Thursday, August 15, 2013

Common arguments against vegetarianism, and the facts

Common arguments against vegetarianism and the facts

Author: Anurag Sharma
Translation: Shilpa Mehta
Discussions and debates about vegetarianism often involve some common and repeatedly heard arguments. We have attempted to cover some of these here. In future, we may cover many more.
Life in Plants as an argument
Some people use the fact that plants are living beings as an argument against vegetarian food. But they conveniently overlook the fact that vegetarian food does not necessarily involve killing the source plant while procuring non-vegetarian food does require killing as the basic minimum requirement. I have taken twenty tomatoes from my tomato plant in the past few days but I haven't killed it. If one has to compare taking food from plant with that from animals, the closest comparison would be that of taking milk from cows. Even hard core supporters of beef will have to admit that there is a quantum difference between taking milk everyday from a live cow and killing it once to obtain the beef.

Most grain plants are already dead before the grain is reaped. Moreover, if one has sufficient sensitivity to feel for the forced death of those plants whose roots are used for food, one can avoid eating roots like onions, garlic etc., and abstain from that kind of killing too. They can choose to stick to a saatvik (सात्विक) diet like our great ancestors. But no, they won't do so, because the purpose of argument is NOT to avoid killing plants, but to try and justify the killing of animals by displaying killing in fruit eating too. It is just an argument for the sake of an argument. I (the original author) remember, a friend of mine became very upset over seeing a bonsai plant at my home and questioned the cruelty of clipping away the roots. What could I have said? and after a short while he started telling me about his gastric upset, and blamed the scores of prawns he had gobbled for his breakfast. Where had the aversion to "cruelty" disappeared?

Isn't it impossibility to be a pure vegetarian?
Another gentleman was worried about the lives of the many bacteria in milk. May be he thought that a meat based diet is free of bacteria - let me tell you - there are many more micro organisms like bacteria in meat, than in fruits, vegetables, and milk. In actual fact, Vinoba Bhave's diet of milk and milk alone, is much better than even vegetables as it involves no pain as in plucking fruits and vegetables from plants. So the next time someone argues about the pain of plucking fruits and veggies, you can suggest them to switch to a milk diet. They may argue about balanced nutrition in that and you may remind him that Vinoba Bhave could walk 300 miles a day on just two glasses of milk. Muslim preacher Zakir Naik argues about there being no plants for vegetarian food in Antarctica, conveniently forgetting that, if God did not plan plants there, there are neither humans nor buffaloes born there either. So the argument is self contradictory as it itself shows what God's intentions were. Despite this, if the taste of the tongue is so dear to you as to justify killing innocent beings, at least do not relate it to religion. A Poet has said -

अजब रस्म देखी दिन ईदे-कुर्बां, ज़बह करे जो लूटे सवाब उल्टा
(We see a strange act on the festival of Eid al adha, when killing poor creatures is believed to be HOLY ...)

Spirituality, Religion, Scriptures and Violence
The people who justify killing in the name of religion must take a look at the website of Islamic Concern. Another such website is Jesus-Veg. Many of our relations ask us, which Hindu Scriptures forbid Meat eating? In reply we can ask them - where has it been permitted? But no. We shall put some of our observations before you.

There are Eight genres of the Yoga. The first one (Yama) has five basic elements, the first one being Ahimsa (अहिंसा = non-violence). This implies that the first step in the staircase leading to one's goal is ahimsa (non-violence). Can the people who accept killing as "normal" for satisfying their sense of taste, understand this basic requirement of ahimsa? One who can not imagine Sweet without egg as in cakes need to understand that the hindi term for sweets is "MISHTHAANN" = Mishtha (मिष्ठ = sweet) + anna (अन्न = grain). Even in the Bhagwad Geeta (which was first sung during great war of Mahabharatha) Lord Krishna, while preaching Ahimsa, refers to food by the term anna (अन्न) only intending grain as human food. Edible items in Indian culture such as, Panchamrit (पंचामृत = A liquid sweet potion offered for worship made up of five sweetened milk products), Phalahar (फलाहार= fruit based food) etc. are all terms indicating food obtained by non-violent means. The food and the prasada (प्रसाद) served at Gurudwaras (गुरुद्वार = Sikh temples)  langars (लंगर = food service) is pure vegetarian. The Sanskrit texts talk of the life present in every organism. According to Indian tradition, even when a plant need to be picked for medicinal purpose, the physician renders a mantra of apology to the plant being uprooted, and then plucks them with a single jerk to minimize the pain to the plant. Can such ideas support killing animals for food?

