I advance no exaggerated or fanciful claim for Vegetarianism. It is not, as some have asserted, a "panacea" for human ills; it is something much more rational -- an essential part of the modern humanitarian movement, which can make no true progress without it. Vegetarianism is the diet of the future, as flesh-food is the diet of the past.
Henry Stephens Salt
Try vegetarianism and you will be surprised: meditation becomes far easier. Love becomes more subtle, loses its grossness - becomes more sensitive but less sensuous, becomes more prayerful and less sexual. And your body also starts taking on a different vibe. You become more graceful, softer, more feminine, less aggressive, more receptive. Vegetarianism is an alchemical change in you. It creates the space in which the baser metal can be transformed into gold.
Vegetarianism is a link to perfection and peace. But it's a small link. There are lots of other issues: apartheid , vivisection, political prisoners, the arms race. There's so much going on in this world today, so much ignorance among people. That's not to say I'm not standing amongst everybody. But the point is, what can we do now? That's the thing about vegetarianism; it's an individual's decision and it's something you have control over. How many things do we really have control over?
I'm no shrinking violet. I played hockey until half my teeth were knocked down my throat. And I'm extremely competitive on a tennis court. . . But that experience at the slaughterhouse overwhelmed me. When I walked out of there, I knew I would never again harm an animal! I knew all the physiological, economic, and ecological arguments supporting vegetarianism, but it was firsthand experience of man's cruelty to animals that laid the real groundwork for my commitment to vegetarianism.
... man was not born a carnivorous animal, but born to live on the fruits and herbs that the earth grows. I know we must all err. I would give up milk if I could, but I cannot. I have made that experiment times without number. I could not, after a serious illness, regain my strength, unless I went back to milk. That has been the tragedy of my life. But the basis of my vegetarianism is not physical, but moral. If anybody said that I should die if I did not take beef tea or mutton, even on medical advice, I would prefer death. That is the basis of my vegetarianism.
With me, meditation is the only essential religion. And everything that follows it is virtue, because it comes of its own accord. You don't have to drag it, you don't have to discipline yourself for it. I have nothing to do with vegetarianism, but I know that if you meditate you are going to grow new perceptivity, new sensitivity, and you cannot kill animals.
That is the way with all of your kind... It is how you are made; you must all strive to claw your way over the backs of your fellow humans during the short time you are permitted in the universe, breeding when you can, so that the strongest strain survive and the weakest die. I would no more blame you for that than I would try to convert some non-sentient carnivore to vegetarianism. You are all on your own side.
Iain M. Banks
Vegetarianism functioned as a purification. When you eat animals you are more under the law of necessity. You are heavy, you gravitate more towards the earth. When you are a vegetarian you are light and you are more under the law of grace, under the law of power, and you start gravitating towards the sky.
The average age (longevity) of a meat eater is 63. I am on the verge of 85 and still work as hard as ever. I have lived quite long enough and am trying to die; but I simply cannot do it. A single beef-steak would finish me; but I cannot bring myself to swallow it. I am oppressed with a dread of living forever. That is the only disadvantage of vegetarianism.
George Bernard Shaw
Meat-fetishiser that I was, I used to find willed vegetarianism inexplicable. It was one thing to be a vegetarian because of religious and caste reasons - something I was familiar with because of my Indian upbringing - but to choose to be a vegetarian when you could eat meat for every meal every day? That seemed madness to me.
Almost always when I told someone I was writing a book about "eating animals", they assumed, even without knowing anything about my views, that it was a case for vegetarianism. It's a telling assumption, one that implies not only that a thorough inquiry into animal agriculture would lead one away from eating meat, but that most people already know that to be the case.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Vegetarianism is not implicitly important for the mental progress or the intellectual development, unless it is supposed to be a remedy to clean the body from slag. A temporary abstinence from meat or animal food is indicated only for very specific magic operations as a sort of preparation, and even then only for a certain period. All this is to be considered with respect to sexual life.
Vegetarianism preserves live, health, peace, the ecology, creates a more equitable distribution of resources, helps to feed the hungry, encourages nonviolence for the animal and human members of the planet, and is a powerful aid for the spiritual transformation of the body, emotions, mind, and spirit.
Pythagoras was the first to introduce vegetarianism to the West. It is of profound depth for man to learn how to live in friendship with nature, in friendship with creatures. That becomes the foundation. And only on that foundation can you base your prayer, your meditativeness. You can watch it in yourself: when you eat meat, meditation will be found to be more and more difficult.
Vegetarianism has nothing to do with religion: it is something basically scientific. It has nothing to do with morality, but it has much to do with aesthetics. It is unbelievable that a man of sensitivity, awareness, understanding, love, can eat meat. And if he can eat meat then something is missing he is still unconscious somewhere of what he is doing, unconscious of the implications of his acts.
Although I have been prevented by outward circumstances from observing a strictly vegetarian diet, I have long been an adherent to the cause in principle. Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.
Have you heard of the Children of Mae?' 'The cult?' She knew of a religious group whose members went door to door, preaching the benefits of self-discipline-abstinence, celibacy or monogamy, vegetarianism-pretty much anything fun was prohibited. They had never come to Vesper's house because her father was a butcher and probably pretty low on their list of possible converts.
The wrongfulness, the immorality of eating animal food has been recognized by all mankind during all the conscious life of humanity. Why, then have people generally not come to acknowledge this law? The answer is that the moral progress of humanity is always slow; but that the sign of true, not casual Progress, is in uninterruptedness and its continual acceleration. And one cannot doubt that vegetarianism has been progressing in this manner
It is beyond doubt that the chief motive of Vegetarianism is the humane one. Questions of hygiene and of economy both play their part, and an important part, in a full discussion of food reform; but the feeling which underlies and animates the whole movement is the instinctive horror of butchery, especially the butchery of the more highly organized animals, so human, so near akin to man.
