Friday, February 10, 2012

Killing Animals for Food - Can Meat Eaters be Genuine Animal Lovers?

23 million chickens are killed for food in the U.S. every day.
Image Courtesy: www.omg-facts.com
This thought has been eating me since a long time; can meat eaters be genuine animal lovers? Can the meat eaters even call themselves animal lovers? Isn’t it hypocrisy - On one hand you love animals and on the other, you eat them? Is it ethically and morally right? Is it ethically and morally superior to not eat meat (as compared to eating it?) I am nobody to tell anyone to change their eating habits just because I find it offensive. I am also not qualified to give a lecture about ethics and morality about eating meat. But having said that, there is absolutely no justification of killing animals for food just so humans could lead a healthy life at their expense.

Even if eating meat is limited to beef, pork, or chicken - a meat is a meat. And in my personal opinion, people who eat meat have no right to call themselves animal lovers even if they love animals and actually care for them. If you call me a hypocrite for judging you based only on your eating habits, then I am a hypocrite. I have been a vegetarian all my life and I am proud of the fact that my love for animals is pure and unconditional.

I know this argument has been going on for ages now. On one side the animal lovers/vegans think everyone should abstain from eating meat and accept vegetarianism in their life, and there is absolutely no excuse for killing animals to satisfy our taste buds. On the other hand, the meat eaters, some of whom might be animal lovers too, say, there is nothing wrong in eating meat unless the animal which was slaughtered had a “good” life. Meaning the producers of those animals gave the animal a good decent life and a quick death. If the animal has been bred, raised, and nurtured very well and has had a very good life, does that make it ‘okay’ to kill it so that humans can have a healthier meal? I absolutely do not buy crap like that. The thought of cruelty to animals breaks my heart and fills it with anger. In my opinion, whether the animal which was slaughtered had a good life or whether the animal had lived in extremely inhumane conditions before meeting its death, there is not one good reason that would justify killing of animals for food.
Image Courtesy: www.CartoonStock.com
There is a counter argument to this. Some might argue that if we abstain from eating meat and accept vegetarianism just because we don’t agree with killing of animals for food then we are also preventing the animal to be born in the first place. The animals which are killed are not just killed for food, they are bred, raised, and nurtured before they are killed for food. So in that sense we are actually preventing an animal to be born and have a good but short life. If that is the case then I say it’s better not to be born at all.

I know after reading the previous sentence, some of you might be thinking, “What kind of an animal lover is he, who is okay with an animal not being born instead of the animal having a good decent life, albeit short?” or “The animal has to die someday, so why should it not the live a good life rather than live in inhumane conditions and die a painful death - isn’t that cruelty to animals too?.” I do understand that and I am in no way saying, let the animal live a pathetic life rather than having a short but decent life before it is put to death for food. All animals deserve a better life and we don’t have any right to take that life away from them just so we humans can lead a healthier life. You can still lead a healthy life without eating meat. Also, the animals that are being bred and raised and later killed for food, are they given strictly grain based food? Actually they are not entirely grass-bred. So to breed and raise these animals we are in turn killing other animals to feed them. This is absolutely unjustifiable. You might come to your own conclusions about my love for animals but I will still stick to what I believe.
A picture speaks a Thousand Words
Image Courtesy: Google Images
Just so my opinions wouldn’t sound completely biased because of my love for animals, I will try to look at this issue from a different perspective. Some of us vegans/vegetarians are unmindful of the fact that there are animals getting killed during the production of crops as well. Small sentient mammals like rodents, rabbits, prairie dogs are being killed by tractors during the production of crops. Their lives are as precious as the cows, pigs, and chicken that are slaughtered. So how does it allow the vegans/vegetarians to take the higher moral ground by not eating meat whilst animals are getting killed during crop production too, albeit the number of animals killed are incredibly low during crop production as compared to harvesting raw meat and killing animals for food. Vegetarians can at least console themselves by saying they aren’t actually consuming meat but they are indirectly responsible for the killing of these sentient creatures too. 

So does this mean, animal lovers who eat meat or people who just eat meat in general, and vegans who are animal lovers and do not consume meat are “distinguished” only by the number of animals killed during each process - that is, during killing of animals for food and during crop production.

