Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Vegetarianism And Religion:
All the religions and spiritual groups preach nonviolence. This teaching can be extended to cover vegetarianism. One of the Ten Commandments is, "Thou shalt not kill". In Islam, it is said, "God will not be affectionate to that man who is not affectionate to God's creatures". Some western religious and spiritual leaders and thinkers, such as John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, were vegetarians.
In Indian religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, nonviolence (AHINSA) is the cardinal principle. This principle entails reverence for all life and precludes deliberate killing or injuring any living organism. Thus Indian religions place great importance on vegetarianism
The teaching of Bhagwaan Mavaveer is:
One should not hurt a living being intentionally or by negligence in the strictest sense. We are not to injure any living organism however small it may be, directly with our hands, by causing some one to do so on our behalf or by consent to the act of injury.
According to Jainism, meat is a breeding ground for innumerable living organisms - a fact supported by modern biology. Acharya Amritchandra Suri who lived in the tenth century has written: "The same is true of the eggs whether fertile or not". It is a fact that vegetarian foods also contain some living organisms. Suri who lived in the tenth century has written: "In the raw meat and in the cooked meat, innumerable living organism are generated incessantly. Thus he who consumes meat in any form commits violence against a large number of living beings."
Jainism tells us that we can only limit violence and avoid unnecessary violence. Non- vegetarianism involves violence which is unnecessary and which can be easily avoided.
Bhagwaan Buddha placed immense importance on kindness and compassion towards all living beings. His teachings include the following:
Not superstitious rites but kindness to servants and underlings, respect to those deserving of respect, self control coupled with kindness in dealing with living creatures, these and virtuous deeds of like nature are verity the rites that are everywhere to be performed.
In what consists true religion?
In causing as little suffering as possible, in doing as much good as possible and in showing love, compassion, truthfulness and purity as often as possible.
Man Is Vegetarian By Nature:
Scientists believe that the diet of any animal corresponds to its anatomical and physiological system. Animals can be divided into three categories according to their natural diet. Carnivores such as lions, dogs, cats, live mostly on meat; herbivores such as cows, sheep, and elephants eat grass and leaves; and frugivores such as anthropoid apes live on fruits, nuts, and grains. Men, herbivores and frugivores, have intestinal tracts which are about twelve times their body length and their teeth are small and dull. The intestinal tract of carnivores is only three times their body length so that rapidly decaying meat can pass out quickly and they have claws and sharp front teeth for tearing while no flat molars for grinding. Carnivores have strong hydrochloric acid in their stomach to digest meat while men, herbivores and frugivores, have stomach acid twenty times less strong than meat-eaters. In addition to these differences, carnivores have no pores and they perspire through the tongue to cool their bodies, while humans, herbivores and frugivores perspire through millions of pores on the skin. Flesh-eating carnivores have small salivary glands in their mouth because they do not need to pre-digest flesh. On the other hand, men like other vegetarian animals have well developed salivary glands which are needed to pre-digest grains and fruits. From the above comparison, it is evident that man is vegetarian by nature. It seems that because of circumstances over the past several thousand years of man's history, some men deviated from their natural diet and be came omnivores who eat both meat and plants. However, our anatomical and physiological features have remained similar to those of other vegetarian animals. It should be remarked that man can not eat raw meat like carnivores do. He has to cook it, bake it, broil it or fry it and, then decorate it with sauces and spices to suppress its raw taste.
In addition to anatomical and physiological features, man's natural instincts are very different from those of meat-eating animals. Barbara Parham writes:
A cat will salivate with hungry desire at the smell of a piece of raw flesh but not at all at the smell of fruit. If man could delight in pouncing upon a bird, tear its still living limbs apart with his teeth, and suck the warm blood, one might conclude that nature provided him with meat-eating instinct. On the other hand, a bunch of luscious grapes makes his mouth water, and even in the absence of hunger, he will eat fruit because it tastes so good.
Vegetarianism And Health:
The natural diet of man consists of fruits, nuts and grains, not meat. Then the question arises: When a human beings natural diet is a vegetarian diet, why do large numbers of people eat animal flesh? There is a variety of reasons for people having a non-vegetarian diet. Most people are concerned about their health and many people have the misconception that non-vegetarian foods are the only source of getting all the nutrients that can make them strong, healthy and active. A careful study, however, reveals not only that a vegetarian diet is good for health but also that a non-vegetarian diet is unnecessary and to some extent detrimental to health.
