Is Vegetarianism A Religion?

govuWords by Frank Think Image of Kamadhenu, the Hinduism’s Holy Cow

Is vegetarianism and veganism a religion, philosophical practice, or fashionable trend?

The nutrition industry continues to debate the benefits of being a vegetarian, vegan, fruitiest, or to just eat a healthy well balanced diet. Some practitioners promote not eating certain food groups is unhealthy while others are adamant that to live a healthy life it is better not to eat any animal products. As a dietary practice, veganism goes further than vegetarian abstention from meat, chicken or fish as vegans don’t consume milk, honey or eggs, nor will they wear, or use animal based products including medications, in which nearly all have been developed and tested on animals.

Vegans could be described as extreme vegetarians due to their deep feelings of respect and reverence for life that has acquired the conviction of a moral philosophical practice that shapes and forms their lives. However, USA court rulings have not been clear if veganism is recognised as a genuine belief system with religious civil rights protections. In a 2002 Appeals court ruling the judges stated; a religious creed must address “fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters,” and that veganism is a moral, secular philosophy not religious. Ethical vegan’s position differs as their commitment to refusing to use animal based products is just as strong and sincere as traditional religious practice similar to Jewish commitment to avoid leavened bread during Passover, or Muslim’s non pork policy.

Not all vegetarians or vegans identify their practice as being religious no matter the importance to their moral or ethical belief system. However, there are strong links to Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism where vegetarianism is in some cases mandatory, and advocated on religious grounds. Some chose to be vegans for health reasons and or embrace certain aspects of a moral practice, a pick-n-mix approach to moral values.

But for whatever reasons people choose to become vegetarians and vegans the overall benefits seem to be good for individuals and society. The list of advantages is long compared to the negatives which become more certain closer to the edge of extreme practice.

People have their reasons for choosing diet, lifestyle, moral or religious practice, but for the estimated 22,000 people who die from starvation every day the question of religion, philosophy or trend is not critical; it is a luxury.

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