The Meat-Free Life
Spiritual conciousness is best sustained when the body is
nourished with wholesome foods, obtained without harm to
animals or the environment
Hinduism Today Magazine
There are more that a few Hindus today who guiltily
abandoned the vegetarian ways of their own parents and
grandparents when they decided to be "secular" and
"modern." But our ancient seers had it right when they
advocated living without killing animals for food. Today
vegetarianism is a worldwide movement, with adherents
among all religions, daily gaining converts through one
or more of the five basic reasons to adhere to a meatless
diet: dharm, karm, consciousness, health and environment.
Each is explored in this insight section, which concludes
with the famous essay, "How to win an argument with a
Just how widespread is this movement? In the UK, polls
show more than 15 percent of teenagers are vegetarians,
and six percent of the general population. In America,
eight percent of teens and three percent of the general
population declare themselves vegetarian. It is a
movement with a broad base, for one can find advocates as
diverse as philosophers Plato and Nietzsche, politicians
Benjamin Franklin and Gandhi, Beatle Paul McCartney and
Rastifarian singer Bob Marley, actresses Brooke Shields,
Drew Barrymore, Alicia Silverstone, and actors David
Duchovny, Richard Gere and Brad Pitt. It's also helped
that a multitude of rigorous scientific studies have
proven the health benefits of the vegetarian diet.
Vegetarianism, an Ancient Hindu Ethic
Vegetarianism was for thousands of years a principle of
health and environmental ethics throughout India. Though
Muslim and Christian colonization radically undermined
and eroded this ideal, it remains to this day a cardinal
ethic of Hindu thought and practice. A subtle sense of
guilt persists among Hindus who eat meat, and even they
will abstain at special times. For India's ancient
thinkers, life is seen as the very stuff of the Divine,
an emanation of the Source and part of a cosmic
continuum. They further hold that each life form, even
water and trees, possesses consciousness and energy.
Nonviolence, ahinsa, the primary basis of vegetarianism,
has long been central to the religious traditions of
India—especially Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Religion
in India has consistently upheld the sanctity of life,
whether human or animal.
The Sanskrit word for vegetarianism is sakahara, and one
following a vegetarian diet is a sakahari. Hindu
vegetarians commonly consume milk products, but not eggs,
which are definitely a meat product, containing
cholesterol which is only present in animal flesh. The
term for meat-eating is mansahara, and the meat-eater is
called mansahari. Ahara means "to consume or eat," saka
means "vegetable," and mansa means "meat or flesh." The
very word mansa, "meat," conveys a deep appreciation of
life's sacredness and an understanding of the law of karm
by which the consequence of each action returns to the
doer. As explained in the 2,000-year-old Manu Dharm
Shastra, 5.55, "The learned declare that the meaning of
mansa (flesh) is, 'he (sa) will eat me (mam) in the other
world whose flesh I eat here.' " There developed early in
India an unparalleled concern for harmony among life
forms, and this led to a common ethos based on
noninjuriousness and a minimal consumption of natural
resources—in other words, to compassion and simplicity.
If Homo sapiens is to survive his present predicament, he
will have to rediscover these two primary ethical
Is Vegetarianism Integral to Noninjury?
In Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami's book, Dancingwith
Siva,this question is addressed as follows: "Hindus teach
vegetarianism as a way to live with a minimum of hurt to
other beings, for to consume meat, fish, fowl or eggs is
to participate indirectly in acts of cruelty and violence
against the animal kingdom. The abhorrence of injury and
killing of any kind leads quite naturally to a vegetarian
diet,sakahara. The meat-eater's desire for meat drives
another to kill and provide that meat. The act of the
butcher begins with the desire of the consumer. Meat-
eating contributes to a mentality of violence, for with
the chemically complex meat ingested, one absorbs the
slaughtered creature's fear, pain and terror. These
qualities are nourished within the meat-eater,
perpetuating the cycle of cruelty and confusion. When the
individual's consciousness lifts and expands, he will
abhor violence and not be able to even digest the meat,
fish, fowl and eggs he was formerly consuming. India's
greatest saints have confirmed that one cannot eat meat
and live a peaceful, harmonious life. Man's appetite for
meat inflicts devastating harm on Earth itself, stripping
its precious forests to make way for pastures.
