I don’t know. You make good points it is hard to see how it can effect the system. Maybe the synthetic meat thing will be a better route to advocate change.
But then again, from a dhamma perspective, to keep our precepts, we simply have to not kill or order anybody to kill. Beyond that is up to our discernment, the Buddha declined any other requirement other than that.
Don’t kill, don’t hurt. Develop the divine abodes.
Try not to incite others to kill or hurt, if you can.
At least stick to the first person stuff. Other things are good, but don’t develop remorse if you cannot be vegetarian, for instance. The path is hard. Even the essentials are hard. No point making it harder.
I read somewhere, meat eaters consume approximately 7000 animals in lifetime. Theoritically, if one person becomes vegetarian/vegan s/he saves 7000 animals. But human population is not in vacuum, it grows very fast, we can see this from the increasing demand for meat globally. A vegetarian maybe reduce meat consumption up to 0.00001%, I doubt meat industry even notice this hence reduce the growth of livestock.
I hear many times people say vegetarian can reduce the growth of livestock industry but I still couldn’t make it make sense. I used to be a vegetarian and want to become one again but I couldn’t convince myself if it really reduce the number of animals slaughtered. Maybe someone can offer your thoughts, that would be greatly appreciated.
From Dhamma perspective, AFAIK, killing and eating is not the same. When we eat meat, our intention is to eat not to kill. If eating meat is equivalent to killing, Buddha would have included this in the original Buddhist precept. In fact, vegetarian/vegan is not compulsory in original Buddhist teaching and I rarely hear Buddhist teacher(s) or Buddhist monks advocate vegetarianism/veganism. To cut it short, why should I become a vegetarian if it doesn’t have any effect?
There’s a sutta where Ananda goes, “good friends are half of the holy life”, and the Buddha corrects him and says “good friends are THE ENTIRE holy life.” This is the well known part of the sutta often quoted, but the part that usually doesn’t get quoted is really important, because the Buddha explains WHY. The reason good friends are the entire holy life is because they practice 8aam (noble eightfold path), and set a good example for you. By being around that, you naturally absorb that influence, and start doing it. Even if you don’t talk to them. Even if you just live in the community of reclusive silent 8aam monastics/yogis, and don’t see them or hear them most of the time, just knowing they’re there and doing 8aam practice is an influence, and it affects you.
Similarly, any good virtuous quality, if you live it, practice it, it’s going to affect people around you, often without any verbal communication.
IMO you’re thinking about it all wrong. You’re treating the modern commercial meat industry as a fixed constant and basing your metrics of least life being harmed/killed by that assumption. Instead, think about what the most compassionate ways to eat would be, and which of those compassionate ways you could see yourself doing.
For example, when I was a kid, we had two hens as pets in our backyard. True free range, not even a coop. They jumped up on to a branch of a small tree to sleep at night. We had a regular supply of unfertilized eggs.
Unfertilized eggs aren’t future chickens, and the chickens would eat bugs anyway to survive. In undeveloped countries, it’s pretty common and easy to free range eggs like this.
If I can buy free range eggs raised like that, I do. When I can’t, I don’t think of it as I’m supporting commercial inhumane cooped chicken slavery, I think of it as I’m doing that until the other egg eaters become more compassionate and raise the eggs free range and compassionately. At least there’s the potential of that happening. You eat a dead cow, dead pig, etc, there’s no potential of any kind of humane cow killing ever happening.
Over the course of my life, many people around me have become vegetarian, or became more inclined to try it, because they saw me do it. So you see it has the potential to spread exponentially, when the people who became vegetarian affect their circles.
Some people, for health reasons, have to eat some amount of meat. If I was in that situation, I’d think of it as each meat product I buy, that I killed it myself by hand. And I’d eat the absolute minimum I could get away with health wise. In other words, I’d eliminate all eating of meat, and even eating anything, for entertainment or enjoyment purposes, and only eat for survival.
IMO, you are punishing yourself over something that you are not guilty of.
I think it depends on where we live and where the food comes from. Developed countries, developing countries and undeveloped countries may have different ways of farming practice. Some don’t use huge machines to plough their field, the result is different number of animals killed.
The same with meat eaters, those who eat grass fed beef may involve in less killing compare to those who eat grain fed beef. So if someone eats grass fed beef in U.S and then regular/grain fed beef for lunch in Malaysia, the killing involved will be different. Since the number of animals killed depends on many factors, why don’t we just eat anything including meat, moderately? I think eating for survival is the best attitude we can do whether one is a vegetarian or not. What do you think?
If beginning of cycles of rebirth cannot be discerned, by attaining Nibbana you’re basically end the suffering of a being (you) from being murdered, killed in accident, die of disease, old age for million and billion of times. Not to mention even more beings that you would harm throughout this endless rounds of rebirth.
If you think about it, there’s no way we should even entertain the thought of putting vegetarianism above of basic five precepts, could be the sixth, eighth or eleventh though.
“Jīvaka, he who kills a living creature on purpose for a Tathāgata or a Tathāgata’s disciple stores up much demerit in five ways: In that, when he speaks thus: ‘Go and fetch such and such a living creature,’ in this first way he stores up much demerit. In that, while this living creature is being fetched it experiences pain and distress because of the affliction to its throat, in this second way he stores up much demerit. In that, when he speaks thus: ‘Go and kill that living creature’, in this third way he stores up much demerit. In that, while this living creature is being killed it experiences pain and distress, in this fourth way he stores up much demerit. In that, if he proffers to a Tathāgata or a Tathāgata’s disciple what is not allowable, in this fifth way he stores up much demerit. He who, Jīvaka, kills a living creature on purpose for a Tathāgata or a Tathāgata’s disciple stores up much demerit in these five ways.” MN55
The point is suicide is needed for completely not harming others as our own existence means death to others, therefore there’s a certain amount of clarity about what level of harmlessness is required for nibbana.