Age Old Debate: Vegetarianism or Nonvegetarianism?


Vegetarianism or Nonvegetarianism?

This subject has always been a hot debate globally. Traditionally all societies were meat eaters as animals, birds, and fish were plentiful. But gradually as the thinking brain developed, the thinkers developed refined feelings and desisted from harming other living beings. They also felt that becoming vegetarians led to calming of passions and thus better thinking abilities.

Vegetarianism thus attracted attention and a section of the population adopted it. Many religions suggested it as a moral and ethical lifestyle for those who seek to find meaning in life.

In India vegetarianism is suggested in the Manusmriti and the Vedas but is nowhere mandated. It is recommended for those who respond to a higher calling. The Mahabharata too is replete with such suggestions.

But vegetarianism does not appeal to a large section of the population who prefer to eat meat and fish. Food is food. Meat, eggs and fish are nutritious and tasty. Once you get accustomed it is not easy to get over it. There are also nomadic and tribal populations for whom it is an important and indispensable part of food.

We observe that the healing systems of India recommend non vegetarian food. Bone broth is supposed to be an elixir for various kinds of post disease convalescence and general weakness.

It is thought that brahmins are non vegetarians but not all sects are. Many brahmins have no qualms about having non vegetarian food. The reckless killing of life forms for food led to soul searching and communities like Jains and Buddha and his followers became strict vegetarians. But Buddhists from outside India do take non veg food.

Vegetarianism became popular for various reasons. People started disliking animal sacrifice and developed distaste for meat; but more than that the increase of sickness in society and the fall in digestive powers made people conscious of their diet. Meat and milk allergies have forced many to become vegetarians and even vegans.

There is another reason. The commercial use of animals and birds has led to overmedication. The use of hormones, antibiotics, steroids, and vaccination has poisoned the entire non vegetarian food chain and those health conscious are staying away from consuming the products. For that matter even plant based food is poisoned by pesticides, hormones, and coloring material. One needs to go for organic produce.

Then we come to a category for whom spiritual practices matter a lot. They tend to worry about purity of body and mind. It is when the body and mind are pure that the spiritual quest tends to spontaneously grip a person. These people do not consume non vegetarian food because it can disturb both body and mind.

Human beings are 90% microbes. It is these microbes that determine many of our moods, emotions and also our tastes and preferences. The variety and growth of these microbes depend on our food intake.

If we take non veg food, microbes that thrive on such food increase in number. These microbes then seek their preferred food driving us for more of such food. We get into the habit and cannot think of any other diet. People who become accustomed to vegetarian food are likewise attracted towards such food and develop distaste for non vegetarian food.

Even non vegetarians if they restrict themselves find that over a period of time their craze for non vegetarian food diminishes. This is because of the changed microbiome that adjusts to the circumstances. Then they either restrict or give it up. Many give up non veg food as they step into old age.

People in cold countries will be attracted to non vegetarian food while people in warmer countries may avoid it.

While vegetarian food becomes essential for some functions, it will not suit those accustomed to physical activities more than mental acrobatics. Warriors cannot do without meat protein.

It was for this reason that Buddhism slowly fell out of favor of the Indian rulers. They felt that vegetarianism was hampering the virility of the population in general and warriors in particular. The Bhakti movement also was similarly detested.

For those who have an idea of holistic health systems, vegetarianism appeals because the body finds it easier to digest vegetarian food, it leads to less waste accumulation, and induces less toxicity. These factors being the hallmark of disease, vegetarianism becomes a smart choice. Non veg food can tax the digestive system and the residue can fester in the intestines leading to sluggishness and irritation.

In ayurveda the excess of vata and pitta call for a vegetarian diet to counter. Those with digestive disorders, negative mentality, skin disorders improve on a vegetarian diet. Naturopaths recommend a vegetarian and often a fruitarian diet.

One should also keep in mind that injecting medical products containing cells and serum into the body is the worst practice of non vegetarianism whose impacts are much greater and chances of detoxification small. And of course the coming "plant based meat"; avoid it like the plague.

We can come to the conclusion that both vegetarianism and non vegetarianism are choices that attract different sections of people for different reasons. It is best left to the people to exercise their choice according to circumstances. We can merely be suppliers of information they seek.