The dilemma of a non vegetarian

Dilemma is also a cognitive dissonance where we remain confused with two choices, where both the options seem correct and at the same time both fails to meet our internal consistency of beliefs.

Of late, I have been in the dilemma of whether to become a vegetarian or continue to remain a meat eating non vegetarian.

The argument which is made for the non vegetarian seems baseless to me. Of course it cannot be refuted that our earlier form of diet had been that of animal flesh when we, the homo sapiens, started our journey as early men/ women. The incapability to produce food at our own will had led us to become hunter gatherers. The primary source of food had always been the meat. Meat was the safest bet at that time. The consumption of plants, fruits and seeds required an extensive botanical knowledge whereas meat was something which never needed a second thought before its consumption.

However, that was the time when we had just begun our journey as early sapiens with a diminutive cognitive development, incapable of having a cognizance of various alternative food resources. Just like any other living creature, we have also undergone a series of change through the process of natural selection leading us to our evolution. Through evolution, we now have a cognitive capacity that is, indisputably, manifolds larger than that of an early man. Whatever we are today is mostly because of the evolution via natural selection. We are no longer required to rely on animal flesh for our survival. Since cognitive revolution, we have been able to domesticate consumable plants and also animals.

From the evolutionary point of view, domestication of plants and animals was a boon for them. We would not have seen the large fields of wheat and rice, nor the population bloom of chickens, cows and pigs had it not been for our cognitive skills in selective breeding.

Do mark the word "selective breeding" which is a complete opposite of the word "natural selection". If the nature is rutheless and unforgiving, we, the human beings are selfish and savage! Even though domestication is a boon for the collective species of domesticated animals, it is definitely not so for a single animal. Which animal, if given a fair chance to choose, would choose its death over the survival of its species?

The meat industry has become a multi trillion dollar industry. Every day lakhs and lakhs of domesticated animals are born and bred only to be slaughtered, eventually, to cater to the gluttonous need of human beings, a need which is not at all a need but a choice, a choice which the evolution has gifted us instead of showering it to the mute animals.

Yes, evolution has gifted us not only the ability to make choices but also to empathize with other living creatures. Why is it that we think that it is the right of our species to live whereas the species with lower cognitive skills can perish for the selfishness of ours? Can you imagine a person slaughtered the way an animal is and then eaten with relish by other evolved beings?

I, for one, cannot imagine another human being getting slaughtered for food and so it is but natural for me to have an aversion towards other animals being killed for the sake of meat.

But that is not the dilemma.

The dilemma is in my prejudice of considering  creatures who have flesh and blood, who take oxygen, who give birth to offsprings which are capable of locomotion, as the living beings. The dilemma is in my ignorance of plants as living beings. Jagadish Chandra Bose, the famous biophysicist, in the year, as early as, 1927,  showed the world that even plants, although rooted and muted, react to pain in the form of quivers when subjected to injuries.

This fact comes to me as a moral dilemma. If I am to empathise with all the living beings, how can I let the plants be ignored? Just because they are not made of flesh and blood doesn't mean that they are non living beings and do not suffer from pain when cut into pieces. In fact their sufferings would be many times higher than that of a locomotive creature having blood flowing through its vain. At least such creatures can try to fight back or make a flight, sensing an immediate danger to their life. But what about plants?

Also, is it not equally correct that we have not only hampered the natural selection process of animals but also of plants? Are the wheats and rice not an outcome of selective breeding?

The dilemma is not about the choice of food per se but it is more about where to draw the line, where to remain ignorant and where to showcase our evolutionary cognitive abilities at discriminating morality against immorality. At the end, like in most of the cases, it boils down to the definition of morality! What is morality, after all?


  1. One purpose of existence is to become somebody's fodder. The food cycle shows that. Homo sapiens stood above that cycle merely because of some evolutionary freak. Agricultural revolution was a blunder rather than achievement as Harari points out. Morality is very, very relative.

    1. Harari speaks about things with brutal straight forwardness and honesty. Agricultural revolution was definitely a blender, the repercussions of which we are still facing.

      Yes. So true. Morality is relative and depends entirely on us, subjectively speaking.


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