How we treat other biological organisms, specifically other non-human animals, is extremely important in this philosophy. We cannot talk about the sanctity of Life and how much we should love and respect Nature and still continue to eat the dead flesh, muscle tissue and secretions of other animals who were slaughtered in terrible ways and probably suffered horrifically before they died… this would be the pinnacle of hypocrisy. Therefore, being Vegan is the only logical conclusion in response to the realization that everything is divine.
For me, it was a natural progression, stemming from the knowledge and awareness of the horrendous conditions present in factory farming and the plain and obvious truth that we can survive and sustain ourselves on an entirely plant-based diet (which in most cases is healthier anyway, since it physiologically coincides with the way our bodies have evolved). Many do not realize that as primates, in terms of our evolutionary history, we spent much more time being frugivores and herbivores than we have being meat eaters and hunting and killing other animals as we do now as omnivores.
As I said, it also comes from the knowledge that we don’t have to kill other sentient organisms in order to live. Granted, this was not always possible in ages past, especially amid extremely inhospitable climates and certain geographic locations, where fruit and vegetation was scarce (the Ice Age, etc.), but it’s certainly more than possible now, especially with so many plant-based alternatives to meat that have become readily available in recent years, as the Vegan movement has grown in popularity.
On a more personal note, I was a Vegetarian for quite some time. As stated, this was just a natural progression of my Pantheistic ideals. For a while, I would still eat eggs, though I always made sure they were pasture-raised and not factory-farmed. I rarely drank milk or ate cheese or consumed dairy, because I’m lactose intolerant, so making the switch was really not that difficult for me at all. I’ve always loved fruits and vegetables and I’ve generally always eaten healthy, so now I just eat more of what I love… including rice, beans and pasta, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, etc.
I thought I might end up being Pescatarian for awhile, because I’ve always loved seafood (having grown up in an oceanfront beach town), but when I stopped eating meat, I just focused on all the delicious fruits and vegetables I would be eating and not on all the things I couldn’t eat. In all honesty, the only thing I occasionally miss is salmon. I always loved the taste and texture of grilled salmon and I had grown accustomed to eating it for the supposed health benefits, e.g. the Omego-3’s, vitamin B12 and essential fatty acids present in cold water fish, etc.
What made it all click for me however, was learning human biology; understanding that our bodies are not physiologically designed to eat meat like other animals who are carnivorous and omnivorous. That, and simply being a Pantheist– devoting my life to this philosophy, etc. As I said, I can’t talk about the divinity found in Nature and the sacredness of Life and the love and respect we ought to have toward animals and the earth and still continue consuming them every day when I know it’s completely unnecessary and so devastatingly harmful to the environment.
After watching so many videos of chickens, cows, sheep and pigs being slaughtered and suffering so much pain and agony, I could no longer eat meat in good conscience. Documentaries like Earthlings, Cowspiracy, Food Inc. and Forks Over Knifes, are extremely powerful as well and I would recommend them to anyone seeking further information on the subject. Animals are not ours to use and abuse, period. They are not here for our entertainment, they are not here for us to dominate, manipulate or control. And the continuation of such, is literally destroying the planet and causing more damage to the ecosystem than any other factor involved. Animal agriculture is the single greatest cause of climate change and the number one contributor to greenhouse gases at this time.
In tandem with this, there is another very important topic that I’d like to address and it’s not so much the idea that being Vegan is the one and only solution to all environmental problems, but the notion that destruction and death are simply a natural part of existence and that in order for us to live, something else must die, etc. (this is a common argument used by many intellectuals to justify their Carnism). In answer to this, let me start off by saying that Nature contains within it, both helpful and opposing forces. For example, entropy is not helpful to us… but it is to other organisms, as it makes room for the next generation of Life forms and generally helps keep the population in balance.
Likewise, the Universe and Nature are both ugly and sublime, powerful and weak, fragile and enduring, temporary and still perpetual, cruel as well as kind, destructive and yet, full of nurturing qualities as well… this is the real nature of existence. It is true that Life feeds on Life and we are heterotrophic organisms to be sure, but that does not mean we need to consume meat for ANY reason, especially in this modern culture, when we have such immediate access to so many healthy fruits and vegetables and there is such an abundance of meat and dairy alternatives now available on the market. As I said, we were not always able to do this in the history of our species, but we certainly are capable of doing it now.
