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A while ago I started this blog on buddhism, so I’ve been going through the internet, seeing what other people are doing. I ran into a blog post by David Lai, a senior student of Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. He did a blog post on something Tsem Tulku is encouraging people to do, which is to watch a series of 19 videos regarding vegetarianism and then do a commentary on the videos. Naturally most replying are practicing Buddhists. I don’t think this means that Buddhists have to be vegetarian, but more that its a personal choice that happens to be in line with Buddhist ideals.
I almost didn’t do this blog because…
When I opened the link with the videos, I almost didn’t want to continue, because I realized these were going to be pretty gruesome and bloody, I’ve seen videos like this before. Animal slaughter house and farm factory videos tend to be pretty nasty, and vegetarians tend to zealously and religiously circulate them However I know Tsem Tulku’s intention is good and there’s a reason why he would encourage people to watch these and comment on them. I’m doing this not to push my views on people, but hopefully it will help someone become open minded to what’s already happening.
He made watching these 19 videos as part of a contest. I live in Sweden and am not around his Kechara organization, so I really doubt I’ll win this contest and that’s not really my intention anyway. I put in time into this blog post because I hope it will inspire people to be more open minded. I don’t really care about winning contests at this point. I just wanted to share what a simple buddhist vegetarian would say about these videos and the motivation for being vegetarian. This is an extension of me practicing buddhism.
The 19 videos I will be commenting on can be found here. This is a longer post than I usually do and will be probably the longest I’ll ever do, but I think its worthwile.
A series of reasons to be vegetarian are presented, like how its unheathy, bloody and messy, can causes impotence, and so forth. I havn’t eaten meat for years so these didn’t ‘t really influence me, but I’m sure it can others. They also encourage people to become vegetarian for ethical reasons, which is what brought me to vegetarianism. I think that can only happen if someone starts to understand what happening is with the animals. There are many clips of these animals being hurt, like having cinder blocks thrown on their heads and being hung upside down to slaughter. In the clips, it says it takes a small person to beat a defeneless animal. It takes an even smaller person to it eat. This is pretty in your face and direct, but it does raise some interesting questions. When I ate meat, no one ever told me about this, and in a way, I found ways to avoid knowing. Why ruin my dinner? I think this clip is an invitation, to look into this. To try to realize that the slab of meat sitting on a plate, used to be a being with feelings and fears, and died in a total state of fear.
This video tries to get the point across that millions of animals are killed every year due to poaching, food processing, clothing, entertainment and testing of products. Its very tragic when millions of people are killed during the world wars, and various genocides like in Uganda, the Khmer Rouge, Bosnia etc. What if these genocides happened every year? There barely wouldn be any people left on this planet. I think its important to realize that animal slaughter happens so frequently with animals because they’re bred in mass production, so the supply chain never ends. I know people are disgusted by the idea of human genocide, people would be very upset if we bred human in mass quanties only to kill or slaughter them. That’s more or less what happens to animals. The thing with animals, is that they can’t talk. If a genocide is occuring, eventually someone escapes and tells the stories, and the whole world knows. The problem is, animals can’t say anything to anyone.
This video is about dog’s that are rescued from dog fighting circles, and focuses on a dog named Fey. After many dog fights, Fey had her lips shreaded. Later, the person making her get into dog fights, cut them off. What’s remarkable is despite all the suffering and cruelty thats happend to Fey, she continues to trust humans and is very gentle. I think this says two things. Animals, just like people, at the core, are actually very gentle beings. It doesn’t matter how many dog fights she’s been in, at her core is a gentle being that wants to give and receive love. It’s hard to imagine how its acceptable to want to use a being like this for such violent entertainment like dog fighting. Also it makes that point that many animals’ existence, more or less, have to blindly follow our lead. Fey was made a dog fighter. Some animals are made for slaughter, some for animal testing, some as an indoor cat that is petted and loved. How an animal lives it’s life is more or less dependent now on humans, so its our responsibility to make sure that they can live in peace.
This clip was quite brutal. Imagine if you were on a street, laying down on a cold concrete slab. Bound and gagged, your legs and arms are completely immobile. Two people hold you by your head, and above you hovers a man holding two knives. He’s rubbing them together to sharpen them and prepare them for something. You hear the sound of metal rubbing against each other, and you lay there helpeless as the man with two knives is looking at you. The man approaches, and starts to slice a bit off your neck. He continues to slice, and it feels like all your skin is being pulled off and its a complete shock. The two men continue to hold your neck. The man continues to slice and there’s blood everywhere. After a few minutes the man stops, and the other men leave. Another man comes, is he going to help? He has a bucket of water and he’s throwing it on the ground, he’s doing janitor work to clean up the street why you lay on the ground in agony, groaning and twitching. I can’t believe that animal sacrifice still exists, but then again many animals that are slaughtered die like this also.