TheTirukuralcandidly states, 'How can he practice true
compassion who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his
own flesh? Greater than a thousand ghee offerings
consumed in sacrificial fires is not to sacrifice and
consume any living creature.' "
Amazingly, some people define vegetarian as a diet which
excludes the meat of animals but does permit fish and
eggs. But what really is vegetarianism? Vegetarian foods
include grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and dairy
products. Natural, fresh foods, locally grown without
insecticides or chemical fertilizers are preferred. A
vegetarian diet does not include meat, fish, fowl,
shellfish or eggs. For good health, even certain
vegetarian foods are minimized: frozen and canned foods,
highly processed foods, such as white rice, white sugar
and white flour; and "junk" foods and beverages—those
with abundant chemical additives, such as artificial
sweeteners, colorings, flavorings and preservatives.
According to Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, "In my
forty years of ministry it has become quite evident that
vegetarian families have far fewer problems than those
who are not vegetarian. If children are raised as
vegetarians, every day they are exposed to nonviolence as
a principle of peace and compassion. Every day they are
growing up they are remembering and being reminded to not
kill. They won't even kill another creature to eat, to
feed themselves. And if they won't kill another creature
to feed themselves, they will be much less likely to do
acts of violence against people."
Vegetarians come in all sizes and shapes, but the
elephant is the largest of all, with a sophisticated
social life, loving and affectionately caring for its
own. Elephants live long, vigorous lives, have a very
large brain and, of course, are renowned for their
excellent memory. They do not suffer any weakness for not
eating meat. In fact, so many muscular and the most
intelligentanimals the horse, the cow, giraffe, zebra,
rhinoceros, the apes, and more—are lifelong vegetarians
and friends of men. Lean animals, thin and wiry, who are
feared by man and beasts alike, are all hunters and
killers and eaters of flesh—tigers, sharks, hawks, wolves
and the like. Similarly, no one fears a gentle
vegetarian, but all have reason to fear the unpredictable
meat-eater. Scriptures admonish that it is wise to fear
what should be feared.
Food and Consciousness
Food is the source of the body's chemistry, and what we
ingest affects our consciousness, emotions and
experiential patterns. If one wants to live in higher
consciousnes, in peace and happieness and love for all
creatures, then he cannot eat meat, fish, shellfish, fowl
or eggs. By ingesting the grosser chemistries of animal
foods, one introduces into the body and mind anger,
jealousy, fear, anxiety, suspicion and the terrible fear
of death, all of which is locked into the flesh of
butchered creatures. It is said that in ancient India
meat would be fed to the soldiers during military
campaigns, especially before combat, to bring them into
lower consciousness so that they would forget thier
religious values. They performed these deeds in
fulfillment of a warrior's way—with not the least
restraint of conscience. The inner law is ever so
simple—not eating meat, fish, foul or eggs is essential
to awaken consciousness into the seven higher chakras
(the uttara-chakras), up to the crown. Nonkilling—and
noneating of that which is killed—is a must to pass from
How many there are who resent the very mention of
becoming a vegetarian, being instinctively repulsed by
the idea, for they intuit the road ahead. They sense that
once the more sattvic diet of pure foods are taken in
place of meats (and other dead foods, packaged, processed
and cellophane-wrapped) they will feel a great guilt
occasioned by their transgressions of dharm, as they have
so well perfected over the years their adharmic ways.
Adharma means all that stands against Indian
spirituality, against the path of the good and the pure
and the natural, against dharm in all of its intricate
dimensions. None of the other dharmas—stri dharm, the
duties of women; purusha dharm, the duties of men;
ashrama dharm, the responsibility of one's stage of life;
varna dharm, one's position in society; and svadharma,
one's own perfect pattern—even when performed properly
will have the same results without fulfilling this
virtue. Even Rita dharm, cosmic order, is upset by man's
insatiable, aggressive appetites expressed through flesh-
Hindus Were the First Vegetarians
The book, Food for the Spirit, Vegetarianism and the
World Religions, observes: "Despite popular knowledge of
meat-eating's adverse effects, the nonvegetarian diet
became increasingly widespread among Hindus after the two
major invasions by foreign powers, first the Muslims and
later the British. With them came the desire to be
'civilized,' to eat as did the saheeb. Those actually
trained in Vedic knowledge, however, never adopted a
meat-oriented diet, and the pious Hindu stillobserves
vegetarian principles as a matter of religious duty.
