I don’t know the answer to the Meat Question. Is it OK to kill a sentient being for food? What are the environmental impacts of eating meat? What are the health issues? Whatever side you’re on, you probably have a ready-made (and passionate) response to the Meat Question. You might be judging me for not agreeing with your answer.
But you know what? Meat eating has become such a black and white issue that I’m proud to be in the grey area. Clearly, eating too much meat is not healthy for the planet. However, I’m not at all convinced that eating meat is evil. And moreover, I don’t believe that humanity is going to stop eating meat any time soon. A more interesting question is trying to figure out an ethical way to consume meat for those who choose to do so.
In the last few weeks I have been very conscious of the meat that I have eaten—both the amount and where it comes from/how it is produced—and yet, because I cannot tell people that I am a vegetarian, many would consider me unmindful or worse. Perhaps we need a new term for those who choose to eat meat and do it mindfully. Moderation-meater?
There has to be a middle way answer to the Meat Question. That answer is probably much closer vegetarianism than those who eat meat would care to consider. Moderation is important, and a start to answering the Meat Question is definitely eat less meat. I also think that more tolerance for grey area regarding these issues would be a step in the right direction.
If vegetarians can concede that there are ways to eat meat that are not purely evil, and if meat-eaters can concede that vegetarians and vegans are not completely wacky, then I think a healthy balance could be on the horizon.
This post was inspired by a Mother Jones article I read this morning, “Steak or Veggie Burger: Which is Greener?” and the comments below where people revealed themselves as so passionate about the question that they can no longer hear what anybody has to say about it.
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.