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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

burgers + cows

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(has click AQUÍ para la versión en español) 

My little girl is an infinite source of inspiration for both her father and me (as is our beautiful son). But they are also great teachers and the lessons they bring as gifts sometimes run deeper than any lesson ever learned. This time it was this little 7 year old angel´s moment to turn our world upside down, filling it with light. One day she was sitting in front of a homemade burger and couldn´t seem to get through lunch. I was staring at her and I suddenly noticed a change in the way she was looking at her plate. Her eyes shifted, as they do when she´s deep in thought, or finally figured out the answer to her math homework. She turned and looked at me, then said, "Mommy, are hamburgers  cows that people kill? ...cows that have babies?" My answer?, "Yes, sweetie". She then went on to declare,  "I´m going to be a vegetarian now". Now, don´t get me wrong, I have always been aware of the fact that a lot of the food eaten on a day to day basis are dead animals. I am also aware of the inhumane conditions in which these poor animals are treated for a juicy steak´s sake. But it never really hit home the way it should have until I saw the way my sweet little girl was experiencing the complete comprehension of what eating that burger truly implied. At home we usually ate chicken or fish 2 times a week. Red meat, once every blue moon. I tried to get my hands on organic meat, as if this would make things better. I cooked all vegetarian dishes one whole week and both my men (hubby and son) were not too happy. I gave up. I recognize the fruitlessness of trying to create true change in our home if papa isn´t on the same page as mama (and vice-versa).

But something happened that day little G seemed to connect burgers with cows and chicken fajitas with those animals living in our back yard. Both papa and mama saw that sense of anguish in her eyes, her disgust as she pushed her plate away, and the determination with which she announced her verdict. Something shifted. It´s now been a while since we last ate meat, a while since i began digging deep into different healthy vegetarian variations to life and yumminess, and the strength i find in knowing papa bear has my back is unequalled. This is something he wrote and posted on his facebook page the other day, I was compelled to translate and share.

It is proven that pigs are as intelligent or even more so than dogs. It is proven that cows have the ability to perceive what can harm them and what benefits them. Any of these farm animals are conscious of maternity and therefore of affection (this has at times been mistaken with the instinct to preserve their own species, the same instinct we all share). If this were so, then human maternity would be reduced to a mere basic instinct (which I believe to be true) but motherhood is also one of the greatest creative processes and is therefore one of the highest spiritual values. To treat pigs and cows as "food" and dogs as "companions" is the clearest proof of the perversity of our species.

I consider the premise that eating animals is "natural because this is how the food chain works" quite a  simplistic one, and a mere justification of the idea that we can do whatever we choose to because it is "our right". True enough, the animal kingdom revolves around food chains and without them our ecosystem would collapse. Nevertheless humans are not only animals, we are also the most evolved creatures on this planet, with abilities that the lion, the coyote and the eagle do not possess. These predators, like many others, have no other choice (and this is so for a reason) when it comes to obtaining food; they cannot sow, they cannot balance their diets, they cannot create technology to feed thousands of their own species, and therefore are  limited to the use of their own instincts that I would not qualify as cruel or evil, but necessary.

But humans have hidden behind this premise for thousands of years. We began as hunters and gatherers but there was a turning point in our evolution as a species: agriculture. We became agricultures and therefore sedentary. The concept of property was born and with time this concept evolved into the right to progress at any cost because nature would be "wild and inhabitable" if it were not for  the "marvels humans create". Man has found all sorts of ways to perpetuate his species and many of them are more destructive than the worst plagues that have befallen our planet.

As the master Seung Sahn said "human is number one bad animal".

We cannot justify that raising animals only to kill thousands of sentient beings daily is "natural" and part of the food chain because man lost direction when he became a farmer. Therefore not all we do is "natural", but rather cruel and  despicable. Why do I say humanity lost it´s way when we began farming? Because instead of understanding agriculture as a tool to create abundance and true advancement, we,  as a species, have tricked ourselves into believing that it is our responsibility to tame this planet by any means necessary beacause it´s rescources belong to us, therefore any action in the name of this purpose is valid and justifiable.

My point is that not everything "goes". That as beings with a brain and a nervous system as developed as ours our role on this planet is vital. This is not about being a vegetarian, or an activist, or a buddhist, or a socialist, we cannot continue to qualify or stereotype in order to justify actions that obey our need for pleasure over our call of conscience.

I remember an experiment that was done  with rats some time ago. They (the rats) were connected to electrodes that would stimulate the pleasure centers in their brain every time the rat triggered a button. It got to the point where they began to starve because they preferred pressing the button over eating... Are we all that different from those rats? Do we prefer pleasure over the truth of our conscience?

All beings are recipients of life, therefore all beings are sacred. Or is the life of a human being sacred (and so we believe) and that of a animal is not?

It is not true that humans need meat to survive. In India 90% of the population is vegetarian and regardless of the hunger problems that attack certain areas of the population (as is currently true in all countries) they are a healthy people with no nutritional deficiencies.

To continue to believe that eating meat is normal, acting oblivious to the cruelty that  our demand for it creates, only to satisfy our craving, is a very personal decision. If i decide not to eat meat it is because I do not wish to be a man that plays the perverse game of our system...The more I practice Metta (uncontitional love), aruna (infinite compassion) and mudita (altruistic happiness) the more I understand all those poor beings that are suffering and agonizing in the hands of other beings that are supposed to care for them. I will not participate because I love the divine gift of life given to us by God, and so I will love my Creator by loving all those beings that in His eyes are equal and without distinction. I do not speak of God in a monotheistic sense, I speak of the originator, of the creative force of all that is manifested, that force which is mother, father, sun,  moon, evil and good, that which is within us, and around us.

HUMANS ARE PROTECTORS OF ALL LIFE ON THIS PLANET, let us not act otherwise. We can decide and therefore we can discern. Now let´s do just that.

LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU (may peace and happiness prevail)


Recognize meat for what it really is:  the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal. 
Ingrid Newkirk

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