I was talking on Facebook today about The Tao of Pooh and then the Te of Piglet. (I encourage you to read them if you haven't.) One of my friends fired off a private message wondering how someone who seemed so Taoist could be a carnivore. I replied something short and sweet, but thought I'd elaborate here.
First off, I'm not a carnivore. Carnivores eat only meat. (Watch a cat eat grass and hork it up.) I eat far more plant based foods than I do meat. If there were no other reasons it would be simple budgetary limitations. However, I do believe in the healthy balance of foods. Humans are omnivores, just look at our teeth. I'm not saying you can't live vegetarian or vegen, just that its not our natural state. That natural state could change, but as things stand, humans are built to be omnivores. (You can send me 10,000 articles saying otherwise to email@example.com and I'll be sure to fire 10,000 right back. :P )
Secondly, plants feel, breath and live. Plants can enjoy one type of music over another. Plants can fear. Plants can adapt, change, grow (duh), and are basically ALIVE. At what point do you say it's okay to eat this but not that? At what point do you say "Well, I can't eat a Venus Flytrap, because it has locomotion, but I can eat a snail." Personally, I pull the line at self-awareness. Where an animal can say "I am." is where I say "I won't eat that." Which, unfortunately, thinking about it, includes pig and possibly cow, so probably a good thing I almost never eat either. Guess they've both gone on "the list" until I investigate better. What I can easily do, however, is only eat plants and animals that are grown and harvested humanely. I can eat plants that haven't been drowned in chemicals, I can eat chicken that was free range and grain fed. In Canada, only beef cattle can be given hormones, poultry, pigs and dairy cattle are forbidden hormone additives, so I'm a bit ahead of the curve by my country's grace.
Thirdly, I'm not Taoist. Taoism, is in essence, the opposite of Confucianism. They are ideal communists (not the mess human nature creates, but the concept on paper) rather than consumerists. They believe everyone should do equal work and get equal results, they believe all things and people are equal. I do agree with that to a lot degree, but I also agree that advancement comes through conflict. Not necessarily conflict in the sense of war, but in situation or competition between people, is what helps us grow. If it weren't for competition and the drive for being bigger and better, we would never have reached space. We would never have mass produced books, cheap and available clothing, food variety and medical treatments. Growth is very much important and for better or worse, harmony with the universe doesn't get us there. I'm a moderatist.
I pretty much believe, to mutilate the Wiccan creed, "Do as you will, harm none" and the common saying of "All things in moderation." What you do in your own space/time is your business, it doesn't become my business until it effects me. I don't care who you sleep with as long as everyone involved is an informed, consenting, adult. If I'm invited to join in, only then does it become my business. Only if someone involved is incapable of making an informed choice does it become my business. I don't care if you ingest marijuana until you inflict on me and not just because I'm horrifically allergic to it. What you do is your business until it effects others. If the others are informed and capable of consent, then that's their choice. I believe that you can enjoy "bad" things if you do so in moderate amounts. You can play video games, you can eat cake, you can sit in the sun, you can drink alcohol, you can .. well, whatever. If you're not abusing it, then go for it. Of course, the tricky part is what is abuse.
And that's about where I start supporting government and the idea behind it. In an ideal universe we would all help everyone else, but as our village has grown to be 9,306 km (5,780 miles) wide, we need a bit of bureaucracy to make things work. Ideally, the money should be sent to help people who need the help, to pay for the things that everybody shares and uses and the rules shall be made to help people without hindering them. Of course, since everyone has a different idea of where the lines should be, things get mucky. Add into that for every penny spent half a penny is spent to account for that first penny and your costs sky-rocket. I support taxation, I believe everyone should pay a little so the users don't pay a lot. For an example, should childless people pay taxes for schools? Yes. If for no other reason than who wants to be around the uneducated? I do believe all taxes should be consumer based for a fair take, but that's a post for another day. This is mostly about "Live and let Live."
I think its entirely possible to go down the middle road, to see both sides, to understand both sides even if one completely disagrees with the extremists on either edge, and still respect our planet, our environment or the living things on and in it. Would I ever give up meat entirely? I can't say never, but I will say it's unlikely, and I'm not going to apologize for it. You can link all those lovely slaughter pictures, but I don't purchase and support those hell factories. You can link cute pictures of the before. All you'll do is bring out my very strong sense of gallows humour. I love animals and people, and I will do my best to see they, and plants, are treated with love and care before their end destination, wherever it may be.