Veganism and world religions often seem to go together. Many Eastern religions, in particular, predispose their practitioners to avoid the consumption of meat. Such vegetarianism is less stringent than veganism, but it is rooted in spiritual beliefs.
Many vegans who understand what is vegan believe their own practices are similarly spiritual. In fact, the rationales for avoiding the consumption of meat in most religions are not only met by veganism but the moral and ethical stance of veganism surpasses that of the vegetarianism in those religions.
India is the original locus for Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. It is reported to have more vegetarians than any other country in the world. Why do many Hindus refuse to eat meat?
For many Hindus, one reason to avoid meat is, in part, a belief that they may incur negative Karma by causing suffering. In addition, the concept of reincarnation crosses species. There is for Hindus a concern that consuming meat might mean one is taking the risk of consuming a relation. In India, many Hindus will consume dairy products, but they will often not eat eggs
Jainism is a religion is which at least some practitioners are known to sweep the ground before them so that they don’t risk stepping on and killing even an insect. Vegetarianism is compulsory for Jains.
Buddhists generally practice Ahimsa, a requirement to do no harm, to cause no suffering. This commitment requires many Buddhists to avoid eating meat. The rules for diet are less clear among the Sikhs, but many of them commit to a meat-free life.
So what about the religions of the West? In the Hebrew Scriptures—the religious book of the Jewish people—it seems that at first no animals were consumed. Early in the book of Genesis, people are given all the plants to eat, with one exception. Later in Genesis, following the Flood, the eating of meat was permitted with what eventually became considerable restrictions. One was that the animal could not be eaten if it had been made to suffer when it was killed.
Many vegans believe that the Hebrew bible does support a vegan life style by inculcating care for the earth as the property of God. Although many translations of the bible speak of man as having the earth to dominate, other versions emphasize caretaking for the planet. As a vegan, I completely identify myself with that last interpretation.
Christians share these Jewish roots in scripture. In the New Testament, most of the discussion about diet involves whether the new converts to nascent Christianity had to follow the dietary laws of the Jewish people and whether they could consume food that had been offered to idols.
The passages in the New Testament that vegans adopt for their own dietary creed center upon compassion and mercy as a controlling message from Jesus himself. Although there is no evidence that Jesus was either a vegetarian or a vegan, Christians who are vegan believe that God shares their concern to prevent suffering of any kind. They contend that God cares about protecting animals. Among Christian sects, the one that is most committed to vegetarianism seems to be the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
In the Holy Quran—the central holy book for Muslims— there are verses that grant animals parity with people, as in Sura 6:39. For this reason, some Muslims are vegetarian. The eating of pork is forbidden to all Muslims.
Veganism in world religions can enhance each other. Religious beliefs can and often do undergird the commitment of vegans to their way of life. For those many people in the world who practice vegetarianism but who also consume eggs or milk, I hope that their religious sensibilities will grow to shift them to a vegan orientation.
The fact of the matter is that all the major religions preach kindness and compassion toward people as well as other living beings. Learn a whole lot more about veganism and its principles of doing no harm to animals from my recently released ebook at Amazon.com by download it into your Kindle, iPad or PC. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s inexpensive.
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Filed under: Veganism Around the Globe
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