Does this mean both animal lovers who do not eat meat and animal lovers who do eat meat, are not genuine animal lovers because animals are getting killed either way?

So where does this leave the argument? Can meat eaters be genuine animal lovers? The number of animals that are getting killed are much less during crop production, so isn’t that a good enough reason to relinquish meat and become a vegan/vegetarian? Just on the compassionate grounds and for the love of animals we can safely say the choice is grain and not meat.

I am not going to get into anymore statistical facts to prove whether the choice is grain or meat. But I found some interesting take on both grounds and if you are interested please go through the links below and make your own choice. I do know the verdict regarding this issue is very divided and from my research I can say that the people who think it is morally acceptable to kill animals for food are more as compared to people who are completely against killing of animals for food.

But I will stick to my personal opinion, meat eaters can never be genuine animal lovers. Feel free to disagree.

P.S.
Sources:

60 comments:

  1. A very interesting and in-depth analysis and reasoning you have done here. I am not going to disagree with you because I am a vegetarian.

    But the thing is, humans (majority) unconsciously divide the animal world into 3 categories: pets/exotics, food and "I don't care about you"s. It is in their system that they don't care if chicken/sheep are killed. But when they hear about tigers or dogs killed, they feel it is animal cruelty. I don't know about right or wrong, but this is the way humans are tuned.

    Did you know in some places poachers kill dolphins but sell it as whale meat? Some prejudice right!

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    1. I am very glad you like my analysis Raj, really appreciate it. Thank goodness my first commenter is a vegetarian. Good start. :)

      I agree with you about the human mentality regarding animals. I am okay with pets/exotics part, I am also okay with "I don't care about you's" too unless they cause no harm for the animals but the food part which irks me. And the fact that animals need to be killed is what disturbs me the most. :(

      Thanks a lot for your comment. :)

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  2. i love chicken/fish/mutton/eggs. too tasty!
    considering you have put forth a detailed analysis & argument on the issue, let me just quickly say 'i am not an animal lover'

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    1. As I said I can't really comment about other people's eating habits just because I find it offensive. So I wont oppose people eating meat. But does not being an animal lover justifies eating meat?

      I don't mean to offend you Ma'm but just saying. :)

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    2. hey not at all Akshay. i was NOT offended at all. like i wrote above the analysis is detailed and covers many aspects and since i been eating non-veg since before birth :) i cant or rather wont stop it. so by that count alone i am not animal lover
      chill - its a good post :)

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    3. I understand your point of view. Thank you for not taking words in the wrong way. :)

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  3. I'm a veggie...But nobody's animal lover in this world...coz directly or indirectly we are encouraging animal violence....shoes, clothes and many more things which we use in our daily life ..are made by hurting animals....I heard the strength of the helmet is tested on monkeys...They will test the strength until the monkey brian cracks...Poor animals....really....:(

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    1. Thanks for your comment Valli. :) As we get older and wiser we think about all these things we use in our day to day lives, whether they were made at the expense of animals or not. Yes, I have made that mistake too in the past. :( And yes I have heard about a movie called Unnecessary Fuss. After I read about it, I didn't wanted to watch it. Unbelievably cruel. :(

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  4. Very in-depth analysis, Akshay. This is truly a complex issue. It is not purely an ethical issue either, it is linked with the food chain and the ecological balance. In addition, the act of eating is the act of transmission of life, so it fulfills a very important function. Many of the pro-vegetarian arguments are not entirely valid. Plants have life and feelings too, would you call a vegetarian not a true plant lover? What about milk that is meant for the young of the animals? However, at the end of the day, it has been found that the human digestive system is actually suited more to vegetarian food, and that the ability to digest animal protein is an acquired ability over millions of years. You may want to read Michael Pollan's work on food, culture, society and business. I think you will like it.

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    1. I agree with you Subhorup, Plants do have life, I never denied it but yes from my post it doesn't come across that way. While I was writing I didn't happen to think from the Plants perspective, my apologies. But plants are a natural resource to human beings unlike animals. Even though we cannot only survive on fruits and vegetables but you can't deny the fact that they are indeed a natural resource. But inspite of the fact that humans have acquired the ability to digest animal protein for millions of years, killing animals is in no way a natural resource for human beings. Just because it has been carried out for millions of years, it doesn't make it any more right, it is still very much an ethical issue. :)

      I will certainly read the book you suggested. It may not change my mind but I will learn to look at this from a different perspective for sure.

