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