Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Moral Vegetarianism

One of the site visitors asked a question . Isnt vegetarianism violence against plants ?
Vegetarianism is very popular life style amongst many hindus. It is compulsory among Jains. It is considered good for two reasons.
1) Animal meat is detrimental to human mind, spirituality and health.
2) The principle of ahimsa or non-violence against animals.
Those who are vegetarians only for the first reason above dont really worry about violence against plants.
Now, those who are vegetarians only because they dont want any violence against animals, arent they doing violence against plants?
I am a vegetarian because I dont like killng animals for food, and also I dont like the very concept of eating flesh to fatten our flesh. I am a vegetarian by chance and choice.
A story goes like this. Centuries ago, a scholar told his cook to prepare a dish of eel. As the scholar was watching, his cook struggled with the eel which kept lifting its stomach out of the boiling water. Puzzled by this, the scholar decided to find out why. He found that the poor animal was trying to save the eggs she was carrying in her belly. Moved by this, the scholar swore never to eat meat again!
Dilemna of non-vegetarian
We all love animals. Why do we call some pets and others dinner?
OK, Now what about the violence against plants?
First thing is that every animal including humans have to consume food for energy. Its a law of nature. All animals have to consume food which either directly or indirectly is of plant source.
How do we achieve that with minimal violence? 
By directly consuming plants and eliminating any animals in our food chain.
When we kill animals, obviously, we are hurting them, and they definitely experience pain. 
Now do plants get hurt when we kill them? Do they feel pain? Due to the absence of brain and nervous system, do plants really experience pain like how animals do? There is a difference between responding to damage and feeling the damage. I personally think that plants dont feel pain like animals do. There is definitely a response to stimuli system in plants, but there is no nervous system/brain to convey/feel pain!
Now, assuming that plants indeed feel violence, can we be vegetarians and consume plants without hurting them?
This is what Shiloncha Vratti in the ancient Indian vedic culture is about and was practiced by many sages and hermits. It means pick up only those fallen grains in the fields, eat only those fruits/seeds that have fallen from plants and trees, etc!! This is absolute non-violent vegetarianism, irrespective of whether plants feel pain or not.
And then there is the food from crops like Rice, Wheat etc. These plants live only for one crop, and anyway die after the yield. So consuming these crops is not really violence either!
In terms of religious advocacy, vegetarianism is strongly advocated in the religions that originated in India including in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In fact in Jainism it is compulsory. On the other hand in the Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc vegetarianism is not supported by the religious authorities.
By the way, some people say that true physical strength can be obtained only if one eats meat. Well friends, two of the strongest animals, Horses and Elephants are vegetarians. Horse power is a vegetarian power
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Some quotes by famous personalities in favor of Vegetarianism is as follows:
Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. -Albert Einstein
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. - Mahatma Gandhi
As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields - Leo Tolstoy 
If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian. - Paul McCartney
I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens. ~Isaac Bashevis Singer
Finally, I feel that the form of diet is a personal choice. I am happy being a vegetarian

Read more @ HitXP » Moral Vegetarianism - by Gurudev 

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