"That vegetarianism has always been widespread in India
is clear from the earliest Vedic texts. This was observed
by the ancient traveler Megasthenes and also by Fa-hsien,
a Chinese Buddhist monk who, in the fifth century,
traveled to India in order to obtain authentic copies of
the scriptures. These scriptures unambiguously support
the meatless way of life. In the Mahabharata, for
instance, the great warrior Bhishma explains to
Yudhishtira, eldest of the Pandava princes, that the meat
of animals is like the flesh of one's own son, and that
the foolish person who eats meat must be considered the
vilest of human beings [Anu. 114.11]. The eating of
'dirty' food, it warns, is not as terrible as the eating
of flesh [Shanti. 141.88] (it must be remembered that the
Brahmins of ancient India exalted cleanliness to a divine
"Similarly, the Manusmriti declares that one should
'refrain from eating all kinds of meat,' for such eating
involves killing and leads to karmic bondage (bandha)
[5.49]. Elsewhere in the Vedic literature, the last of
the great Vedic kings, Maharaja Parikshit, is quoted as
saying that 'only the animal-killer cannot relish the
message of the Absolute Truth [Shrimad Bhagavatam
Common Dietary Concerns
Those considering a vegetarian diet generally worry about
getting enough nutrients, since the belief that meat is a
necessary part of keeping strong and healthy is still
extremely widespread. Recently a group of eminent doctors
called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
(PCRM), themselves members of the American Medical
Association, have decided to change the US consciousness
on human nutrition, particularly among the medical
community. The PCRM is a nonprofit organization based in
Washington, D.C., consisting of doctors and laypersons
working together for compassionate and effective medical
practice, research and health promotion. Founded in 1985,
the PCRM is supported by over 3,000 physicians and 50,000
laypersons. PCRM president (and vegetarian) Neal D.
Barnard, M.D., is a popular speaker and the author of The
Power of Your Plate. Armed with decades of nutritional
research data, PCRM addresses these dietary concerns
"The fact is, it is very easy to have a well-balanced
diet with vegetarian foods. Vegetarian foods provide
plenty of protein. Careful combining of foods is not
necessary. Any normal variety of plant foods provides
more than enough protein for the body's needs.
Althoughthere is somewhat less protein in a vegetarian
diet than a meat-eater's diet, this is actually an
advantage. Excess protein has been linked to kidney
stones, osteoporosis, and possibly heart disease and some
cancers. A diet focused on beans, whole grains and
vegetables contains adequate amounts of protein without
the 'overdose' most meat-eaters get."
Other concerns are allayed by the PCRM as follows:
1. Calcium is easy to find in a vegetarian diet. Many
dark, green leafy vegetables and beans are loaded with
calcium, and some orange juices and cereals are calcium-
fortified. Iron is plentiful in whole grains, beans and
2. Vitamin B12: There is a misconception that without
eating meat one cannot obtain sufficient vitamin B12,
which is an essential nutrient. This is simply not true.
The PCRM advises: "Although cases of B12 deficiency are
very uncommon, it is important to make sure that one has
a reliable source of the vitamin. Good sources include
all common multiple vitamins (including vegetarian
vitamins), fortified cereals and soy milk."
3. During pregnancy nutritional needs increase. The
American Dietetic Association has found vegan diets
adequate for fulfilling nutritional needs during
pregnancy, but pregnant women and nursing mothers should
supplement their diets with vitamins B12 and D.
4. Vegetarian children also have high nutritional needs,
but these, too, are met with a vegetarian diet. A
vegetarian menu is "life-extending." As children,
vegetarians may grow more gradually, reach puberty
somewhat later, and live substantially longer than meat-
eaters. Be sure to include a reliable source of vitamin
B12. Besides the fortified cereals and soy milk mentioned
above, vitamin B12 is widely available in multiple
vitamins, brewers yeast and other potent dietary
Those interested in supporting or learning more about the
work of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Converting to Vegetarianism
Making the transition from carnivore to herbivore is not
as hard as you might think. According to the book, The
New Vegetarians, by Sonia Partridge and Paul Amato, 73%
of vegetarian converts stated that the transition was not
difficult. It is easier for people who do some homework
on the subject and have a bit of cooking skill. The time
it takes for people to totally convert varies greatly.
