Vegetarianism; is it just a religious issue?
People often ask which one of our scriptures say what humans should eat and what
they should not.
We must understand that being a vegetarian is not an issue of weather or not you
are a Hindu. Although modern science tends to promote non-vegetarianism to a
certain extent, there is a vast amount of evidence demonstrating that vegetables
and fruits have sufficient nutrients to sustain us, and give us a better life.
We will all agree that to find Bhakti (devotion) in our lives, we need satwic food. So
from a health and a religious perspective, vegetarianism is a better choice.
Hindus place a lot of credence on Srimad Bhagavad Gita in their lives, because of
its importance of being on of the two granths (holy books) to have been narrated by
the Supreme God (the other granth being Gadrur Puran - which was narrated
directly by Lord vishnu to Lord Gadrur. Lord Krishna's Bhagavad Gita teaches us
how to live this present life, where Gadrur Puran teaches about the afterlife)
While preaching Gita to Arjuna, Lord Krishna asserted: Anyone who eats anything
without offering to him is committing a sin. By offering edibles to the Lord before
consuming yourself, takes away all ill effects from the item and at the same time it
derives blessing of the Lord himself.
Thus we arrive at a dilemma: What can we and what can't we offer to the Lord?
Lord Krishna continues: All I need from my devotees are: Water (Jalam), Leaves
(Patram), cow's milk and Fruits (Falam).
If we believe in Lord Krishna's Gita - then without doubt we have to accept his
preachings for only then are we giving him and the Gita due respect.
Lord Krishna argues that the whole universe with its populous rotates on karma, so
we shall each reap the consequences of our deeds.
Lord Ram in his tretha yugh also preached on similar lines. When Devi Shabri asked
the Lord for his advice on ways of living a Satwic life - with high level of spirituality,
he outlined Naodha bhakti - the nine commandments of bhakti.
One such commandment is: See the Lord in every living soul - be it human or
An important lesson from that is do not kill or have another living being (animal of
lesser ability) killed for your own taste buds.
Some people have the misconception that being vegetarian one or two days a
week is acceptable enough to give credence to what Lord Ram or Lord Krishna
preached in Ramayan or Gita.
Nowhere in Gita or Ramayan is it explicitly stated that practicing vegetarianism on a
part time basis is sufficient for a person's devotional practice (bhakti).
It has long been a generally held belief in some science theories that the human
dental and digestive structure is not meant for the chewing and processing of flesh
Human teeth are considered that of a frugivore - who relies on vegetables and fruits for foods.
The length of the human digestive tract is consistent with that of vegetarian
species of animals, not carnivorous ones who's digestive tract is much shorter than
ours, due to the need to get digested flesh out of the body as quickly as possible
before it putrefies in the body of the animal.
The long digestive tract of humans and herbivorous animals is designed to extract
as much nutrition as possible out of vegetable matter as it goes through the
different areas of the digestive tract. This is a much longer process than the quick
carnivorous digestive process, as there is not so much need to worry about the
putrefaction of vegetables in the system.
From this we can see that the consumption of flesh foods is very unhealthy due to
the extended time flesh will be sitting in the human digestive system and
putrefying, causing many toxins to enter the blood.
When eating meat, there is no way of ensuring that you are not taking on the dead
animals illnesses as well.
Recent cases of mad cow disease have proven that diseases can be transmitted
from animals to humans through their consumption.
Prevalence of cancer heart disease
The concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) as it is known today was preached by
Mahatma Gandhi - voted man of the century in the 20th C.
Ahimsa is the first of the ten edicts which make up the Yamas and Niyamas
(restraints and observances) in Hinduism. When human beings who can survive
without the consumption of animal corpses purposefully slaughter animals to feed
themselves, this is himsa (violence). In the eating of flesh, the violent act they have
committed becomes a part of every cell of their body and affects their mind and
Twelve Years Before you are Pure
It is often preached that any sacrifice - be it mantra japa or food cleansing has to be
done for twelve years before its benefits are realised. In otherwords it takes twelve
years to cleanse the body of the vibrational residue of meat eating.
Purity of Diet
Purity of diet is of great importance in Hinduism due to the significant effects food
can have on our physical, mental and spiritual health. Foods are generally classified
into three groups, Satwic, Rajasic and Tamasic.
- Satwic food is food that is obtained in a non-violent manner and has a peaceful
and positive effect on the body, mind and soul and on the entire cosmos.
- Rajasic food has a more aggressive and active effect.
- Tamasic food has the vibration of indolence, lethargy, staleness and death.
For thousands of years the effects of food on the human consciousness have been
studied by great yogis in India, and due to their awareness of the profound effects
of food on the individual and society, these individuals choose a Satwic, pure
vegetarian diet to enhance their spiritual practice and assist the world in its
The best form of diet for the devotee is pure vegetarian, meaning no eggs, no flesh
and no onions and garlic or other tamasic foods. This is a Satwic diet. Also
important is the observance of Ekadasis and other times for fasting, to the degree
that is possible.
The consequences of the foods we eat are felt not only in our own bodies and
homes, but throughout the entire world.
Compassion towards our fellow creatures is a fundamental feature of a spiritual life.
Every religion preaches compassion in one way or another, and every human
intuitively understands the importance of compassion. It is therefore an act of
conscious and intentional ignorance and denial to eat meat when we know how it is
procured. We cannot claim to be honouring the natural human tendency for
compassion when we are involved in animal slaughter for pleasure.