Path to Siva: A Catechism for Youth

49 Why Are We Vegetarians?§


Warm butter melts on a fresh roti, surrounded by spicy soup, chickpea curry, tofu and noodles and raw vegetables. Such a vegetarian meal is healthy not only for our body, but for our planet, too.§


People adopt vegetarianism for five main reasons: dharma, karma, consciousness, health and environment. First, dharma declares that we should not kill other creatures to feed ourselves. Second, those who eat meat are participating indirectly in violent acts against the animal kingdom. This creates negative karma, bringing to us suffering in the future. A third reason is the impact of eating meat on our consciousness. At the moment of death, the terror and torture of the animal is biochemically locked into the flesh. When we consume the meat, we take that animal’s fear into our own body and it negatively affects our consciousness. The fourth reason is health. Eating meat has been linked to a variety of illnesses, including cancer. There is no nutritional reason humans have to eat meat. Modern research confirms that a vegetarian diet is a fundamentally healthy diet. Reason five, the huge industry that raises meat for human consumption is bad for the environment. It contributes to climate change, destruction of rain forests, loss of topsoil and the extinction of species. If the resources currently spent on raising beef, pigs and chickens were instead used to produce vegetarian food, hunger could be reduced worldwide and global warming largely allayed. Today vegetarianism is a global movement. There are vegetarians among all the religions as well as those who have no religion. Three percent of Americans are vegetarians, with eight percent among teens. In the UK, 15 percent of teens declare themselves vegetarians. India has the largest number of vegetarians in the world, more than 500 million, 30 percent of the population. Our saints proclaimed vegetarianism to be man’s natural and noble diet. The very name of our religion in Tamil, Saivam, also means vegetarianism!§


GURUDEVA: Vegetarianism is a natural and obvious way to live with a minimum of hurt to other beings. …In my fifty years of ministry, it has become quite evident that vegetarian families have far fewer problems than those who are not vegetarian.§