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Humane Religion Magazine

May - June 1998 Issue

VEGETARIANISM IS MY RELIGION
A Message from Nobel Prize winner
Isaac Bashevis Singer

Vegetarianism is my religion. I became a consistent vegetarian [only after] I tried over and over again. Finally, in the mid-1960's, I made up my mind. And I've been a vegetarian ever since.

When a human kills an animal for food, he is neglecting his own hunger for justice. Man prays for mercy, but is unwilling to extend it to others. Why should man then expect mercy from God? It's unfair to expect something that you are not willing to give. It is inconsistent.

I can never accept inconsistency or injustice. Even if it is supposed to come from God...In orthodox religious circles, this would be considered heretical. Still, I consider myself a religious man. I'm not against organized religion, but I don't take part in it. Especially when they interpret their religious books as being in favor of meat-eating. Sometimes they say God wants sacrifice and the killing of animals. But I think He is wiser and more merciful than that. And there are interpretations of religious scriptures which support this, saying that vegetarianism is a very high ideal.

Whether the mass of people accept the vegetarian interpretation of religion does not really matter...I accept it implicitly. Of course, it would be wonderful if the world adopted vegetarianism on religious grounds or any other. [But] I will continue to be a vegetarian even if the whole world started to eat meat.

This is my protest against the conduct of the world . To be a vegetarian is to disagree—to disagree with the course of things. Nuclear power, starvation, cruelty—we must make a statement against these things. Vegetarianism is my statement.

This material was excerpted from the preface of FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT: Vegetarianism and the World Religions by Steven Rosen. (The book has recently been re-issued as DIET FOR TRANSCENDENCE: Vegetarianism and the World Religions.)

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