As we all buy and eat food every day, how is it that we have been able to completely disconnect this activity from our ethical awareness? The choices we make in buying and eating food have greater ethical ramifications than any other human activity.
Some words of wisdom on vegetarianism and the treatment of animals from some well know people past and present.
"We don't usually think of what we eat as a matter of ethics. Stealing, lying, hurting people - these acts are obviously relevant to our moral character. In ancient Greece and Rome, ethical choices about food were considered at least as significant as ethical choices about sex." Peter Singer and Jim Mason.
"Vegetarian food leaves a deep impression on our nature. If the whole world adopts vegetarianism, it can change the destiny of humankind." Albert Einstein
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948
"The animals you eat are not those who devour others; you do not eat the carnivorous beasts, you take them as your pattern. You only hunger after sweet and gentle creatures who harm no one, which follow you, serve you, and are devoured by you as the reward of their service"
John Jacques Rousseau
"I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men." Leonardo da Vinci
"Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places!" Leonardo da Vinci
"I am in favour of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being." Abraham Lincoln
"My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chided for my singularity, but, with this lighter repast, I made the greater progress, for greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension. Flesh eating is unprovoked murder." Benjamin Franklin
On being asked why he was a vegetarian,
"Oh, come! That boot is on the other leg. Why should you call me to account for eating decently? If I battened on the scorched corpses of animals, you might well ask me why I did that." George Bernard Shaw (The Vegetarian, 15 January 1898)
"While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth? Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends." George Bernard Shaw 1856-1950 (Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1925)
"A dinner! How horrible!
I am to be made the pretext for killing all those wretched animals and birds, and fish! Thank you for nothing.
Now if it were to be a fast instead of a feast; say a solemn three days' abstention from corpses in my honour, I could at least pretend to believe that it was disinterested.
Blood sacrifices are not in my line". George Bernard Shaw (Letter 30th December 1929)
"A mind of the calibre of mine cannot derive its nutriment from cows". George Bernard Shaw
"A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses". George Bernard Shaw
"All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?" Buddha
"The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man." Charles Darwin 1809-1882
"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." Thomas Edison 1847-1931
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." Immanual Kant
“Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, yet we make the same impression on Buddhists and vegetarians, for we feed on babies, though not our own.” Robert Louis Stevenson
"We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs as our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear." Robert Louis Stevenson
"As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, and no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together." Isaac Bashevis Singer (The Nobel Prize in Literature 1978)
"People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times." Isaac Bashevis Singer
"Alas, what wickedness to swallow flesh into our own flesh, to fatten our greedy bodies by cramming in other bodies, to have one living creature fed by the death of another! For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap the joy of love." Pythagoras Ionian (Greek) mathematician and philosopher
"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral. If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals." Leo Tolstoy 1828-1910
"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." Albert Schweitzer (received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize in 1953)
"Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives." Albert Schweitzer
"To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body." Mahatma Gandhi
"Every time we sit down to eat, we make a choice: Please choose vegetarianism. Do it for animals. Do it for the environment and do it for your health." Alec Baldwin
"As custodians of the planet, it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness. People get offended by animal rights campaigns. It's ludicrous. It's not as bad as mass animal death in a factory." Richard Gere
"We manage to swallow flesh only because we do not think of the cruel and sinful thing that we do. Cruelty... is a fundamental sin, and admits of no arguments or nice distinctions. If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, it protests against cruelty, is always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us - in fact, anyone who does not join in is dubbed a crank." Rabindranath Tagore
"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The butcher does not relent at the bleating of the lamb; neither is the heart of the cruel moved with distress. But the tears of the compassionate are sweeter than dew-drops, falling from roses on the bosom of spring.”
Amenohis IV aka Akhenaton (“servant of the one, true god”), the Heretic King (1380 – 1362 BC) (Egyptian pharaoh, pacifist, banned animal sacrifice and traditional Egyptian religion and instituted a religion based on compassion and monotheism)
"It is not a “personal choice” when you are eating my friends and you are ruining my world. When you made your “personal choice” did you ask the animal if you could confine, torture, and murder him or her? When you made your “personal choice” did you ask me if I mind all your pollution and devastation?"
Dave Warwak (Humane Education Teacher)
"Becoming a vegan is a sure way of completely avoiding participation in the abuse of farmed animals. Vegans are a living demonstration of the fact that we do not need to exploit animals for food." Peter Singer
"Those who, by their purchases, require animals to be killed have no right to be shielded from the slaughterhouse or any other aspect of the production of the meat they buy. If it is distasteful for humans to think about, what can it be like for the animals to experience it?" Peter Singer
"When non-vegetarians say that “human problems come first,” I cannot help wondering what exactly it is that they are doing for human beings that compels them to continue to support the wasteful, ruthless exploitation of farm animals." Peter Singer
Professor Peter Singer is Australia's and one of the world's most famous philosophers and ethicists. He has written numerous books and articles on the subject of ethics and food. Some of the books relating to the subject are Animal Liberation, The Ethics of What We Eat, Ethics into Action, Animal Factories (with Jim Mason) and How Are We to Live?
Acknowledgement to Animal Lib WA for this list.
Photos above courtesy of public domain Wikipedia
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