This video begins, by stating that many in China believe that the more suffering that an animal goes through, the more taste it will have. The equation is more torture = more taste. At this point my mind is starting to turn off, this is usually where I would stop watching these clips. This clip is 10 minutes, that’s a long time for sights and sounds of animals being treated in the most cruel of ways. I made a commitment to finish this so I continued. Yes, there’s very brutal torture in this video, most of the violent things happen to them while they’re alive, and its done slowly and painstakingly. Its very meticulous, like painting art, except the canvas are living beings bodies and the instruments are sticks, vats of boiling liquid, bags and metal pincers. I think the thing to understand, is that animals are killed because of taste. A good thing to ponder, is if its logical to kill another being that wants to be happy and not suffer, over taste. At one point, a cat is crawling on the side of the cage, trying to escape.
This video is in contrast to the previous one, in China. Many people might see the video from China and think its cruel, but its the Chinese doing it and I’m living in the west. That’s their fault, this nothing to do with me. This video is about cruelty within a New York Dairy farm. The pain inflicted isn’t as hysterically done as in China, but its still just as cold and calculating, and in a way more systemized. Many cows have untreated wounds, with pus dripping out. It was explained that its common practice to burn off their tails and horns without anesthetic, while the cows are groaning. In one of the clips, a worker put his finger in the cow’s eye in order to restrain it and get it to calm own while it’s horn was being burned off. The dairy cows are producing 80 lbs of milk on a daily basis, which is highly painful and unnatural, and is caused by constant hormone treatments. I think the point of these videos, is to make us really mindful of our actions and bring some awareness into our daily lives. Most of us eat 2-5 times a day. Do we really understand what we’re eating? How did this food come about into existence? Did it magically appear on our plates and cups for our consumption? Everything comes into existence through a process, do we dare look into the process or do we turn a blind eye?
This clip brings us back to China, and it was very startling. It showed how the workers would take the dogs, and kill them in the most brutal way. Unlike the previous clip from China, these wern’t occuring on busy streets, so there was some silence in the background to accentuate the groans and screams of the dogs while they were being mutilated. Often other dogs would be sitting in cages, watching this happen and knowing they would be next. In some clips, the other waiting dogs barked and screamed. Other times they were completely silent, probably due to shock and maybe a sense of hopelessness. I think the thing to take away from this clip, is that people are paid to do these things because there’s a demand for animal flesh. It doesn’t really matter if it happens in China or the US, as long as there are huge demands for flesh, someone will have to be paid to breed and slaughter these animals. My father was a USDA inspector, he would go to slaughter houses and inspect the conditions. He said the first day he worked, there was so much blood, he almost fainted. He used to be a vetrinarian before this. He said that the people who would kill the animals, he couldn’t understand how someone could take this job, they probably didn’t have souls. I think if the demand for meat wasn’t so high, they wouldn’t have to take up jobs like this.
This video deals with Foie Gras, an expensive delicacy thats often sold as a high ticket item in expensive and upscale restaurants. This is like the West’s response to Video 5 from China, explaining that some chinese believe that more suffering leads to better taste. To make foie gras, ducks have a tube forced down their throats and are forced fed 3 lbs of food everyday into their tiny bodies. This is equivalent to someone taking a tube, and ramming it down a human’s throat and force feading them 45 lbs of food everyday. This causes an enlargement of the liver, making it 10 times its normal size. The duck later has its throat slit, and the liver is sent to restaurants. When I lived in Seattle, there was a restaurant that was well known for its foie gras, people would go there just to have it. A family friend of mine was in France on business and was served foie gras. If people knew what it was, would they eat it? I think its good question, the things that we call “delicacies,” do we know how these came about? I can’t imagine how eating an enlarged duck liver would ever bring anyone lasting happiness. If they knew what it was and how it came about, it might cause the opposite: stress, anxiety, disgust, etc.
This is probably the shortest of all the clips, about 30 seconds. It shows animals suffering, and this is communicated by showing their faces and eyes. I think if someone had to kill the animal themselves and look at it in the face before they did it, they would probably find it hard to do. I was watching a documentary the other day about someone who was sent to death row, and they interviewed people who carried out the executions at the prison. One person said when he executed people, the prisoners would often try to look at him in the face. They wouldn’t say much, but they would look at them with their eyes, this is how they would communicate. The executioner, he wouldn’t look at them in the face, it was too much. He would avoid eye contact and try to be “professional.” I think this really means that he tried to make it impersonal. Meat often comes in sterilized plastics containers and bags, so we never see the face, its all impersonal. But animals do have faces, as well as emotions that are conveyed through their eyes.
