This may be an odd choice for a first post, but I feel it is a good introduction to my vegetarianism.
Yes, because a vegan (and a vegetarian for several years prior) is a key part of who I am. For most of the people in my life (save my parents and sisters, of course), I have held a restricted diet of some description since they have known me. And still, on a weekly basis, I am asked why I am vegan/vegetarian.
My answer is usually the same (although shortened depending on my audience and, frankly, my mood): health reasons, ethical reasons, and religious reasons.
The usually disillusioned audience suddenly becomes captive – religious reasons? They look me up and down, and correctly assume with my fair-but-olive-skin tones that I am not from an Indian religion where vegetarianism is promoted and lauded. Some will probe further, while still others will just nod, assume I’m a ‘religious fanatic’, and move on.
I prefer those who ask.
Vegetarianism has been strongly linked with the ancient Indian religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, which promote the conscious understanding of suffering for all, from fellow humans to the smallest of bugs. Many who have heard of religious vegetarianism may think of the Hindu’s sacred cow, the Jain’s sifting through their rice to ensure no small insects fell into their meal.
The Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), as well as Sikhism and the Baha’i Faith, are not traditionally assumed to be vegetarian. Each of their religious have laws and principles regarding the animals they are permitted to consume and in which fashion; however, there is a vocal minority advocate within each that feel that keeping to a vegetarian way of life is based on the religious values of that tradition.
In my following posts, I will explore vegetarianism and ethical eating practices in a range of religious groups – and will share some of my personal religious beliefs regarding vegetarianism.
Looking forward until next time!