4 thoughts on “The world’s first vegetarian city

  1. I don’t think it’s a good idea to force people to abandon eating meat. This should be individual decision based on compassion rather than administrative decision.

    • Hi Wotjek,

      It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out. It’ll be pretty difficult to enforce. Only in India could we have this confluence of religion, extreme asceticism, and political action!

      Generally speaking, I am not in favor of using legislation to enforce ethical behavior. In order to be justifiable, I think an issue needs to satisfy the following:

      • It directly causes harm to others.
      • Non-legislative means have proven ineffective.
      • Legislative means are effective.

      Now, in this case, the first criterion is definitely met: eating meat directly causes massive harm to animals, and in addition creates a huge amount of damage to the environment, being one of the greatest drivers of global warming, and hence of massive species extinction and the possible destruction of civilization.

      It seems to me that when dealing with widespread vices, like cigarette smoking, alcohol, drugs, or meat eating, the most effective strategy is to lead with education and public messaging, create awareness around the issue, while at the same time gradually tightening the legal controls. This is what we have done in Australia with smoking and drink-driving, and it works pretty well. These campaigns have strong public support, and have made genuine, long-lasting changes in public behavior in Australia, for the better.

      I suspect that by imposing a blanket ban they’ll create a backlash and a black market, removing the meat industry from whatever controls or oversight might exist, much as has happened in the case of drugs.

      Still, it’s obviously a pretty exceptional case, so maybe there will be enough public support so that it will work.

      The interfaith climate change network I belong to, ARRCC, has raised awareness on the environmental dimensions of meat eating for several years, and has run a number of campaigns in this area.

  2. Hello Bhante,
    I do agree that this confluence of religion, extreme asceticism, and political action is very exceptional. And that’s precisely why I think this may bring more harm than good. As NYT journalist puts it: “In this context, even food has become politicized as Hindu nationalists use their vegetarianism to distinguish themselves from the nation’s beef-eating and implicitly immoral Muslim minority.”
    I think one should be careful not to look down on those eating meat as less moral. This type of approach may create a tension or even violence between members of different religions.
    I do hope people will become vegeterians for better reasons that politics.

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