I actually saw this video a couple months ago and it was extremely shocking. Its about the last 3 minutes of an animal’s life. Its sitting in a very narrow channel or corridor, so the animal can’t turn around. There are 2 animals in this corridor, and the first one is electric proded forward into a dark room and the door behind it closes. A noise goes off, and it dies. Then the door to the room opens, and the last animal waiting in the corridor is frightened. It moves backwards away form the room and tries to turn around, but it can’t because the corridor is too narrow. It knows what happens in the dark room with the closing door, so its trying to move as far away as possible from the room. Eventually a guy comes with an electric prod and forces the animal into the room, and its killed. I think some people think that animals are stupid and don’t know whats going on, I know I used to think like this. I think this video shows otherwise. In this video one can see that animals are just like humans, they cherish their lives and don’t want to die just like us.
This video centers on trying to understand what our plate of food was before it became our plate of food. Before it became a hamburger, some sausage, chicken nuggets, or lamb chops. Before it became all this, it was a living being, that wanted to live, and didn’t give anyone permission to kill it so it could be served as lunch or dinner. It had feelings and wanted to live, just like me. I remember reading a book one time, I don’t remember what it was called, but somehow the topic of cannibalism came up. After I read the book, I got a sense that cannibalism and eating meat of animals, there’s really no difference. That might seem shocking and illogical, but I’ll try to explain as best as I can. Most people dislike cannibalism because they cherish life. Eating human flesh means eating a being who had feelings, who had a life that had value. That person is someone’s daughter, son, mother, etc. That life has so much value, that eating it is considered off limits. Animals also have feelings and have life. That animal as well is someone’s father, daughter, son, etc. Why are animals eaten? I believe its because their life is devalued and degraded. Its not that their life doesn’t have value, its just not acknowledged.
This video resembles Video 4, the animal sacrifice video where a man takes a knife and slices open an animal’s throat. The man then leaves the animal to die, as its thrashing around in agony. This video is similar, in that it shows in kosher slaughters, a cow’s throat is cut and its thrachea is ripped out while it’s still alive. However, unlike the animal sacrifice video, the animal isn’t bound. After having its throat slit, its dumped from a machine that was suspending it in the air, and it falls to the ground, where it thrashes around dying, like a fish pulled out of water and thrown onto a boat. I don’t know much about kosher standards, other than its supposed to be a set of rules in terms of how food is prepared and slaughtered before it can be served. I think the idea of kosher might make people feel its ok to eat the animal, but I think this video shows that whether its kosher or not, the process is more or less the same. An animal in a state of fear, is violently killed against its will in order satisfy someone’s taste for flesh.
This video is in chinese, so if you understand chinese its an added bonus. Otherwise the video and the sounds of what happens on animal farms is enough in itself. From watching this video, I get the sense that the living conditions for animals bred for slaughter are way below humane. I think even prisoner’s of war get better treatment then what happens on these farms. Everything is dark and cramp in these small cages, where animals are trampling on each other, trying to find room to breathe. The one’s that are too weak to live, they just lie there and die while others being to trample them. When the workers “surgically remove” something from an animal, its noticeably done without anesthetisia and with equipment that resemble garden tools. The animals are thrown around into cages like sacks of potatoes and are slammed on the floor like dusty carpets. Being forcefully and violently killed is terrifying enough, but a life of misery from birth to death seems pretty incomprehensible. I think even if someone doesn’t watch to watch these videos, I think its good to at least keep an open mind that these things happen.
I think this video title pretty much sums up this video. This video is so bloody and gory, it looks like a nightmarish war zone. For some beings this nightmare is a reality. There was so much blood spilling out everywhere, it makes me wonder where all this blood goes. I think if someone were to take all the blood that’s been drained from animals and spilled on the slaughter house floors over the years, you’d probably have more than enough blood to fill all the oceans in the world. At the end came a severed cow head, and it fell to the ground and spinned around like a bottle. I think if you took all the amount of severed heads from these slaughter houses over the years, you’d have enough to fill the Grand Canyon. I don’t see how this is good for the world. Usually when a war happens and many people die, people feel like it changes the landscape of the land. The mood changes, like the earth has been stained. Slaughter houses are all over all the world, it makes me wonder how this contributes to general feeling of apathy and aggression in the world.
I think if there’s one noise that’s highly distinguishable, its the squeel of a pig. Especially the squeel of a pig in pain, its pitch is completely different from anything else, there’s no doubt that there’s suffering occuring. I get a feeling that if one multiplied that squeel by 1000′s, one would get the sound of a pig farm. Many of the pigs, kept in dark and close confined cages, go insane from lack of stimulation. When pigs were castrated, it was done without pain killers and with crude clipping devices. If the pigs didn’t grow quick enough, someone would raise into the air and slam them head first into the concrete floor. I remember watching a show where a guy was talking about his wife that he had murdered and he had wrapped her in a sleeping bag. He was trying to transport the body, and accidentally dropped her, and she fell to the ground, making a disgusting noise like a watermelon splatting. He said he was horrified. I imagine something like this happens on a daily basis on a pig farm, except the pigs are still alive and are trying to get away before being smashed onto the floor. A lot of this treatment, has a lot to do with making a quick buck at the expense of an animal. It seems like the cheapest and most effective way to breed, kill and dipose of animals also happens to be the most cruelest.