Many will argue these points with me, and especially my inclusion of the Vegan lifestyle into Biopan, but part of the problem is that Pantheism has always existed as an obscure and unestablished philosophy, so it has never held a solid position on any of these issues… but if you combine all of the collective wisdom and ideas of the noble men and women throughout history who espoused this worldview, you will discover that their motivations were the same and there was a deep commonality among those who chose this path… with compassion, respect for Life and the overall health and well-being of their own bodies being among them. Indeed, some of the greatest, most creative, intelligent and influential minds in history were Vegetarian:
Gautama Buddha, Johnny Appleseed, Mahatma Gandhi, Jane Goodall, Voltaire, Pythagoras, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Plato, Nikola Tesla, Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Mary Shelley, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, William Blake, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Martin Luther King Jr., Origen, Plotinus, William Wordsworth, Plutarch, Schopenhauer, Socrates, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, Zarathustra, Isaac Newton, Alan Watts, Albert Schweitzer, Charles Darwin, Clive Barker, Franz Kafka, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, John Milton, Percy Shelley, Alan Moore and Steve Jobs.
The list of modern actors, celebrities, activists, humanitarians and spiritual leaders who are currently Vegan would be too long to mention, but it is worth researching as well. And yet some people, even among the Pan community, still have not made this connection… but the suffering and torture that goes along with factory farming and the harvesting of animal products is very real and cannot be ignored. I only wish more Pantheists would actually ‘live’ the philosophy they claim to follow. I don’t care what information you have to share or what point it is you might be trying to make, once you see for yourself what goes on in factory farms and all throughout the meat, egg and dairy industries and you actually become aware of the violence, cruelty and disgusting atrocities that are occurring on every level, everywhere, at all times… the only rational and decent thing to do is abstain and discontinue all support of the products and companies that perpetuate these abhorrent practices.
The same thing could be said of the fishing industry, circuses, zoos, marine mammal and wildlife amusement parks, bull fights and the leather, wool and fur industries. The way we’ve conducted ourselves and treated our fellow Earthlings is disgraceful and obscene to say the least. To show so little regard for other Life forms, to manipulate, dominate, oppress, rape, torture and exploit millions of animals without conscience… it is simply beyond words and there is absolutely NO justification for it. These actions are downplayed by corporate controlled media and the truth is continually kept hidden from the public, but you must educate yourself and make the vital connection, or the atrocities committed in the name of entertainment, pleasure and taste, will never cease.
If, for some reason you have not made this connection and cultural and social traditions dominate your thought processes, it matters not what you call yourself or how you justify it… you simply cannot consider yourself enlightened or compassionate, no matter how smart or intelligent you fancy yourself to be. You cannot claim to love animals or care about the environment if you continue to support the meat, egg and dairy industry. I’ve heard every justification and excuse under the sun, but what it all comes down to is ignorance… ignorance, apathy and a complete and utter disconnection to what we consume and put in our bodies and the torturous process it went through to get there.
As an example, many Pantheists will cite the suffering of plants as some kind of justification, claiming that since plants also exhibit a certain level of sentience, that it’s wrong to show favoritism to animals only. And where exactly does this line of reasoning lead? To compare the suffering of animals to the suffering of plants is the most asinine and ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Besides this… what, pray tell, are we to eat, if not plants, fruits and vegetation? It is still the most humane and sustainable path to take, that causes the least amount of harm and suffering. Furthermore, even if they win their argument, are we to assume that eating the flesh of animals is no worse, because all Life is self-aware on some level? And this somehow justifies all the apathy, violence, cruelty and unnecessary torture that takes place currently and makes it all somehow ok? How utterly and completely absurd!!