About 70% of people make the transition gradually, while
30% stop all at once. A year is the most transition time
to stop with red meat, which is almost always the first
flesh to go, followed more slowly by fowl and fish.
One recommended method for the transition is to set a
series of goals for yourself. Start simply with getting
through one day without meat. Then, try one weekend, then
one week. Make a realistic timetable for reaching them.
Two to three months might be reasonable for some people
while six months to a year might be better for others.
Rewards can also help. For a major accomplishment such as
a week without meat, treat yourself to a nice vegetarian
One can also take a formal Hindu vow of vegetarianism,
sakahara vrata, available on-line
vow may be taken privately, before elders or parents or
as part of a temple ceremony. It reads in part, "I accept
the principle ofsakaharaas the method by which I may
acknowledge my compassion, mykaruna, for all living
beings. As an act of dedication, I am resolved this day
to begin (or continue) the regular practice of eating a
strict vegetarian diet and not eating meat, fish,
shellfish, fowl or eggs."
The most common problem with conversion is not knowing
enough about vegetarian diet. Some people who decide to
be vegetarian, have no idea what to eat and end up with
soggy vegetables and undercooked brown rice for
breakfast, lunch and dinner. They become discouraged and
rightly wonder how they will survive. But decent
vegetarian food isn't boring. A little reasearch with
books and websites will put your mind at ease. Get a
vegetarian cookbook. Ask restaurant waiters which menu
items are vegetarian.
Vegetarians are often asked "Don't you miss eating meat?"
For about half of beginning vegetarians the answer is
yes, acording to The New Vegetarians. They miss the
texture and flavor of meat in the early weeks and months.
Almost everyone though, gets over this within six months
to a year and for many it becomes nauseating even to
think about eating meat. Eighty-two percent of fully
adapted vegetarians say there is no way they would
consider eating flesh again.
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami writes, "Modern meats are
killed by chemical treatment of the animals, the hormones
of fear and chemistry of death before and during
slaughter, killed again by refrigerating them, killed
again by grinding them, killed again by preserving them,
killed again by packaging them, killed again by freezing
them, killed again by storing and shipping them, and
finally really killed by cooking them to death. How can
such so-called food nourish a human being? Why should we
ever think of eating meat, fish, foul, eggs, anything
with eyes or, as some say, with two or more senses. The
cock-a-doodle-doo who wakes us up in the morning is
dinner on the table at night. How gruesome. How ruthless
to thus forever close the eyes of an animal, or have
someone else do it for them in order that they may buy
the carcass, closing their eyes to the fact, which is
even worse, and keeping their own eyes closed to that
creature's suffering to consume it without conscience
during jovial small talk over the dinner table. How easy
in turn for such a person to turn and maim or kill a
fellow human in the same way in times of stress as a
natural reaction, in 'justifiable righteousness.'As the
Rg Ved (10.87.16) proclaims: 'One who partakes of human
flesh, the flesh of a horse or of another animal, and
deprives others of milk by slaughtering cows, O King, if
such a fiend does not desist by other means, then you
should not hesitate to cut off his head.'
How to Win an Argument with Meat-Eater
While it is certainly best to avoid an argument with the
aggressive meat-eater, a lively discussion provides them
useful information and could help save the environment,
their health and solve the world's hunger problem—maybe
even result in a "convert." But be forewarned, these
carnivores may regard nonmeat-eaters as a timid lot who
munch "rabbit food," and whose diet doesn't have the
substance to make them strong, productive human beings.
The following presentation explains the devastating
effects of meat-eating both on individuals and on our
planet. It is based on a poster entitled, "How to win an
argument with a meat-eater," published by Earthsave, of
Felton, California, giving facts from Pulitzer Prize
nominee John Robbins' book, Diet for a New America.
HINDUISM TODAY'S version details ten arguments against
meat-eating and in favor of a vegetarian diet.
The facts you need to change opinion
1. The Hunger Argument: Much of the world's massive
hunger problems could be solved by the reduction or
elimination of meat-eating because the needs of livestock
pasture drastically cuts into the acres of land which
could otherwise be used to grow food. Additionally, vast
quantities of food which could feed humans is fed to
livestock raised to produce meat.