This video handles with pregnant pigs that are kept in small 2 feet wide crates all gestation crates. The pigs suffer tremendously both mentally and physically in these cramped spaces. People are protesting, in an attempt to outlaw these crates, and they’ve been successful in doing so in some states. What I get from this video is that while its good to take an active stance against animal farms in the form of trying to pass legislation, the real problem still lies in the fact that animals are being mass bred for slaughter. I think these protests are better than nothing, but change will have to come from many individuals coming to an understanding of what happens within the slaughter industry. This is a very individual process and requires effort on the part of every person to undestand the situation and to keep an open mind. When I see people on the street with signs, sometimes I get the image of extreme people trying to push their beliefs on other people. When it comes to animal cruelty in the slaughter industry, I don’t think its about pushing views on other people, but rather about being open minded about whats actually happening.
In this video I learned something I never thought about, which is the slaughter of seals for fur and other trinkets. For some reason I never thought about them because I didn’t think this was such a wide spread practice, but I was wrong. According to the video, more than 300,000 seals were killed in the year before this video was made. I can imagine that seals are not very easy to catch, so it makes sense that the seals that are killed are usually very young baby seals. They’re so young, that they havn’t even learned to swim yet. This makes them easy targets for poachers. In the video people are running up to these seals and are clubbing them to death. Could you imagine if someone went up to a helpess and defeneless baby and bludgeoned it? This is what happens with baby seals. Some baby seals don’t immediately die, so they’re skinned alive and then left on the ice to rot. This video looks like a hobby gone bad. I think if people are running around with sticks on ice, they should be playing hockey, not clubbing defensless animals.
I think this is a pretty infamous video on youtube, with a teenager throwing puppies into a river. At one point she throws one into the air and yells “weeee!” so obviously she thinks its entertaining. I can’t honestly say that I havn’t done things like this in my life either. When I was 8 or 9 years old and was on vacation in the Philippines, a mouse or rat was stuck in a sticky paper trap. It sat there defenseless and stuck, so I picked up a large stone and started methodically smashing it. I’m not really sure why I did it, but I kept doing it while it lay there helpless. I don’t even remember if it died or not, or if it died later. I think the point of this is to try not to judge the teenagers in this video, but to understand that I could do something like this too if I’m not mindful of my behavior. What I can do now is generate regret for the things I’ve done, and now make an attempt not to do things like this and try to discourage others from harmings animals.
When I was growing up, I had this idea that cows were stupid yet were happy. They just moo’d all day. I think videos like this help remove some of the ignorance about that. I had all those assumptions because cows can’t talk and complain about their life. They’re forced into doing things they probably don’t want to do. The video said that cows are forcibly impregnated all the time in order to keep up milk production. I can’t imagine being pregnant and being forced to produce 120 pints of milk a day through various hormones, the toll on the body must be imagneable. Most cow udders hurt and most die physically exhuasted. When the cows give birth, they’re allowed to spend 1-2 days max with their newborn. Its funny these days, in many countries either the father, the mother, or both can take 6 months to a year off to stay with their newborn. I can only imagine what they would say if they were allowed to only seem them for 1-2 days.
This video also gives suggestions for milk alternatives and questions if we really need to drink milk, because they’re loaded with things that are harmful to the body. I’ve studied this a little myself but I don’t have scientific proof to back this. What I do know is that I havn’t had a glass of milk for years, and I’m doing fine with alternatives, so its possible. I think every little change we do, makes a big difference in alleviating the suffering of other beings.
Again I would say that this is probably the longest blog I will ever write, but I’ll end with some closing thoughts. I was actually a vegetarian for 2 years, when I was 16-18. I did it for ethical reasons. When I got to college, I started eating meat agian. I thought it would be difficult to keep up this lifestyle and I didn’t want to get picked on. Now that I look back, I think this was a mistake.
I’ve been vegetarian again for some 4 years again now and its probably the best decision I’ve made in a while. I remember one time when I was 17, a friend ask me if the spiritual benefits of not consuming meat was really helpful. This was surprising because I didn’t speak about spirituality with anybody, though it was obvious to him that’s why I was doing this. I would say yes. I’m not able to benefit so many people, but at the least, I can try not harm other beings. Not eating meat goes a long way, 3 meals a day is 1095 meals a year, or 1095 opportunities to respect another being’s life. This is just another way to practice buddhism.