Thought Sketch #0001 - On Veganism, Ecological Collapse, & Animal Sacrifice
Thought Sketches are the long-form microblogging notes I would traditionally post to Facebook, Tumblr, etc. These thoughts are documented here as brief snippets of thought and contemplation, a public journal of my observations and insights, as I’m not really one for blogging or writing the way I’m “supposed” to. Enjoy.
NOTE #1 - Historical Revisionism Is Unhelpful
Veganism is less than 100 years old as a political and philosophical idea, and it was started by a white man from Massachusetts.
Vegetarianism is significantly older than that - by a good margin - and the earliest documented instances of vegetarianism being deliberately adopted for philosophical reasons dates to the earliest Indus Valley civilizations.
Lying about how old and from where and why veganism emerged does no one any good 🤷🏾♀️
NOTE #2: On The Feasibility Of A Vegan Planet
Additionally: veganism is not a one-size-fits-all or even most solution to the ecological crisis, and the actual culprit at play within the context of our food as an ecological issue, is corporate agribusiness, which includes slavery and abuse of human rights. This extends to - and is particularly true for - how our grains and produce are cultivated, processed, and harvested.
In terms of what is most feasible and sustainable for the future, community-scaled & community-oriented, redistributive, organic*, bioregional diets are decolonial and do not force Western prescriptivism (including from my fellow Black and Brown folx) onto Indigenous communities and people throughout the global South who have been participating in hunting and sustainable, small scale agricultural husbandry with respect and reverence for the land and nature. Bioregional diets would also include hunting and animal products, but to a significantly lesser degree, and would also limit the amount of pollution and resource usage that goes into the mass transportation and waste of poor resource distribution and profit-making.
NOTE #3: The Revelation Of Animal Sacrifice In Animistic Traditions
And last but not least...
A number of African Traditional Religions practice animal sacrifice, as do some forms of reconstructive paganism.
There are very specific parameters and prescriptions within the context of the former around what goes into the process, including how animals -must- be treated before being slaughtered. The giving of animals is usually reserved for special occasions and/or major milestone markers, and the bones, flesh, etc., are all used in some form or another (for sacred and practical items, for food for the community), while usually it's just the blood - the essence of life - that is put forth ritually to the spirits. The offering of an animal is considered to be an extremely potent spiritual act both because communities and families oftentimes rely on animals for resources (and they're very expensive resources-wise to have in the first place, not even strictly $ wise, esp. larger animals), but also because there is an inherent acknowledgment that life is sacred - and, to a certain degree, that death is sacred and inevitable, too. You can't escape it. You have to be confronted with that reality every time you make this choice, which is why it is comparatively rare, and nothing is wasted.
I've spent a lot of time contemplating the animistic worldviews these practices emerge from for several years now. It has been through participating in ATRs and observing others respectfully that I made the decision to reduce my consumption of animal products - largely because of the theology and cosmology of animal offerings, and how that practice/the overall philosophies dramatically shifted how I view the world as a human being and how I view my place in the sustaining cycle of things.
I consciously chose to make the shift because the way my food was being prepared was not confronting the reality of the act required to make it happen, and it was being done in a deliberately cruel, wasteful manner that did not honor the life or the sacrifice of the being who died so that my body could be healthy and nourished. I made the decision because participating in corporate agribusiness is contributing to the degradation of the earth & its inhabitants by destroying ecosystems - rather than sustainably cultivating land best suited for animal raising, of which there is not a lot - and that deforestation is robbing Indigenous communities of their way of life as well as destroying the natural habitats of wild animals. All of which are in direct conflict with my spiritual values and the communities from which said values emerged.
If you could not bring yourself to slaughter and butcher an animal for food, and you have the ability to forgo meat in your diet, you probably should, because you are not taking full personal responsibility for your choice and its consequences. I am dead serious. I've slaughtered animals before and prepared them both for myself and for ritual purposes, and I know what it feels like to be an active agent of death. It just is. I did so with solemnity for the action I was participating in, and with full consciousness of the sacrifice being made so that I could be nourished and nourish others. It's the same way I feel about plants, which also have a life, and a consciousness, and who make the sacrifice of parts or all of themselves in order to feed and nourish me. Death takes place there, too. Plants are just as intelligent, sentient, and full of life as animals are, and denying that is hypocritical.
Every time I eat in order to live - and thus avoid death - I am an agent of death or mutilation. It doesn't matter if that death is of a plant or of a creature, either way, I am consuming life in order to live and that is significant, sacred, and solemn, and I resent the implication that my comfort with consuming animal products means I do not have a grasp on or respect for life or other beings. I do. Quite keenly.
I realise it might be hard to wrap your head around if you're vegan, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
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