`for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful.’
-Buddhist definition of Karma
I don’t so much as believe in Karma as I fear it. I don’t want to risk bad karma if there’s even a small chance that it exists; can any of us really afford bad karma? I sure I’m not alone in this – not that most people base their every day decisions on the possibility of karmic retributions, but deep down we fear that things will come back to us times two. Whether it’s for gossiping, or for not saying anything when the cashier forgets to ring in our toilet paper at the grocery store, bad karma isn’t worth it.
This is one reason why I wouldn’t put meat or dairy anywhere near my body. If it’s bad karma to leave a restaurant without tipping, then I can only imagine the tsunami of bad karma that comes from eating a being who spent its last moments in this world (if not its entire life) in fear or pain!
I know I’m not alone in fearing a karma boomerang from what I eat; many religions and philosophies state that consuming meat and dairy hampers our ability to develop spirituality. My Reiki Master mom says that meat and dairy foods are much heavier than plant-based foods and therefore weigh us down, lower our vibrations and ultimately take us further from God.
Buddhism in particular doesn’t restrict its believers from eating meat, but one of the core teachings of the religion is to refrain from taking life which conflicts with consuming meat. Hinduism teaches that we are what we eat and our diet determines our physical and mental makeup. By eating pure foods (foods from the earth) we ourselves will become pure. Not all Hindus are vegetarians but Hindu law books generally don’t promote the consumption of meat.
Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentiment beings is detrimental to (the attainment of) heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun (the use of) meat.
-5.48 Manusmriti (‘Hindu laws of Manu’)
I personally believe that if I wouldn’t do something myself, I won’t pay someone else to do it. I would never slaughter a cow while it writhed in terror or skin a mink alive for a coat, so I won’t support those practices by purchasing beef, or fur coats. I don’t think we’re going to fool karma on a technicality.
Many times consuming meat can prevent us from being honest with ourselves. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people say that they know how horrible the lives are of the animals we eat are, but that they ‘just don’t want to think about it.’ Justifying anything with that sort of mentality prevents us from taking an honest look at ourselves, the lives we want to lead, and what our everyday actions mean for all of the world’s beings. And aren’t those the key questions that need to be asked to find enlightenment or salvation?
Today I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to religion, but when it comes to the health of my soul, the potential of reincarnation, or plain old bad karma, I’m not going to risk any of it over a greasy burger or heavy piece of bacon.
**Lindsay is a vegan blogger, writer, and marketing specialist who helps activists use social media for environmental and animals rights efforts. You’ll likely find her fulfilling the Vancouver stereotype by heading to a yoga class with a soy latte in hand. She’s also on Twitter and Pinterest.**