VFA Journal # 2
In this edition we will look at the reasons and benefits for being vegetarian. Naturally there are health reasons why a balanced vegetarian diet is beneficial for a person. But the Vedic system also includes
information why the vegetarian diet is good for a person for spiritual reasons. This goes beyond the process of analyzing whether the vegetarian diet is good or bad for physical or health reasons, but points out that our
diet affects our karma and consciousness. This is what makes meat-eating hazardous: It produces reactions that affect our karma, and decreases the refinements we are trying to make in our consciousness when we follow a spiritual path.
I've read where some Indian doctors talk about the idea that eating meat does not make an impression on the sattvic (goodness), rajasic (passionate), or tamasic (darkness) nature of our health. However, this is
not the point and lacks full understanding. Meat is essentially a product of violence. It cannot be produced without seriously causing pain and suffering to other living beings. Such an action will produce regressive
reactions to those who participate in such an action. This is what produces sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic reactions in regard to our consciousness. Though it is a law of nature for animals that the strong will live off
the weaker creatures, this applies to humans to only a certain extent.
Humans have the consciousness to choose to live as nonviolently as possible. As we all know, it does not kill the trees to collect the fruits that have ripened naturally. It does not harm the grains when they are harvested after they have already dried. Even if we do pull up something like carrots to eat, which kills the plant, it is still much more nonviolent than slaughtering an animal. Furthermore, many people collect vegetables to first offer to God, and then honor it as prasada, or the mercy of the Lord, for following a spiritual lifestyle, which helps continue the process of purification rather than merely eating whatever one wishes to merely satisfy the tongue.
Anyway, there is much more to this, but the point is that the diet we choose produces varying degrees of reactions that will certainly affect our karma and consciousness. This has to be taken into consideration and for this reason is a part of the Vedic system, which is left out of other forms of analysis and spiritual development.
So please find articles on both the health dangers of the meat industry, as well as the quotes in
Vedic scripture, and other religious texts, that recommend the avoidance of the
meat diet, and other quotes regarding the higher awareness and more civil
means of eating than including the meat diet. You may want to keep these
on hand to use when sending information to others who may not be
so informed on this topic.
Hari Om and Hari bol,
THE DANGERS OF MEAT
A summary of the PBS special called:
Modern Meat: A PBS Frontline Documentary
Aired Thursday, April 18, 2002 at
9pm, 60 minutes
It's as American as apple pie and vastly more popular. The
hamburger has become our national food: Americans eat more meat than
any other people in the world, with the average person devouring three
hamburgers a week. And with more meat available than ever before,
today's beef costs 30 percent less than it did in 1970, making it that much
more attractive to consumers looking for a quick, cheap meal.
Yet despite new federal safety regulations, more than 100 million
pounds of meat has been recalled since 1998 due to suspected bacterial
contamination. And just last summer, the nation's largest meat processor
had to recall 500,000 pounds of beef contaminated with e.coli bacteria
from seventeen states.
How much does the average American know about the beef they're
eating? Have dramatic changes in the U.S. meat industry compromised the
overall safety of American beef? And are the new federal regulations
enough to guarantee the safety of the meat we eat?
FRONTLINE explores these and other questions in "Modern
Meat," through interviews with current and former U.S. Department of
Agriculture officials, meat inspectors, food safety experts, and industry
representatives, the one-hour documentary reveals how today's
highly-industrialized meat business has fundamentally changed the
composition of the typical American burger, causing some to fear the
spread of serious -- and even deadly -- bacteria. The program also explores
the powerful U.S. meat industry's attempts to resist certain government
regulations aimed at preventing contaminated meat from ending up in
supermarkets and fast food chains across America.
"I think what the [meat] industry is saying is that they don't want to
be accountable for the product that they're selling," says Eric Schlosser,
author of Fast Food Nation, an expose of the meat and fast food industry.
"This industry has fought against food safety inspection for a hundred
"Modern Meat" takes viewers inside the U.S. meat industry,
beginning at the cattle ranch and then moving on to the "feedlot" -- a huge
industrial holding pen where as many as 100,000 cattle are held together
until they are fat enough to be slaughtered. Then the carcasses make their
way down a Detroit-style assembly line or "dis-assembly line," as one
industry insider quips -- where modern advances have enabled some meat
companies to strip as many as 400 carcasses an hour -- nearly three times
as many as in 1970.
But such modern efficiency may pose potential health risks.