Abundance of violence in Nature as an argument
Some people use the abundance of violence observed in nature as an argument against vegetarianism. I have seen parrots as well as dogs at my home. Both were vegetarian. Many animals and birds are vegetarian by nature. The ones which are not are also just animals. They do eat flesh, but do not kill with unnatural things like the knife, nor cook it over fire because their bodies can not digest their meal in the natural form. They do not make a business of killing, nor factory farm their prey. Neither they kill their food in slaughter houses, nor force their would be food to live a hellish life on factory farms, nor keep the left over meat in refrigerators for use next time, nor cook it on fire, If we humans can do so many unnatural things for food, why can't we turn to vegetarianism? Even if someone calls vegetarianism as unnatural, it is still being human!!

If one is dissatisfied with the level of "non-cruelty" even in vegetarianism, there are many ways to improve that level too. One method could be restraining oneself to just accepting grains which come from already dead plants, Further one can choose milk from farms, where cows are properly served and taken care of without the accompanying cruelty of milk farms. One could consume only those fruits which fall off the trees naturally and not plucked before they are ready. Even then the seed can be planted back to complete the natural cycle.

Vegetarianism is the way to minimize violence
Even if all this is not possible, it is better to remain vegetarian and avoid killing hundreds of innocent animals rather than killing them and justifying it with the excuse of even plants having life. Mercy and sympathy has its own point of view, and justifying open killing by showing killing in vegetarian food is just that - a feeble justification to justify one's greed for taste.
Original Hindi Version of this article is available at Niramish Hindi blog Written by Anurag Sharma for Burgh Vaarta and translated into English by Shilpa Mehta for Niramish.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Preserving Vegetarian Cultural Heritage Ensures Our Security

Original Article in Hindi on Hindi Niramish Blog by Shri Hansraj Sugya ji
Translation By Shilpa Mehta

Well refined, Ancient  Indian culture has been under attack from Western and middle western schools of thought for a long time now, and these attacks are now turning into ideological battles. These well planned attacks are trying to portray our advanced historical heritage as a primitive one and destroy our belief in the richness and our reverence of our own culture. Some cultures developed in uncivilized and primitive nomadic lands are trying to revert us back to the same primitive stage from the lofty dais we had traditionally occupied, by tempting our youth with razzle dazzle.

These schools of thought confuse our youth by giving falsified messages of equality, socialism, love and brotherhood in their own cultures, which actually are completely absent in their cultures. But all these qualities arise from the root of non violence. Non violence and compassion to all living beings is the criterion to assess the depth of love in any person.

The Indian soil has always been rich in our sacred "saatvik" principles of mercy and non-violence. Indian philosophy has always condemned meat consumption / gambling / drinking and other such evils as undesirable, and punishable. Acceptance of meat eating is clear acceptance of violence in day to day life without even a second thought. Such schools of thought can never stand eye to eye before the high principles of non violent cultures. Vegetarianism is synonymous to civility and culture of any society. All attacks on the supreme heritage of non-violence are bound to come before a fall. We have the unbeatable armor of nonviolence protecting our heritage, which no ill intention-ed and veiled attacks can cut through.

These principles of mercy and compassion can NOT be met at an equal level by cultures based on violence and hatred, with instructions to maim, damage and kill any and everyone who comes in the way. Leave aside killing enemies, there are instructions to kill one's own family members and loved one's who disagree with the accepted school of thought, and even destroy non-living things like idols etc revered and worshiped by other societies apart from their own. 

