Why I Became a Vegan Samurai

What is a vegan samurai and why should you consider becoming a vegan samurai?

Let’s start by defining what a vegan samurai is.

I first envisioned the Vegan Samurai code when I was transitioning from raw food and vegetarian diets to veganism while also studying religion, spirituality, philosophy, ethics, animal sentience, and related topics.

As I considered my life and the tenets of general society, it seemed we lack a crucial organizing principle or code of behavior that would create inner peace, physical health, social harmony, and justice.

For example, when I talked to people about the terrible harm human society does to non-human animals and the earth, I sadly learned that many people have no internal moral code and conscience when it comes to such harms.

This lack of internal moral code and ethical conscience starts with individuals and then permeates society as a whole, especially capitalist consumerist societies.

Our world is threatened by amoral hedonism, mindless entertainment, selfishness, greed, narcissism,violence, and relentless consumption of the planet and non-human animals.

Look around all people rushing to and fro in airplanes and cars, in a frenzy of compulsively traveling, buying, talking on or looking at handheld electronic devices.

They’re stressfully busy doing things that almost always involve consuming fossil fuels and other energy sources, eating animals, and harming the planet.

Our technoindustrial grid is founded on systemic, societally-approved brutality: the way humans use animals for food is a perfect example.

In my studies, I noticed earlier cultures had “codes of honor” that organized personal and group relationships around morals, civic duties, and spiritual centeredness.

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism had aspects of honor codes that greatly impressed me.

But when I discovered Bushido, which is the code of virtues commonly associated with samurai warriors, I felt an immediate clarity, practicality, and attraction.

Samurai warriors have been popularized (in a distorted, sensationalized way) in movies, books, anime, and hentai.

In modern lore, such as the Quentin Tarantino movies Kill Bill: Volumes One and Two, samurai are portrayed primarily as unhinged sword-fighting warriors who possess almost-supernatural fighting skills combined with iron will and a lust for blood, revenge, and victory.

The actual samurai were martial artists and military warriors in Japan hundreds of years ago.

They fought bloody battles using body skills and various weapons including samurai swords.

But fighting and blood aren’t the whole samurai story– true samurai were also trained in the liberal arts, and had a rigid personal honor code that governed the way they managed their thoughts, ethics, actions, and interactions with others.

This code and the samurai lifestyle are sometimes known as “Bushido.”

I don’t follow all aspects of Bushido, of course, because I’m not a sword-wielding warrior serving an emperor.

But I was particularly impressed that Bushido required frugality, self-control, benevolence, sincerity, loyalty, respectfulness, and right behavior towards others.

I also like the fact that Zen Buddhism influenced samurai and Bushido.

Buddhism, of all major “religions,” has by far the most explicit teachings forbidding the killing of animals.

Buddhism also acknowledges more than any other religion that all animals are sentient, not just human animals.

A further benefit for those of us walking the vegan path is Buddhism includes the practices and teachings of “emptiness,” and meditation—two inward-looking concepts that clear the mind to provide an accurate, calm, and health-enhancing view of “self” and life.

As I started the vegan life exposed to the enormous societal and interpersonal pressures from those who create or eat animal-derived food products, I felt a need to be a “warrior” for veganism, the earth, and animals harmed by humans.

I also noticed that being vegan in a non-vegan society, where I too had been raised to love eating flesh, eggs, and dairy, is a spiritual warrior path requiring us to always strengthen our resolve by remembering the moral reasons we adopted veganism.

To put it simply, I learned to resist external and internal negatives by following a form of vegan Bushido code, so I could stay on the vegan path as an empathic being in a world full of needless suffering.

My commitment to non-killing, to not being a customer of those who exploit animals, involves honor, frugality, benevolence, sincerity, loyalty, self-control and other Bushido values.

Of course, I’m not into sword fighting or ritual suicide as the ancient samurai warriors were.

While the original samurai had no qualms about shedding blood, the vegan samurai is dedicated to preventing the shedding of blood, especially the blood of animals tortured and slaughtered for food.

So there you have it… the birth of the vegan samurai.

To my knowledge, I’m the only one so far.

I’ll be writing more articles that explain and amplify what a vegan samurai is and does, and I hope you too will become a vegan samurai.

For now, I suggest reading this book on the Bushido code, and also engaging the YouTube videos I’ve embedded herein.

The bottom line is that being vegan is a form of being a warrior… a wholly honorable warrior on behalf of innocent animals, mother earth, a just society, and your own physical and spiritual health!

 

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Animal Liberation: A “Bible” for Vegans

Do vegans have a Bible of veganism?

If they do, it could well be the groundbreaking book Animal Liberation, first published in 1975, written by Australian philosopher and Princeton University professor Dr. Peter Singer.

Singer’s book summarized and synthesized the social sciences of philosophy and ethics to explain how and why the pervading human view of animals can be called “specieism.”

