scale agriculture. Industrial agriculture is the single human activity which does the most damage to the environment. It consumes large amounts of fossil fuel and chemical fertilizer both which add to global warming. Agricultural runoff from chemically fertilized and treated farm land is creating huge dead zones in the oceans of the world which results in not only the reduction of the world"s marine food supplies but also kills coral whose degradation increases global warming. In industrial agriculture the goal is to kill everything except the crop you are growing for PROFIT.......the result is wholesale destruction of the ecosystem with zero diversity which in some places extends to beyond the horizon.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby dagon » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:43 pm

chownah wrote:There is enough food produced at present to adequately feed the world's present population. The major agricultural practice which wastes the resources we will need in the future is not range fed cattle production, rather it is the chemically fed, chemically protected mono culture plantations created by industrial scale agriculture. Industrial agriculture is the single human activity which does the most damage to the environment. It consumes large amounts of fossil fuel and chemical fertilizer both which add to global warming. Agricultural runoff from chemically fertilized and treated farm land is creating huge dead zones in the oceans of the world which results in not only the reduction of the world"s marine food supplies but also kills coral whose degradation increases global warming. In industrial agriculture the goal is to kill everything except the crop you are growing for PROFIT.......the result is wholesale destruction of the ecosystem with zero diversity which in some places extends to beyond the horizon.
chownah


What goes along with what has been said is that one of the clear benefits of reducing, if not eliminating, meat from the diet is lost. The health benefits that should accrue are offset by the indigestion of agricultural chemical along with the food. Associated with that is the destruction of life forms extending up the food chain and the near sterilization of the degraded soils.

It is interesting to consider in the context of right livelihood what The Buddha would have made of pesticide producers and sellers? Traders in poisons?

metta
paul

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Alex123 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 4:23 pm

Today's fruits and vegetables have far less nutritional content and far more pesticide (and other pollutants) than before. Some food is irradiated. Some is genetically modified (for profit). I used to drink up to 4 liters of blended fruits and greens per day... Didn't help me at all. Greens appear to me like damp paper or something.

Corn for example, is modified to produce Bt toxin to kill the bugs who eat it. While the makers claim that by cooking it, you neutralize poison, I doubt it. No thanks. If lifeforms die when eating raw corn - I don't think it is very safe to eat it even if it is cooked.

Genetically modified maize (corn) is a genetically engineered corn plant with agronomically desirable traits. Corn that is resistant to herbicides has been developed, as has corn that expresses insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_maize


ImageImage
Image
Resistant to herbicides = it can be sprayed with a lot of toxic chemicals and don't die. Hopefully washing it well removes most of them.
Insecticide = it kills insects. I doubt it is beneficial to eat it for anyone, including humans.
So here, this vegetarian food is responsible for death of many insects, and (hopefully not) for bad health decades from now for humans who eat it.

So going from organic meat to vegetarianism, IMHO, is over-hyped when it comes to health. Also, consider this. Our body is made from animal flesh, not from cellulose or other vegetarian substances. The more similar the food is to our body's make up, the better. Protein from animal based sources is better than plant based protein. Some say that soy protein is good. But not for men, and not 90%+ of it for any gender because most of soy is genetically modified.


Soy is a legume, which contains high amounts of phytic acid. Phytic acid binds to minerals (like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc), interfering with the body's ability to absorb them (which is usually a bad thing). Soy is also known to contain "antinutrients," among them enzyme inhibitors that interfere with protein digestion. The Chinese figured out about 2,000 years ago that antinutrients and phytic acid could be deactivated during fermentation, but in the processed-food laden land of the West, we've chosen cultural ignorance in favor of quick and cheap. Most of the soy we eat is unfermented...
There is also a risk of breast and other reproductive cancers for women and the potential for testicular cancer and infertility in men.
link


No thank you.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:29 pm

cooran wrote:Hello all,

Not sure if this article by Ajahn Brahmavamso has been posted before:

Vinaya: what the Buddha said about eating meat
http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books6/Ajahn ... g_meat.htm

With metta,
Chris


What he says is interesting. Although, I always wonder what he would have said if they had meat production factory farms back then? I can't see any way in which he would approve of such a thing. Especially when you are not a beggar monk and can easily choose what to eat or not eat. The average supermarket these days has something like 40,000 different products. Of course, it's not all food but that's besides the point! I have always wondered what the Buddha would have said if the monks, instead of being beggars, shopped at a supermarket with thousands of things to chose from. Would he have said "it's better to choose this rather than this"? I think it's highly likely that he would have said something like that.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Jhana4 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 2:08 am

I was at a retreat a few weeks ago listening to a question and answer session. A woman asked if the Buddha advocated vegetarianism. The vice abbot of the monestary, in a non-snarky friendly, but funny tone of voice said that subject was a matter of contention. People who want to eat meat, contend about it.

No disrespect to anyone, but I think that one line from the vice-abbot could sum up this whole huge thread.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:24 am

Jhana4 wrote: People who want to eat meat, contend about it.


:thumbsup:
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:27 am

Alex123 wrote: Protein from animal based sources is better than plant based protein.


Arguable point, but for me not that relevant because I didn't stop eating meat for health reasons. It's basically that I like animals and don't want them to suffer unecessarily.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:30 am

seeker242 wrote:I have always wondered what the Buddha would have said if the monks, instead of being beggars, shopped at a supermarket with thousands of things to chose from. Would he have said "it's better to choose this rather than this"? I think it's highly likely that he would have said something like that.


And of course he did say something like that, ie the 3-fold rule. Most of us do have a choice, and I'd suggest that Right Intention is of relevance here.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:41 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Jhana4 wrote: People who want to eat meat, contend about it.


:thumbsup:


There has been snarkiness from many sources in this thread, friends, those you mention and those you overlook. Please refrain from generating yet more of the same. Substantive discussion is here amongst the chaff.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:44 am

daverupa wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
Jhana4 wrote: People who want to eat meat, contend about it.


:thumbsup:


There has been snarkiness from many sources in this thread, friends, those you mention and those you overlook. Please refrain from generating yet more of the same. Substantive discussion is here amongst the chaff.


I think this is a substantive point, Dave. Some people just like eating meat.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby daverupa » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:57 am

Spiny Norman wrote:I think this is a substantive point, Dave. Some people just like eating meat.


Do not underestimate equanimity in such a case.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:19 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Alex123 wrote: Protein from animal based sources is better than plant based protein.


Arguable point, but for me not that relevant because I didn't stop eating meat for health reasons. It's basically that I like animals and don't want them to suffer unecessarily.


I don't think it's an arguable point as there is no scientific evidence to back that statement up. Protein is simply amino acids combinations. Lysine is Lysine regardless of where it comes from. The Lysine you get from beans is the exact same thing as what comes from meat. Same with all the other amino acids. The only real difference is the amino acid profiles and rates of absorption. The idea that plant protein is somehow inferior is a long ago debunked myth.


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