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  5. I love chicken and eggs.. And being a girl from a coastal region there is no single day when we cook Vegetarian at my home. Fish is our daily food but even then I say i love cats and I can never even think of eating it :-)

    But your post is just wonderful because for a moment it made me feel guilty for being Non-Vegetarian :-( But now I can't help as I feel I will die if I turn vegetarian.. That's because we coastal people are so much addicted to it:(

    Keep writing:)

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    1. Some people have various reasons for eating or not eating meat. I can totally understand where you are coming from. I never oppose people eating meat, its their personal choice, I have always said that. But I just can't see animals getting killed for us humans to lead a healthier life. So badly wish there was an alternative to this. :(

      Thanks a lot for you comment Sonia. :)

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  6. A topic that has been debated for long Akshay :-)

    Let me share my views on this. First, eating habits can't be an ethical/moral issue. Food is an habit. I hold a very high regard for people who have been non-veg and then turned veg simply b'cos they have experienced both ends of the eating spectrum. To be born a veg and then claim we vegetarians love/care for animals is hiding behind a mask called Food Habits. No offense meant here. What i am trying to drive here is non-veg were habituated to eating meat from when they were born - so what is their mistake in it? Yes, as you grow, you can weigh the pros and cons and change your habit. But habits die hard.

    Next, In countries were plants don't grow - Ex: Mongolia, what do such people do? Countries were the climate is bitter not favouring plant growth & harvest - there is no choice. Only India and certain tropical countries even have the luxury of grow varies crops.

    So, its an ecological balance. It's meant to stay that way. Another argument if it's about killing lives then we kill plants too! We are meant to co-exist through inter-dependency - we can't change that in any way! We kill so many living organisms everyday - through inhalation & more.

    True, today we have commercialized everything and food chain has become a business. We can/should try minimize misdeeds rendered towards animals through commercialization.

    Finally, it is better to consume Vegetarian food..not bcos i feel guilty of killing another living being but bcos vegetarian food is the best for human consumption & holistic growth. The vedic literature goes in detail explaining the benefits of consuming veg. That's why even consumption of Onions/Garlics is forbidden in certain cultures - cause they have medicinal values in them & not good for daily consumption , moreover they do not aid in keeping your mind calm. we only think of food for our body but food is essential even to maintain a healthy mind.

    In conclusion, i would say we should eat what is Healthy for human being's holistic growth.

    I find India to be an ideal place to live - for it has many intrinsic benefits in terms of holistic development. For instance, the climate & the food in this region favors growth. May be that is why a strong civilization thrived in the olden days with many intellectuals.

    Hope you don't mind the long comment ;-)

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    1. First of all, thank you so much Divya for taking time out and conveying your valuable opinion on this issue. Really appreciate them. :)

      Yes, I may have born a veg but my love for animals has not always been the same. Over the years as I grew older and wiser I started realizing my love for animals. You do sit and think about these things, whether eating meat is right or wrong etc. So my love for animals is certainly not because of my food habits. Although it would have been interesting if I was indeed born as a non-veg, it would have a great dilemma for me. :)I have seen many of my friends becoming a vegan from a pure non-vegetarian, not out of compulsion or because of health issues but because of choice. Old habits die hard but they are not impossible. And we cannot blame on old habits for the killing of animals to satisfy our taste buds. :)

      And I never oppose people from eating meat, as I said in my previous comment there might be various factors which forces us to eat only meat related food. At least for those eating meat is not a compulsion, should seriously consider their meal without a meat diet. Nothing wrong in that.

      Plants do have life, but as I said plants are a natural resource for humans but killing animals to satisfy our taste buds in no way constitutes as a natural resource. But I agree we are guilty of killing of living organisms everyday whether we like it or not. :(

      Yes as you say we should eat what is Healthy for human being's holistic growth. :)

      Thanks again for such a lovely comment. Made my day.

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  7. Good one Akshay..... u hav put forth ya view on this issue.... wen i waz a non vegetarian i neva waz an Animal lover.... Bt now i hav ma concern for them.... i stopped eatin them n hence i hav realised dat they too r the rightful surviverz on thiz mother earth.... the blog iz inspirational.... well done...

