I was born in a vegetarian family, and so have been one since birth. I always wondered why people eat non-veg when enough of the tasty and healthy veg food is available in markets. One reason for me being vegetarian was also linked to my religion. Many would advocate that eating non veg is a grave sin and it attracts great punishments and “Hell” for sure; but then I would think of the people living in polar regions or desert areas where natural vegetation is scarce or in some cases even negligible. People have only one choice – “Hunt”.
So, going by the religious views or the views of holy saints, those people were born to commit sin, and doomed by birth. At least, that is what I thought. I won’t say religious views are not true or not practical but yes at times I struggle to understand the true essence/meaning contained in them. Maybe, its more that just what the words convey.
A few days back, I saw a holy discourse by an Indian saint “Avadhoot Baba Shivananda” on YouTube. During the talk, he made a random note that many people remain in doubt with regards to the type of the food they should or should not eat to progress in spiritual practices. Immediately, I got alert as the question which has always daunted me was about to get answered.
What I learned from the discourse was that instead of focusing on the type of food, we should focus more on our attitude and behavior towards others and towards ourselves. He explained that veg and non-veg is more of a mental concept i.e non-violence, peace, love as against violence, hatred, anger, etc.
A person who is constantly engaged in one or more emotions of anger, hatred, jealousy, guilt, resentment, fear etc. promotes non vegetarianism even if he is a vegan.
On the other hand, people who spread love, peace, happiness, or remain happy and cultivate the emotions of motivation, confidence, forgiveness, acceptance are the ones who could be really called as vegetarians. i.e promoting feelings of harmony and love is promoting vegetarianism, and promoting feelings of fear, doubt, anger, hatred is promoting non vegetarianism.
Its not just the cruelty towards animals, which could be termed as a form of violence. even the subtle emotions of negativity are in the nature of being cruel towards yourself and others. Such a person does more harm to himself than the one who although eats non veg, is living a life of forgiveness, acceptance and unconditional love.
When a person has disciplined his thoughts and actions to the extent that only positivity remains, then he can take a step ahead and deliberate on being vegetarian or non vegetarian. By only focusing on a pure diet, and paying no heed to one’s emotions and actions may not serve one’s purpose on a spiritual path.
So, what I understood was my thoughts and deeds should bring solace, peace, comfort, happiness to others and myself. Any action, which is coupled with a feeling of guilt or resentment should be done away with. After achieving such a stage, I am fit to dwell further and choose the type of food for myself.
I know, cruelty towards animals can not be justified in any manner whatsoever, and our efforts should always be aimed at loving the nature and loving all its beings in whatever form they are. But, the deeper I contemplate, I realise once a person has developed the aforesaid feelings of love, non-violence and charity i.e who has taken shelter under purity and positivity, will never even think of causing harm to animals or to the creation of God in any manner. He will be driven by self motivation to love animals and respect them. He may no longer be bugged by the thoughts of choosing the type of food he should eat or leave. He will no longer require any justification or logic to support his claim. He will just follow his heart and get in tune with nature, which never causes unwarranted harm to anyone.
PS: Looking forward to comments and views of the readers, which will help me develop even better understanding on the same. This post is not aimed at hurting religious views or promoting one view over another. It’s just a reflection of my personal views on the topic.