Henry Stephens Salt
The vegetarian movement ought to fill with gladness the souls of those who have at heart the realization of God's kingdom upon earth, not because vegetarianism itself is such an important step towards the realization of this kingdom (all real steps are equally important or unimportant), but because it serves as a criterion by which we know that the pursuit of moral perfection on the part of man is genuine and sincere.
No vegetarian has been able to achieve a single Nobel prize. It is a clear-cut condemnation of vegetarianism. Why do all the Nobel prizes go to non-vegetarians? - because vegetarian food does not contain those proteins which create intelligence. And unless we provide those proteins, intelligence cannot grow. The body is a very delicate phenomenon and it needs a very well balanced diet.
Jainism is the first religion that has made vegetarianism a fundamental necessity for transforming consciousness. And they are right. Killing just to eat makes your consciousness heavy, insensitive; and you need a very sensitive consciousness - very light, very loving, very compassionate. It is difficult for a non-vegetarian to be compassionate; and without being compassionate and loving you will be hindering your own progress.
When a human kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why should man then expect mercy from God? It's unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. It is inconsistent. I can never accept inconsistency or injustice. Even if it comes from God. If there would come a voice from God saying, "I'm against vegetarianism!" I would say, "Well, I am for it!" This is how strongly I feel in this regard.
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Life in its infinite forms exists as one organic unity. We are part of it: the part should feel reverence for the whole. That is the idea of vegetarianism. It simply means: don't destroy life. It simply means: life is God - avoid destroying it, otherwise you will be destroying the very ecology.
Vegetarianism that is me. I don't eat meat. It's been over 10 years. Actually it's been 11 and a half years and I feel good and I feel like I look good and I have energy& and you have to look at what you're putting in your body. I eat vegetables and I eat grain and I take care of myself and I don't think I look that bad, do I?
Some animal rights activists are demanding vegetarianism, even veganism now, or nothing. But since only 4 or 5 percent of Americans claim to be vegetarians, 'nothing' is the far more likely outcome. I ask these activists to weigh the horrors of Bladen County's industrial farms and the Tar Heel slaughterhouse against the consequences of doing nothing to alleviate the hour-to-hour sufferings of its victims. Is not a life lived off the factory farm and a death humanely inflicted superior to the terrible lives we know they lead and the horrible deaths we know they suffer in Bladen County today?
Steven M. Wise
It is not how we breed, keep and kill animals for human consumption that has been the impetus for vegetarianism for thousands of years. It is that we breed, keep and kill animals for human consumption. Throughout the centuries the common thread in the arguments against eating animals is the fact that since we have no nutritional requirement for the flesh or fluids of animals, killing them to simply satisfy our taste-buds or habits or customs amounts to senseless slaughter, and senseless slaughter is no small thing.
Nothing was ever in tune. People just blindly grabbed at whatever there was: communism, health foods, zen, surfing, ballet, hypnotism, group encounters, orgies, biking, herbs, Catholicism, weight-lifting, travel, withdrawal, vegetarianism, India, painting, writing, sculpting, composing, conducting, backpacking, yoga, copulating, gambling, drinking, hanging around, frozen yogurt, Beethoven, Back, Buddha, Christ, TM, H, carrot juice, suicide, handmade suits, jet travel, New York City, and then it all evaporated and fell apart. People had to find things to do while waiting to die. I guess it was nice to have a choice.
There are some animal advocates who say that to maintain that veganism is the moral baseline is objectionable because it is 'judgmental, ' or constitutes a judgment that veganism is morally preferable to vegetarianism and a condemnation that vegetarians (or other consumers of animal products) are 'bad' people. Yes to the first part; no to the second. There is no coherent distinction between flesh and other animal products. They are all the same and we cannot justify consuming any of them. To say that you do not eat flesh but that you eat dairy or eggs or whatever, or that you don't wear fur but you wear leather or wool, is like saying that you eat the meat from spotted cows but not from brown cows; it makers no sense whatsoever. The supposed 'line' between meat and everything else is just a fantasy-an arbitrary distinction that is made to enable some exploitation to be segmented off and regarded as 'better' or as morally acceptable. This is not a condemnation of vegetarians who are not vegans; it is, however, a plea to those people to recognize their actions do not conform with a moral principle that they claim to accept and that all animal products are the result of imposing suffering and death on sentient beings. It is not a matter of judging individuals; it is, however, a matter of judging practices and institutions. And that is a necessary component of ethical living.
Gary L. Francione
I quit eating meat in 1976, the same year I turned fifteen, came out, and went to my first gay rights rally (not in that order). When I say that I 'came out, ' I mean that I resolved to never lie about my love for women, never deliberately pass for straight, and never deny a lover by calling her 'him.' To do so, I felt, would be to betray not only the women I desired, but my deepest self. My decision to quit meat was equally simple. Somehow, through the confluence of midseventies influences, I knew that vegetarianism was a particularly healthy way to eat. One day, quite suddenly, I realized: If I didn't need to eat meat to stay alive, then eating meat was killing for pleasure. I couldn't live with myself, wouldn't be the nonviolent person I believed myself to be, if I killed other beings-beings who had their own desires-merely to satisfy my desire for the taste of their flesh. Looking back, I see that both decisions, coming out and quitting meat, are about the interplay of desire and integrity. Sometimes integrity means being true to your desires, and sometimes integrity requires you to refuse your desires. I also notice that both decisions were about bodies and consent. A primary tenet of gay liberation is that what consenting people do with each other's bodies is nobody else's business. And, of course, eating meat is something you do to somebody else's body without their consent.