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Agenda for a New America
The Politics of Vegetarianism
By: Vasu Murti
Chapter 6 - Temperament
The ill effects of alcohol, opium, morphine, nicotine, etc. upon individual users have been well-documented. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, for example, reports that some 60 to 75 percent of all violent crime is alcohol-related. Might there be a similar relationship between the consumption of animal flesh and human behavior?
In a letter to a friend on the subject of vegetarianism, Albert Einstein wrote, "besides agreeing with your aims for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind."
U Nu, the former Prime Minister of Burma, made a similar observation: "World peace, or any other kind of peace, depends greatly on the attitude of the mind. Vegetarianism can bring about the right mental attitude for peace...it holds forth a better way of life, which, if practiced universally, can lead to a better, more just, and more peaceful community of nations."
According to Count Leo Tolstoy, "A vegetarian diet is the acid test of humanitarianism."
"Who loves this terrible thing called war?" asked Isadora Duncan. "Probably the meat-eaters, having killed, feel the need to kill...The butcher with his broody apron incites bloodshed, murder. Why not? From cutting the throat of a young calf to cutting the throats of our brothers and sisters is but a step. While we ourselves are living graves of murdered animals, how can we expect any ideal conditions on the earth?"
"I personally believe," wrote Isaac Bashevis Singer, "that as long as human beings will go on shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace. There is only one little step from killing animals to creating gas chambers a' la Hitler and concentration camps a' la Stalin--all such deeds are done in the name of 'social justice.' There will be no justice as long as man will stand with a knife or with a gun and destroy those who are weaker than he is."
Acts of selfishness must be defended, disguised, rationalized and restructured to make them acceptable, even to oneself. In Passions and Constraints, van der Haag points out that before a people car be made to treat an enemy with cruelty, it is common to deny that the enemy is even human--the enemy must first be redefined as subhuman, bestial, scum.
The way we treat animals is indicative of the way we treat our fellow humans. One Soviet study, published in Oqonvok, found that over 87% of a group of violent criminals has, as children, burned, hanged, or stabbed domestic animals. In our own country, a major study by Dr. Stephen Kellert of Yale University found that children who abuse animals have a much higher likelihood of becoming violent criminals.
Studies of inmates in a number of U. S. prisons reveal the almost none of the convicts had a pet as a child. None of them had this opportunity to learn respect and care for another creature's life and to feel valuable in so doing.
But these attitudes can be reversed, even in criminals. Heartwearming research has been done in which convicts nearing their release dates were allowed to have pet cats in their cells with them. The result? "Of the men who loved and cared for their cats, not a single one later failed as a free man to adjust to society." This in a penal system where over 70% of released convicts are expected to return to jail.
Go on to Chapter 7 - Conflict and Hunger
Return to The Politics of Vegetarianism Table of Contents
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