Environmentalist but not vegetarian. Why?

Posted: July 20, 2013 in Uncategorized
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My friend Bastian Purrer has asked me a question a few days ago (after seeing this picture above on instagram):

How can you be so green but not vegetarian?

Let me at first make things clear, I can and will NEVER become a vegan; cheese is what keeps me going and it’s not harmful.

But why am I not vegetarian?

1. I’m a muslim and in my religion, eating meat is halal (allowed) without extravagance.
2. The meat I eat comes from locally grown animals. And they’re fresh. No packaging, and energy used for transport and cooling is being conserved.
3. What I eat is organic meat and diary.
4. The products are mostly free-range and ranch raised.
5. The farms are relatively small; almost no chemicals are being used and less manure is used to filterize the soil.

So, I consider myself a “Flexitarian” at the moment. I’m not ready to commit a full-on vegetarian lifestyle but I reduce my meat consumption. And once I move to a place where all the above does not apply (except the first point), I’ll reconsider becoming a vegetarian.

  1. I wrote more than one sentence for (justifying?) the link I`m about ti insert here under; how related it is, what we need to be doing as a whole to do something about this, nodes in a larger network of (Earth) in the eyes of food habits / environment/societies-regeneration(s)/ etc .. but u know what, I won`t 🙂

  2. mamazaha says:

    I’m a vegetarian Muslim and not a vegan though often we are (dairy and eggs aren’t the healthiest regular fare). I think that it’s good that you’ve been mindful in your eating habits and have tried to reduce suffering and your footprint. I would say, however, that large farm animals like cows do contribute significantly to the green house problem and that there is inherent cruelty in the ways in which most livestock (even if you just use them for milk and eggs and on a small scale are farmed).

    I haven’t checked out Haitham’s link yet, but would agree with the idea that entire food systems need to be overhauled.

    Really we need to look at micro-production of food (in our neighborhoods and homes – and this would include animals we use for food) and switching to using smaller animals for meat (rabbits and guinea pigs, farmed fish and even insects – this presents a fiqh issue for Muslims – but I do know that for example Muslims in Morocco eat rabbit, ostensibly because their ulema have ruled it permissible – as our world and needs change, the ulema will have to examine our options).

    The global food production system we have has made it really difficult to eat anything that isn’t contaminated (organic only means that it is so on a lesser scale) or the product of environmental degradation or cruelty to humans or animals.

    We need it gone.

    Normally, I’d include small scale hunting in the list of alternatives, but just heard a horrific documentary about how many wild birds are being hunted to near extinction in Egypt, Cyprus and Albania (all countries with significant Muslim populations) and just how much cruelty is involved in that.

    Another point I’d make – one that many Muslims overlook is how the animals are treated up to and at the point of slaughter. There are very clear rules in Islam about the treatment that is required to make the meat produced zabiha, but these rules, other than saying “Bismillah” as the knife strikes are usually ignored.

    The animals shouldn’t be killed in front of one another, should be calm and not fearful, should be kindly treated throughout their lives, should be given a drink of water, should not be able to see or smell the blood of the others, etc.

    Then there is the fact that most Muslims who can afford to have upped their meat consumption levels above even what they would have been say forty years ago.

    Many of our traditional cuisines used vegetable and legume bases with tiny bits of meat thrown into the mix and traditionally there would have been many vegetarian meals in a day and days in the week.

    Now, when one goes to a Muslim gathering everyone’s plates are literally piled high with meat (usually larger animals, as well).

    While I don’t expect most Muslims to become vegetarian, I would hope that people would be mindful of Prophet Muhammad’s (saws) own example and suggestion that we not make our stomachs graveyards and that we try to do a meatless day (some Americans are doing “Meatless Monday”) and that we try to have only one meal of the day contain meat and to use meat in smaller portions (so that you limit the number of animals raised and make full use of the animals killed).

    Health outcomes would also be better this way – since at least in the West, our Muslim communities suffer a lot from heart disease, high blood pressure and other “lifestyle” diseases.

    The reasons for Muslims reducing meat consumption:

    – The environmental impact (methane production, contamination from the animals’ waste, overgrazing and water use, crop production used for livestock feed, deforestation for grazing land)

    – Health impact (saturated fat, cholesterol, contaminants from the air, water and feed stored in the animals’ fatty tissue, if not organic medicines and other chemicals, digestibility [link to stuff like colon cancer]

    – Ethical/ Fair treatment of the animals. Animals’ treatment is listed as something that we’ll be asked about on the Day of Judgement. Using them for meat, milk, eggs, honey, etc. is totally allowable within Islam but treating them badly or making their lives and deaths painful is not.

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