The myths that meat has a monopoly on protein and that large amounts of protein are needed for energy and strength, has led to the inclusion of excessive amount of flesh and eggs in the Western diet. People are unaware of the fact that their bodies need smaller amounts of protein than the amount supplied by non-vegetarian sources. Most flesh -eating people eat about two times as much protein as their bodies can use. Although inadequate amounts of protein cause loss of energy, the body can not utilize excessive amount of protein, rather, excess protein is converted into nitrogenous wastes that burden the kidneys. The primary source of energy for the body is carbohydrates. It is only as a last resort that proteins are used for energy production in the body. While being digested most protein breaks down into amino acids which are used by the body for growth and tissue replacement. There are twenty-two essential amino acids. All but eight of the essential amino acids can be synthesized by the body itself. The eight essential amino acids exist in abundance in vegetarian foods such as dairy products, grains, beans and nuts. Ounce for ounce, cheese, nuts,lentils, for instance, have more protein than hamburger, pork or steak. People who eat meat, do get all amino acids but they also gain a lot of fat. Lapp has suggested the following common complementary natural protein combinations of vegetarian foods:
1. Grain (rice, corn, wheat, barley,etc.) + legumes (peas, beans, and lentils)
2. Grains + milk products
3. Seeds (sesame or sunflower) + legumes
When foods are combined in proper proportions, as much as 50 percent more of the protein is absorbed by the body, compared to same foods eaten separately.
In addition to protein, vegetarian food is a good source of other essential nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Many studies have revealed that a high-fat diet is not good for health, whether the fat is derived from animals or from vegetable sources.
Meat has a high concentration of saturated fat. Eggs are rich in cholesterol. These cause heart disease and brain stroke. During World War II, when many Europeans were forced to eat less fat and cholesterol and fewer calories, the rate of heart disease fell dramatically. High-fat, low-fiber content of non-vegetarian diet causes many diseases including cancer of colon and rectum, brain, lungs, liver, etc.
A large number of potentially harmful chemicals are present in meat. The animals are fed tranquilizers, hormones, antibiotics and 2700 other drugs. Some of these are present in meat as well. Certain preservatives are also potentially harmful. In spite of all possible precautions and government regulations and inspections, some diseased animals are also slaughtered. In spite of these facts, in Western countries, especially in America, people consider eating meat, in general, and beef in particular, a status symbol. The problems in producing and preserving non-vegetarian food are much more serious than those in producing and preserving grains, vegetables and fruits.
From the above discussion, it is evident that a vegetarian diet is in harmony with natural laws. A balanced vegetarian diet is good for health. A recent study performed in England has shown that on an average, it is less expensive to maintain the health of a vegetarian person than that of a non-vegetarian person. This shows that vegetarians get fewer and milder health problems than non-vegetarians.
It is seen that the food we eat affects not only our bodies but also our minds- our attitude and thinking. Mahatma Gandhi said,"There is a great deal of truth in the saying that man becomes what he eats." In general, vegetarians are less aggressive than their non-vegetarian counterparts, although vices like greed, false pride and prejudice, also play an important role in making the character of man. In sum, vegetarianism, in conjunction with other virtues, does lead to our physical and mental well-being.
Economics of vegetarianism:
Vegetarian diet is less expensive than non-vegetarian diet. The fact is that for every 16 pounds of grain and soy fed to meat animals, only one pound of meat is obtained. Comparatively, 16 pounds of grain and soy contain 21 times more calories and eight times more protein but only three times more fat than a pound of meat. This implies that vegetarianism is the answer to the colossal problems of population growth and world hunger. People have the misconception that hunger and malnutrition are caused by lack of meat. In fact, hunger and malnutrition are caused by lack of food, and,the insufficiency and high price of meat only aggravate these problems. The world produces enough grain, milk and milk products for all the poor and malnourished people. The tragic truth is that 80-90% of all grain produced in America goes for feeding meat animals. Presently, millions of acres of land is used for raising livestock for meat. This same land can be used more productively for growing vegetables, beans and legumes.
Studies have shown that a living cow yields more food than a dead one, in the form of milk and milk products, and, in most places on earth, it eats only grass and inedible remains of harvested crops such as rice hulls, tops of sugarcane, etc. Thus the statement that people in India are starving because they do not kill their cows is misleading. Proper care and feeding of cows can greatly alleviate the problem of malnutrition in India
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