In "Modern Meat," FRONTLINE speaks with numerous scientists
and industry observers who raise serious concerns about today's meat
production system. With large numbers of animals being raised together in
huge feedlots covered with feces, they say, it's easy for bacteria to spread
from one animal to another.
"Cows tend to produce feces [and] feces is primarily bacteria," says
Glen Morris, a microbiologist at the University of Maryland and a former
USDA official "When those bacteria are spread around, there's ample
opportunity for bacteria to be spread from one cow to the next.
"In the larger feedlots," he adds, "there's a greater chance for the
passage of microorganisms back and forth. All of that contributes to the
spread of microorganisms like e. coli."
Dr. Robert Tauxe is also concerned. "The new highly industrialized
way we produce meat has opened up new ecological homes for a number
of bacteria," says Tauxe, head of the Centers for Disease Control's
Foodborne Illness Section.
Gone are the days, Tauxe says, when a hamburger patty contained
the meat from a single cow; with enormous numbers of cattle now being
herded, fattened, slaughtered, and ground up together, it's virtually
impossible to determine how many cows contribute to a single burger.
"If we take meat from a thousand different animals and grind that
together," he says, "we're pooling bacteria from a thousand different
animals as well."
What's more, there is increasing evidence that the modern meat
industry's widespread use of antibiotics to promote growth and keep
livestock healthy may result in the development of bacteria strains that are
resistant to antibiotic treatment.
The consequences of bacterial contamination can be deadly. In
1993, Jack in the Box hamburgers contaminated with a deadly strain of e.
coli killed four children and injured 750, causing the government to seek a
more scientific system for inspecting meat.
For decades, industry experts say, meat inspectors had practiced the
"poke and sniff" method of visually inspecting carcasses for signs of
disease. Following the Jack in the Box outbreak, the government proposed
implementing a new inspection system -- known as "HACCP" (Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Points) -- that would require microbial testing
to detect the presence of invisible -- yet harmful -- bacteria such as e. coli and
The proposed testing for salmonella, however, was not embraced
by the meat industry. In "Modern Meat," FRONTLINE speaks with
industry insiders and government officials who say the powerful U.S. food
lobby -- which has contributed heavily to key Capitol Hill lawmakers --
aggressively fought including this testing as part of the new regulations.
It's a charge that the American Meat Institute's J. Patrick Boyle
denies. "It's not the beef industry that's fighting standards that are
meaningful, that improve the wholesomeness of the product," Boyle tells
FRONTLINE. "The beef industry has reservations about unscientific
standards that have no relation to the safety of our products."
The USDA resisted industry pressure, and in 1996 the U.S. meat
industry began making the transition to the new inspection system. Since
then, the USDA has reported a marked drop in salmonella contamination of
ground beef, while the CDC has also begun to see a drop in some food
borne illnesses. Yet the American consumer still faces serious risks.
Each year, the CDC tracks numerous cases of food poisoning,
while the USDA maintains a running list of tainted meat recalls. The
growth in global trade, meanwhile, has increased the risk of diseased cattle
or beef coming into the country and decimating the U.S. livestock
population. Last year, for example, USDA Inspector General Roger
Viadero discovered that 650,000 pounds of foreign meat from a country
embargoed because of foot and mouth disease found its way into America's
In addition, a recent court ruling threatens to limit the government's
enforcement of its new food safety regulations. In "Modern Meat,"
FRONTLINE examines a lawsuit filed by Texas meat grinding company
Supreme Beef against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When the
USDA effectively shut down the company after it failed bacterial
contamination tests three times -- once after nearly 50 percent of its meat
was found to be contaminated with salmonella -- the company sued.
Supported in its lawsuit by the National Meat Association, Supreme Beef
charged that the government didn't have the right to shut down its
operations simply because it failed to meet the USDA salmonella standards.
Last month, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the meat industry,
prompting concern from some industry observers.
Carol Tucker Foreman, head of food safety at the Consumer
Federation of America and a former USDA official, believes the modern
meat production and distribution system leaves consumers vulnerable to a
widespread outbreak of bacterial contamination. She points to a case in
which sixteen deaths and five stillbirths were connected to Ball Park Franks
found to be contaminated with deadly listeria.
"Those hot dogs were shipped everywhere," Foreman says. "And
thousands and thousands of them were made every day. So the potential
for one mistake rippling out and causing thousands of deaths is there."
