Originally Posted by Nick the Pilot
I grew up in a meat-eating Christian family, converted to Buddhism, but I am still unable to give up meat.
"Meatless Mondays" are catching on in this country, perhaps you might be interested to give it a try along with some like-minded friends or family? Pretty soon you get used to not having meat at every lunch or dinner meal. Before you know it you're going 2 or 3 days without eating any meat at all.
It also helps to be a good cook with vegetarian ingredients. When we cook a 5 course vegetarian feast with the fresh bounty of our backyard garden, none of our dinner guests ask "where's the meat?"
Originally Posted by Nick the Pilot
There is also your issue of eating meat killed in the wild vs. eating meat grown in captivity. I know you think this is an important distinction, but I think the bigger issue here is that killing and eating an animal is more important of an issue than where it is killed, by whom, and how it was raised.
I disagree, but here is a real-world scenario for us to ponder regarding "Right Action" of killing and eating an animal vs "Right Action" of eating strictly vegetable protein and the externalities of that food production.
My father has a small farm. His farm has a large pasture of native prairie grasses, which is the "Holy Grail" of wildlife habitat in the Midwest. Over 100 species of plants can be found in this type of prairie, and numerous insects, invertebrates, amphibians, birds, etc specifically depend on prairie habitat for nesting, feeding, etc. Deer also feed on this prairie grass and are abundant on this particular farm (you could substitute cows/sheep, other grazing animals, the logic still applies). These deer (or cows/sheep) are part of the prairie ecosystem, they live in harmony with the other species.
To provide his family's protein/amino acid needs, my dad can harvest 2 male deer per year off his farm, giving him 100 pounds of boneless meat (or substitute one cow or sheep or flock of chickens). This harvesting of an animal does involve the death of that particular animal, but it is done in a sustainable manner which does not reduce the long-term numbers of the herd as only males are harvested (leaving the females to reproduce). Harvesting the deer/cow/sheep doesn't affect the other prairie species as the habitat is left intact. 2 male deer per year (or one cow) can be harvested in perpetuity from this land.
Conversely, to provide his family's protein needs, my dad could plow up an acre of this prairie to grow soybeans or some other high-protein vegetable, which he could feed to his family in place of meat. He would not outright kill any animals with a gun or bow and arrow. But he would be destroying 40,000 square feet of wildlife habitat; which numerous species of animals/insects/plants depend on for their food and home. Plowing up the prairie would in turn reduce the population of these species as they now have less habitat in which to live. His production of soybeans would also involve the use of fossil fuels to power his tractor and combine, the use of commercial fertilizer (some of which is mined), and pest control (killing insects that also want to eat "his" soybeans).
My dad's family needs protein to survive, they can't "not choose" to eat; the act of human survival entails an impact (directly or indirectly) on other species in the environment. So, which of these two scenarios is "Right Action" to feed one's family? Killing an animal every year (deer/sheep/cow) that lives in sustainable harmony with the environment, grazing on the earth's natural habitat? Or not directly killing an animal for meat but instead permanently destroying a given amount of wildlife habitat for the sake of growing vegetable protein, along with the externalities of pest control and fossil fuel use?