Non-violence, or ahimsa, is one of the most basic and essential virtues that we hold close to our hearts when walking a path of Spirit. At the heart of non-violence lies humility, because we see the Truth of the Divine in all of its many forms that surround us.
When we begin to see God everywhere, then we begin to free ourselves from the bondage of ego. We see that to serve and help others (both human and non-human) is the one of the highest forms of spiritual practice because there is no individual being; we are all manifestations of divine light. Non-violence is one way of acting on this ideal of service and humility.
Many people understand non-violence to mean refraining from physical violence. While this is true, there is much more to the Truth of ahimsa. Non-violence is a compassionate and loving attitude towards all life in physical, verbal, and non-verbal actions and thoughts, including our diet. Respecting other life while sustaining our own is one aspect of humility. And as we remember to see the sacred in others, we should also remember the sacred within ourselves. When we consume food, we are providing the building blocks for the temple that houses Brahman (the Supreme Absolute) within. When we build our temple out of pain and bloodshed (i.e. eating meat), we are not providing the most appropriate place for the Divine to dwell. This is especially important when leading a Yogic lifestyle, because we do not want our bodies and minds to be dull.
One’s energy needs to be in a more subtle, refined state in order to experience the subtle vibrations of Light. While there is no way (for most of us) to sustain our bodies without taking ANY form of life (i.e. plants), we can do this causing the least amount of pain and harm possible. Eating foods such as all organic (OG) whole grains, OG legumes, OG vegetable, OG fruits, and organic dairy products that come from well-treated cows will help to create not only a suitable dwelling for the Divine within, but also to show compassion and humility to the other sacred beings that we share this planet with.
For those who are new to vegetarian diet, there are many great resources out there. You can go to www.peta.org for a free vegetarian starter kit and more info on the treatment of animals in the meat industry. For some great vegetarian recipes, you can visit vegweb.com, www.ivu.org,vegetarian.allrecipes.com, www.vrg.org, www.vegkitchen.com,www.sanatansociety.org/indian_vegetarian_recipes.htm, and www.sivananda.org/teachings/diet/recipes.html. And, of course you can always go to your local library, favorite bookstore, local co-op or health food store and find vegetarian cookbooks, or even cookbooks for a yogic diet.