While studying Buddhism, I found many of it’s followers consider themselves Vegetarian or Vegan. Not limited to Buddhists, many of the friends I meet through my journey of life follow
those lifestyles that way of life. I was invited to a party once and made my famous Taco spread. It had Chorizo, Sautéed Chicken, Refried Beans, Cheese, Corn Tortillas, Lettuce and Tomato. Many people enjoyed it but then I noticed one of my Vegan friends reading the label on the tortillas, then the can of refried beans, they both had lard in them. I felt bad, the only thing she could have was the lettuce and tomato. While it wasn’t a tear jerking moment, I knew I left a friend out of my offering for the evening. The next party I went to, I made Chili and based on knowing she was going to show up, I also made a vegetarian chili! I actually thought flavor-wise, it was better than the regular chili I made!
Through Buddhism, we learn the Four Noble Truths cover Suffering, the First of the Five Precepts is no killing. One of the Eight Noble Truths is “Right Action”… Compassion for other beings and Sentient Beings. Many Buddhists take this knowledge and abstain from animals being killed and live as Vegetarians or Vegans. (Not all Buddhists follow this but the ones I know, do follow this)
I found to better understand the Buddhist teaching, to put myself in the shoes of my friends who are Vegetarian or Vegan, I would learn by their example or even follow along with the recipes they were using. Of all things, it started with Hummus! We went camping and one of my friends made a big container of it. He described how he made it and mentioned it was customizable. So when I made it, I made it with Garlic, Turmeric, Cayenne Pepper to make something that would act as an Anti-Inflammatory. (I can’t vouch for the “health effects”) It was at that moment, I grew to love Hummus.
I am a Foodie and enjoy cooking. I found it would be a great challenge for me to cook as a vegetarian and/or vegan. I attempted to do this 6 out of 7 days and did quiet well over a month. Although I returned to some of my eating habits, I have since incorporated a veggie mindset. Over the last three months or so, I have looked for alternatives and have been more conscious of my choices.
To further investigate, in the last few weeks I have been starting to ask questions of the Vegan community. Some people are really good about basic questions but I have found others are skeptical of why I am asking questions. For instance, I framed a question about nursing a stray chicken back to health, feeding it, taking care of it, it becoming family and there was no intention to kill it for a meal. But one day the chicken lays an egg… I explained, the egg is not a sentient being and we did not harm the chicken in any way and wanted to get the different opinions of the group. I received some great vegan and non-vegan answers but it was met with suspect by others. Previous to that, I asked a question about abortion. There seemed to be a double standard between what I had heard about not killing any being and the topic of abortion. I was not asking it to be judgmental, just to acquire the opinions behind it. Did I mention it caused quite the uproar? Going forward I will likely keep the more complex questions to my group of friends but will continue to ask basic questions to the online community. (Food Substitutes..etc)
What I have found, Vegan’s are very dedicated to what they believe but at the same time, I have seen conflicting “research”. I generally evaluate claims I have heard and outlandish claims are not limited to Vegetarian/Veganism, I also see it in Politics and Religion and much over everything in life. I try my best to balance those claims. Unfortunately when you take the middle ground, you generally are called biased by both sides.
As an individual who hates labels, I am doubtful I will ever call myself a vegetarian or vegan. This is not a shot against vegetarian or vegans, I’m actually impressed by their dedication. I have friends who consider themselves to be vegetarian or vegan and they are great people, the only label I go by is: “I am…David”. I explained to someone recently, (in a conversation about religious and non-religious), you will meet the same types of people. Good, Bad, Indifferent, People who want to convert you, people who will let you make up your own mind and people who feel if you do not believe what they believe, you are wrong! You will find those same types of people who are vegetarian and vegan. For the time being, I am going to investigate the views and try to understand this way of life. I will follow up with a blog in the future on this topic.