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    1. Thank you so much Maddy. :) I am so glad you liked it. I have seen the transition in you from being a non-vegetarian to a vegetarian. And I am really happy because it was by choice. :) I know you are as healthy as you were when you were a non-veggie. Yes, animals deserve our compassion and care. Hope many others follow you and become a vegan. :)

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  8. Interesting post bro !
    Good question too :)
    Humans were eating, eating and will eat, who knows we may all be forced to be cannibals in future too... even now cannibals are plenty...

    Survival the fittest :) -Dee..

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    1. Thanks a lot Deepak. Yeah survival of the fittest but at what expense is the question. :)

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  9. I am a vegetarian. It has nothing to do with my religion. I feel being vegetarian is healthy and you don't take someone's life to satisfy your taste buds. Like you, I don't force it on people. Many say it is a rich source of protein etc etc. I think they like the taste of it.

    Also, since you asked I'm thinking whether these people are true animal lovers. Imagine, someone is saying- oh, this chicken (Alive one) looks so cute and eating Chicken Birayni in the evening.

    Great Analysis Akshay...:)

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    1. Thank you so much dear. That is exactly my point. No excuse of killing an animal to satisfy our taste buds no matter how rich in protein they might be. I know a lot of vegans including myself who are leading a healthy life. :)

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  10. I am a non-vegetarian and this post stirred something inside me.

    Great post Akshay!!!

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    1. Thank you so much if my post has made you think. I am very glad about it. Hopefully you understood my point of view. :)

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  11. You have arguments from both the sides, which makes it difficult to come to a conclusion. But as regards your conclusion that animal lovers can not be meat eaters- please try and extend the argument; even plants have life. So how can veggies eat plant?

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    1. Yes Sir, when I set out to write, frankly it was going to a very biased post but later I tried to look at this issue from the other perspective as well. There are pros and cons in both arguments, but I can safely say there are less cons in my argument which hopefully I succeeded in expressing. :)

      The last line was solely my personal opinion. The other parts of the post I tried to look at the issue from both perspectives but in the end I still stuck with what I believed. :)

      About plants, I have expressed my opinions in the above comments. I apologize for letting that point out in my post. But I still maintain the fruits or vegetables we eat from plants are natural resources to humans as compared to killing of animals to satisfy our taste buds is in no way a natural resource. So eating plants in that way is acceptable to me. If you say I am not a genuine plant lover because of that, then maybe I am not.

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  12. Hi

    A very nice post. I am a vegetarian by birth as in, born in a Brahmin family I adhere to that. But that was as a kid, now I am a vegetarian by heart - Like you I dont think its fair for us humans to wreck havoc in the animal world just because we have the tools and machinery to do so and its not right to kill the animals to satisfy our taste buds be it done in a humane way or not.
    Another thing I have heard of and to an extent believe is that non-vegetarian food inculcates aggressive and violent behavior in humans. Vegetarians seem to be calmer and less prone to outbursts of rage. This was the reason some vegetables like onions or garlic have also been excluded in the diets of some communities as they have a similar trait. Atleast to make the world a more peaceful place it would have been good if we had more vegetarians.

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    1. Thank You Jayashree, a warm welcome to you on my blog. Yes, I was born to a vegetarian family but that has very little to do with my veganism or my love for animals. Like you, I am also a vegetarian my heart.:)

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  13. There is a biological cycle which follows. If humans don't eat there are other animals that eat meat and morality was never defined during the creation of earth. It's the fight for survival which has led to this.

    You said eating chicken or meat and being animal lovers is hypocrisy, then what about those who kill plants (can't move, proved to be a living being as well, thats why the term KILL instead PLUCK). Where do we get grain from? Killing innocent plants who give you oxygen and greenery to calm your senses?

    Just as animals are genetically fiddled, plants also are genetically played upon to increase returns. The act of inhumanness is considered only with non-vegans because they eat animals which have a voice. When they are killed, they cry in pain. When plants are cut, they don't scream, so call it peaceful way of existence.

    We (humans) get food by hitting other organism only, there's no other way. Be it a fruit salad or a chicken sandwich!