"Modern Meat" is a FRONTLINE co-production with Cam Bay
Productions. The producer and writer is Doug Hamilton. The co-producer
is Steve Johnson. The senior producer for FRONTLINE is Sharon Tiller.
FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast
nationwide on PBS.
Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS
viewers. National sponsorship for FRONTLINE is provided by EarthLink«
FRONTLINE is closed-captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing
The executive producer for FRONTLINE is David Fanning. Press
UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD INCLUDES THE ANIMALS:
ANOTHER REASON TO BE VEGETARIAN
by Stephen Knapp
I know some people may not want to consider the information in this
section. Others will feel this has nothing to do with establishing world peace
and unity. However, there are numerous ancient religious texts and
contemporary authorities who feel otherwise. Therefore, if we really want to
establish peace and brotherhood among all people, we should take it a step
farther to include the animals.
As I have said before in my book, Toward World Peace, we need to see
the spiritual nature within all living beings, and that includes the animals as
well. Universal brotherhood means nonviolence to humans AND animals. It
consists of understanding that animals do have souls. They are alive,
conscious, and feel pain. And these are the symptoms of the presence 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. Meat-eaters,
however, because of their desires to eat animals, are not easily able to
understand the spiritual nature of all beings. If you know that all living entities
are spiritual in essence, and that all living beings that are conscious show the
symptoms of the soul within, then how can you go on killing them? Any living
creature is also the same as we are in that it is also a child of the same father,
a part of the same Supreme Being. Thus, the killing of animals shows a great
lack in spiritual consciousness.
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 Supersoul
within every being. To be kind and spiritual toward humans and be a killer or
enemy toward animals is a barbaric philosophy, and an exhibit of one's
spiritual ignorance and sluggish mentality. To maintain so many
slaughterhouses for the sake of satisfying the human beings' taste for eating
flesh will continue to produce reactions that will constantly disturb the very
peace we are trying to establish.
We have to consider the amount of fear and pain animals are forced to
endure when taken to the slaughter house. There are countless stories of how
in fear cows cry, scream, and sometimes fall down dead while inside or even
before they are taken into the slaughter house. Or how the veins of dead pigs
are so big that it shows they have practically exploded from the fear the pig
felt and the adrenalin that was produced while the pig was being led to
slaughter. This certainly causes an immense amount of violence to permeate
the atmosphere. The adrenalin and fear also produces toxins which then
permeates the body of these animals, which meat-eaters then ingest. People
who consume such things cannot help but be effected by it. It causes tensions
within them individually, and then spreads in their relations with others. This
is one of the reasons why we experience quarrels, hostilities, even
international tensions and wars.
We may respect our fellow human beings, but unnecessary violence to
animals is also a sin. People who prescribe the killing of animals out of
voracious selfishness are guided by their lower animal propensities. Our true
human and spiritual nature can never fully shine if we do not refrain from
killing and abusing animals.
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. He who does not injure any creature, attains
without an effort what he thinks of, what he undertakes, and what he fixes his
mind on. 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." However, how many people who claim to be Christians
continue to do this? Therefore, how can they call themselves real Christians?
And another biblical commandment (Exodus 23.5) instructs 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."
An important principle of Jainism is related in the Sutrakritanga (1.11.33)
which explains, "A man should wander about treating all creatures as he
himself would be treated."
For Jews, the Talmud (Avodah Zorah 18B) forbids the association with
hunters, not to mention engaging in hunting. So if people are going to be true
Jews or Christians, they should follow the tenets of their religion. Otherwise,
anyone may profess to be of any religion, yet not be a true follower because
of failing to regard the principles.
Some Jews and Christians are convinced that sacrificing animals, as
mentioned in certain parts of the Bible, justifies meat-eating. But 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). So how can Christians
continue to sacrifice animals for the sake of their tongue if they claim to be
followers of Christ?
We especially find 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."
In an article called "The Golden Age Must Return: A Catholic's Views on
Vegetarianism," written by the Chairman of the Catholic Study Circle for
Animal Welfare in London, Reverend Basil Wrighton, it establishes that a
vegetarian diet is consistent with and required by the tenets of Christianity.
The article further explains that the killing of animals for food not only
violates religious tenets, but brutalizes humans to where violence against other
humans becomes inevitable.
