| The vegetarians
do not eat meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Some
people who call themselves partial vegetarians
eat fish and chicken but no red meat such
as beef, pork and lamb. Others who call themselves
lacto-ovo-vegetarians, include eggs along
with milk and milk products in their diet,
lacto-vegetarians include milk and milk products
but no eggs in their diet while fruitarians
live on fruits, seeds, grains and vegetables
only. According to Jainism, only lacto-vegetarians
and fruitarians are vegetarians.
In ancient times many great Greek scholars
including Plato, Socrates and Pythagoras
supported a vegetarian diet. In India, all
sages and saints preached the importance
of vegetarianism . It is clear that meat
has not been a component of the food of
all human beings since prehistoric times.
Jainism and some other religions say that
soul is the entity that distinguishes living
beings from nonliving objects. They also
emphasize that the souls of animals are
basically of the same kind as those of human
beings and that all animals including the
tiniest of insects are seen to avoid dangerous
situations, painful experiences and death.
No one can deny that an animal feels pain
like a human being. Thus, like humans, all
animals have the right to live. Therefore
, avoidance of the killing of animals is
the most important reason for a vegetarian
diet. We should not kill any living being
for food. It is a violent and selfish act
which is totally unnecessary.
Most men and women, vegetarians as well
as non-vegetarians, find it hard to injure
or kill animals. However, many people eat
meat because of their lack of awareness
of the process of production of meat. If
people become aware of these facts, they
may give up eating non-vegetarian food.
Some people argue that the weaker and smaller
animals are always the food of the stronger
and bigger animals and that this is in accord
with nature's law. This, however, is the
law of animals, not the law of man.
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 (AHIMSA) 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 Bhagavan Mahavir
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.
Bhagavan 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. Men like other vegetarian
animals have well developed salivary glands
which are needed to pre-digest grains and
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.
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.
NONVIOLENCE AND HEALTH
The basic tenets of Jainism, nonviolence
and truth are very essential for the physical
and mental well-being of all man. Speaking
the truth keeps one's conscience clear.
It keeps our mind free from guilt and worries.
This lessens strains and stresses and thus
has a beneficial effect on the body too.
Nonviolence is the basis for vegetarianism.
All life is precious. All living beings
have their place and role in the scheme
of things. Thus we should protect and preserve
life. "Survival of the fittest"
might be nature's way but we should not
interfere with nature.
We should respect life. Man seems to be
vegetarian by nature. Vegetarian diet appears
to be more suitable to human anatomy and
physiology. Recently, more and more people
are realizing that vegetarianism is better
for maintaining good health. We should eat
fruits, vegetables, grain, milk, and milk
products. We should drink pure water and
fruit juices. Our body needs food, rest
and exercise. Let us eat natural vegetarian
food, avoiding meat, fish, eggs,etc. Restraint
in eating by way of fasting gives rest to
our physical system and it is helpful.
If we want to be healthy, young-looking
and energetic, then we should follow the
Jain path outlined above. It is the path
of being as close to nature as possible.
It is the path of moderation and restraint.
Lot of people believe that eggs are a superior
food to milk. There is a lot of confusion
and misconceptions when it comes to nutrition
and good eating habits. Nutrition is not
just a matter of taking in the right amounts
of basic building blocks or nutrients such
as proteins, vitamins, etc. How you combine
and consume these foods is perhaps more
important than what you take. For it is
not just the matter of taking the foods
into your system but digesting them successfully
to a point where your body is able to assimilate
and absorb these vital nutrients.
Nature always meant eggs to be 'life creating'
and milk to be life sustaining. Just as
a cow gives milk to the calf, the mother
hen who lays eggs does not feed her eggs
to her infants. And, who has heard of a
calf being born from milk?
Milk being liquid is easier to digest than
eggs. Besides certain parts of eggs are
never digested and therefore the body has
to work harder to handle the eggs. Moreover,
eggs have cholesterol. It is true that eggs
have pound for pound more protein than milk
but since eggs have no carbohydrates, this
protein is difficult to digest. Remember
dal is easy to digest if you eat it with
whole wheat chapati or rice which has high
amount of carbohydrates.
VEGETARIANISM AND JAINISM
Jains are vegetarians because they believe
in nonviolence. Violence means to kill or
injure, to be angry or be greedy, to engage
in self-torture, to be intolerant, not listening
to what other people are saying, etc. If
we do not take proper care of our body and
mind, we are committing violence of self.
A vegetarian diet is natural and better
for our health as described below. Thus
vegetarianism helps us avoid violence of
self. Vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry
or fish. Here are some health reasons why
some people don't eat meat:
1. To protect their heart.
Animal fat and high cholesterol diet may
set a stage for heart disease. In some places
where very little fat is eaten, the death
rate from heart disease is lower than in
2. To reduce the risk of cancer.
Animal fat and cholesterol have been linked
to some forms of cancer such as the cancer
of colon, breast and uterus. The National
Academy of Sciences reported in 1983 that
"people may be able to prevent many
common cancers by eating less fatty meats
and more vegetables and grains." A
vegetarian diet also reduces the risk of
3. To control their weight.
BE A VEGETARIAN FOR GOOD HEALTH
Apart from religious considerations, a vegetarian
diet is healthier, more economical and better
than a non-vegetarian diet. The high-fat,
low-fiber content of meat cause cancer of
brain, lungs, liver, stomach, intestines,
pancreas and breast. Pork, beef, eggs, liver,
shrimp, lobster, etc., have very high levels
of cholesterol while in a vegetarians diet
the cholesterol levels are very low. Farm
animals are kept alive with hormones, tranquilizers,
antibiotics and thousands of other drugs
and chemicals. Some of these are cancer
causing substances and are present in the
meat. Jains are encouraged to filter water.
The Jain religion also tells us not to eat
at night. These things make sense. Water
may contain some foreign substances and
living beings which may be harmful to us.
There are many more microorganisms in the
atmosphere at night than at daylight. Some
bugs or small insects may fall into the
food at night and we may not be able to
detect them. Eating such food may make us
sick. The bugs may be poisonous. Also it
is good for one's health not to eat after
sunset as we should have a minimum of four
hours between dinner and sleep. This way
the food can be digested easily. Thus by
eating early, we can minimize falling sick.
Eating large amounts of food is not good
for health. Thus to control eating, Jainism
instructs us to fast or to eat only a limited
number of times in a day. Apart from health
reasons, the main idea behind fasting or
restricting eating is to minimize the activities
which involve hurting or killing living
From the above examples, we can see that
thousands of years ago, Jains knew about
the benefits of not drinking unfiltered
water, not eating at night and not eating
underground vegetables. We see that the
Jain religion is scientifically based and
conveys its principles in an effective way.
Another aspect of nonviolence is morning
and evening prayers (SAAMAAYIK). We minimize
our physical and mental activities during
these prayers. This helps us to avoid violence.
It helps us to avoid anger, pride, greed,
etc. It gives us peace of mind.
We see that nonviolence is the basis of
the Jain religion and that our activities
are based around this principle. Mahatma
Gandhi was a follower of this principle
of nonviolence. World peace can be achieved
by using nonviolence as our basic tool.