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 Just how widespread is this movement? In the UK, polls show morethan
percent of teenagers are vegetarians, and six percent of thegeneral population. In America, eight
percent of teens and threepercent of the general population declare themselves vegetarian. Itis a movement with a broad base, for one can nd advocates asdiverse as philosophers Plato and Nietzsche, politicians BenjaminFranklin and Gandhi, Beatle Paul McCartney and Rastifarian singerBob Marley, actresses Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore, Alicia Sil-verstone, and actors David Duchovny, Richard Gere and Brad Pitt.It’s also helped that a multitude of rigorous scientic studies haveproven the health benets of the vegetarian diet.
 Vegetarianism, an Ancient Hindu Ethic
Vegetarianism was for thousands of years a principle of health andenvironmental ethics throughout India. Though Muslim and Chris- tian colonization radically undermined and eroded this ideal, it re-mains to this day a cardinal ethic of Hindu thought and practice. Asubtle sense of guilt persists among Hindus who eat meat, and eventhey will abstain at special times. For India’s ancient thinkers, life isseen as the very stuff of the Divine, an emanation of the Source andpart of a cosmic continuum. They further hold that each life form,even water and trees, possesses consciousness and energy. Nonvio-lence, ahimsa, the primary basis of vegetarianism, has long beencentral to the religious traditions of India—especially Hinduism,Buddhism and Jainism. Religion in India has consistently upheldthe sanctity of life, whether human or animal.The Sanskrit word for vegetarianism is
, and one follow-ing a vegetarian diet is a
. Hindu vegetarians commonlyconsume milk products, but not eggs, which are denitely a meatproduct, containing cholesterolwhich is only present in animalesh. The term for meat-eating is
, and the meat-eater iscalled
means“to consume or eat,”
means“vegetable,” and
means“meat or flesh.” The very word
, “meat,” conveys a deepappreciation of life’s sacrednessand an understanding of the lawof karma by which the conse-quence of each action returns tothe doer. As explained in the
- year-old
, “The learned declare thatthe meaning of 
(esh) is,‘he
will eat me
in theother world whose esh I eat here.’” There developed early in India anunparalleled concern for harmonyamong life forms, and this led to acommon ethos based on noninju-riousness and a minimal consumption of natural resources—in otherwords, to compassion and simplicity. If Homo sapiens is to survivehis present predicament, he will have to rediscover these two pri-mary ethical virtues.
Is Vegetarianism Integral to Noninjury?
In Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami’s book,
 this question is addressed as follows: “Hindus teach vegetarianism asa way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings, for to consumemeat, sh, fowl or eggs is to participate indirectly in acts of crueltyand violence against the animal kingdom. The abhorrence of injuryand killing of any kind leads quite naturally to a vegetarian diet,
. The meat-eater’s desire for meat drives another to killand provide that meat. The act of the butcher begins with the desireof the consumer. Meat-eating contributes to a mentality of violence,for with the chemically complex meat ingested, one absorbs theslaughtered creature’s fear, pain and terror. These qualities are nour-
Five Reasons to Be a Vegetarian & Ten Arguments Against Eating Meat
here are more than a few hindus
who guiltily abandoned the vegetar-ian ways of their own parents and grandparentswhen they decided to be “secular” and “mod-ern.” But our ancient seers had it right whenthey advocated living without killing animalsfor food. Today vegetarianism is a worldwidemovement with adherents among all religions,daily gaining convertsthrough one or more of the ve basic reasonsto adhere to a meatlessdiet: dharma, karma,consciousness, healthand environment. Eachis explored in the fol-lowing pages, whichconclude with an exam-ination of the harmfuleffects of eating meat.
Reason 1
Vedic scripture proclaims thatahimsa, nonhurtulness, is aprimary religious obligation inulllment o dharma, divine law.
  d  i  n   o  d  i   a   c   o  m   s  t   o   c  k
chapter 43: the meat-free life
 The Meat-Free Life
What’s for dinner?