Of course plants are all aware in their own way, but they do not have a complex nervous system capable of feeling pain the way fish, reptiles, birds and mammals do, with extremely sensitive nerve receptors and sentient emotions and thought patterns that allow them to experience fear and trauma, much in the same way and many times to the same extent that humans do. The reason why eating plants and animals is entirely different is because we can thrive without eating animals, therefore making the murder of other sentient Life forms entirely illogical, unnecessary, obsolete, immoral and unethical, let alone a complete waste of land and resources.
Plants simply do not experience these things in the same capacity. If you think plants are equal to animals in this way, you are essentially making an insane argument in a desperate attempt to justify your own desire to continue eating meat. As stated, many will assert ridiculous and irrational justifications and make arbitrary and illogical comparisons between the suffering of plants and the suffering of animals in an absurd attempt to justify their own desire to eat meat by condemning others who have chosen to eat only fruits and vegetables, but it is obvious that there are many different levels of consciousness and we can and should make distinctions in terms of our own survival and welfare.
For example, I won’t kill spiders and insects if I happen to find them in my house, but will instead take them outside alive and set them free (I do this even with flies), but if I find a roach, although I greatly respect them, if I feel they will find their way back inside, I will extinguish their life, so they don’t multiply and spread germs and bacteria and infest my living quarters. Likewise, if I find fleas on my cats, or a tick on my skin, mosquitoes that drink my blood and carry deadly viruses, or anything that generally feeds on me as a parasite, etc. I will kill them to protect and secure my own life. So I only kill or destroy something out of self-defense or necessity.
We must honor the divinity within ourselves first and foremost and obey the prime directive of Nature within us to survive and sustain ourselves and this is in no way sinful or wrong… but on the contrary, represents another form of respect for the divine Life Principle we all share. Common sense, logic and reason should be our ultimate guides, not an exaggerated, pseudo form of heightened morality. Balance in all things is key. If you care about animals, if you care about your own health and the finite, vital resources of our beautiful and precious Earth, Veganism is the only sane and rational choice.
Whatever your decision is on these matters, I will not judge you either way, because I know that any intelligent reader of this kind of material would be more conscientious and compassionate than most and even if they consume meat and dairy presently, or eat meat from only locally-grown, grass-fed, organic farms, or hunt to provide for their family, they would not waste the meat from the animals they consume… but there is a much deeper point here: if we don’t have to kill, then we shouldn’t. Watch the documentaries, make the connection… and please know: every time you do consume meat, whether you realize it or not, you’re helping to perpetuate and support these atrocities. We can live without having to slaughter and kill our fellow Earthlings, that’s the point!
In other words, if there are so many delicious meat alternatives available and we have access to fruits and vegetables, there really is no excuse. We need to stop viewing animals as food. We need to stop thinking of ourselves as the most important Life form on the planet. In truth, we are not. On the contrary, no other animal has caused more harm and destruction than human beings. We are not the pinnacle of creation, we are simply a very small (albeit influential) part of it. If human beings were to go extinct tomorrow, every other life form would flourish and thrive… but if for example, we lost the bees, it would completely disrupt the entire ecosystem and every living organism would suffer.
If you are a Pantheist and you do not see the relevance of honoring Life and minimizing pain and suffering, you nullify yourself and anything intelligent you have to say becomes void and irrelevant. Your ideas about Pantheism are distorted and you need to expose yourself to what actually takes place behind the scenes and in the lives of these tormented and abused animals. It’s about compassion, pure and simple. Respect and consideration for other Life forms, stemming from a deep awareness of the pain and suffering they are made to endure. It’s an ethical stance, that’s all. A natural progression of Pantheistic thought and ideals.
Vegans especially get a bad rap, with many people citing how irritating and pushy they can become… but if you don’t respect Life and you don’t respect the views of others who are simply desiring to do no harm to our fellow Earthlings and raise awareness concerning their plight, then I would suggest that you may be completely wrong in your perceptions when it comes to why Vegans are motivated to speak out, raise awareness and influence meat-eaters.