This year alone, twenty million people worldwide will die
of malnutrition. One child dies of malnutrition every 2.3
seconds. One hundred million people could be adequately
fed using the land freed if Americans reduced their
intake of meat by a mere 10%. Eighty percent of the corn
and 95% of the oats grown in the US is eaten by
livestock. The percentage of protein wasted by cycling
grain through livestock is calculated by experts as 90%.
One acre of good farmland can produce 40,000 pounds of
potatoes, or 250 pounds of beef. Fifty-six percent of all
US farmland is devoted to beef production, and to produce
each pound of beef requires 16 pounds of edible grain and
soybeans, which could be used to feed the hungry.
2. The Environmental Argument: Many of the world's
massive environmental problems could be solved by the
reduction or elimination of meat-eating, including global
warming, loss of topsoil, loss of rain forests and
species extinction. Trees, and especially the old-growth
forests, are essential to the survival of the planet.
Their destruction is a major cause of global warming and
top soil loss. Meat-eating is the number one driving
force for the destruction of these forests. Two-hundred
and sixty million acres of US forestland have been
cleared for crop land to produce the meat-centered diet.
Fifty-five square feet of tropical rain forest is
consumed to produce every quarter-pound of rain forest
beef. An alarming 75% of all US topsoil has been lost to
date. Eighty-five percent of this loss is directly
related to livestock raising. Another devastating result
of deforestation is the loss of plant and animal species.
Each year 1,000 species disappear due to destruction of
tropical rain forests for cattle grazing and other
uses—driven by US demand. The rate is growing yearly.
3. The Cancer Argument: Those who eat flesh are far more
likely to contract cancer than those following a
vegetarian diet. The risk of contracting breast cancer is
3.8 times greater for women who eat meat daily compared
to less than once a week; 2.8 times greater for women who
eat eggs daily compared to once a week; and 3.25 greater
for women who eat processed butter and cheese two to four
times a week as compared to once a week. The risk of
fatal ovarian cancer is three times greater for women who
eat eggs three or more times a week as compared with less
than once a week. The risk of fatal prostate cancer is
3.6 times greater for men who consume meat, eggs,
processed cheese and milk daily as compared with
sparingly or not at all.
4. The Cholesterol Argument: The average cholesterol
consumption of a meat-centered diet is 210 milligrams per
day. The chance of dying from heart disease if you are
male and your blood cholesterol intake is 210 milligrams
a day is greater than 50%.
It is strange but true that US physicians are as a rule
ill-educated in the single most important factor of
health, namely diet and nutrition. As of 1987, of the 125
medical schools in the US, only 30 required their
students to take a course in nutrition. The average
nutrition training received by the average US physician
during four years in school is only 2.5 hours. Thus
doctors in the US are ill-equipped to advise their
patients in minimizing foods, such as meat, that contain
excessive amounts of cholesterol and are known causes of
heart attack. Heart attack is the most common cause of
death in the US, killing one person every 45 seconds. The
male meat-eater's risk of death from heart attack is 50%.
The risk to men who eat no meat is 15%. Reducing one's
consumption of meat, processed dairy products and eggs by
10% reduces the risk of heart attack by 10%. Completely
eliminating these products from one's diet reduces the
risk of heart attack by 90%.
5. The Natural Resources Argument: The world's natural
resources are being rapidly depleted as a result of meat-
eating. Raising livestock for their meat is a very
inefficient way of generating food. Pound for pound, far
more resources must be expended to produce meat than to
produce grains, fruits and vegetables. For example, more
than half of all water used for all purposes in the US is
consumed in livestock production. The amount of water
used in production of the average cow is sufficient to
float a destroyer (a large naval ship). While 25 gallons
of water are needed to produce a pound of wheat, 5,000
gallons are needed to produce a pound of California beef.
That same 5,000 gallons of water can produce 200 pounds
Thirty-three percent of all raw materials (base products
of farming, forestry and mining, including fossil fuels)
consumed by the US are devoted to the production of
livestock, as compared with two percent to produce a
complete vegetarian diet.
