Sunday, 09 March 2008
How Torah Study Helped Me Turn Vegetarian
By Eliana H.
I became drawn to Judaism when I worshiped with members of a temple in Seattle. I started studying Judaism online and feel deep respect for the teachings of Judaism, and am grateful for this new website!
The parsha Va-Yikra covered the gory details of how to make offerings. As each of us in the Saturday morning Torah study group read from the Torah, I cringed inside as I thought of the slaughter of animals to cater to human taste. I remembered the time I was at a petting zoo and saw this cute black calf, and as I stroked its face, the huge vein in its neck was pulsing, beating life…life…life in a steady rhythm. I felt such a connection, a “oneness”, and wondered how in the world I could slit the throat of such a gentle creature to satisfy my palette.
For a while after that my diet was vegetarian, but circumstances and lack of will power to refuse meat when I was hungry, caused me to again become a carnivore. However, my feelings during that particular Torah study, Va-Yikra, stayed with me. I remembered that it was only after Noah’s ark that we were told we could eat meat, selectively, but it seemed to me only because it was necessary at that time. Today, here I was in America, contributing to the suffering of animals. It’s not as if I live in a region of the world where I had little choice of what I ate.
Gradually, I became vegetarian again, but I saw my weight continue to rise because of lack of exercise, too much dairy and eggs, and also because of the medication I was on. I began to think more about becoming a vegan as a way to help control my weight. Now I’m feeling happier since my actions are aligned with my beliefs. I’m using organic dairy and local free range eggs, but only on Shabbat.
Judaism has helped me to make my actions aligned to my desire to help make this world a better place. Perhaps according to time and place, people get from the Torah just what is needed to repair the world in the age and place they are living. Perhaps “going veg” is just one example of the Torah being a teaching “for all time”.