Like other isms such as racism and sexism, speciesism is the human-created belief that “we’re better than they are, and they’re inferior to us.”

Most of us are raised to believe that humans are “the best” species, the most important species, the only species that really counts.

Speciesism claims that all other species can be used by us for whatever we want to use them for: food, experimentation, entertainment, labor, fur, skins, etc.

It also links up with dominionism– the idea that humans have the right to change the entire planet and use the biosphere and Nature however we want to.

Note that I don’t use the term dominionism as it is commonly used to describe a “Christian” theology that seeks to create “Christian” nations.

As Peter Singer so persuasively explains, speciesism derives from a set of irrational and unfounded assumptions and irrational beliefs about the world, about humans, and about non-human species.

You may be surprised to know that until only a hundred years ago, leading philosophers and scientists argued that there was no such thing as cruelty to animals because animals have no feelings and no rights.

Some famous scientists and philosophers like Rene Descartes (1596-1650) believed non-human animals were unfeeling machines that happened to have beating hearts and the ability to move, breathe, and vocalize.

And even today, people who slag vegans and veganism and defend harming animals seem to believe that non-human animals feel no pain and thus can be handled as if they’re inanimate, machine-like objects.

Using classical philosophical methods that build on fact and logic, Singer brilliantly analyzes the beliefs, attitudes, and systems humans use to justify the enslavement and torture of tens of millions of animals for food and other uses.

He shows that speciesism is part of a continuum of harmful isms that come from impulses to dominate, victimize, and harm other beings.

When you see humans abusing others, including through child abuse, wars, police misconduct, rape, sexual harassment, bullying, spousal abuse, domestic violence, and other mean practices, you’re seeing the same “dominator mentality” that drives humans to subdue and exploit non-human animals.

Singer updated Animal Liberation several years ago, and made it an even more compelling book of moral philosophy that would take an entire semester to fully understand and explicate if you’re taking a college course on it.

But it’s also very readable in one go, and clear enough to function as a Bible for those of us looking for the rational, fact-based ethics of why humans should stop eating and otherwise harming animals and each other.

Take a look at the Peter Singer YouTube videos embedded here, and get your own copy of Animal Liberation here.

You’ll find intellectual foundations, moral imperatives, a well-reasoned and articulate voice, and personal inspiration from this pioneering work that helped jumpstart the modern vegan and animal rights movements!

Wisdom From A Baby Pig Plush Toy

Once upon a time, I had a beautiful young wife.

Because we recognized that human population growth is a major contributor to environmental destruction and mass extinction, we decided not to create human children.

My wife was infused with maternal instinct, and it made her sad we weren’t going to make children together.

She loved animals and animal plush toys starting when she was just a tiny baby.

One day it occurred to me to give her a present that would rekindle the spirit of her childhood– it was a cute, sweet, baby pig plush toy.

She was going away to graduate school the day I gave it to her.

She named the baby pig “Piggy,” and as she held Piggy to her heart and kissed him, she said he’d be the son we never had.

At first, our Piggy was just a sweet, cute, endearing fantasy that she created and I participated in with a kind of bemused, poignant affection.

But over time, Piggy took on a life of his own.

Perhaps it seems childish or delusional, but we increasingly believed he was animate, that he could move on his own, that he had personality, thoughts, feelings.

He became like a real son, albeit a son who never needed diaper changes, who’d never grow up to be a rebellious teenager.

As you might expect, we started paying more attention to biological baby pigs.

My wife volunteered at a baby pig sanctuary.

Whenever we saw pigs on farms, we’d try to get to their fence and have Piggy play with them, or at least talk to them.

Then we read the incredibly moving book The Good Good Pig, by Sy Montgomery.

This book inarguably shows that pigs are sentient, have personhood, and can be just as important in families and social life as humans or pets can.

One problem our family had was that I was raised eating “pork,” especially barbecued pork.

But one day, when I was eating pork ribs and hot sauce, I noticed Piggy’s deep brown eyes looking at me accusingly, reproachfully.

I realized I was offending him, disappointing him, and probably outraging him.

I wasn’t yet a vegan, but I already knew that after I ate animal flesh or dairy products, I always felt somewhat queasy and sluggish, if not actually physically ill from the toll that flesh foods take on your digestive system.

So for the sake of Piggy, I gave up pork.

I knew that any baby pig (whether plush toy or biological) is horrified and terrorized by even the most “humane” situations in which humans manage pigs and then later on kill them.

And it’s even worse to see how industrial “pig farms” enslave pigs in brutal conditions and subject them to constant abuse.

When I became 100% vegan in late 2015, one reason I did it is so my little Piggy wouldn’t see his father being a customer of the animal exploitation industries that harm pigs and many other animals.

If you have children who love their animal plush toys, you too may realize that your children experience cognitive dissonance when they see humans eating and otherwise harming animals.

The bottom line is that some people view our little Piggy as just a plush toy, but for us, he’s a real entity who helped us have empathy for non-human animals.