But, as soon as we reach the question of compassion to fellow living beings, the actors trying to portray their culture as a non-violent one automatically get silenced and defeated. The nectar of our culture lies in compassion and it directly equates to non-violence. It keeps us rooted in all positive grounds of mercy, and keeps us away from evils like hatred, anger, revenge, fights, anarchy and chaos. Creation and maintenance of a non-violent society necessitates the preservation of the high principles of compassion. Definitely India is capable of preserving the distinguished heritage we have inherited from our ancestors.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

The Niramish State of Mind

Original Hindi article on Niramish Hindi Blog by Shri Hansraj 'Sugya'

Translation By Shilpa Mehta

NON-VIOLENCE: The Appropriate and Proper Measure for Peace 

In the whole universe, the basis of happiness and joy for any living being is peace. Peace is achievable only through non-violence. Most of the violence in this world occurs for satisfying the dietary requirements. Saatvik food is the route to compassion towards our fellow beings. Minor violence does occur in vegetarian food too, yet vegetarianism is the minimization of inevitable and unavoidable violence. This in itself is an endeavour towards non-violence. Those who do not feel hurt while hurting and killing beings for taste and unhesitatingly eat meat etc., slowly get accustomed to accepting killing as a normal routine. When the source of food is violent, it necessarily effects the thought process of the person and diminishes one's sensitivities. 

The acceptance of killing as "normal" for eating one's food makes one accustomed to "killing" and leads to a violent state of awareness. This is leading to more and more violence, hatred, and crimes in today's world. Mercy to fellow living beings naturally nurtures one's finer instincts and makes one more compassionate to fellow humans too. Vegetarianism enhances values and is a guardian to humanity.

Religious and Philosophical Notions and Intents :

Almost all reliogions and social systems have always reverred "life". Still, the Indian culture is the one which has propogated the concepts of "अहिंसा परमो धर्मः" (non-violence is the supreme religious principle) or “दया धर्म का मूल है” (mercy is the root of all religion).

Whatever be the religion one belongs to, none of the revered sacred texts and none of the messengers advocate violence or cruelty. The magnificent palaces of super human messages and religions stand proudly on the strong foundations of non-violence, compassion, love and moral values. All lessons are targeted at non-violence and the first step to non-violence is vegetarianism.

Civilization and Culture :

Advocating and praising vegetarianism is not an indication of pride or ego of purity. vegetarian diet is in itself clean and non-violent. The Indian culture and consciousness has always revolved around purity of not just food, but the whole lifestyle. Vegetarianism is the foundation to all good things in life. Man is basically a herbivore. Though body can manage on non-vegetarian food (man is biologically classified into omnivorous beings) yet civilization demands migrating from a wild lifestyle to a civilized one. Vegetarianism is the carrier of peace, and the height of culture.. 

Environment :

We as a society need to preserve our natural resources and optimize their utilization. All organisms are a part of a very delicate balance in nature. Human interference upsets this delicate balance. We have the intelligence to enable us to optimally utilize the natural resource while not depleting them blindly. When we rear millions of animals for food every year, the ratio of the food we get to the food we could have produced on the same are of land is alarmingly frightening. Millions of square meters of evergreen forests are cut down to provide grasslands for grazing of animals for meat. We are cutting down the evergreens which are like the lungs of mother earth, to satisfy our taste buds.

While the same area of land could have produced much much more amount of vegetarian food in a year, the same ends up producing only very little meat in comparison in the same period of time. If everyone switches over to vegetarianism, many starving millions could be helped. Long back when humanity was living in separate unconnected islands, there was not sufficient availability of vegetarian food in some areas, but grassland area was sufficient to feed many herbivorous animals. But today the situation is not the same. There is no compulsion to eat meat to survive. So it would be much more logical to switch over to vegetarianism.

Balanced Diet :

The myth of "modernism" is misleading many into believing that vegetarian food does not have sufficient proteins in it to make for a balanced diet. But if one stops to consult a doctor or a dietitian this myth evaporates like a snow flake in sunshine. It has been proved that vegetarian food has all the necessary ingredients for a healthy life. In fact it is non-vegetarian food which leads to many diseases through various toxins and infections. Moreover, fiber and many a vitamins are completely missing in non-vegetarian sources. Vegetarian food is the primary source of energy and a first class source of all balanced diet. It also enhances our immune system.