Then you have the common Naturalistic Fallacies that come up time and time again: “It’s natural, it’s the cycle of Life, everything in Nature consumes everything else, everything has to eat something and everything has to die, etc.” Well, to that I would say, that since we are highly evolved, moral beings, not subject to Darwinian Laws, but having excelled beyond “Survival of the Fittest” and the brutal competition of primitive Nature, it should be known and understood that we exist under a completely different paradigm than the rest of the animal kingdom in terms of morality and these modes of thought simply do not apply.
Nature has brought us to this point and we as cognitive expressions of the All are now responsible for our actions on an entirely new level. In other words, we can now direct and guide our own evolution. And as far as I can tell, altruism and cooperation are the only viable ways to sustain ourselves and the only moral path to take for our culture and the survival of the ecosystem. Please educate yourself and do not contribute to the regression of our species. Pantheism represents progress, human growth and acknowledging the divine in all things, ESPECIALLY living organisms and biological Life.
A very wise man once said:
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us Universe—a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task therefore, must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of Nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein
Why choose an entirely plant-based diet? There are a hundred reasons, ranging from the environmental consequences and the negative impact on the planet, to the health and wellness of our own bodies and our psychological advancement as a species. As homo sapiens (the most successful and only known living hominid in existence), human beings are highly evolved organisms with a moral capacity and the ability to distinguish right from wrong. As such, we do not operate purely on instinct as the rest of the animal kingdom, but have instead developed highly complex perceptions of ethical standards and philosophical ideals.
Why even entertain the fallacious notion that we are still beholden to the Darwinian laws of Natural Selection, Kill-or-be-Killed, and Survival of the Fittest? We are superior cognitively, intellectually, psychologically and morally… not necessarily physically. We are every bit as dependent upon other plants and animals as every other Life form. In contrast, Nature has no morality, it operates only on blind, indiscriminate instinct… but Nature, through human beings DOES have a sense of morality and a higher ethic and a very strong set of principles and ideals. Yes, other animals hunt and kill and consume other animals to survive, but NO other animal aside from humans engages in these activities for sport, for pleasure, or merely for taste.
At this stage in our evolution, we must eat, so why not choose a path of kindness that exhibits the least amount of harm and suffering to other organisms? Plants can even provide you their fruit and remain alive and intact and keep growing (most fruit trees give up their fruit anyway as a method of spreading their seeds). We are heterotrophic beings, so we must consume other forms of Life in order to survive and sustain ourselves, but if we can exist on an entirely plant-based diet, without the need to slaughter and kill countless animals, why not do so? We HAVE to consume something in order to exist, so a plant and fruit-based diet represents the least amount of harm we can cause. This is just common sense… and it would seem the obvious choice among those who revere Nature.
I don’t think meat eaters are necessarily selfish, evil people… they’ve just not made that emotional and ethical connection yet in their hearts and minds. With education and proper exposure to information however, I think many compassionate, intelligent, heart-centered people will eventually come around. Pantheists and others who still continue to consume meat, eggs and dairy, have simply not made the ethical connection when it comes to their diet. Everyone must experience this revelation on their own, you cannot ‘shame’ or ‘guilt-trip’ someone into ethical behavior. It simply does not work and in most cases, will only have the opposite effect.
Of course, some Vegans can become downright rude and condescending toward others who do not share their convictions. I never experienced this personally when I consumed meat, but I have heard about it happening to others. Just like anything else, there are bad apples in every movement or group and there are those who’ve let their ethical choices go to their heads and give them a superiority complex… but this should not deter you from exploring the idea yourself.
Like many humans, when you take a moral stance on something, be it religious or any form of social or political activism, if you’re not careful about your attitude and you don’t remain humble, the decisions you’ve made and your moral convictions can very easily make you sanctimonious and judgmental, fueling the impetus to denigrate, criticize and condemn others… none of which is helpful or representative of the ethical philosophies most are trying to express. A similar thing happens with Hasidic Jews and keeping Kosher, etc.
