Buddhism for Meat Eaters, by Josephine Moon
PUBLISHED BY SIMON & SCHUSTER
REVIEWED BY IAN WILLIAMS
Josephine Moon’s new book Buddhism for Meat Eaters reveals her to be somewhere between the aggressive, confrontational, interventionist, vegans we see on the front pages of newspapers and an utterly compassionate and committed carer and nurturer of animals with a passion for Buddhism, its practices and philosophies. So much of her beliefs and daily life is clearly centred on meditation and mindfulness.
The book deals with the author’s desire to be a vegetarian while dealing with a body that was screaming out for animal protein. Her struggles with satisfying this need worsened by the clear understanding that if she was going to eat meat, there was no way that could happen without an animal dying. It was reassurance that came from the Dalai Lama that gave Moon the green light to accept some meat in her diet.
She discusses the extent her life and her family’s lives are affected by her compassion for animals. She is a serial rescuer of many creatures, especially horses, and her Sunshine Coast hinterland property hosts a variety that may have ended their lives in a can of dog food.
To give a sense of the gravity of Moon’s desire not to kill animals, she even tells of how she tried to deal with a mouse plague humanely. She bought catch and release traps chosing to release the mice in a neighbour’s paddock. Problem was the mice multiplied faster than trapping could remove them. A more lethal method of eradication ensued. The same approach happened 10 years later when rats had set up home in the roof space of her house. It wasn’t until she realised electrical wires gnawed through could seriously threaten her home, her loved ones and her much-loved pets. Death to the rats followed swiftly after that.
There is a focus on mindfulness that constantly presents itself to the reader throughout this book. And it is not just focused on what we eat. The reader is asked through the book to make mindful and ethical choices as they approach their lives. There is list upon list of questions and challenges for us to consider as our approach to living with a love of animals and with minimal impact on the planet.
If the book was just about Buddhism for meat eaters it could have been a 1500-word essay. The entire book is more about the benefits of mindfulness and seeks to influence choices we make on many levels in our lives.
I had high hopes when I started this book. For me, it disappointed somewhat, as I fell it edges towards preaching rather than information giving.
The author: Josephine Moon is the author of The Tea Chest, The Chocolate Promise, The Beekeeper’s Secret, Three Gold Coins, and The Gift of Life. She lives in the Noosa hinterland, Australia, with her husband, son and a tribe of animals that, despite her best intentions, seems to expand every year.
Reviewer’s note: I stopped eating meat 25 years ago and have followed a full vegan diet since......with one exception; I also eat fish. That change came about for health reasons and was not at all ethically based.