Religion and Veganism (Part 2)

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Hinduism

Religion and Veganism Rather than veganism, the most common practice of diet in Hinduism is vegetarianism, in figures, 34 percent of the population. In the Manu smriti (religious text in Hinduism) endorses on giving up all types of meat and meat-based products and many other scriptures sermonize compassion towards all living beings mentioning that it is injurious to the spirituality and health of a devotee, here are a few.

“The sins generated by violence curtail the life of the perpetrator. Therefore, even those who are anxious for their own welfare should abstain from meat-eating.” (Mahabharatha, Anushashana Parva 115.33)

“Those noble souls who practice meditation and other yogic ways, who are ever careful about all beings, who protect all animals, are the ones who are actually serious about spiritual practices.” (Atharva Veda 19.48.5)

“How can he practice true compassion, who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh?” (Tirukural 251)

 Also the warrior Bhishma found in Mahabharatha compares eating meat is like eating one’s own offspring.

With succession from the ancient Vedic religions, animal sacrificing known as ‘Jhathka Bali’ is also being practiced in some factions of Hinduism. These ritualistic sacrifices are made mostly during festivals of honoring Hindu gods like for the Hindu goddess Gadhimai or the Goddess Kali. In Nepal, goddess Gadhimai was honored with offerings of 250,000 slaughtered animals every few years until this practice was banned from year 2015.

Christianity and Catholicism

When we consider the followers of Christianity around the globe, most of them are meat eaters where a minority of vegetarians or vegans exists. When questioned on how ethical it is to kill another animal for food or for human use in general, the most common answer that comes up is by quoting from the book of Genesis where it says “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ ” justifying it as the god himself guiding people to use animals for their needs such as food, clothing and other purposes and also the same creation story is explained as the god’s implication on humankind’s responsibility to take care of animals by organizations like the “Christian Vegetarian Association”.

Also there is a common interpretation that the desire for eating the flesh of animals came after Adam and Eve getting tricked by the serpent to eat the forbidden apple from the Tree of Knowledge. God says in Genesis 2:16-17) And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”
Also quoting Ecclesiastes (3:19-21), God said: “For people and animals share the same fate—both breathe and both must die. So people have no real advantage over the animals… For who can prove that the human spirit goes up and the spirit of animals goes down into the earth?”

The Evangelical Christians promoted a religious fast named “The Daniel Fast” depending on the fasting experiences from the prophet of the Old Testament where they carry out a 21 day fast abstaining from all animal products, all types of sweeteners, all types of leavening agents, processed foods, deep fried foods, solid fats and all types of beverages other than water. This is somewhat similar to a Vegan diet but with more restrictions and the studies made with the fast have shown that it helps reducing the risk of heart disease.

The majority of the Christians who follows a vegan of vegetarian diet are Seventh – day Adventists. Many of them follows such a diet in order to stay healthy and to take care of the God – given body. Many studies carried out in the USA shows that Seventh – day Adventists are amidst the healthiest people with an average of additional 10 year lifespan over other Americans. The famous breakfast cereal – Kellogg’s was invented by a seventh – day Adventist to promote healthier, whole grain breakfasts.

In the weeks leading to Easter known as “Lent” Catholics give up meat on all Fridays, Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday. A tweet back in 2015 from Pope Francis once stated “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.” Also in one of his encyclical letters, the Pope mentioned about global warming and how it affects all the living beings and studies have indicated that consuming lesser animal based products is the most efficient way of diminishing the dangerous and catastrophic effects we face from climate change.

Islam, Judaism and others

Even in Islam which is widely known for its festival “Eid-al-adha”, translates to the “Festival of Sacrifice” where religious sacrificial acts (Qurbani) are involved, consists with verse in the Al – Quran (6: 38) where it is spoken about animals same as in Ecclesiastes 3: 19 – 21 in the Bible, (Mentioned above) carrying a similar meaning. Which narrates as “There is not an animal that lives on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they form communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end.” In the modern years, many vegan Muslims have found ways to practice Qurbani without the involvement of animals like donating money and volunteering.
Even though the Jewish cuisine is famous for its animal based foods, groups like “Jewish Veg” emphasizes that the God preferred plants over animal based foods. They often refer Genesis 1: 29 for the basis of their claims where it states as
“Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit — to you it shall be for food.” Also it is forbidden in Judaism to cause suffering towards animals and an increasing number of rabbis in their community promotes veganism because of these values of kindness.
Other than the above mentioned religions, there are small factions or groups in the 4000 plus religions in the world which highlights plant based eating and on not being cruel towards animals, Like Satanism and in Paganism. “The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one’s own,” which supported the members of the Satanic church’s decision to go vegan as they believe it will be for the betterment not only the animals but for the world we live in. In Paganism, one of the key moral guides for their faith writes as “Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give,” which can be clarified as not harming the living beings nor the earth itself.

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