If you’ve not made this life choice, please watch Earthlings and other relevant and informative documentaries. Expose yourself to the horrors of factory farming, consider deeply the speciesism that exists and contemplate what the real difference is between a cat, a dog, a pig, a cow, a sheep, a lamb, a dolphin, a monkey, a whale, a fish, a chicken and a human. All Life is valuable and should be honored and respected, but let’s just be realistic and cut right to the chase… as I said, at this stage in our evolution, we must consume other Life forms in order to sustain ourselves, so the most humane and compassionate thing we can do is be Vegan, because plants do not experience the same level of pain and suffering that animals do. This should not even be an argument, but the debates still rage on, continuously.
Some will tout ideas about livestock being ‘humanely’ raised and slaughtered, or expressing ‘thanks’ and ‘gratitude’ to the animals they are about to consume, as the Native Americans once did… but the highest thanks and gratitude you can give other non-human animals is offering them your care and protection. Not torturing and killing them! So offering thanks, while you brutally kill an animal when it is completely unnecessary in the first place, is the ultimate insult.
Likewise, some would site their attitude of respect for wildlife and the ‘game’ they hunt, or claim it’s some kind of cultural right a passage. Hunting techniques that were passed down from generation to generation over many years that hold some kind of value, etc. To this, I would say: just because something is a part of one’s culture does not necessarily mean it should be continued or supported. Imagine using that argument if you were born in Iraq or Afghanistan? So in this analogy, beating women and worshiping ‘Allah’ are a significant part of the surrounding culture, so it should still be continued. Is this logical??
You have to judge what is right and wrong for yourself in relation to the society we live in now, presently… in relation to the level of knowledge and information we have now and what resources we have access to currently. It was not always possible to obtain food and resources as we do now (during the Ice Age for example), so humans were forced to hunt and kill other animals and eat meat to survive, because vegetation was scarce. But now, with the advent of the agrarian revolution and with so much access to other sources of food and nutrition, there is absolutely NO reason to continue slaughtering and eating animals. In fact, there are a plethora of ethical, environmental and health-related reasons why we shouldn’t.
A seasoned hunter might say: “but I have respect for the animals I kill.” <-isn’t this an oxymoron? How can you say you have “respect” for something and then kill it? If you really respected it and saw it as an expression of the Divine, you would allow it to live. Of course, we all have to consume other Life forms in order to exist, but if we can do it without causing other animals to suffer and die needlessly, should we not choose the alternative? If it is possible to survive on fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains and this lifestyle is healthier, more environmentally friendly and it saves millions of acres of land, conserves water and is beneficial to the ecosystem, why would any sensible, intelligent person not do so?
I am personally against the hunting and killing and eating other animals, because there is no need in our current society to do so. If we can live and sustain ourselves on an entirely plant-based diet… than we absolutely should, since it is a step toward a more compassionate and loving society, that respects and honors all Life, by not causing unnecessary pain and suffering. It is a fabricated myth that we need meat to survive and with factory farming and the disgusting and horrific treatment of all animals involved, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why we should support it. If you have access to vegetation and fruits and nuts and grains, there is NO need to kill or hunt for food, period.
Besides all of this, as mentioned earlier, we are not physiologically designed to consume meat and there is much evidence to suggest that nearly all degenerative sicknesses and diseases (including cancer), can be traced back to our dietary choices and specifically, a diet heavy in animal protein. Let me just put this simply: most animals, especially the animals we consume, are sentient, self-aware, conscious and capable of feeling the EXACT same sensations as humans… including love, fear, pain, joy, sadness, grief, etc., just as we do ourselves. If you would not torture, mutilate, kill and eat another human, why would it ever be acceptable to do so when it comes to other animals, who share all of the same intrinsic qualities?
No, we need to extend the rights and freedoms we’ve given to ourselves to the rest of the animal kingdom and re-evaluate our ‘need’ for meat. This transition may not happen overnight, but the sooner our societies wake up and realize what is actually taking place, the better. If you want a world that honors Life and is driven by compassion, logic, reason and a holistic attitude of Biocentrism and love, we must discontinue practices and habits that represent the opposite. For our bodies, for the sake of human evolution, for the health and sustainability of the planet and most importantly, for the sake of all the victims involved… the exploitation, torture, abuse and murder of the innocent, MUST come to an end.