6. The Antibiotic Argument: Another danger of eating meat
is the fact that large amounts of antibiotics are fed to
livestock to control staphylococci (commonly called staph
infections). The animals being raised for meat in the
United States are diseased. The livestock industry
attempts to control this disease by feeding the animals
huge quantities of antibiotics. Of all antibiotics used
in the US, 55% are fed to livestock. But this is only
partially effective because the bacteria that cause
disease are rapidly becoming immune to the antibiotics.
The percentage of staphylococci infections resistant to
penicillin, for example, has grown from 13% in 1960 to
91% in 1988. These antibiotics and/or the bacteria they
are intended to destroy reside in the meat that goes to
market. The response of the European Economic Community
to the routine feeding of antibiotics to US livestock was
to ban the importation of US meat.
In February, 2001, Cornell University reported, "Bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow
disease, has now been officially identified in a dozen
European countries including the UK, France, Italy,
Germany, Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Liechtenstein,
Portugal, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. As
a result, beef sales have fallen by as much as 50% in
parts of Europe." It was the common practice of feeding
cows ground-up sheep brains and parts infected with the
related disease of scarpie which is believed to have
started the mad cow epidemic.
7. The Pesticide Argument: Unknown to most meat-eaters,
US-produced meat contains dangerously high quantities of
deadly pesticides. The common belief is that the US
Department of Agriculture protects consumers' health
through regular and thorough meat inspection. In reality,
fewer than one out of every 250,000 slaughtered animals
is tested for toxic chemical residues. That these
chemicals are indeed ingested by the meat-eater is proven
by the following facts:
a. Ninety-nine percent of the milk of US meat-eating
mothers, contains significant levels of DDT. In stark
contrast, only 8% of US vegetarian mother's milk contains
significant levels of DDT. This shows that the primary
source of DDT is the meat ingested by the mothers.
b. The breast milk of meat-eating mothers has 35 times
more chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides than the milk of
c. The average breast-fed American infant contains nine
times the permissible level of the pesticide Dieldrin.
8. The Ethical Argument: Many of those who have adopted a
vegetarian diet have done so because of the ethical
argument, either from reading about or personally
experiencing what goes on daily at any one of the
thousands of slaughterhouses in the US and other
countries, where animals suffer the cruel process of
forced confinement, manipulation and violent death. Their
pain and terror is beyond calculation. Most
slaughterhouse workers are not on the job for long and
have the highest turnover rate of all occupations. It
also has the highest rate of on-the-job injury.
In the US alone, 660,000 animals are killed for meat
every hour. The average per capita consumption of meat in
the US, Canada and Australia is 200 pounds per year! The
average American consumes in a 72-year lifetime
approximately eleven cattle, three lambs and sheep, 23
pigs, 45 turkeys, 1,100 chickens and 862 pounds of fish!
10. The Physiological Argument: The final and most
compelling argument against meat-eating is that humans
are physiologically not suited for a carnivorous diet.
The book Food for the Spirit, Vegetarianism in the World
Religions, summarizes this point of view as follows.
"Many nutritionists, biologists and physiologists offer
convincing evidence that humans are in fact not meant to
eat flesh." The book gives seven facts in support of this
1. Physiologically, people are more akin to plant-eaters,
foragers and grazers, such as monkeys, elephants and
cows, than to carnivora such as dogs, tigers and
2. For example, carnivora do not sweat through their
skin; body heat is controlled by rapid breathing and
extrusion of the tongue. Vegetarian animals, on the other
hand, have sweat pores for heat control and the
elimination of impurities.
3. Carnivora have long teeth and claws for holding and
killing prey; vegetarian animals have short teeth and no
4. The saliva of carnivora contains no ptyalin and cannot
predigest starches; that of vegetarian animals contains
ptyalin for the predigestion of starches.
5. Flesh-eating animals secrete large quantities of
hydrochloric acid to help dissolve bones; vegetarian
animals secrete little hydrochloric acid.
6. The jaws of carnivora only open in an up and down
motion; those of vegetarian animals also move sideways
for additional kinds of chewing.
7. Carnivora must lap liquids (like a cat); vegetarian
animals take liquids in by suction through the teeth.
More reasons for not eating meat:
Vedic Scripture proclaims ahinsa, nonhurtfulness, is a
primary religious obligation in fulfillment of dharm,
By involving oneself in the cycle of inflicting injury,
pain and death, even indirectly by eating other
creatures, one must in the future experience in equal
measure the suffering caused.