-Young-ladies-at-a-busy- market-in-India,-where-fresh-vegetables,- grains-and-legumes-abound,-picking-out- items-for-a-scrumptious-vegetarian-meal
  p  h   o  t   o   s  :  d  i  n   o  d  i   a
ished within the meat-eater, perpetuating the cycle of cruelty andconfusion. When the individual’s consciousness lifts and expands, hewill abhor violence and not be able to even digest the meat, sh, fowland eggs he was formerly consuming. India’s greatest saints haveconrmed that one cannot eat meat and live a peaceful, harmoniouslife. Man’s appetite for meat inicts devastating harm on Earth itself,stripping its precious forests to make way for pastures. The
Tiruku ral
candidly states, ‘How can he practice true compassion who eatsthe esh of an animal to fatten his own esh? Greater than a thou-sand ghee offerings consumed insacricial res is not to sacriceand consume any living creature.’ ”Amazingly, some people denevegetarian as a diet which excludesthe meat of animals but does per-mit sh and eggs. But what reallyis vegetarianism? Vegetarian foodsinclude grains, fruits, vegetables,legumes and dairy products. Natu-ral, fresh foods, locally grown with-out insecticides or chemical fertil-izers, are preferred. A vegetariandiet does not include meat, sh,fowl, shellsh or eggs. For goodhealth, even certain vegetarianfoods are minimized: frozen andcanned foods, highly processedfoods, such as white rice, whitesugar and white our; and “junk”foods and beverages—those withabundant chemical additives, suchas articial sweeteners, colorings,avorings and preservatives.According to Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, “In my forty years of ministry it has become quite evident that vegetarian fami-lies have far fewer problems than those who are not vegetarian. If children are raised as vegetarians, every day they are exposed tononviolence as a principle of peace and compassion. Every day theyare growing up they are remembering and being reminded to notkill. They won’t even kill another creature to eat, to feed themselves.And if they won’t kill another creature to feed themselves, they willbe much less likely to do acts of violence against people.”
 Vegetarian Animals
Vegetarians come in all sizes and shapes, but the elephant is the larg-est of all, with a sophisticated social life, loving and affectionatelycaring for its own. Elephants live long, vigorous lives, have a verylarge brain and, of course, are renowned for their excellent memory.They do not suffer any weakness for not eating meat. In fact, so manymuscular and the most intelligentanimals—the horse, the cow, gi-raffe, zebra, rhinoceros, the apes,and more—are lifelong vegetariansand friends of men. Lean animals,thin and wiry, who are feared byman and beasts alike, are all hunt-ers and killers and eaters of esh—tigers, sharks, hawks, wolves andthe like. No one fears a gentlevegetarian, but all have reason tofear the unpredictable meat-eater.Scriptures admonish that it iswise to fear what should be feared.
Food and Consciousness
Food is the source of the body’schemistry, and what we ingest af-fects our consciousness, emotionsand experiential patterns. If onewants to live in higher conscious-ness, in peace and happiness andlove for all creatures, then he can-not eat meat, sh, shellsh, fowlor eggs. By ingesting the grosser chemistries of animal foods, oneintroduces into the body and mind anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety, sus-picion and the terrible fear of death, all of which is locked into theesh of butchered creatures. It is said that in ancient India meatwould be fed to the soldiers during military campaigns, especiallybefore combat, to bring them into lower consciousness so that theywould forget their religious values. They performed these deeds infulllment of a warrior’s way—with not the least restraint of con-science. The inner law is ever so simple—not eating meat, sh, foulor eggs is essential to awaken consciousness into the seven higherchakras (the
), up to the crown. Nonkilling—and
From market to table:
-(l-to-r)-North-Indian-tali-plate;-a-family-en joys-a-vegetarian-meal;-selling-vegetables-at-a-local-market;-a-tradi tional-South-Indian-meal-served-on-an-ecofriendly-banana-leaf 
noneating of that which is killed—is a must to pass from realmsbelow the muladhara.
How many there are who resent the very mention of becoming avegetarian, whose instinctive nature is repelled by the idea becausethey intuit the road ahead. They sense that once the more
 diet of pure foods is taken in place of meats (and other dead foods,packaged, processed and cellophane-wrapped) they will feel a greatguilt occasioned by their trans-gressions of dharma, as they haveso well perfected over the yearstheir
 means all that stands against In-dian spirituality, against the pathof the good and the pure and thenatural, against dharma in all of its intricate dimensions. None of the specialized
, the duties of women;
 pu rusha-dharma
, the duties of men;
, the responsi-bility of one’s stage of life;
, one’s position in society;and
, one’s own perfectpattern—even when performedproperly will have the same re-sults without fullling this virtue.Even
, cosmic order, isupset by man’s insatiable, aggres-sive appetites expressed throughesh-consuming.
