Please understand, that a vegetarian diet is not being put forth as being the all in all, or glorified as being the goal in life, because it isn’t.
The vegetarian diet can help one move toward seeking the highest perfection in life and becomes a natural part of one’s life once the understanding of the goal in life is attained.
After all, even the purest vegetarian diet is primarily concerned with the body, which is temporary, and bound to wither and die. Mahatma Gandhi put it extremely clear when he wrote about the vegetarian diet:
“It is for the building of the spirit and not of the body. Man is more than meat. It is this spirit in us for which we are concerned”.
Spiritual understanding is that no one is the material body, but that each person is an eternal, individual spirit soul, or living entity, just inhabiting a particular body, and that this spirit soul’s true position is as the loving servant to the Supreme Soul (God) – making it the ultimate goal of life.
With this understanding comes the realization that there is a living entity present in all the different bodily forms: grass bodies, plant bodies, bug bodies, animal bodies, etc. In fact, it is the presence of the living entity, or spirit soul, within any particular bodily form that gives the body, which is just a lump of matter, life and value. In other words, the body is simply a shirt of different colors, shapes and sizes for the eternal soul within. This leads to a deeper respect for all lives and the eradication of racism.
This brings to mind a story that I heard back in the 70s:
As a prince, Lord Buddha was sheltered and raised in a palace surrounded by a beautiful pleasure garden because his father wanted him never to see suffering. Yet as a very young boy of five or six, in the midst of the pleasure garden, Lord Buddha was able to perceive suffering. He witnessed a butterfly eaten by a frog, the frog by a snake, and the snake by a hawk. After observing this chain of events, he concluded that this world is a place of suffering because one living being has to cause pain and suffering to other living beings just to keep their body alive.
One living being lives off the body of other living beings. Of course, there are certain vegetarian foods, such as fallen fruits and leaves and ripe grains and legumes that do not entail causing the plant pain. But, even if a person eats in this way, he causes pain to other living beings as he goes about obtaining those foods.
If he walks on other living beings in the bug bodies, grass bodies, plant bodies, etc., or breathes living beings in germ bodies that get breathed in, they are attacked by white blood cells once they enter the body, then there is killing and suffering going on.
We cannot exist in this world without causing pain and suffering to others. This recognition that we keep our bodies alive by causing pain and suffering to others raises some important questions . . .
Well, if I just hardheadedly go stomping through the world figuring that’s how it is, so, “so what”, or will I actually be concerned enough to try to cause the least amount of pain possible?
If there is actual concern, it means we will try to keep these bodies alive by keeping the amount of pain we cost to others to a minimum by not causing any unnecessary killing.
This leads to another question: if this body is kept alive on the suffering of others, then don’t I have a responsibility to make my life worthwhile? Shouldn’t my reason for maintaining this body be higher than living like a hippopotamus – eating to live rather than living to eat? Do I not have the responsibility to live my life for the highest purpose?
The hippopotamus is a vegetarian, but what does a hippopotamus do? He sleeps and we sleep. He mates and we mate. He defends and we defend. He eats (a vegetarian diet even!) and we eat (can choose to eat) a vegetarian diet.
Eating a vegetarian diet, without any higher pursuit or purpose in life, is not any better than animal life. Thus, vegetarianism unto itself is not the highest perfection in life.
The highest perfection of human life is to realize that God does exist, that we are His eternal loving servants, and that our true enjoyment comes from doing His will.
As it is said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Living by the words coming from God’s mouth, or doing His will, is food for the soul.
Knowing what is God’s will, what is pleasing or displeasing to him, seems so far away when we are in a position of not knowing Him.
But He doesn’t leave us in the dark. He is always communicating with us, inviting us back to our home, which is oneness with him through loving service, and speaking to us through his representatives and through Scripture, letting us know what is pleasing to Him in every facet of our lives, including what we eat.
By a study of the scriptures of the world, we can learn what kind of diet is in harmony with the will of God and the laws of nature, which is part of His creation.
I am humbly asking anyone who is interested in learning more and more what the will of God is in connection with eating to please read the following quotes, taken from various scriptures around the world, with an open mind and an open heart.
Unfortunately, sometimes people foolishly take the existence of Scripture, other than the one they are familiar with, as a threat to their faith, security, and/or team spirit.
If we can only make our concern being able to develop a love for God and trying to learn more and more about Him so our love can grow (you can’t love a stranger or a vague mystery!), that all such sectarian feelings will fall away.
There is no envy between those who are trying to find out more about God and develop a love for him. The very fact that different scriptures exists in different parts of the planet can only strengthen one’s faith, appreciation, and love for God, because that fact alone is living testimony that God exists, that he loves all of His children, and doesn’t forget any of them, and speaks to all of them.
“Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing well to Whom they belong”.
– Sri Isopanishad, Mantra 1 –
In the Bible, God gives us our quota:
“Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed. To you it shall be for meat”.
