4 Reasons why we should become vegetarian
Why do we eat meat?
Before discussing as to why we should become 'Vegetarians' let us try to understand the reason we eat meat in the first place.
Man has been eating meat since 'Stone Age' when he couldn't grow 'agriculture'. Ages have passed since then and we continue to consume non-vegetarian food even though we have thoroughly mastered the art and technology of agriculture.
Moreover, with the evolution of time and study of mankind and animals it became quite clear that man is not meant for eating meat. The animals which are supposed to eat meat have large canines and comparatively shorter intestines. Man by constitution of the body is supposed to be vegetarian as he does not have body structure like that of 'Carnivorous' animals.
It could quite possibly mean that either we haven't thought on this issue from all angles or there is something which is coming in our way to give up this ages old habit of consuming non veg.
Therefore, the question to impose on ourselves today is : 'Should we continue to eat meat or should we switch to completely vegetarian meals'?
Agreed - these are individual's choices.
However, efforts are made in the following argument to bring forward 4 broad reasons as to why we should turn vegetarians.
1. General Reasons
Those of us who like to consume animal protein may or may not have thought on the reasons as to why we are eating meat. Is it because of the taste? Is it for nutritional value? Or is it that we are so used to eating it that we are not concerned about the reasons and are quite happy with our set routine pattern of eating animal food.
Some times it is also observed that some communities have acceptance for eating a particular type of animal flesh while they are strictly against eating some other kind.
For instance, Hindus feel that eating 'Beef' is unethical. Muslims feel eating 'Pork' is unethical. Some communities feel it is bad to eat dog meat. It is ironical that on one hand we do not accept the killing of a particular type of animal while at the same time somewhere in the back of our minds we do accept killing of other animals just for the taste of our tongue or perceived nutritional value.
Before going into the details, let us try to understand the reason for this kind of skewed behavior.
Since our childhood whatever we see around us, our mind accepts those things and gets programmed accordingly. If in our childhood we see our families or society eating meat, our mind gets programmed to accept this kind of behavior. If the community / society / country, where we are born, has a tradition of not eating meat of a particular animal but permits eating meat of other animals then our mind also gets automatically programmed to accept this.
This program gradually gets the acceptance, and, in course of time, becomes a strong 'conviction'. Once it becomes a conviction, it then becomes very difficult to change that programming of mind. This is what we call as 'Resistance to change'.
It is also the tendency of our mind to believe that what we do is the best.
Our mind is not ready to re-write another program which may result in deviating from the accepted values. Just to understand this argument, for a minute, let us come out of our already perceived values.
Let us think on a rational basis, how can it be right to kill one kind of animal and wrong to kill another kind of animal. Whereas the fact is that all kinds of animals / birds / sea animals are all living beings and we have absolutely no moral / ethical right to kill them just for the sake of our taste of our tongue or for any other reason.
Let us not bring the rule of jungle i.e. 'Survival of the fittest' into our day to day life. Let that rule remain in jungle only. The rule is created by 'Almighty' for the balance of nature. We have no right to either disturb the balance of nature or make an unjustifiable statement that it is an effort to maintain the balance of nature by killing of animals. If we accept that 'Survival of fittest' rule can be applied by us, then, will our mind accept if strong people start killing weak people and start eating human flesh. We shall call it 'barbarianism' and to rigidly control this kind of undesired behavior by anyone, there are stringent laws in every society / country to rule out such possibilities. These laws, the courts, the police machinery etc keep regular control to monitor and protect all of us.
But there are no laws to check the killing of animals. So the journey of animal's body from their living life bestowed upon them by nature, to a 'dead body' meant for our consumption remains an easy route and authorized part of code of conduct of the society.
There are various organizations such as PETA and many others which are trying to work for the welfare of the animals. Most of these organizations aim at curbing the trade practices out of animal skins, fur; stopping the testing of medicines / cosmetics etc on animals, giving more humane treatment to animals in day to day life. These societies also do encourage us that we should stop using animals as food.
They are doing great job in trying to persuade people to be more compassionate towards animals. However, in the absence of any strong laws for checking such practices, their efforts remain more of persuasive in nature.
The website of one of such organization shows there are more than 3 million supporters / followers of that particular organization. Similarly there may be many more who are trying to support the cause through some other organizations.
Now it is not known whether several millions of such supporters of animal welfare of various such organizations, are vegetarians themselves or not. If yes, then they are the genuine supporters for the welfare of animals. If not, it can be termed as glaring example of our 'double standards' of living. On one hand we talk about animal welfare and on other hand we accept eating meat which comes only when animals get killed in slaughter houses.
This is nothing but the result of the skewed program written in our minds since childhood.
2 Health Reasons :
There are no special reasons for preferring 'Non Vegetarian' food over 'Vegetarian' food.
All kinds of body requirements such as protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc are available in plenty in different types of vegetable, pulses, rice, wheat, fresh fruits etc.
- Vegetarian diet keeps our body clean from toxins.
- It provides needed Vitamins, minerals, protein etc
- Variety of food in the vegetarian menu is very large.