Hindus Were the First Vegetarians
The book,
observes: “Despite popular knowledge of meat-eating’sadverse effects, the nonvegetarian diet became increasingly wide-spread among Hindus after the two major invasions by foreign pow-ers, rst the Muslims and later the British. With them came the de-sire to be ‘civilized,’ to eat as did the saheeb. Those actually trainedin Vedic knowledge, however, never adopted a meat-oriented diet,and the pious Hindu still observes vegetarian principles as a matterof religious duty.“That vegetarianism has always been widespread in India is clearfrom the earliest
texts. This was observed by the ancient trav-eler Megasthenes and also by Fa-hsien, a Chinese Buddhist monkwho, in the fth century, traveled to India in order to obtain au-thentic copies of the scriptures. These scriptures unambiguouslysupport the meatless way of life. In the
, for instance,the great warrior Bhishma explains to Yudhishthira, eldest of thePandava princes, that the meat of animals is like the esh of one’sown son, and that the foolish person who eats meat must be consid-ered the vilest of human beings [
]. The eating of ‘dirty’food, it warns, is not as terrible asthe eating of esh [
](it must be remembered that thebrahmins of ancient India exaltedcleanliness to a divine principle).“Similarly, the
de-clares that one should ‘refrain fromeating all kinds of meat,’ for sucheating involves killing and leads tokarmic bondage (
) [
].Elsewhere in the Vedic literature,the last of the great Vedic kings,Maharaja Parikshit, is quoted assaying that ‘only the animal-killercannot relish the message of theAbsolute Truth [
Shrimad-Bhaga vatam
Common Dietary Concerns
Those considering a vegetariandiet generally worry about get-ting enough nutrients, since thebelief that meat is a necessarypart of keeping strong and healthyis still extremely widespread. Recently a group of eminent doctorscalled the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM),themselves members of the American Medical Association, havedecided to change the US consciousness on human nutrition, par-ticularly among the medical community. The PCRM is a nonprotorganization based in Washington, D.C., consisting of doctors andlaypersons working together for compassionate and effective medi-cal practice, research and health promotion. Founded in
, thePCRM is supported by over
physicians and
laypersons.PCRM president (and vegetarian) Neal D. Barnard, M.D., is a popu-lar speaker and the author of 
. Armed with
Reason 3
By ingesting the grosser chemistries o animal oods, one introduces into thebody and mind anger, jealousy, ear,anxiety, suspicion and a terrible earo death, all o which are locked intothe esh o the butchered creatures.
   c   o  m   s  t   o   c  k   c   o  m   s  t   o   c  k
Reason 2
By involving onesel in the cycle o inicting injury, pain and death, evenindirectly, by eating other creatures,one must in the uture experience inequal measure the suering caused.
able for some people, while six months to a year might be better forothers. Rewards can also help. For a major accomplishment such asa week without meat, treat yourself to a nice vegetarian meal out.One can also take a formal Hindu vow of vegetarianism,
 shakaha ra
vrata, available on-line atwww.hinduismtoday.com/in-depth_is-sues/veggie_vow/ . The vow maybe taken privately, before elders orparents or as part of a temple cer-emony. It reads in part, “I acceptthe principle of 
as themethod by which I may acknowl-edge my compassion, my
,for all living beings. As an act of dedication, I am resolved this dayto begin (or continue) the regularpractice of eating a strict vegetar-ian diet and not eating meat, sh,shellsh, fowl or eggs.”The most common problemwith conversion is not knowingenough about the vegetarian diet.Some people decide to be veg-etarian but have no idea what toeat, and end up with soggy veg-etables and undercooked brownrice for breakfast, lunch and din-ner. They become discouragedand rightly wonder how they will survive. But decent vegetar-ian food isn’t boring. A little research will put your mind at ease.Get some vegetarian cookbooks. Ask restaurant waiters whichmenu items are vegetarian. Search online for vegetarian recipes.
