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Friday, June 02, 2006

VEGETARIANISM -1- Foreword

Written on : Thursday, October 06, 2005

Vegetarianism: this one word has led to many lively debates and multiple questions. Why should one be vegetarian or not be vegetarian? Is it spiritual to be vegetarian? Is it healthy to be vegetarian? Do certain cultures promote vegetarianism? These are just a few of the common questions that have caused various debates and opinions, so let’s begin exploring these questions in depth and then see the philosophical and yogic idea behind the idea of vegetarianism.
There are various reasons people state for being vegetarian, but these reasons are often arguable. A common reason many have for being vegetarian is that they believe in non-violence and so they do not want to kill anything with life, including animals. But the idea that being vegetarian prevents the death of life is argued when it is realized that plants also have life. So isn’t the question of killing plants also as important as the thought of killing animals?
Another reason for vegetarianism is often religion. One such religion is Hinduism. But many non-vegetarian Hindus, only exclude the consumption of cows. This has led many to ask the question, “What is the reason that Hindus do not eat cows for meat?” To explain the value of cows, many Hindus explain that in the old days and in some rural areas today, cows were considered to be wealth. So naturally, with the respect of wealth, comes the respect of cows. Having a cow was like having a bank account, so it wasn’t eaten, much like how people don’t eat currency now. This answer may convince some, but others will be confused and question this reasoning. “Aren’t other animals considered wealth? Why can we eat the other animals and not the cows?” In addition, there are places in India where cows are considered wealth, but in such places, people specifically eat cows on important auspicious days, so how is that justified? Even further, some people attack vegetarianism by stating that even in the Vedas, there are references that they ate meat, particularly cow meat. So it becomes extremely difficult to justify not eating meat, especially cow meat for reasons of religion.
So why are people vegetarian? Why do we think that being vegetarian is natural? The jaws of human beings are similar to herbivorous animals, even though we are omnivores. Our natural jaw structure is more similar to herbivores than carnivores, but in reality, only a small percentage of people are actually vegetarian.
Some even suggest that those who eat meat develop sickness quickly. But, this has to be scientifically proven before suggesting it to others. But many who are turning to Indian philosophy and yoga are becoming vegetarian for the simple purpose of health. In response to this claim, proponents of a non-vegetarian diet argue that there are many health disadvantages to being vegetarian. For example, vegetarians lack protein in their diets so one may not receive enough nourishment, unless they eat eggs. Recently my friend is diagnosed to have calcium deficiency and people started putting blame on her vegetarian diet. Further, it is a general opinion that eating meat makes you strong, athletic, and powerful, whereas, vegetarians are not as physically strong. This point is not completely refutable because there are some chemicals within the meat which make people more competitive and aggressive, but overall, there is not much evidence of overall contribution to the development of an individual and there are many contradictory opinions in this regard.
Many other considerations have been made in regards to the type of people who are vegetarian and those who are not. Some say that with vegetarianism comes intelligence, compassion, etc. But, none of these thoughts have a logical reasoning behind them. In fact, intellectuals and such persons are found in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian varieties. Similarly, ruthless and uncompassionate people are also found in both varieties. So these cannot be the logical reason to become vegetarian.
Another issue that some vegetarians have come across is that they feel that vegetarians believe they are a bit primitive versus non-vegetarians. Obviously, this is not the case because before the advent of technologies, primitive man actually ate meat. The methods of preparation now are more technically advanced, but the same can be said of vegetables.

-to be continued...

Love,
Raghuram

1 comment:

neelkamal said...

Respected Sir,
I am following you blogs for couple of articles ,it appeals me and i like to read it .Thanks.
I am sure that this topic might come later in ur post ,but are veggetain food more satvic while non veg are surely tamasi or rajasic.I am not saying veg are nto tamasic or rajis but still promminetly we can classify that way.Looking forward for your other post.