Vegetarians are people who do not eat meat or fish. Some vegetarians do not eat
meat because they think that eating meat is not good for their health. Others do
not eat meat because of their religious beliefs. They do not believe in killing
animals for food. Jains are vegetarians because they believe in nonviolence,
which involves not hurting or killing any living being. Jain religion has nonviolence as its basic principle.
Jain religion teaches us
not to hurt or kill any living being. Jains believe that we have no right to
kill anyone. All beings have an equal right to live and enjoy their lives. Thus
it makes sense not to eat meat because eating meat entails killing animals for
food. Also it takes sixteen pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. A
vegetarian diet is better. Vegetarianism is a better way of life.
Throughout history, many individuals and groups of people realized the
importance of the vegetarian diet for spiritual development and also for health
reasons. Thus they became vegetarians. 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. In modern times, many people are adopting a vegetarian diet for moral, health
and economic reasons.
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,
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.
Indian religions place great importance on vegetarianism.
The teaching of Bhagavan Mavavira 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
Jainism tells us that we can only limit violence and avoid unnecessary violence. Non- vegetarianism involves violence which is unnecessary and which can be
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 fruits.
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
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 improves human personality.
It keeps our mind free from guilt and worries. However, truth should be told
pleasantly. It preserves friendship and commands the respect of others. 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.
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. Let us learn to relax and get sound
sleep. Stress and haste may lead to sickness.
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.
HEALTH EFFECTS OF MEAT
Scientist agree that meat eating societies, such as the United States, tend to have higher levels of
cholesterol in their blood, and higher rates of coronary heart disease, than societies where people depend more heavily on plant foods.
EGGS OR MILK
Lot of people believe that eggs are a superior food to milk. But 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. A follower of Jain dharma never
takes an egg because it is a kind of himsa.
NUTRITION AND HEALTH
Dr. Mervyn Hardinge of Loma Linda University suggests plant foods are rich in
minerals and vitamins, and help build strong bones and flesh. Cereal, grains,
beans, peas, seeds and nuts contain considerable protein . The president's
Science Advisory Committee reports that 70% of the world's supply of protein is
derived from vegetable sources, mainly. Plant foods also contribute unsaturated fats and a variety of carbohydrates. The
cholesterol intake is reduced in proportion to the reduction of animal foods,
and fat is less saturated.
Plant foods provide an abundance of complex carbohydrates which animal foods do
The starch in plant foods is converted to glucose for energy, and the
indigestible fiber furnishes bulk for the bowels. Bulky foods have fewer
calories and reduce the risk of overweight. Both the protein and the fat of a vegetarian diet are moderate in amount and in better balance with the carbohydrate intake than is the case with a meat diet.