Vegetarians are often asked “Don’t you miss eating meat?” For abouthalf of beginning vegetarians the answer is yes, acording to
The-New- Vegetarians
. They miss the texture and avor of meat in the earlyweeks and months. Almost everyone though, gets over this within sixmonths to a year and for many it becomes nauseating even to thinkabout eating meat. Eighty-two percent of fully adapted vegetarianssay there is no way they would consider eating esh again.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyas-wami writes, “Modern meatsare killed by chemical treat-ment of the animals, the hor-mones of fear and chemistry of death before and during slaugh-ter, killed again by refrigeratingthem, killed again by grindingthem, killed again by preservingthem, killed again by packag-ing them, killed again by freez-ing them, killed again by storingand shipping them, and nallyreally killed by cooking them todeath. How can such so-calledfood nourish a human being?
“Why should we ever think of eating meat, sh, foul, eggs, any-thing with eyes or, as some say,with two or more senses. Thecock-a-doodle-doo who wakes usup in the morning is dinner onthe table at night. How gruesome.How ruthless to thus forever close the eyes of an animal, or havesomeone else do it for them in order that they may buy the carcass,closing their eyes to the fact, which is even worse, and keepingtheir own eyes closed to that creature’s suffering to consume itwithout conscience during jovial small talk over the dinner table.How easy in turn for such a person to turn and maim or kill a fel-low human in the same way in times of stress as a natural reaction,in ‘justiable righteousness.’” As the
proclaims, compas-sion cannot be found in the hearts of those who eat meat.
chapter 43: the meat-free life
what is hinduism?
decades of nutritional research data, PCRM addresses these dietaryconcerns head-on:“The fact is, it is very easy to have a well-balanced diet with veg-etarian foods. Vegetarian foods provide plenty of protein. Carefulcombining of foods is not neces-sary. Any normal variety of plantfoods provides more than enoughprotein for the body’s needs. Al-though there is somewhat lessprotein in a vegetarian diet thana meat-eater’s diet, this is actu-ally an advantage. Excess proteinhas been linked to kidney stones,osteoporosis, and possibly heartdisease and some cancers. A dietfocused on beans, whole grainsand vegetables contains adequateamounts of protein without the‘overdose’ most meat-eaters get.”Other concerns are allayed bythe PCRM as follows:1.
is easy to nd in avegetarian diet. Many dark, greenleafy vegetables and beans areloaded with calcium, and someorange juices and cereals are cal-cium-fortied.2.
is plentiful in wholegrains, beans and fruits.3.
 Vitamin B12:
There is a misconception that without eating meatone cannot obtain sufcient vitamin B
, which is an essential nutri-ent. This is simply not true. The PCRM advises: “Although cases of B
deciency are very uncommon, it is important to make sure thatone has a reliable source of the vitamin. Good sources include allcommon multiple vitamins (including vegetarian vitamins), fortiedcereals and soy milk.” Vitamin B
is widely available in brewers yeast and other potent dietary supplements.4. Nutritional needs increase during
. The AmericanDietetic Association has found vegan diets adequate for fullling nu-tritional needs during pregnancy, but pregnant women and nursingmothers should supplement their diets with vitamins B
and D.5. Vegetarian
also havehigh nutritional needs, but these,too, are met with a vegetarian diet.A vegetarian menu is “life-extend-ing.” As children, vegetarians maygrow more gradually, reach pu-berty somewhat later, and live sub-stantially longer than meat-eaters.Be sure to include a reliable sourceof vitamin B
.Those interested in supportingor learning more about the workof the Physicians Committee forResponsible Medicine should visit:www.pcrm.org.
