“To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being, I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body” - Mahatma Gandhi
Vegetarianism is more accepted and normal than ever before. I remember when I had moved to Perth some 10 years ago, vegetarian food was not as readily available in restaurants as it is these days. There is a significant amount of information out there about the benefits of a vegetarian diet as people continue to accept it as a way of life. However, on the odd occasion I do still get questions about being vegetarian. I am going to try my best and address some of the questions I face.
Why no meat?
Ahimsa- often translated to nonviolence, is one of the principles of Hinduism. However, Ahimsa is not only the act of refraining from violent actions and words but also to refrain from violent thoughts. It is obvious that consuming meat in a nonviolent manner is not possible as it involves the act of killing (violence). Being a vegetarian is one of the easier ways for me to try and follow the principle of ahimsa.
How can not eating meat or eggs be easy? How can you refrain from eating mouth-watering steak?
All I can say is; it is definitely easier than refraining from violent thoughts. Eating, being a physical action is something one has control over, On the other hand, not having any violent thoughts is rather challenging .e.g. getting angry at someone in your mind, or swearing at someone in your head is also violence! Hence, I have chosen the easier path of refraining from meat (physical violence) knowing that it will slowly and surely help me control my thoughts too.
Where do you get your protein from?
There is plenty of vegetarian alternatives for protein i.e. tofu, lentils, beans etc. etc. As for myself, I am not really that concerned about my protein intake. I include all sorts of vegetables, legumes, grains and nuts in my diet, I am sure there will some sort of protein in there. If I was gym junkie (like my brother) trying to gain muscle mass, this would be a relevant question but I prefer to focus on mental strength rather than physical strength.
You have no idea what you are missing out on, meat is just delicious.
I have been vegetarian since I was six years old. This means I used to eat meat up until then. I think I might have a fair idea about just how delicious meat is. But then again, I chose to stop eating meat all by myself so I guess that means something else had more of an impact on me than the delicious taste.
I remember our trip to a Hindu exhibition just after I had turned 6. One of the sections of the exhibition was on vegetarianism. There was a model of a cow and a calf and the sign board read something along the lines of, “How would you feel if someone killed your mother or child.” That little message left a lasting impression on me and that was the day I decided not to eat meat. My mother was rather surprised as that was something she had least expected but I guess the unexpected can happen.
What about eggs? Eggs are not meat plus you can get unfertilised eggs, so they would never hatch into chicks anyways.
It has taken me time to understand this whole process about fertilised and unfertilised eggs. I still do not want to eat eggs. No amount of logic is cutting it for me. To me an egg is a potential chicken and so I would rather not eat it.
X is a Hindu and she eats meat
Good for her! That is her personal choice, just as it is mine not to.
Hinduism is a very diverse religion. The Vedas contain references both for and against consuming meat. This leaves each individual with the option of understanding the scriptures in a manner that suits them. That being said, non-violence is one of the fundamental principles of Hinduism and not consuming meat and eggs is the easiest way for me to follow that principle.