Health Concerns :

Vegetarian diet contains a good amount of fiber. Fiber helps the digestive tract to stay clean and healthy, and capable of smooth working and absorbing what the body requires. It has neither excess dangerous cholesterol, not advanced protein produced in advanced beings bodies. This advanced protein from non-vegetarian food makes the human consumer more prone to many diseases like Alzheimer's, Gallstones, diabetes type 2, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, liver problems, kidney problems, obesity...... and many more. WHY DO YOU THINK DOCTORS FORBID PATIENTS FROM NON-VEGETARIAN FOOD in many many illnesses??


Wednesday, March 06, 2013

We Want Peace!

An appeal from Pakistan
We want benevolence, we want love, we have to start showing that, by action. We have to love each other. We have to be benevolent to each other. We have to be benevolent to all. This violence and killing of human beings and animals is the sure sign that we don't want love, that we don't want compassion, that we don't want peace. It's the law of the universe, that if we kill or if we harm someone, we have to spend our spiritual merit with that creature. So how many animals we eat, we use all our spiritual bank account balance with those animals, and then we’re depleted, we get poorer and poorer, spiritually poorer. And if your spiritual merit balance is not enough, you end up paying with your health, your luck, and your's and your family members’ peace of mind. And then larger, we pay with peace in the world, we have to pay the price for having no peace. By killing animals to eat, we’re killing our planet. And then we all become murderers of some sort. So I want everyone to become heroes. Save the planet, stop killing and eating the animals...

Khalid Mahmood Qurashi.
1094/2 Husain Agahi , Multan-60000
+92 300 7368557

Monday, February 25, 2013

Some Good Reasons to Go Vegetarian

Original post here: Shared with the permission of and thanks to
Shri KiranKumar Roy
1 You'll live a lot longer:
Vegetarians live about seven years longer, and vegans (who eat no animal products) about 15 years longer than meat eaters, according to a study from Loma Linda University. These findings are backed up by the China Health Project (the largest population study on diet and health to date), which found that Chinese people who eat the least amount of fat and animal products have the lowest risks of cancer, heart attack and other chronic degenerative diseases.

2 You'll save your heart.
Cardiovascular disease is still the Number one killer in the United States, and the standard American diet (SAD) that's laden with saturated fat and cholesterol from meat and dairy is largely to blame. Plus, produce contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Incidentally, cholesterol levels for vegetarians are 14 percent lower than meat eaters.

3 You can put more money in your mutual fund.
Replacing meat, chicken and fish with vegetables and fruits is estimated to cut food bills.

4 You'll reduce your risk of cancer.
Studies done at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg suggest that this is because vegetarians' immune systems are more effective in killing off tumour cells than meat eaters'. Studies have also found a plantbased diet helps protect against prostate, colon and skin cancers.

5 You'll add color to your plate.
Meat, chicken and fish tend to come in boring shades of brown and beige, but fruits and vegetables come in all colors of the rainbow. Diseasefighting phytochemicals are responsible for giving produce their rich, varied hues. So cooking by colour is a good way to ensure you re eating a variety of naturally occurring substances that boost immunity and prevent a range of illnesses.

6 You'll fit into your old jeans.
On average, vegetarians are slimmer than meat eaters, and when we diet, we keep the weight off up to seven years longer. That's because diets that are higher in vegetable proteins are much lower in fat and calories than the SAD. Vegetarians are also less likely to fall victim to weight-related disorders like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

7 You'll give your body a spring cleaning.
Giving up meat helps purge the body of toxins (pesticides, environmental pollutants, preservatives) that overload our systems and cause illness. When people begin formal detoxification programs, their first step is to replace meats and dairy products with fruits and vegetables and juices.

8 You'll make a strong political statement.
It's a wonderful thing to be able to finish a delicious meal, knowing that no beings have suffered to make it..

9 Your meals will taste delicious.
Vegetables are endlessly interesting to cook and a joy to eat. It's an ever-changing parade of flavours and colors and textures and tastes.

