Veganism and Nonviolence: How They Complement Each Other
If you became vegan, it’s likely that you did for a majority of reasons. Sometimes it’s for the environment, sometimes for health reasons, and most often for the animals. These are all valid reasons to start eating a diet free from animal products and the violence that comes from a meat-eating lifestyle. I have had to ask myself a question lately though, after seeing some posts on a vegan group on social media about a man being killed by a bull in a bullfight. Some individuals on that group were glad that a man was killed (very horribly I will add), saying he (and others that harm animals )will get what they deserve if they come to an end like this. There was no compassion in their responses, and I began to ask myself; is this really the way that those of us with open minds to the harm done to others should really react?
When we start the journey to care for other sentient beings, and find that we cannot justify consuming them just to satiate our appetite it seems to me that it should add an opening for us to start caring about quelling the violence in other areas. At least that is the way that it was for me, veganism was a logical step in my path towards peace with all things. So I have a very hard time understanding people’s viewpoints where they wish harm on people involved in things that harm animals. While it is true that what they are doing is horrible and I detest that animals have to suffer at the hands of man but I can’t be pleased that the humans have (or would) suffer or lose their own life.
The truth is that most of us vegans were meat eaters at some time and did consume animal products before we were aware of the terrible cost of that and what it entails. While some of us may not have willfully harmed animals (such as this bullfighter, or someone that is involved in animal agriculture) we still were a part of this at some point. So if we can come back from that, why can’t other people? I would hazard a guess that even the most hardened meat advocate has a chance in his or her life to change from this to a compassionate diet if given the right information, time and stimulus.
I myself was a very die-hard meat eater up until a year ago and even then it took me more than half of that to finally decide to become fully vegan. I used to say emphatically that I could NEVER give up meat, that I liked it too much, that I hated vegetables, etc. Many people tried to convince me that there was a better diet out there for me but the truth is that I just had to come to a point in my life that I could not keep eating (and living) the way that I was. I had to put into action the beliefs that I was coming to understand, and one of those was non-violence.
The concept of Ahimsa (which basically means non-violence) was very intriguing to me at this point. Ahimsa basically means abstaining from violence, but it has a deeper meaning than just not going out and killing someone. Ahimsa also means that you try your best to not harm anyone, with your actions, words, and even thoughts, and that can include yourself. While this may seem unattainable, I believe that striving for this concept is what could make our world a more peaceful place. This concept also further increases the need for veganism, as you cannot try to practice Ahimsa and still eat a diet with animal products.
I hope that this article will prompt you to think about how veganism and non-violence come together, and maybe this will lead you into a deeper understanding of some of the ways that we can promote veganism as a stepping stone on the road to peace in ourselves, in others, and in the World.