Converting to Vegetarianism
Making the transition from carni-vore to herbivore is not as hard as you might think. According to thebook,
, by So-nia Partridge and Paul Amato,
 of vegetarian converts stated thatthe transition was not difcult. Itis easier for people who do some homework on the subject and havea bit of cooking skill. The time it takes for people to totally convertvaries greatly. About
of people make the transition gradually,while
stop all at once. Red meat is almost always abandonedwithin the rst year, followed by fowl, sh and eggs.One recommended method for the transition is to set a series of goals for yourself. Start simply with getting through one day withoutmeat. Then, try one weekend, then one week. Make a realistic time-table for reaching each goal. Two to three months might be reason-
Scriptures-of-all-Hindu-denominations- speak-clearly-and-forcefully-on-nonkilling- and-vegetarianism.-The-roots-of-noninjury,- non-killing-and-nonconsumption-of-meat-are- found-in-the-
Vedas, Dharma Shastras, Tiru-murai, Yoga Sutras, Tirukural
-and-dozens- of-other-sacred-texts-of-Hinduism.-Perhaps- nowhere-is-the-principle-of-nonmeateating- so-fully-and-elo- quently-expressed-as-in-the-
 ,-written-in-the-Tamil-language-by- a-simple-weaver-saint-over-
One who partakes of human esh, theesh of a horse or of another animal, anddeprives others of milk by slaughteringcows, O King, if such a end does not de-sist by other means, then you should nothesitate to cut off his head.
Protect both our species, two-legged andfour-legged. Both food and water for theirneeds supply. May they with us increasein stature and strength. Save us from hurtall our days, O Powers!
O vegetable, be succulent, wholesome,strengthening; and thus, body, be fullygrown.
Those noble souls who practice meditationand other yogic ways, who are ever carefulabout all beings, who protect all animals,are the ones who are actually seriousabout spiritual practices.
You must not use your God-given body forkilling God’s creatures, whether they arehuman, animal or whatever.
The ignoble ones who eat esh, death’sagents bind them fast and push themquick into the ery jaws of hell (Naraka,lower consciousness).
When mindstuff is rmly based in waves of ahimsa, all living beings cease their enmityin the presence of such a person.
Ahimsa is not causing pain to any livingbeing at any time through the actions of one’s mind, speech or body.
Having well considered the origin of eshand the cruelty of fettering and slaying of corporeal beings, let one entirely abstainfrom eating esh.
The purchaser of esh performs
 (violence) by his wealth; he who eats eshdoes so by enjoying its taste; the killerdoes
by actually tying and killingthe animal. Thus, there are three formsof killing: he who brings esh or sends forit, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal,and he who purchases, sells or cooks eshand eats it—all of these are to be consid-ered meat-eaters.
He who desires to augment his own eshby eating the esh of other creatures livesin misery in whatever species he may takehis birth.
Those high-souled persons who desirebeauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, un-derstanding, mental and physical strengthand memory should abstain from acts of injury.
How can he practice true compassion whoeats the esh of an animal to fatten hisown esh?
Riches cannot be found in the hands of the thriftless. Nor can compassion befound in the hearts of those who eat meat.
Goodness is never one with the minds of these two: one who wields a weapon andone who feasts on a creature’s esh.
If you ask, “What is kindness and what isunkind?” it is not killing and killing. Thus,eating esh is never virtuous.
Life is perpetuated by not eating meat. Theclenched jaws of hell hold those who do.
If the world did not purchase and con-sume meat, there would be none to slaugh-ter and offer meat for sale.
When a man realizes that meat is thebutchered esh of another creature, hemust abstain from eating it.
Greater than a thousand ghee offeringsconsumed in sacricial res is to not sacri-ce and consume any living creature.
All that lives will press palms together inprayerful adoration of those who refuse toslaughter and savor meat.
My opinion is well known. I do not regardesh food as necessary for us at any stageand under any clime in which it is possiblefor human beings ordinarily to live. I holdesh-food to be unsuited to our species.”
Wisdom from Saints and Scriptures
Shastras and Sutras Alike Decry the Killing and Eating of Animals
Reason 5
In large measure, the escalating losso species, destruction o ancient rainorests to create pasture lands orlivestock, loss o topsoil and theconsequent increase o waterimpurities and air pollution haveall been traced to the single acto meat in the human diet.
   c   o  m   s  t   o   c  k   c   o  m   s  t   o   c  k
Reason 4
Vegetarians are less susceptible toall the major diseases that afictcontemporary humanity. Thusthey live longer, healthier, moreproductive lives. They have ewerphysical complaints, less requentvisits to the doctor, ewer dentalproblems and smaller medical bills.

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