Re­li­gion & Meat (Are you an an­i­mal or a sin­ner?)

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

Iwas won­der­ing why hav­ing to eat meat be­comes such a re­li­gious mat­ter when taken of­fi­cially? Of course, the an­swer to this could be man­i­folds.

Eat­ing meat is in the Bhutanese roots given our re­cent de­pen­dence on bar­baric sur­vival. To­day, even if we claim to have be­come mod­ern in our lifestyles, no cel­e­bra­tion or for that mat­ter any re­li­gious fes­ti­val goes with­out meat con­sump­tion. Although our re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions (men­tal­ity in­cluded) are grad­u­ally ad­vo­cat­ing meat-free rit­u­als, yet it will be dif­fi­cult to change that be­hav­ior which is in our blood. I’ve seen how meat is not served for break­fast and lunch but made a sump­tu­ous del­i­cacy for the din­ner at re­li­gious events. Now, if we count the num­ber of rit­u­als con­ducted in the coun­try in a year, even Na­tional Sta­tis­ti­cal Bureau might have to spend mil­lions to gather the fig­ures. Added to that, the quan­tity of meat that is be­ing con­sumed!

I’ve seen some Bhutanese who can’t take their meals with­out meat. I asked a friend of mine with that eat­ing habit why is it so? He says eat­ing meat sa­ti­ates his hunger than any other food. And the meat item gives him the sat­is­fac­tion to claim that he has taken a good meal. Mm­mmm...Had it not been for my god damn gas­tri­tis I would been eat­ing some meat cur­ries. Well, I guess this is an in­stinc­tual re­sponse to our an­i­mal­ish hunger.

When re­li­gion takes cen­ter-stage over meat con­sump­tion, it let loose the con­fu­sion. The com­plex­ity stands be­tween our in­stinc­tual needs and the re­li­gious norms.

At this point, I’m sure the vege­tar­i­ans might be rais­ing their fangs against me for seem­ingly sup­port­ing the bar­baric in­stincts. But nei­ther is this nat­u­ral in­stinct easy to cor­rect. I don’t know if there is a re­li­gious law which con­demns eat­ing meat or con­sider a per­son eat­ing meat a sin­ner. If so, then there should be a be­liev­able proof of such dic­tum. Oth­er­wise, it will be very dif­fi­cult to change the in­stinc­tual needs by the mere rules of com­pas­sion and kind­ness. Even plants are liv­ing be­ings, so are the veg­eta­bles, this should equally make any veg­e­tar­ian a sin­ner for killing veg­eta­bles and eat­ing them.

A re­li­gious ar­gu­ment might be that eat­ing meat is OK but not killing or slaugh­ter­ing. Or we let some for­eign peo­ple kill the an­i­mals first and then we will con­sume the corpses as third per­sons so that the ef­fect of sin will be sig­nif­i­cantly less. If this is the equa­tion then re­li­gion is foot­ing it­self on skep­ti­cism and hypocrisy.

Ac­cord­ing to science, life and liv­ing is a nat­u­ral process of evo­lu­tion. A process in which an­i­mals and foods are eter­nally linked through food web. And I be­lieve evo­lu­tion evolved be­fore the re­li­gion. Oth­er­wise, this earth would have been aban­doned as a re­sult of im­bal­ance in food web caused by re­li­gious laws.

By the way, I think re­li­gion did not evolve to de­fine the food web, but rather to free one’s soul from de­sires. De­sires that goes be­yond the life and food.

Not ar­gu­ing from the re­li­gious point of view, eat­ing meat has been as­so­ci­ated with so many health prob­lems and dis­eases. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has found that peo­ple who avoid meat are much less likely to de­velop can­cer. On the con­trary, there are also sci­en­tific ev­i­dences to sup­port eat­ing meat for nutri­tion and good health. So it’s up to an in­di­vid­ual whether to eat meat or not.

Now what mat­ters is ad­vo­cat­ing for healthy life and let­ting peo­ple know that re­duc­ing meat con­sump­tion would lead to bet­ter lives. If this can be achieved, the con­sump­tion of meat would au­to­mat­i­cally go down. Be­cause such ad­vo­cacy gives real warn­ing of bad health due to con­sump­tion of meat than warn them hy­po­thet­i­cally be­ing a sin­ner. So the con­cerned agency here is not an re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tion but the a health or­ga­ni­za­tion.

As for the econ­omy, of hav­ing a slaugh­ter­house, I think the ini­tia­tive would greatly ad­dress the prob­lem of our de­pen­dence on enor­mous quan­ti­ties of meat im­ports. But if the re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tion ob­jects by stamp­ing the ini­tia­tive as “not-com­pas­sion­ate and sin” then there bet­ter be a good rea­sons why our peo­ple like to con­sume such huge quan­ti­ties of meat.

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