Eating isn't just about satisfying hunger. We're like an athlete in our respective workplaces, we spend all day confronting challenging mental tasks, the brain's nutritional demands are greater. So we should eat like an athlete.
At the very least, that means lots of lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates; no processed foods; and minimal white flour and sugar.
This is a very old saying, “You are what you eat.” In essence, what is put into the body is what the body will use in the construction and replacement of its cells, hormones and neurotransmitters. Quite literally then the human body is composed of the very food that he consumes. And consider that most cells in the body will be completely replaced within 7-10 years; This means that each and every one of your cells will have been renewed and exchanged for another one that your body has produced. So it’s better to have a body built from whole grains, fruits and vegetables rather than from meat, fizzy drinks, teas, coffees & fast foods. The latter will be less able to adapt to daily life stresses and will be more susceptible to sickness and disease.
Both physical and spiritual nutrition are important, because we always become what we eat.
We must take greater care, though, in what we feed our souls, because so much more is at stake.
The Spiritual Path
There are several reasons why a person is recommended to be vegetarian. One primary reason is that we need to see the spiritual nature within all living beings, and that includes the animals and other creatures as well. Universal brotherhood means nonviolence to both humans and animals. It consists of understanding that animals also have souls. They are alive, conscious, and feel pain. And these are the indications of the presence of consciousness, which is the symptom of the soul.
Even the Bible (Genesis 1.21; 1.24; 1.30; 2.7; and in many other places) refers to both animals and people as nefesh chayah, living souls. Those who eat meat, however, because of their desires to eat animals or see them as a source of food for one’s stomach, are not so easily able to understand the spiritual nature of all beings.
Many portions of the Vedic literature describe how the Supreme Being is the maintainer of innumerable living entities, humans as well as the animals, and is alive in the heart of every living being. Only those with spiritual consciousness can see the same Supreme Being in His expansion as Super Soul within every creature. To be kind and spiritual toward humans and be a killer or enemy toward animals is not a balanced philosophy, and exhibits one’s spiritual ignorance.
The ancient Vedic text of the Manu-Samhita (5.45-8) says, “He who injures innoxious beings from a wish to give himself pleasure never finds happiness, neither living nor dead. He who does not seek to cause the suffering of bonds and death to living creatures, but desires the good of all beings, obtains endless bliss. . . Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to the attainment of heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun the use of meat.”
The Bible (Romans 14.21) also says, “It is neither good to eat flesh, nor to drink wine.” Another biblical commandment (Exodus 23.5) instructs us to help animals in pain, even if they belong to an enemy.
The Buddhist Scripture (Sutta-Nipata 393) also advises: “Let him not destroy or cause to be destroyed any life at all, or sanction the acts of those who do so. Let him refrain from even hurting any creature, both those that are strong and those that tremble in the world.” It is also said in the Buddhist scripture, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, “The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.”
For Jews, the Talmud (Avodah Zorah 18B) forbids the association with hunters, not to mention engaging in hunting.
In the New Testament Jesus preferred mercy over sacrifice (Matthew 9.13; 12.7) and was opposed to the buying and selling of animals for sacrifice (Matthew 21.12-14; Mark 11.15; John 2.14-15). One of the missions of Jesus was to do away with animal sacrifice and cruelty to animals (Hebrews 10.5-10).
In Isaiah where Jesus scorns the slaughter and bloodshed of humans and animals. He declares (1.15) that God does not hear the prayers of animal killers: “But your iniquities have separated you and your God. And your sins have hid His face from you, so that He does not hear. For your hands are stained with blood. . . Their feet run to evil and they hasten to shed innocent blood. . . they know not the ways of peace.” Isaiah also laments that he saw, “Joy and merrymaking, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine, as you thought, ‘let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (22.13)
It is also established in the Bible (Isaiah 66.3), “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man.” In this regard St. Basil (320-379 A.D.) taught, “The steam of meat darkens the light of the spirit. One can hardly have virtue if one enjoys meat meals and feasts.”
The Scientific Point of View
Science confirms humans have no biological requirement for animal products. The human teeth are made as like the ones of herbivores with just 4 canines. Hence it is easier to chew and bite vegetarian dishes than non-vegetarian dishes.
(Our canine teeth don’t make us meat-eaters)
Herbivorous animals have fleshy lips, a small mouth opening, a thick and muscular tongue, and a far less stable, mobile jaw joint that facilitates chewing, crushing, and grinding.
Also, herbivores have digestive systems in which the stomach is not nearly as spacious as the carnivore’s or omnivore’s, a feature that is suitable for the more regular eating of smaller portions permitted with a vegetarian diet. Our stomachs are only moderately acidic, a fact that becomes salient around Thanksgiving, when even slightly undercooked dinners of chicken flesh result in many cases of food poisoning from the illness-causing bacteria that easily survive in our stomachs.
An important factor for being vegetarian is Karma. Newton's third law of motion states, for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction. On the universal scale this is called the law of karma, meaning what goes around comes around. This affects every individual, as well as communities and countries.
This is something we should take very seriously, especially in our attempt to bring peace, harmony, and unity into the world. If so much violence is produced by the killing of animals, where do you think the reactions to this violence goes? It comes back to us in so many ways, such as the form of neighbourhood and community crime, and on up to world wars. Violence breeds violence.
Therefore, this will continue unless we know how to change.