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So have been thinking about this for a while, started writing an article on the relationship between vegetarianism and religion and researching the reasonings as to why specific religions claim vegetarianism as an integral part of their religion.
I then considered the possibility of vegetarianism itself as it own belief system? Afterall it has it's own rituals and ways of thought. Vegetarianism could easily be called a "way of being" or a "faith based on a series of beliefs"
For me, it seems to represent much more than just a slight alteration in diet.
What do people think about this?
(Btw. New to this forum and have been vegetarian for 5 years)
I like your philosophical thinking, this is just the sort of thing I would find myself analysing too. It's a good question, and I don't have a straight forward yes or no to it, but a few thoughts.
I've been vegetarian since birth, so have had years of other peoples' reactions to contend with about it. One thing I notice is that some people immediately assume certain things about you because you choose not to eat meat. For example one guy thinks he's really funny when he says "plants have feelings too you know!". Another person pointed to something me & a veg friend were wearing and said "how can you wear leather if you're vegetarian?".
Both people are making lazy assumptions about me & friend, and both have not bothered asking us first WHY we are vegetarian. My friend was vegetarian because she does not like meat, and there is no other reason than that. She couldn't give a hoot about anything else. I on the other hand have made a choice to be vegetarian because I care deeply about my impact on the environment and on my health. I had never really questioned use of leather before because I do not have to eat the leather, and I always thought it was a by-product anyway, not necessarily something the animal was specifically murdered for. (NB: since then I have changed my mind and decided I'd rather avoid leather in future if I can by the way).
People can have very different philosophical, health, practical or idealogical reasons for being vegetarian, and very differing belief systems underlying. So is it really a belief system? Generally speaking I would say probably not. It's a lifestyle. But there are large numbers of vegetarians who DO share the same belief system of compassion and responsibility, and it becomes more than a lifestyle, it becomes a philosophy a bit like being right- or left-wing is. It's just that being vegetarian alone does not mean you can assume this about a person until you know them.
Being religious does mean you have a belief system for sure. It means you are asking questions about your existence and what happens after death, you believe you have the answers, and you identify with a particular set of religious beliefs out there, whatever they may be.
So to me there is a subtle difference between religion and vegetarianism.
You know that saying "actions speak louder than words"? I think the notion that humans should do what's right/ethical seems universal. Vegans are just the people who make the connection between that belief and their actions, then change their actions based on that belief.
I'm pretty sure there is a God involved in a religion. There's no God in Vegetarianism.
hmm, i'd be reluctant to call it a religion. i certainly believe in it strongly but..my issue is with the "faith-based" part. we have evidence for these beliefs..which really makes them facts.