Beliefs, Religion and Reason – A perspective of Hindu Atheist

November 30, 2008

Atheism, Darwinism and Vegetarianism

Filed under: Lifestyle — Aniket @ 9:28 pm
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Couple of weeks back in his Point of Inquiry podcast, Peter Singer put up a great case for vegetarianism from atheistic perspective. (Details here)

He argued the case on the basis of animal rights and attacked speciesism. The problem with meat eating is not just about taking lives of animals, it is also about subjecting the animals to cruelty and inhumane treatment. I never had any doubt in my mind that vegetarianism is higher form of ethical practice than meat eating and coming across this interview just made my vegetarian dinner more delicious. But I can understand why it could be difficult for other atheists to give up meat for ethical and humanist reason. I guess it is enough for secularists, humanists, atheists just to accept that vegan lifestyle is higher ethical standard and one should aspire to reach there, but he may be limited by his will power to do so.

Around a month back, i had written a post about vegetarianism and Hindus. Although, vegetarianism is ethically superior practice, if one follows vegetarianism only for hindu religious reason without any other rationale behind that, his vegetarianism is no more different than his blind following for other vacuous religious rituals.

Unlike Peter Singer, I was born in vegetarian family. I never ate meat until I came to question myself about my rationale for meat eating. When I could not reason the strict vegetarianism on any other rational ground, I decided to break the oath. I occasionally ate meat just to make a point to myself that I am really not a vegetarian for religious reasons. Today, I am back to being vegetarian as far as possible. I am not averse to meat eating occasionally or accidentally, but more than ninety percent of the time my diet is vegetarian.

It is important to be a vegan/vegetarian and also it is important to do so for right reasons.



  1. So tell me, what is the right reason for being a vegan. I have friends who are. It is a bit confusing as to motivation.

    Comment by Archie — November 30, 2008 @ 9:44 pm | Reply

  2. Right reasons could be several, everyone should look for his/her own reasons to do/not do certain things.

    For me, I was vegetarian (not vegan) because I am born into Hindu religion. I stayed vegetarian even after I shed my Hindu beliefs becauase I didn’t like meat anyway.
    But you could also be vegetarian if you don’t want to inflict pain upon innocent animals to feed yourself, or if you want to register a dissent to the way animals are treated in animal farms, or if you think vegetarianism is healthier option. It could be your expression against speciesism

    No matter what your reason is, it should not be I do it because my religion says so.

    Comment by Aniket K — November 30, 2008 @ 10:59 pm | Reply

  3. I agree. I am vegan. I make a point not to preach or judge those who are not. But, I am routinely told I do not get enough protein from my more carnivorous eating partners. When asked how much protein one needs. No one ever has an answer. They just know it’s in a burger. Just as I know why I am vegan, they should know why they are not. It’s really about balance and health. If you feel good in mind an body, please, by all mean continue what you are doing. All we can ask is that you THINK and KNOW and UNDERSTAND why you do what you do.

    Comment by Stef — December 14, 2008 @ 10:50 am | Reply

  4. Being vegan for the simple reason of not causing suffering is the most lasting and convincing argument. The health, environmental, and religious arguments are always subject to change.

    Animals could be scientifically engineered to produce healthier products, for example breeding animals to produce less saturated fat. Future advances in medicine, such as stem cell organ replacement could also negate bad effects from diets (bad heart? – just clone a new one.) People who shunned animal products for health would immediately resume eating them.

    Science could also solve many environmental issues, such as current experiments to breed cows which produce less methane. Another approach is to find environmentally friendly ways to recycle or nullify factory farm pollution. This seems to be a higher priority than attacking the root problem, which is of course, eating animals on such a massive scale. Those who went vegan for the planet could resume their previous diets.

    You already explained the religious connection very well. If you change or give up a religion prohibiting animal consumption, and that was your only rationale for being vegan, then you resume eating meat.

    As long as farmed animals are capable of suffering and humans can thrive without exploiting them, that is reason enough to be vegan.

    Comment by Jean — December 28, 2008 @ 2:58 am | Reply

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