Not So Kosher
(In response to "Going With a Sure Thing" in the Oct. 7-13 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.)
The Urban Tulsa gave its usual short shrift to vegetarians and vegans in its Oct. 7 article on kosher foods. First, for anyone trying to eat a kosher diet, the easiest way to achieve this is by going vegan. A vegan diet can easily be made kosher without having to resort to a double kitchen, with the attendant expense, and the nightmare of constantly having to keep the cooking implements separated as if they were naughty siblings in the backseat of the car. The added benefit is improved health and the lowering of the monthly food bill.
Christianity and Judaism, like most religions, exhibit preferences for a vegetarian diet, which are in the most part ignored by the adherents due to the "practical" aspects of life. In the book of Genesis, it is strongly suggested that the Garden of Eden was in fact vegetarian. (1:29) There is no mention in the Bible of any animal product being eaten until after the fall of man.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has some of the strongest scriptural pronouncements in favor of vegetarianism, where the Lord speaking to Joseph Smith states that it is pleasing to Him that the flesh of animals not be consumed (D & C 89:13). However, church leaders have gone to Orwellian lengths to explain that the church does not support vegetarianism, at one point footnoting scripture to explain that the word "forbiddeth" actually means "biddeth." (D & C 49:18, Wasn't God's face red on that blooper!)
What concerns me most, however, is the characterization of Buddhist restrictions as "self-imposed." To some extent I would consider myself a Buddhist, although I do not think I could really define what the term means. While it is true that the precept to refrain from the taking of sentient life is not binding in the way a commandment is, it is guidance in the same way as Gautama Buddha's statement, "To become a vegetarian is to step on the path to enlightenment." Vegetarianism plays a part in many of the stories of great teachers or Bodhisattva.
However, I think it far too simplistic to simply quote scripture to guide a course of action, Gautama Buddha himself stated that we should not accept any teachings on the basis of authority alone, but should examine them based upon our experience and knowledge of reality. I have always believed that the central guiding pillar of Buddhism is compassion. It is the development of our sense of compassion which evolves our diet. (Compassion, simply put, is the ability to understand the suffering of others coupled with a desire to end that suffering.) When looking at the modern factory farm, and the modern slaughterhouse, the question as to whether the animals we use for food suffer horribly is an easy one to answer. The question then arises as to whether to continue to support this system, or to attempt to take steps to end the suffering. To those with a well-developed sense of compassion, the adoption of a vegan diet is no more "self-imposed" than the idea that "4" is the answer to, "what's 2 +2" is "self-imposed," it follows simply and naturally from applying rational thought to our knowledge of reality.
However, the situation also works in reverse.
The minds of those who eat meat are constantly working to justify the violence and suffering they cause to animals. This not only stunts the growth of compassion, it leads to all types of false reasoning that in the end not only justifies violence towards animals, but violence towards other humans as well. Thus, we have great thinkers throughout history, from Pythagoras to Leo Tolstoy to George Bernard Shaw, who have observed that as long as we have slaughterhouses we will have battlefields.
P.S. -- I really wish your restaurant reviewers would mention whether a restaurant has vegan/vegetarian options. Some of the restaurants sound good, but it can be a complete hassle to go to a new place and try to figure out if they have anything for vegans/vegetarians.
Keeping Us Honest
I'm one of the astute viewers of the annual manual 2010, that You mentioned, and would like Me to locate the errors, YES ERRORS! Too numerous to list all now, using the Library 1.5 Hr. limit.
To begin with, to me, the most obvious were the missing streets (Cheyenne, Bolder, N. of 4th St., & Charles Page Blvd. and Archer St. W. of Denver St). Most obvious to me also was the Salvation Army bldg. in the wrong block, 1 block W. of Denver St. along with the jail. You have it aligned on Elwood St. Those buildings, along with The Detention Facility and the Tulsa Day Center are all drawn wrong. Also drawn wrong is 2 warehouses N. of the R/R Track, West of Storey's Wrecker Yard, The new City Hall, & BOK Bank, City Hall is the same width or larger than the bank in reality, and the glass walkway from the parking garage is missing to City Hall over Cincinatti St. The last obvious drawn wrong item was the BOK Center, (the glass panels are all shown rectangular, when the last panels, closest to the St. are triangular & pointed upward, also the 3 circumference circles & the 2nd level windows are missing, on the Denver St. side. Not to mention ALL of I-244 and ramps are shown wrong.
Thanks, I love the magazine & the challenge!
[Editor's Note: Thanks for pointing all this out. Next time, don't take everything so literally.]
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