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August 31, 2012: Vegetarianism is progress

Originally posted on August 31, 2012 on this blog.

Growing up in a society where we are bombarded with advertisements about hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks, where we are constantly told by our parents and relatives that eating meat is "necessary" and that vegetarianism is unhealthy, where people who donít eat meat are often ridiculed and marginalized, itís hard to come to the realization that not eating meat is the way to go. Effaists like myself, however, believe that it is. We believe that from both a personal and societal point of view, vegetarianism and veganism are products of a higher level of consciousness, a higher level of ethics, and, as such, are the next step in the evolution of humankind. The majority of people are still being held back from this realization due to the strong meat-centric way of life that they have been taught from an early age. Still, itís worth finding the inner strength to break free from your conditioning and to embrace a fairer approach to other animals.

The reason we feel so strongly about the need to minimize or eliminate meat consumption is that we believe that there is a direct connection between eating meat, and the general level of suffering in the world. Millions of animals suffer and die daily to feed our meat cravings. By negating this, by dismissing it as insignificant or necessary, we are, whether or not we like to admit it, feeding the violence that is inherent in the present system. By saying no to meat, we are making a conscious choice to no longer partake in that violence. We are saying that we donít approve of the enormous amounts of suffering and killing that goes on daily. Progress occurs any time a person does something to distance him or herself from violent behavior, or from something that causes mass suffering and death. Thus, by distancing ourselves from the above-mentioned cycle of death, we are, in fact, progressing.

When we think of the gladiators of ancient Rome fighting lions, other animals, and each other, most of us would rightfully label this behavior "barbaric". Most of us would agree that itís good that this no longer happens, that such a glorification of death has no place in our society. Even more modern traditions such as bullfighting are either banned outright or shunned by more and more people, even in countries where they are/were tied in to the local culture. Why? Because as people evolve, they begin to realize that extreme violence, especially when it is tied in to the exploitation, torture, and killing of other sentient beings, has no place in the modern world. This is progress; a step away from activities and traditions that cause suffering and death. Thankfully for humankind, many historic injustices have already fallen by the wayside. One hundred and fifty years ago, slavery was a common occurrence in the world. In many countries, it was deemed normal and natural to own slaves. Slaves were actually considered by many to be "lesser beings", usually because of their nationality or the color of their skin. Children and women were (and in some cases still are) exploited because they are physically weaker and couldnít protest. All this too has ended, in most parts of the world, because more and more people began to question the morality of these actions, and eventually decided to evolve, to progress to a more fair society.

The next step on the evolutionary path is to realize that the way we currently interact with other animals is wrong. It is not OK to abuse, imprison, torture, or kill other sentient beings, human or otherwise. There are millions upon millions of healthy vegetarians and vegans that are living proof that this is possible. The quicker we wake up to the truth that this is, in fact, a better path than the current one, the quicker we will reach the next step in our evolution. Having said that, itís important to remember that although giant steps are good, baby steps are important too. Cutting down on meat consumption is a good start. A gradual realization is better than no realization at all.

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