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    1. Hi, thank you for the comment, appreciate it. :) I never said killing plants is acceptable in any way. I said in as many words on many comments above that the fruits and vegetables produced from plants/trees are a natural resource to human beings and it is ok for us humans to eat them but that doesn't mean I support killing plants or trees in any way. So I disagree with your last line on certain level. I do have a problem with killing of animals though, I don't consider animals as a natural resource to human beings. Killing animals for food is in no way justified no matter how many 'valid' reasons one try to give.

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    2. How do you qualify something eatable as a natural resource?

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    3. How do you qualify eating meat as part of our biological cycle?

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  14. Who tells you that meat eaters can't be animal lovers? Who tells you that vegetarian are human lovers? I have seen umpteen people who eat meat but carry their dogs in air-conditined cars. I've seen pure vegetarians killing human beings... Please don't hoodwink people

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    1. Please don't assume things. I never said all vegetarians are animal lovers. I happen to be vegetarian who is also an animal lover. I also said there are non-vegetarians who love animals. The question I asked is Can meat eaters call themselves genuine animal lovers? If the answer is yes, how do you justify them eating animal meat? People kill other people. Its nothing to do with being a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian. Read the post properly before commenting.

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  15. "Can meat eaters call themselves genuine animal lovers?" It depends on whether you are eating meat off the freezer or eating your pet.
    "If the answer is yes, how do you justify them eating animal meat?" There is nothing to justify here... Meat is to eat boss! So, good food, good meat; good Lord, let's eat.

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    1. So you are saying its ok to eat meat off the freezer but I won't kill my pet or anything to eat meat? Is there any difference? Have you ever killed an animal yourself to satisfy your taste buds? Maybe you should try that once and then ask me the question you put forth to me. Why do you restrict yourself to only animal meat? Go one step further, eat human meat too. As you say "Meat is to eat boss! So, good food, good meat; good Lord, let's eat." I don't mean to be rude just trying to get my point across. Hope you got it now.

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  16. First of all I love chicken/fish/crab/prawns.I am no animal lover either. But I think it's a little overboard to be going in detail about going veggie with no grounded proofs! I think that's the biological cycle.Grass is consumed by the herbivores,carnivores consume the herbivores and we consume both carni and herbi and the aqauatic too! It's all part of the cycle!

    But hey,again,I'm no animal lover! You have a strong post though! Appreciate that! :)

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    1. Well this is an emotional issue for me, so I have expressed my views about the subject. I didn't want to go too much into statistical figures to prove my point. If I had to show figures to prove my point then this post will have less significance to me. Moreover, I am not forcing anyone to go vegetarian, as I said it is their personal choice and I can't make them think otherwise. I said what I felt. Some may agree, some may not. I appreciate your point of view too. Thanks for your comment.

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  17. Very detailed analysis Akshay. I am a vegetarian and whenever I come across all such sights of butcher shops, even those chicks being transported in trucks; it cringes my heart, it saddens me deeply.

    I would really love to see all people turn vegan one day only by choice. I dont know about analysis and all but all I know that killing someone for our pleasure is not something that can be attributed as humane. That is what has been taught to me since childhood and I have a firm belief in that.

    Very profound post. Gives us all food for thought.

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    1. Thank you so much Arti. Yeah seriously my heart cringes too when I come across any butcher shops, I immediately look away. Even though its a personal choice but I would also love to see everyone turn vegan. :) I tried to look at the issue from both perspectives, I am really glad you liked it and made to think about it. :)

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  18. a very long winded and articulated post....im a veggie by compulsion..meaning i cant stand the smell of fish or meat ..hence have been veggie since childhood....but i have tolerance for all non-veggies....

    i think to each his /her own..... eating what they want...as long as they dont harm the environment

    http://sushmita-smile.blogspot.in/

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    1. To each his/her own. I agree Sushmita. Thank you for stopping by. :)

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  19. Wow. That was indeed an in depth analysis.

    For one thing, I absolutely love eating Non Vegetarian food. This has got nothing to do with my concern for Animals. Though I would have to agree with what you said about people professing their love for Animals, just for the sake of it.

    For Everything, there is a balance. If you notice the Ecosystem Pyramid, you would very well know how the balance is maintained, even when we people continue to happily eat what we crave for!