– Genesis 1:29 –
In the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants God says:
“Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in this season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. Yea, flesh also of the beast and of the fouls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless, they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto Me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or a cold, or of famine”.
– Section 89; vs. 13 – 16 –
In connection with this, we find that in the Bible, after the flood, when there was nothing else, God gave Noah permission to eat flesh:
“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. But flesh, with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat and surely your blood of your lives will I require”,
– Genesis 1:29 –
“O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and giveaway, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me. If one offers Me, with love and devotion, a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. The devotees of the Lord are released from all sins because they eat food, which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.”
– Bhagavad-gita As-It-Is 3:13, 9:26, 9:27
People are independently striving so hard to solve the problems of health, economics and world hunger, when simply by living in harmony with the laws of God and nature, these problems, addressed next, are automatically solved.
By nature, human beings are provided with teeth and a digestive system, which is designed to most efficiently handle vegetarian foods. For example, our digestive tract is more similar to that of a horse than to that of a tiger.
If we habitually put the kinds of foods in our digestive system that it is not meant to digest, the result will be disease. Research has linked flesh-eating with cancer, heart and circulatory disease, digestive disorders, and others.
There are other health hazards as well. Flesh-eaters, being at the top of the “food chain”, have higher proportion of pesticides and other food contaminants than vegetarians.
A high percentage of the poisons present in this vegetation is retained and concentrated in the flesh of an animal. Flesh foods contain 40 times the amount of pesticide residues as root vegetables or grains, 10 times as much as fruits, leafy vegetables and legumes, and even 2 1/2 times as much as milk and other dairy products.
On this planet, which is like a tiny ball floating in space, we have a limited amount of resources. Raising animals for slaughter is an uneconomic use of these resources, as can be seen in the following figures:
In Hawaii, 1 acre of land can produce 100 pounds of beef protein every two years, or it can produce over 3000 pounds of protein from non-GMO soybeans. This affects your pocketbook. For example, $17.42 will buy 4 1/2 pounds of meat containing 355 g of protein, or it will buy you 18 pounds of soybeans containing over 3200 g of protein, or nearly 10 times as much protein per penny. This uneconomic use of resources it’s also going on at the worldwide level.
Hunger is one result of an economic system based on satisfying people’s wants rather than their needs. For example, to satisfy tongues addicted to the taste of flesh, we are raising beef cattle, which consume 12 to 20 pounds of protein in the form of grains and legumes to produce 1 pound of meat.
One flesh-eating person has the same effect on world food resources as five vegetarians who get their protein directly from grains and legumes. If the total protein available from these crops, grains and soybeans, we used directly by human beings, it could make up an estimated 90% of the world’s protein deficiency.
There are many other unhealthy things, such as sugar and tobacco, being grown on land, which could be used to produce nourishing food for a hungry world.
These and other problems plaguing the world today are nature’s way of letting us know that we can no longer live ignoring wisdom or metaphysical truths. Knowing this, E.F. Schumacher points out in his book, “Small is Beautiful”:
“. . . the philosophy of materialism is now being challenged by events. There has never been a time, in any society in any part of the world, without its sages and teachers to challenge materialism and plead for a different order of priorities. The languages have differed, the symbols have varied, yet the message has always been the same: ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all these things (the material things which you also need) shall be added unto you’ “.
They shall be added, we are told, here on Earth where we need them, not simply in an afterlife beyond our imagination.
Today, however, this message reaches us not solely from the sages and saints, but from the actual course of physical events.
It speaks to us in the language of terrorism, genocide, breakdown, pollution, exhaustion . . . It is apparent that there is not only a promise but also a threat in those astonishing words about the Kingdom of God – the threat that “unless you seek first the Kingdom, these other things, which you also need, will cease to be available to you”.
In the richest countries on the planet, where material things are sought first, mistaking the body as the self leads to thinking, “If I satisfy my body, I’ll be happy”.
Thus, trying to get satisfaction from external material goods in this single-minded pursuit of material goods and wealth becomes the goal in life.
Ignorance of the existence of the soul apart from the body leads to misidentifying the body as the self and consuming more and more beyond what the body needs to keep healthy and alive.
This is due to an inability to differentiate between the body’s needs and greed’s, and the needs of the soul.
Trying to satisfy the eternal, infinite spiritual craving for happiness with temporary, finite material things, has resulted in and will continue to result in unsatisfied individuals and social problems, which are found even in the richest countries and are evidence that the people are not happy, an unbalanced environment, depletion of the earth’s limited resources, and constant fighting over them.
Thus, the solution that gets to the root of so many problems we face is choosing to seek the highest perfection in life – love for God.
Then we will be able to live in harmony with the laws of God and nature and learn to find happiness within ourselves. This inner spiritual satisfaction is what will enable us to live simply and self-sufficiently, taking only what we need.
The following scriptures: