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The Importance Of A Vegetarian Diet

5719 words - 23 pages

HINDUISM TODAY Jan./Feb./March 2002, pp. 34-41 Copyright © 2002, HINDUISM TODAY. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Contact HINDUISM TODAY at 107 Kaholalele Road, Kapaa, HI 96746. www.hinduismtoday.com.The Meat-Free Life•Spiritual conciousness is best sustained when the body is nourished with wholesome foods, obtained without harm to animals or the environment There are more than a few Hindus today who guiltily abandoned the vegetarian ways of their own parents and grandparents when they decided to be "secular" and "modern." But our ancient seers had it right when they advocated living without killing animals for food. Today vegetarianism is a worldwide movement, with adherents among all religions, daily gaining converts through one or more of the five basic reasons to adhere to a meatless diet: dharma, karma, consciousness, health and environment. Each is explored in this insight section, which concludes with the famous essay, "How to win an argument with a meat-eater." Just how widespread is this movement? In the UK, polls show more than 15 percent of teenagers are vegetarians, and six percent of the general population. In America, eight percent of teens and three percent of the general population declare themselves vegetarian. It is a movement with a broad base, for one can find advocates as diverse as philosophers Plato and Nietzsche, politicians Benjamin Franklin and Gandhi, Beatle Paul McCartney and Rastifarian singer Bob Marley, actresses Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore, Alicia Silverstone, and actors David Duchovny, Richard Gere and Brad Pitt. It's also helped that a multitude of rigorous scientific studies have proven the health benefits of the vegetarian diet. Vegetarianism, an Ancient Hindu Ethic Vegetarianism was for thousands of years a principle of health and environmental ethics throughout India. Though Muslim and Christian colonization radically undermined and eroded this ideal, it remains to this day a cardinal ethic of Hindu thought and practice. A subtle sense of guilt persists among Hindus who eat meat, and even they will abstain at special times. For India's ancient thinkers, life is seen as the very stuff of the Divine, an emanation of the Source and part of a cosmic continuum. They further hold that each life form, even water and trees, possesses consciousness and energy. Nonviolence, ahimsa, the primary basis of vegetarianism, has long been central to the religious traditions of India--especially Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Religion in India has consistently upheld the sanctity of life, whether human or animal. The Sanskrit word for vegetarianism is sakahara, and one following a vegetarian diet is a sakahari. Hindu vegetarians commonly consume milk products, but not eggs, which are definitely a meat product, containing cholesterol which is only present in animal flesh. The term for meat-eating is mansahara, and the meat-eater is called mansahari. Ahara means "to consume or eat," saka means...

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