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Opinion – Why one Muslim shuns eating meat and thinks you should too

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I think we consume too much meat in our community.  We eat too much red meat and chicken, and this has many negative side effects, both physical and spiritual. 

I think we consume too much meat in our community.  We eat too much red meat and chicken, and this has many negative side effects, both physical and spiritual. 

In my view, humans were not designed to consume meat.  This is evident from the way our jaw moves and the way our teeth are.  Our jaw moves in a circular motion and is designed to grind and not tear through our foods.  The most similar jaws to ours are found in horses and cows, and not in tigers.  Our jaws are also very different than those of animals that eat both plants and flesh, like bears and raccoons.  Again, the most similar jaws to ours are those of plant eaters and not meat eaters. 

A real problem with meat consumption is all the saturated fats and cholesterol found in it.  In this country, some of the most used medicines are those designed to lower cholesterol.  Saturated fats and cholesterol are leading causes of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.  Yes, eating meat is a leading cause of cancer in this country.  If we just cut back on meat, we will no longer need to take cholesterol medicines, and we also will significantly reduce our chances of disease. 

Meat consumption also hurts the animals that are being consumed.  I know when slaughtering an animal according to Islamic law, the animal suffers less than under other methods, but how about the treatment of the animal before being slaughtered?  We feed the animals chemicals and vitamins to get them to grow faster, we put them in tiny spaces so that they cannot move much, which in turn makes their meat more tender, and when slaughtering them, we ignore the recommended things like giving the animal water and taking it away from the view of other animals.  So even when slaughtering an animal Islamically–with a sharp knife and quickly–there is still harm on the animal because of the way it was raised and the foods that are pumped into it.  Then we consume this animal.  There is a saying that goes, "You are what you eat."  If you are eating a depressed and tortured animal, then you could be spiritually harming yourself.

I have heard that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) once said, "Do not turn your stomachs into animal graveyards."  In my view, he was trying to tell people to consume little meat because he knew of all the problems it can cause.  He would not have said that if meat were a healthy and great spiritual food.  He must have known that it causes disease and is spiritually and psychologically damaging.  It is said that meat holds down the soul, meaning it grounds the soul making it harder to feel spiritual or wanting to do spiritual things. 

Just to show how unnatural meat is for us, consider the following scenarios.  We have many fruit and vegetable farms but has there ever been an outbreak of a disease like bird flu from a fruit/vegetable to a human?  Never in history has that ever happened, unless we are talking about a disease like e coli, which contaminated our crops.  And anyway e coli originates from cattle.  Has there ever been a neurological illness, like Mad Cow disease which spread from plants to humans?  Again the answer is never.  We never saw a Mad Carrot disease epidemic or a Mad Apple disease anywhere in civilization.  If you have an infant, and you put some cut up raw meat in front of him or her and a cut up apple in front of him or her, I am sure the infant will not go for the cut up chunks of meat.   

It is unnatural to have animals in such close contact with one another and in such an enclosed space because of the spread of disease and the contamination of our crops.  Many horrors have happened because of our close contact with so many animals.  I am not talking about pets; I am talking about our contact with so many barnyard animals.  It has caused so many horrible deaths and diseases from various microbes, like e coli, and every single flu strain, which killed millions after WWI, actually more people died from that flu than from the war itself, from various prions like Mad Cow disease, also from the components of meat itself, like the saturated fats and cholesterol. 

Now ask yourself, why do you eat so much meat?  If your only response is that it tastes good, I can tell you that there are so many other things that taste good and will benefit you in much greater ways. 

There are many good alternatives to meat, including the various fruits, vegetables, soy products and occasional seafood.  These are all healthy and offer us all the vitamins and minerals we need to live healthy.  There is also dairy, but it is advisable that you try to get organic dairy because of all the harmful growth hormones found in most dairy products. 

 

What do you think of the writer’s conclusions?  Write us at letters@islamicinsights.com or leave comments after this article and let us know!

 

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