10 You'll help reduce waste and air pollution.
Livestock farms creates phenomenal amounts of waste. The tons of manure, a substance that's rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a top pollutants. And that's not even counting the methane gas released by goats, pigs and poultry (which contributes to the greenhouse effect); the ammonia gases from urine; poison gases that emanate from manure lagoons; toxic chemicals from pesticides; and exhaust from farm equipment used to raise feed for animals.

11 Your bones will last longer.
The average bone loss for a vegetarian woman at age 65 is 18 percent; for non-vegetarian women, it's double that. Researchers attribute this to the consumption of excess protein. Excess protein interferes with the absorption and retention of calcium and actually prompts the body to excrete calcium, laying the ground for the brittle bone disease osteoporosis. Animal proteins, including milk, make the blood acidic, and to balance that condition, the body pulls calcium from bones. So rather than rely on milk for calcium, vegetarians turn to dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and legumes, which, calorie for calorie, are superior sources.

12 You'll help reduce famine.
It takes 15 pounds of feed to get one pound of meat. But if the grain were given directly to people, there'd be enough food to feed the entire planet. In addition, using land for animal agriculture is inefficient in terms of maximizing food production. According to the journal Soil and Water, one acre of land could produce 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 30,000 pounds of carrots or just 250 pounds of beef.

13 You'll avoid toxic chemicals.
The EPA estimates that nearly 95 per cent of pesticide residue in our diet comes from meat, fish and dairy products. Fish, in particular, contain carcinogens (PCBs, DDT) and heavy metals (mercury, arsenic; lead, cadmium) that cannot be removed through cooking or freezing. Meat and dairy products are also laced with steroids and hormones.

14 You'll protect yourself from foodborne illnesses.
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest in the US, which has stringent food standards, 25 per cent of all chicken sold in the United States carries salmonella bacteria and, the CDC estimates, 70 percent to 90 percent of chickens contain the bacteria campy-lobacter (some strains of which are antibiotic-resistan t), approximately 5 percent of cows carry the lethal strain of E. coli O157:H7 (which causes virulent diseases and death), and 30 percent of pigs slaughtered each year for food are infected with toxoplasmosis (caused by parasites).

15 You may get rid of your back problems.
Back pain appears to begin, not in the back, but in the arteries. The degeneration of discs, for instance, which leads to nerves being pinched, starts with the arteries leading to the back. Eating a plant-based diet keeps these arteries clear of cholesterol- causing blockages to help maintain a healthy back.

16 You'll be more 'regular.'
Eating a lot of vegetables necessarily means consuming fiber, which pushes waste out of the body. Meat contains no fibre. Studies done at Harvard and Brigham Women's Hospital found that people who ate a high-fiber diet had a 42 percent lower risk of diverticulitis. People who eat lower on the food chain also tend to have fewer incidences of constipation, hemorrhoids and spastic colon.

17 You'll cool those hot flashes.
Plants, grains and legumes contain phytoestrogens that are believed to balance fluctuating hormones, so vegetarian women tend to go through menopause with fewer complaints of sleep problems, hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, depression and a diminished sex drive.

18 You'll help to bring down the national debt.
We spend large amounts annually to treat the heart disease, cancer, obesity, and food poisoning that are byproducts of a diet heavy on animal products.
Because of our voracious appetite for fish, 39 per cent of the oceans' fish species are overharvested, and the Food & Agriculture Organization reports that 11 of 15 of the world's major fishing grounds have become depleted.

20 You'll help protect the purity of water.
It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of mutton, but just 25 gallons of water to produce a pound of wheat. Not only is this wasteful, but it contributes to rampant water pollution.

21 You'll provide a great role model for your kids.
If you set a good example and feed your children good food, chances are they'll live a longer and healthier life. You're also providing a market for vegetarian products and making it more likely that they'll be available for the children.

22 Going vegetarian is easy!
Vegetarian cooking has never been so simple. We live in a country that has been vegetarian by default. Our traditional dishes are loaded with the goodness of vegetarian food. Switching over it very simple indeed.

(Reshared by Shilpa Mehta)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

VEGETARIAN ELITE Taekwondo Champions

Taekwondo Champions of Iran, Messengers of Peace and Compassion

Courtesy, an international, non-profit channel airing constructive news and programs that foster peace and promote healthy, green living.