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    1. Thank you Ashwini. I can understand where you are coming from. Appreciate your opinion regarding the issue. :)

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  20. Lots and lots of opinions regarding this topic..Its really a tricky thing, I'm like you in a way..I don't eat meat and also wickedly try to discourage others from doing it, but Alas! It doesn't work that way..See, I love cake, and just because it contains egg, if someone asks me to give it up, I can't..People who want to quit, they will..people who cant, they just won't..So, I guess we have to accept it and move on..But one suggestion, next time when someone eats chicken at ur table, just say this, "It has small small eyes, and a small beak, poor thing" making a sad face..trust me, I've done this and some of my friends have fallen ill the day after and they still blame me :D

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    1. Yeah you are right, I'm tired of arguing with whole lots of people regarding this topic. As you said if people want to quit, they will. I will have to accept that and move on. :)

      I will definitely try your suggestion, nice way to put them off. :D

      Thanks Keerthana for your nice comment. :)

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  21. quite a worthy topic for a debate . . somehow ilove meat , n i adore cats n puppies . . ironical indeed :( guz somethings come for granted .. maybe we should just leave it the way it has been nurtured within us . . cant do nything about it unless it comes deep from your heart ryt . . very well dissected :)

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    1. Thank you so much Maliny for your kind words. Yes, its an individual choice so unless and until it comes from within us, we wont change our lifestyle. :)

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  22. the topic of your post "Can Meat Eaters be Genuine Animal Lovers?" was enough for me.... :))

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    1. After reading a couple of posts of yours, I take your comment as a complement! :)

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    2. it was a complement...

      or you can say that after looking at the sizes of your replies to people who commented before me i dared not say anything... :)

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    3. hahaha!! Nothing like that buddy, just that I have an opinion and I would like to stand by it no matter what. Thanks for your follow and welcome to my blog. :)

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  23. I am veggie and my family hates me for that. They consume non veg as we are a Bong Family where consuming Non veg is a part of our culture & practices. My dad is a die hard non veg too, but his love of animals is also an exception. I rebelled against my family to eat non veg when I was 11 years old n became a part of animals NGOs helping them & fighting for their rights.Ur post is extremely thought provoking and organized.
    Consuming chicken, beef, fish is not considered illegal as this is considered Life stock. My concern is more for illegal killing of Dolphins and other rare species.Yes I agree that those who kill animals are definitely not animal lovers, but everybody cite their own reasons u see. I am impressed. Good work. Keep it up Akshay

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    1. Hi Shilpi, first of all welcome to my blog. :) I am really happy to see your love for animals and being a veggie against your family's wishes. I always maintained being a veggie or a non-veggie is a personal choice and I applaud you for sticking to what you believe in. Happy to know you are part of an NGO to help animals which are in need. :)

      I also strongly condemn illegal killing of animals for their fur or skin or their tusks.

      Thanks for your valuable opinion, I really appreciate it. :)

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  24. you know this is such a valid point. but each time i make it i end up losing a friend. It's a sad state. I am a veggie, have been all my life and i am a definite animal lover. Don't use leather. don't use suede and don't use silk either. And I most certainly don't use animal products (my doctor has been convincing me to have cod liver oil but I've been refusing)
    Brave of you to write this post. Nice to meet someone else who is like minded.

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    1. Thank you Kofykat for stopping by on my blog, really appreciate your opinion. I have been a veggie all my life as well, now slowly trying to become a vegan, just like you. :)

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  25. Dear Akshay,


    I think you need to think your argument through and find better sources. I've taken a class on this and there are many philosophers who have covered this subject in more depth.




    Sincerely,


    a fellow animal lover.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts. I never claimed that my views and my research are very in-depth. I just wrote what I believed in, I didn't expect everyone to agree with me.

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  26. Some of the thoughts which I was not able to quote...you quoted that...
    rightly said, meat eaters can never be genuine animal lovers... :)

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    1. Thanks a ton, buddy. Was very glad to read your post regarding the same topic. :)

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  27. I used to be a vegetarian but slowly turned into a non veggie. This post makes me feel guilty but then again, I am sure it has nothing to do with the love for animals. I am sure God left us the choice to be omnivorous for a reason!

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    1. Appreciate your opinion, Red Handed. :)
      I don't mean any offense but I have been reading some of your tweets lately, many of which concerns your weight, so maybe you should consider being a vegetarian again. ;-)

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