Vegetarianism; is it just a religious issue?
People often ask which one of our scriptures say what humans should eat and what they should not.
We must understand that being a vegetarian is not an issue of weather or not you are a Hindu. Although modern science tends to promote non-vegetarianism to a certain extent, there is a vast amount of evidence demonstrating that vegetables and fruits have sufficient nutrients to sustain us, and give us a better life.
We will all agree that to find Bhakti (devotion) in our lives, we need satwic food. So from a health and a religious perspective, vegetarianism is a better choice.

Hindus place a lot of credence on Srimad Bhagavad Gita in their lives, because of its importance of being on of the two granths (holy books) to have been narrated by the Supreme God (the other granth being Gadrur Puran - which was narrated directly by Lord vishnu to Lord Gadrur. Lord Krishna's Bhagavad Gita teaches us how to live this present life, where Gadrur Puran teaches about the afterlife)

Bhagavad Gita
While preaching Gita to Arjuna, Lord Krishna asserted: Anyone who eats anything without offering to him is committing a sin. By offering edibles to the Lord before consuming yourself, takes away all ill effects from the item and at the same time it derives blessing of the Lord himself.

Thus we arrive at a dilemma: What can we and what can't we offer to the Lord?
Lord Krishna continues: All I need from my devotees are: Water (Jalam), Leaves (Patram), cow's milk and Fruits (Falam).

If we believe in Lord Krishna's Gita - then without doubt we have to accept his preachings for only then are we giving him and the Gita due respect.

Lord Krishna argues that the whole universe with its populous rotates on karma, so we shall each reap the consequences of our deeds.

Ramayana
Lord Ram in his tretha yugh also preached on similar lines. When Devi Shabri asked the Lord for his advice on ways of living a Satwic life - with high level of spirituality, he outlined Naodha bhakti - the nine commandments of bhakti.

One such commandment is: See the Lord in every living soul - be it human or another.
An important lesson from that is do not kill or have another living being (animal of lesser ability) killed for your own taste buds.

Some people have the misconception that being vegetarian one or two days a week is acceptable enough to give credence to what Lord Ram or Lord Krishna preached in Ramayan or Gita.
Nowhere in Gita or Ramayan is it explicitly stated that practicing vegetarianism on a part time basis is sufficient for a person's devotional practice (bhakti).

Human Physiology
It has long been a generally held belief in some science theories that the human dental and digestive structure is not meant for the chewing and processing of flesh foods.

Human teeth are considered that of a frugivore - who relies on vegetables and fruits for foods.

The length of the human digestive tract is consistent with that of vegetarian species of animals, not carnivorous ones who's digestive tract is much shorter than ours, due to the need to get digested flesh out of the body as quickly as possible before it putrefies in the body of the animal.

The long digestive tract of humans and herbivorous animals is designed to extract as much nutrition as possible out of vegetable matter as it goes through the different areas of the digestive tract. This is a much longer process than the quick carnivorous digestive process, as there is not so much need to worry about the putrefaction of vegetables in the system.

From this we can see that the consumption of flesh foods is very unhealthy due to the extended time flesh will be sitting in the human digestive system and putrefying, causing many toxins to enter the blood.

Diseases
When eating meat, there is no way of ensuring that you are not taking on the dead animals illnesses as well.
Recent cases of mad cow disease have proven that diseases can be transmitted from animals to humans through their consumption.

Prevalence of cancer heart disease

Ahimsa
The concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) as it is known today was preached by Mahatma Gandhi - voted man of the century in the 20th C.
Ahimsa is the first of the ten edicts which make up the Yamas and Niyamas (restraints and observances) in Hinduism. When human beings who can survive without the consumption of animal corpses purposefully slaughter animals to feed themselves, this is himsa (violence). In the eating of flesh, the violent act they have committed becomes a part of every cell of their body and affects their mind and spiritual life.

Twelve Years Before you are Pure
It is often preached that any sacrifice - be it mantra japa or food cleansing has to be done for twelve years before its benefits are realised. In other words it takes twelve years to cleanse the body of the vibrational residue of meat eating.

Purity of Diet
Purity of diet is of great importance in Hinduism due to the significant effects food can have on our physical, mental and spiritual health. Foods are generally classified into three groups, Satwic, Rajasic and Tamasic.
- Satwic food is food that is obtained in a non-violent manner and has a peaceful and positive effect on the body, mind and soul and on the entire cosmos.
- Rajasic food has a more aggressive and active effect.
- Tamasic food has the vibration of indolence, lethargy, staleness and death.

For thousands of years the effects of food on the human consciousness have been studied by great yogis in India, and due to their awareness of the profound effects of food on the individual and society, these individuals choose a Satwic, pure vegetarian diet to enhance their spiritual practice and assist the world in its evolution.

The best form of diet for the devotee is pure vegetarian, meaning no eggs, no flesh and no onions and garlic or other tamasic foods. This is a Satwic diet. Also important is the observance of Ekadasis and other times for fasting, to the degree that is possible.
The consequences of the foods we eat are felt not only in our own bodies and homes, but throughout the entire world.

Compassion towards our fellow creatures is a fundamental feature of a spiritual life. Every religion preaches compassion in one way or another, and every human intuitively understands the importance of compassion. It is therefore an act of conscious and intentional ignorance and denial to eat meat when we know how it is procured. We cannot claim to be honouring the natural human tendency for compassion when we are involved in animal slaughter for pleasure.

Also Read:
 Vegetarianism: Non-Violence as Daily Practice
 Vedic food - in Bhagawad geeta
 Why Be Vegetarian?
 Why Eat Prasadam?
 Why do we offer food to the Hindu God and Goddess before eating it ?
 PRASAD - Brief description about Hindus offer some items of food to the Lord
 Beef eating bad for environment, says United Nations body
 Hindu Traditional food vs Fatal Fat food
 3 modes of Vedic Food
 Vedic Food on Ayurvedic Temparament
 Tamasic Foods, and why do I care?
 Rajasic Food – the yogic food
 Satvic Food - Vedic ancient approach help our health today?
 Food and Prasada
 Vegetarianism Quotes
 Vegetarianism and Diet
 Karma. What is oviphages?: The soul
 Ugadi Pachhadi: Telugu New Year Clebration Chutney
 Lord Balajis Prasadam ( Laddu )
 Best Healthy Benefits of Vegetables Curry Leaves
 The Akshaya Patra Foundation

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