I like meat. I like waking up in the morning to the sound and smell of sizzling bacon. I like the aroma that wafts out when an oven is opened and a leg of lamb cooked to perfection in it own juices is slowly lifted out. I like chomping on pork crackling and sinking my teeth into succulent pork belly. I like thick slices of roast beef served with roast potatoes and a rich gravy.
Or at least I used to like all these things. The ‘problem’ now is that it is very hard for me to mindfully eat a meat dish without thinking of the animal from which the flesh has been sliced and how it might have met its end. Similarly, how can I sit and send loving-kindness to ‘all sentient beings’ without bringing to mind the sixty billion land animals and a thousand billion marine animals that are killed every year for us to eat? Those figures, by the way, come from Matthieu Ricard’s A Plea for the Animals: The moral, philosophical and evolutionary imperative to treat all beings with compassion. I would definitely recommend this book. It’s informative, interesting and persuasive without being at all preachy.
Of course, our culture in general, and the meat industry in particular, is very good at ‘shielding’ us from the full horrors of industrial food production, and preventing us from making the connection between the food on our plate and the awful conditions in which the animals are raised, not to mention the screams, bellows, blood, and shit of the slaughterhouse. But ignoring all this shouldn’t really be an option for anyone following the Buddha-Dharma, it seems to me.