There could be many meaningful reasons to become a vegetarian. But I will only focus on Spiritual aspects.
First, we should try to examine that why the entire vegetarian culture came into existence. The love for vegetarian lifestyle didn’t happen overnight. It’s not like people woke up one morning and they decided to turn vegetarian. In human history, you will find that it’s an Indian subcontinent where the vegetarian culture originated first. Also, it was found in the ancient Greek civilisation.
In the beginning, humans were eating everything, even the flesh of humans. There was no distinction between veg and non-veg food. But, over the period and with advancement in civilisations, few people moved towards plant-based diets and the outcomes were positive. The food choice changed their thinking patterns and social behaviour. The vegetarian diet made them less violent and calm from inside, and it was observed to be healthier.
The vegetarians made spiritual progress faster, and this food pattern helped them to go deeper. And that’s when it was advocated by many seers and saints and great philosophers in Europe (Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato) that a vegetarian diet is more holistic and could help you in your spiritual process.
One best example: Still many spiritual stalwarts are born in the Indian subcontinent, and it’s the only big country where almost 30-40% population is purely vegetarian.
You will observe that two great civilisations (Indus Valley and Greek) came up with the concept of vegetarian lifestyle. Since they were too developed and sensible enough to understand the intricacies of life and other living beings, they shared this noble observation. In Europe, the vegetarian lifestyle almost disappeared once Romans were Christianised.
Please refer: History of vegetarianism – Wikipedia (History of vegetarianism – Wikipedia)
Second, the entire philosophy of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism is based on reincarnation and Karma. Unless you understand it, you will miss the whole point.
Also, in the organised religions, it has been mentioned which meat you should eat or not. And if you read carefully in many cases they are not suggesting to eat the meat of predators. On the other hand, it is understandable if you grew up eating meat, it is challenging to think beyond it. Human conditioning is strong, and it is difficult to unlearn.
But according to Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, the animals are also on their spiritual journey, and they have feelings, attachments and sensibilities. And killing them destroys their journey.
Sometimes in life, only what your eyes see is not the only truth. Truth can only be experienced, and spiritual experiences can’t be captured through camera lenses and then uploaded on YouTube for proof. Life is subjective and not objective.
We can understand not everyone wants to go on a spiritual journey and don’t believe in such things (reincarnation and sensibilities of animals). But for such people there are other reasons and the most important ones could be ecology and climate change.
Many documentaries have been made, books have been written on this subject which highlight problems this meat industry and meat-eating habits cause. I will recommend watching documentaries like Food Choices, Before the Floods, etc. where many scientists, doctors and food-experts have scientifically shared their views with enough data and numbers. The meat industry is doing significant damage to entire ecology and mother earth. Only by avoiding eating Beef we could reduce the CO2 emission by 12-15% (reference, movie: Before the floods).
Personally, I have spoken to many people who became vegetarian, and most of them have only good things to say. It’s true at the beginning they struggled, it’s all part of the process of ‘conditioning and deconditioning’. But they observed positive changes in their life and thought process after few months and years.
It is good to be vegetarian for all good reasons. It shows our love for mother earth and nature.
By: Chit Dubey – Author of a book ’21 Doors to Happiness’.