We have already discussed how The Creator of all being is a vegetarian. The Ancient Epic Mahabharat from India confirms that everyone on earth was vegetarian in the beginning, but later some of the people became attracted to meat-eating; for this reason Lord Buddha appeared to preach nonviolence. Lord Jesus also preached against killing. Many great leaders of the past and present were vegetarian. Pythagoras said, “Oh, my fellow men, do not defile your bodies with sinful foods. We have com, we have apples bending down the branches with their weight, and grapes swelling on the vines. There are sweet-flavored herbs, and vegetables which can be cooked and softened over the fire, nor are you denied milk or thyme-scented honey. The earth affords a lavish supply of riches, of innocent foods, and offers you banquets that involve no bloodshed or slaughter; only beasts satisfy their hunger with flesh, and not even all of those, because horses, cattle, and Sheep live on grass.” Plutarch wrote of Pythagoras that, not only was he a vegetarian, but he even paid the fisherman to release his catch back into the sea. Actually, in every true civilization of man, eating flesh is not recommended.
The Roman author Plutarch wrote in his book, On Eating Flesh. “Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstinence from flesh? I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of mind the first man touched to his mouth the gore and brought his lips to the flesh of’ a dead crea-ture, sat forth tables of dead, stale bodies, and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived.” He further wrote, “It is certainly not lions or wolves that we eat out of self-defense; on the contrary, we ignore these and slaughter harmless, tame creatures without stings or teeth to harm us. For the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of sun, of light, of duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and being.” He even further challenged, “If you declare that you are naturally designed for such a diet, then first kill for yourself, what you want to eat. Do it, however, only through your own resources, unaided by cleaver or cudgel or any kind of ax.”
An Indian apostle of nonviolence, Mahatma Gandhi, who was also a vegetarian, wrote five books on vegetarianism. He said, “I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.” Because India was under the foreign rule of Islam and England for a long period of time, some citizens adopted meat-eating habits. The food of Mahatma Gandhi included grains, greens, lemons and honey. He wrote to his friends who had adopted meat-eating, “It is necessary to correct the error that vegetarianism has made us weak in mind, or passive or inert in action. I do not regard flesh-food as necessary at any stage.”
The famous author George Bernard Shaw also wrote, when he was told that he looked very youthful whereas others of the same age did not, “I look my age. It is the other people who look older than they are. What can you expect from people who eat corpses?” There are many other examples throughout history of famous people who also expounded vegetarianism.
RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY
Grains and vegetables, with the help of milk, cheese and butter, afford the most plentiful, wholesome, nourishing and invigorating diet. Turning from such a perfect diet and adopting the butchers’ meat will prove to be a disaster. Every¬one, including man, animals, sea life and birds are the creatures of God. To pray to God for His mercy and justice, while continuing to eat slaughtered animals, is hypocrisy. Even if it were proven that meat is good for health, one should remain a vegetarian to receive the mercy of God. By living with an animal, one can find that they have feelings, love and a soul, and thus they deserve to live a life in freedom. They should not be killed, even if so-called philosophers and religious leaders have sanctioned them for use as food. We have to see who are actually the real philosophers and religious teachers. One must use his intelligence and make the right decision; should I eat poor, defenseless animals because my religion allows me to, or would God prefer that I be kind to the poor animals and be a vegetarian? Actually the strict vegetarian foods that are explained in the Vedic scriptures are the clean foods that keep our consciousness clean and increase the brain tissues. Problems of life begin when our consciousness is soiled. Lord Krsna also says in the Bhagavad Gita that it is best to eat food in the mode of goodness to be healthy, happy and wise.