Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why go Vegetarian?

Well, just came back from a wedding of a family member in Canada. The wedding was very elaborate with 500-600 guests. Personally, I enjoy small weddings ie. may be 25-75 guests, but it was nice to see some relatives that I had not seen for a long time. I know as a Sikh, I am not supposed to judge people and behaviours, but some things or trends you just can't help noticing. I mean the other alternative would be to close my eyes:

1) number of men and women with gold karas, jewellary, bracelets, rings etc. almost to the point of looking like pimps or gansters ( I thought a simple iron or steel bracelet was the way of life for a Sikh man or woman) It is none of my business who wears what or how he or she spends money, but I just don't understand why so much emphasis is placed on Gold jewellary, big parties, and extravagenza? (Especially when there is great need for money and resources for important Sikh related projects, causes, youth education and various types of seva within and outside of the Sikh community. I wish people would donate more to people like the Sikhnet staff who is making so much difference in people's lives and could use more resources and money) See www.mrsikhnet.org

2) ratio of meat dishes vs. vegetarian dishes ( sadly, more meat dishes vs. vegetarian dishes)

3) ratio of alcohol drinkers vs. non-drinkers (surprisingly, there were less users of alcohol than non-drinkers)

Anyways, here is an interesting write up as to why vegetarianism is the way to go. This is taken from the ISKON site. read and comment if you like:


Are you one of those growing number of people who have decided that meat eating is wrong whichever way you look at it - either morally, ethically, economically, spiritually or for health reasons? If the answer is no, consider the following facts:

Moral and Ethical reasons
In 2000 in the UK 700 million innocent animals were slaughtered to satisfy the human palate. Mankind goes on perpetrating these obscenities on the defenceless creations of God and yet expects peace and happiness for itself. Gandhiji said the following about cow protection but the same sentiments apply to all animals - "Cow protection to me is infinitely more than mere protection of the cow. The cow is merely a type of all that lives. Cow protection means protection of the weak, the helpless, the dumb and the deaf. Man becomes then not the lord and master of all creation, but he is its servant." The next step in the progress of human civilisation has to be the liberation of animals from the tyranny of mankind.
Economic reasons
When around 10 million people are starving in the world today, most of the fertile land in the USA and other European countries is used to grow crops to feed animals, which are in turn consumed by human beings. This is an absolutely wasteful way of feeding ourselves; e.g. for every 16 pounds of grains fed to cattle only one pound of meat is produced. It is estimated that a 10% reduction in meat production will result in enough grain to feed 10 million people.
Health and nutritional reasons
Most of the modern killer diseases are associated with the over-consumption of fats, mainly animal derived. As early as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association said: 90 - 97% of heart disease can be avoided by a vegetarian diet. Meat is suspected of causing a host of cancers such as cancer of the stomach, cancer of the breast, cancer of the bowels, leukaemia and many others. Death by food poisoning is also an ever present threat to meat-eaters. The high level of cholesterol in eggs means that they must be avoided completely if one wants to avoid heart disease. Nutritionally speaking, vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains are an excellent source of protein and are easier to assimilate than those of meat.
Spiritual reasons
For every single action that we perform there is a reaction. If we cause pain and suffering to other living beings, then in this life and in the next, we will in turn suffer the consequences of our impious activities. In the Vedas it is mentioned that one who kills a cow will suffer the same fate for as many lives as there are hairs on the cow he killed. The reactions of karma equally affect those who kill, deliver, sell, prepare, cook, serve and eat the meal. There is no escape from the stringent laws of nature for anyone who aids and abets the animal slaughter industry. Indeed all the major religions advocate the ideals of vegetarianism:
The Annushasen Parva, Mahabharat says "Undoubtedly all those human beings who prefer meat to several forms of food are like vultures."
The Manusmrti says "All supporters of meat eating are sinners." It further states, "One whose meat I eat will eat my flesh in the next life."
The Christian Faith also says in Genesis (1.29) "Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing tree in which the fruit of the tree-yielding seed, it unto you shall be for meat."
Guru Nanak, Founder of the Sikh Faith, said "My disciples do not take meat and wine."
Lord Buddha said, "Meat is food for sub-human beings".
The Acharang Sutra of the Jain Faith said, "All creatures desire self-preservation, hence no creature should be slaughtered."
Gandhiji said "I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants."
Features of different entities' diets:
Meat eater
Plant eater
Licks and drinks
Sucks and drinks
Sucks and drinks
Sharp, pointed front teeth to tear flesh
No sharp, pointed teeth
No sharp, pointed teeth
Has claws
No claws
No claws
Intestinal tract only three times body length, so that rapidly decaying meat can pass out of body quickly
Intestinal tract 10-12 times body length. Fruits do not decay as rapidly as meat so can pass more slowly throuogh body
Intestinal tract 10-12 times body length. Fruits do not decay as rapidly as meat so can pass more slowly throuogh body
Small salivary glands in the mouth (not needed to pre-digest grains and fruits)
Well developed salivary glands, needed to pre-digest 21 January, 2007oped salivary glands, needed to pre-digest grains and fruits
Acid saliva. No enzyme ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Alkaline saliva. Much ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Alkaline saliva. Much ptyalin to pre-digest grains
No flat back molar teeth to grind food
Flat back molar teeth to grind food
Flat back molar teeth to grind food
They can see during night
Cannot see during night
Cannot see during night
Can kill the prey without aid of weapons
Do not kill to eat
Cannot generally kill without the aid of weapon
They can digest raw meat easily
Do not eat meat
Cannot digest raw meat easily
Behaviour is generally voracious
Behaviour is not generally voracious
Becomes voracious by eating meat
Do not eat grass
Do not eat meat
Should not eat meat
No skin pores. Perspires through the tongue to cool body
Perspires through millions of skin pores
Perspires through millions of skin pores


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post, however, I must say that your argument for vegetarianism isn't based on Sikhism at all. You make an ad hominem case.

If someone wants to be vegetarian, for health or non-religious reasons that's fine, as long as they don't put it into terms that it is somehow required as a Sikh. If someone decides that they don't like the idea of killing an animal, that's their personal decision, not a decision binding on Sikhs.

6:17 AM, May 23, 2007  
Blogger Varinder said...

Although not specified in the article but one may argue that it is a Sikh reason. Many refferences are made in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji which support vegetarianism and reject the consumption of meat.

10:04 AM, April 18, 2008  
Anonymous Priya said...

Amazing way to put forth why be a vegetarian. You not only expressed from a Sikh's perspective but from various other religions, from health perspective etc. I am born a vegetarian, I am a Jain. Given a choice also, I will remain only a vegetarian. I am so proud of you that you have put so much effort in expressing these beautiful powerful terms.

10:28 AM, November 25, 2008  
Anonymous Sandeep Singh said...

Hi actually you will find there are a lot of references to why Sikhs should be vegetarian in the holy book.
However, as always people will always minsinterpret religious books to their own benefit.

Sikhs, Hindus, Jains should all be vegetarian.

9:29 AM, July 28, 2009  

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