- It is observed that our temperament is the result of our diet.
- Taste is individual's choice. But accepting the killing of animals for taste sake is in fact a wrong notion.
- Eating vegetarian diet reduces the risk of heart diseases, kidney and gall bladder stone.
- Eating non vegetarian food enhances the chances of bird flu, and other diseases which animals carry, can get passed on to us.
- Weight of body can be better managed with the help of Vegetarian diet.
- Vegetarian diet consumers have lower risk of Type 2 diabetes.
- Vegetarian diet is rich in Fiber. Thus the digestive system works better and risk is lower for colon and intestine problems.
- Cholesterol is much lower in vegetarian diet..
- Plant food contain, potassium, chromium, folic acid which help in fighting chronic diseases.
- Consuming Vegetarian diet is a way to taking care of our health in a natural way.
What is missing in Vegetarian Diet : We do get almost all kinds of nutrients required in a good healthy vegetarian diet.
The observed minor shortfall is on two counts :
- It is observed that the protein intake is slightly lower in vegetarian meals. For overcoming this one can increase the intake of soya bean, pulses like kidney beans, lentils etc.You can also consider taking recommended soya protein supplements to fulfill the daily intake requirement of protein.
- Vitamin B12 is somewhat lacking in normal vegetarian diet. For taking care of this requirement one can increase the intake of 'Fortified Food' or consider taking recommended B12 supplements.
3. Ethical Reasons
We have no right to kill animals for our taste. We should love all living beings.
Let us not be the party to kill animals / birds / sea animals.
Many people tend to put forward the argument that they do not kill the animals. They are simply buying and eating the non vegetarian food. Someone else is responsible for killing these birds / animals.
The argument is not fully valid. Someone is killing the animals because we are creating the demand for it.
If we stop consuming meat, the demand will go down and so will the number of killings. In today's commercial world even large factories would produce in direct relation to the demand of its products. Slaughter houses are nothing but an industry thriving because we are demanding their produce.
If anyone gets a chance to visit a slaughterhouse and witness the plight of animals, it will be a frightful experience. At least for a few days that person might stop eating meat. Here too, some people put the argument that in modern slaughter houses the animals are first given sedatives and then killed by machines so their suffering is minimized.
Killing is actually killing whether under the influence of sedative or otherwise. If a man kills another man by first giving sedatives and then gives poisonous injection, the result still remains as a murder. Court will also treat it as a murder and give the punishment as per the law. There will be no leniency on the grounds that the killer used sedatives and therefore, the sufferings of the dead man was less.
All these are actually just the excuses put forward by our mind because our mind does not easily want to re-write its program for turning into pure vegetarians. Not only in this argument but this is our response in any situation to justify our action as right. This is nothing but the 'Resistance of our mind' to accept the change.
At least by deciding to go the 'Vegetarian Way', we will not be living in the category of 'double standards'; by being the supporter of the activities which try to reduce the sufferings of animals on one hand, and on the other hand be the one for creating the demand for meat so that someone else continues to kill the animals for us.
4. Spiritual Reasons
Theory of Karma (action). The Mystics explain that as per theory of 'karma' whatever action we do, we get the reward accordingly. When we do any kind of wrong actions (karma) our load of karma keeps on increasing and we have to bear the result of the same either in this life or in subsequent lives.
It is quite similar to Newton's third law of motion -'To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction'.
The difference is that in the law of motion the result is instant whereas the result of our 'karma' may be during any time deemed fit by nature. But one has to either reap the rewards or suffer the punishment of the good or bad karma respectively.
Killing of any living being created by God is adding to the load of our karma and has to be repaid.
We all go to our religious places. Our visit to a religious place is surely a good sign and indicates that somewhere in the back of our mind we have a longing to search the God.
The Mystics explain that in case one desires to make progress in the path of spirituality, one has to lay the foundation by leading a clean ethical life. One of the pillars for progress in the path of spirituality is that we should live on a very strict vegetarian diet on ongoing basis throughout our life.
Say no to Animal Food :
Even if we get convinced in our minds that we should stop eating meat, we face the difficulty from our internal faculties only in taking the final decision.
Our mind is always there to resist the change. Then we are sometimes thinking how shall we say no to our friends and family members with whom we have always been eating non vegetarian food.
Believe me the fear or inhibition is only temporary. Once we have strong conviction that we have to restrict our diet to vegetarian food only then no one can change it, come what may.
Once your conviction over rules their pressure, very soon such pressures from peers or others in our touch gets faded away as they start accepting our new way of living. Who knows, maybe they get influenced enough by your decision and themselves decide to become pure vegetarians.
And if you decide to change to become strict vegetarian then believe me, this change has to be implemented at one go rather than on gradual basis. Once we try to amend ourselves on gradual basis the change will never come and we will be forced to go back to the earlier way of living by our internal faculties.
A full vegetarian diet is the one which does not have any kind of meat, chicken, fish, egg or any product containing eggs or other non vegetarian ingredients such as rennet etc