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I feel it is ethically wrong to eat meat

by Rabbi Shlomie Chein

  

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Question:

I'm a vegetarian, and I see some ethical issues inherent in eating meat. I read several of the articles on this site about Judaism’s perspective on the consumption of meat – Isn’t it cruel to eat meat? and What does the Torah say about eating meat? - both are rational and make a great deal of sense. However, I still see some problems. I feel it is wrong to say that whatever we eat is happy to become a part of us if we are lofty spiritual beings. To the contrary, I think that most animals would be vehemently opposed to it. Additionally, there is a Torah commandment not to cause sorrow to any living thing. Even if their deaths were carried out in the ideal Torah-prescribed painless manner, many animals raised for their meat still suffer for most of their lives. I think this overrides the approval for eating meat.

Thank you very much for your time, I'm looking forward to your answer.
- ABC1234

Answer:

Your arguments are rational and your sensitivity is commendable.

If the world were run strictly by our own research and observations I might agree with you. As a matter of fact, I would probably be more "sensitive" than you.

As a Jew, however, I believe that the world is run by its Owner's manual: the Torah.

The Torah knows things that I don't, and I think I am smart enough to know that. For example, I don't think an eight day old child wants to undergo a circumcision, but what do I know about the mind, and soul, of a newborn. G-d commanded me to circumcise my son, His Torah has shed insight into this beautiful Mitzvah, and so I do it with joy.

Similarly, any statements made (in the above mentioned articles) about the "happiness" of the animal, comes from the teachings of G-d's Torah. The license to eat meat was Divinely granted. Surely the Creator who created animals and prohibited mankind from torturing them knew what He was doing when He permitted man to consume them.

An individual is entitled to feel uncomfortable with that notion, but we must never confuse subjective feelings with the Torah's objective guide to life. So if one wants to refrain from eating meat, that is his choice; but at the same time one can't ignore the fact that the All Merciful G-d does allow its consumption.

As far as stopping the cruelty in animal raising, that can be done without putting an end to eating meat. The very same G-d who said we can eat meat also said we must not inflict unnecessary pain upon animals. This means there are humane methods with which to raise livestock. And there are Kosher meat production plants that adhere to those methods.


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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.