By ingesting the grosser chemistries of animal foods, one
introduces into the body and mind anger, jealousy, fear,
anxiety, suspicion and a terrible fear of death, all of
which are locked into the flesh of the butchered
Vegetarians are less susceptible to all the major
diseases that afflict contemporary humanity. Thus they
live longer, healthier, more productive lives. They have
fewer physical complaints, less frequent visits to the
doctor, fewer dental problems and smaller medical bills.
In large measure, the escalating loss of species,
destruction of ancient rain forests to create pasture
lands for livestock, loss of topsoil and the consequent
increase of water impurities and air pollution have all
been traced to the single fact of meat in the human diet.
Saints and Scriptures Speak on Vegetarianism
Vedas, shastras and sootras alike decry the killing and
eating of animals
Scriptures of all Hindu denominations speak clearly and
forcefully on nonkilling and vegetarianism. The roots of
noninjury, nonkilling and nonconsumption of meat are
found in the Vedas, Dharm Shastras, Tirumurai, Yoga
Sutras, Tirukural and dozens of other sacred texts of
Hinduism. Perhaps nowhere is the principle of nonmeat-
eating so fully and eloquently expressed as in the
Tirukural, written in the Tamil language by a simple
weaver saint over 2,000 years ago.
One who partakes of human flesh, the flesh of a horse or
of another animal, and deprives others of milk by
slaughtering cows, O King, if such a fiend does not
desist by other means, then you should not hesitate to
cut off his head.
Rg Ved Samhita 10.87.16
Protect both our species, two-legged and four-legged.
Both food and water for their needs supply. May they with
us increase in stature and strength. Save us from hurt
all our days, O Powers!
Rg Ved Samhita 10.37.11
O vegetable, be succulent, wholesome, strengthening; and
thus, body, be fully grown.
Those noble souls who practice meditation and other yogic
ways, who are ever careful about all beings, who protect
all animals, are the ones who are actually serious about
Atharv Ved Samhita 19.48.5
You must not use your God-given body for killing God's
creatures, whether they are human, animal or whatever.
Yajur Veda Samhita 12.32
The ignoble ones who eat flesh, death's agents bind them
fast and push them quick into the fiery jaws of hell
(Naraka, lower consciousness).
In waves of ahinsa, all living beings cease their enmity
in the presence of such a person.
Yog Sootras 2.35
Ahinsa is not causing pain to any living being at any
time through the actions of one's mind, speech or body.
Having well considered the origin of flesh and the
cruelty of fettering and slaying of corporeal beings, let
one entirely abstain from eating flesh.
The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his
wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste;
the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the
animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing: he who
brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs
of an animal, and he who purchases, sells or cooks flesh
and eats it—all of these are to be considered meat-
Mahabharata, Anu. 115.40
He who desires to augment his own flesh by eating the
flesh of other creatures lives in misery in whatever
species he may take his birth.
Mahabharat, Anu. 115.47
Those high-souled persons who desire beauty,
faultlessness of limbs, long life, understanding, mental
and physical strength and memory should abstain from acts
How can he practice true compassion who eats the flesh of
an animal to fatten his own flesh?
Tirukural Verse 251
Riches cannot be found in the hands of the thriftless.
Nor can compassion be found in the hearts of those who
Tirukural Verse 252
Goodness is never one with the minds of these two: one
who wields a weapon and one who feasts on a creature's
Tirukural Verse 253
If you ask, "What is kindness and what is unkind?" it is
not killing and killing. Thus, eating flesh is never
Tirukural Verse 254
Life is perpetuated by not eating meat. The clenched jaws
of hell hold those who do.
Tirukural Verse 255
If the world did not purchase and consume meat, there
would be none to slaughter and offer meat for sale.
Tirukural Verse 256
When a man realizes that meat is the butchered flesh of
another creature, he must abstain from eating it.
Tirukural Verse 257
Greater than a thousand ghee offerings consumed in
sacrificial fires is to not sacrifice and consume any
Tirukural Verse 259
All that lives will press palms together in prayerful
adoration of those who refuse to slaughter and savor
Tirukural Verse 260
My opinion is well known. I do not regard flesh food as
necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in
which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live.
I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species."
Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948
Hinduism Today Magazine
Jai Maharaj, Jyotishi