I know this is not going to be spark some anger with my vegan or vegetarian friends but it's something that has been on my mind as a Pagan.
So... first off humans beings evolved as omnivorous. We have teeth for both rending meat and for grinding vegetables. We have to work hard to have a healthy diet if we choice a vegetarian/vegan life style. Our systems in general are not well adapted at being just herbivores.
As a Druid I believe that all things are filled with a life force. For me those things that grow are 'living' creatures. This includes plants as well as animals. I have always believed that plants, though perhaps not as nearly as 'conscious' as say more complex life, is still conscious none the less.
With that in mind I once asked a friend why he was a vegetarian (btw we were having dinner together with a bunch of our other friends). He remark was because farming practices were so cruel to animals. I thought about that for a moment weighing what he said with the fact I knew he was a Hermetic magician and Druid, which believes VERY similar to me. I very seriously asked him "OK as a Hermetic and a Druid you believe that all living things have a consciousness correct? That all life is equal?" He agreed that he believed this. I thought for another moment then said "so if farming animals is cruel what about farming fruits and vegetables? I mean really, a cow or a pig can fight back. They could try and run. But what about that broccoli and salad you are eating?" He looked at me very confused. "Well you said you agreed that all life is equal. That all living things had a consciousness. So what about that broccoli and salad you are eating? Think about it. When you farm an animal for food it's dead pretty quick. It's dead for some time, it's soul having moved on already, before you get it as food. While that poor broccoli and salad are still alive even now. They can't get up and run from the farmers. They can't get up and fight back. Hell they can't even scream out can you bite into their raw uncooked flesh. How is that less cruel than eating an animal that is farmed raised and killed for food?"
Everyone at the table looked between me and my friend. My friend looked between his plant and me. I think he was seriously wondering if I was messing with him or if I was being sincere with my question. He dropped his fork and very politely said "Oh f@*% you David."
I learned sometime later from him that he really had been moved by what I had asked. He stopped and thought about this point of view. And to this day he is no longer a vegetarian.
It wasn't my goal to change his mind. It was my goal to seriously understand the mentality of those that live as vegans and vegetarians.
As many of my friends know I work for a company that is own and based out of India. I work with about 750 Hindus on a daily basis. I decided to ask the same question to one of my co-workers on why so many Hindus are vegetarian. His answer really was one that I hadn't thought about but really was interesting. The following is what I learned from him:
In Hinduism many of the sects believe that when a person reincarnates it doesn't always have to be back into a human. They believe that if you lived a good and righteous life you will reincarnate into a human body again until you break the cycle of reincarnation. However if you weren't the greatest of persons during your life you will reincarnate into a 'lower' life form. The worse you were the lower you are on the reincarnation scale. Those that are really bad end up as plants or worse, stones and minerals. Many believe that animals forms are for lesser issues like not following tradition or breaking with religious practice and the like. While murders and serious criminals become plants and such. So the reason for so many vegetarians is that to eat an animal is to eat something a relative or friend could reincarnate into. Many are vegan for the same reason as eggs are the source of new life. Now it's OK for them to eat vegetables because by doing so you are helping those incarnated in this form cleanse their karma and move back through the reincarnate cycles that will one day bring them back to humans.
My thought on that is: "If that is the way of it... then why not eat the animals too cause that will help them reincarnate faster? If it works for vegetables why not animals?"
Some very different views. I know there are some people who take it up for health reasons as well. This I totally understand. As someone who is Insulin Resistant I have had to alter my diet where I am eating more protein (meat and eggs A LOT) so that I can keep my sugar levels up and my insulin production down.
I am not trying to invalidate anyone's reasons for being vegan or vegetarian but simply trying to understand why people go against the basic design of the human body and stay it's more natural. I find it most interesting that there are so many varying reasons for people giving up meat and meat products. So the next time you meet someone who says they are vegan or vegetarian don't scoff at them but try and understand their reasons. And those that are vegans and vegetarian... seriously do not pissed off if someone asks you why you choice that life style. Sometimes people really do just want to understand the why's.