I’ve had moments of vegetarianism in my life.
Whole years where I felt very “Buddhist” and my head was shaved and no meat crossed my plate.
But to be honest, they’ve been few and far between, because in the end I always realize something.
I realize that it’s not death I’m interested in running from.
I’m not upset that death occurs, that things are born and then cease to exist. But instead it’s caring that concerns me. Caring for each other, caring for the land and caring for the future.
I am interested in the time that there is life how it is cared for.
And from my perspective a vegan diet alone does not offer this.
More than meat what is really destructive for the earth and the creatures on it is “cheap and convenient.” The need to do things quickly and cheaply so someone can profit rarely benefits the land or the creatures on it. That is why we need to do more then ask, “Did something die to make this?” when choosing what we eat or buy.
It seems there is a deeper digging needed, questions like:
Where did this product come from?
What chemicals were used in its production?
How far did it travel?
Were people paid fairly during the process?
Were animals and insects treated humanely?
Because everything dies.
The carrot starts dying when it’s pulled from the land. And Mexican farm workers die from pesticide poisoning in alarming rates. And bugs die when herbicides are applied.
And how do we come to peace with all of this inevitable suffering?
Well, we don’t close our eyes, that’s for sure. We might want to. Because the feeling in our gut, in our hearts and in our minds can be too much and we just don’t feel like we can know what choices to make so we can both survive and avoid doing harm.
This is one of the things we learn in meditation. To get better at discomfort. To be able to sit still when the gut-wrenching or heart-breaking arises and not make up a big story about the whole situation. But instead stay with the discomfort and know it is true but also know it will pass.
So, what do we do in our household?
In my family we hunt our own meat because we choose to live somewhere wild and yes we take the death of an animal but its life was lived humanely and we butcher the meat ourselves with blessing and gratitude.
And we buy from local farmers and we don’t look for the cheapest items, we look for the items that have nurtured the earth, nurtured the producers and will then nurture our own bodies.
Is this a perfect solution?
No, there is no perfect system. Suffering happens. Death definitely happens. But striving to care a little harder and dig a little deeper for solutions, that can happen, too, if we just let it.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Tombako at Flickr