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Should We Eat Anything That Is Treated Like Meat?



“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” said Gandhi. By that standard, our fast-food nation is “developing.” Does it matter?

This article appeared in our August 2004 issue. Religions such as Judaism, spiritual sciences such as Ayurveda, and indigenous traditions including those of the Inuit are united in the conviction that eating meat is a sacred act that demands reverence, appreciation, and often intricate codes of conduct. Yet many Americans tend to tear into burgers without a second thought. Unfortunately, as the mad cow scare made clear, the meat processing industry often takes the same approach — and much worse. The mad cow scare gave us revolting images of crippled cows too weak to stand being shoved through slaughterhouses on their way to our tables. The industry has halted the practice of slaughtering “downer” cattle to reassure us that our meat is safe. Yet even though we may feel confident that our cows are not fatally mad, we know for sure that they are a long way from happy. The gruesome practices are still as Gail Eisnitz detailed them in her 1997 book, Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment inside the U.S. Meat Industry. It is clear that mistreating the animals w …

Janet Aschkenasy taught yoga (2003) as a volunteer at the Momentum AIDS Project and the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York City. She continues to practice and train at Rasa Yoga (

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