In this way it can be understood that a true religionist, one who is always
thinking of the welfare of others, never tries to cause anxiety for any creature,
human or otherwise. Therefore, we should understand that killing other living
entities for one's food is an act of cruelty to others and must be avoided. So
if you want peace, you must think of others' well being also. That includes the
animals. It is not that we must always go out of our way to provide the
animals with all the comforts of home. They can usually provide for
themselves, at least those in the wild. However, we should find alternatives to
killing animals to satisfy our appetites. Otherwise, there must be reactions to
such violence. We cannot expect peace in the world if we go on killing so
many millions of animals for meat consumption or through abuse. A basic law
of physics is that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. On
the universal level, this is called the law of karma, which affects every
individual, as well as communities and countries. As the nation sows, so shall
it reap. 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 neighborhood and community crime, and on up to world wars.
Violence breeds violence. Therefore, every several years there is a big war in
various areas of the world which causes wholesale slaughter of people. This
is the reaction of nature for the immense cruelty produced by humankind.
Humanity may not see this, but the reaction must be there. Thus, quarrels and
wars appear between any group, such as Protestant and Catholic, Russia and
Afghanistan, Muslim and Christian, or so many others. This will continue
unless we know how to change.
Isaac Bashevis Singer, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature, asked,
"How can we pray to God for mercy if we ourselves have no mercy? How can
we speak of rights and justice if we take an innocent creature and shed its
blood?" He went on to say, "I personally believe that as long as human beings
will go shedding the blood of animals, there will never be any peace."
In conclusion, we can mention the March 10, 1966 issue of L'Osservatore
della Domenica, the Vatican weekly newspaper, in which Msgr. Ferdinando
Lambruschini wrote: "Man's conduct with regard to animals should be
regulated by right reason, which prohibits the infliction of purposeless pain
and suffering on them. To ill treat them, and make them suffer without reason,
is an act of deplorable cruelty to be condemned from a Christian point of
view. To make them suffer for one's own pleasure is an exhibition of sadism
which every moralist must denounce." Eating animals for the pleasure of one's
tongue when there are plenty of other foods available certainly fits into this
form of sadism. It stands to reason that this is counterproductive to any peace
and unity we wish to establish. It is one of the things we need to consider
seriously if we want to improve the
VEGETARIANISM: RECOMMENDED IN
The Vedic texts and system are not a dogma. It is not a list of rules that
must be followed or one will enter into eternal damnation. It is a system of
recommendations given to help one understand how his or her activities will
bring about certain results or destinations. However, often times I hear
Indians and followers of the Vedic path explain that meat-eating is all right,
that the Vedic shastra does not condemn it. But if we actually research the
Vedic texts we will find that there are numerous references in the various
portions of the Vedic literature which explain in no uncertain terms the karmic
dangers of meat-eating and unnecessary animal slaughter. These indicate that
meat-eating should be given up for one's spiritual and even material progress.
This means that the pro-meat-eating conclusions that such people present are
not accurate, and that they have never studied their own religious books very
thoroughly. This is something that is important to understand, so let us take
VEDIC REFERENCES AGAINST
MEAT-EATING AND ANIMAL SLAUGHTER
To start with, the Manu-samhita clearly recommends that, "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. Having well considered the disgusting origin of flesh and the
cruelty of fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let him entirely abstain from
eating flesh." (Manu-samhita 5.48-49)
However, it is not simply the person who becomes implicated by eating
the dead animal, but also those who assist in the process. "He who permits the
slaughter of an animal, he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buys or sells
meat, he who cooks it, he who serves it up, and he who eats it, must all be
considered as the slayers of the animal. There is no greater sinner than that
man who though not worshiping the gods or the ancestors, seeks to increase
the bulk of his own flesh by the flesh of other beings." (Manu-samhita
"As many hairs as the slain beast has, so often indeed will he who killed
it without a (lawful) reason suffer a violent death in future births." (Manu-
"By subsisting on pure fruit and roots, and by eating food fit for ascetics
in the forest, one does not gain so great a reward as by entirely avoiding the
use of flesh. Me he [mam sah] will devour in the next world, whose flesh I eat
in this life; the wise declare this to be the real meaning of the word 'flesh'
[mam sah]." (Manu-samhita 5.54-55)
"He who injures harmless creatures from a wish to give himself pleasure,
never finds happiness in this life or the next." (Manu-samhita 5.45)
"He who does not seek to cause the sufferings of bonds and death to
living creatures, (but) desires the good of all (beings), obtains endless bliss. He
who does not injure any (creature), attains without an effort what he thinks
of, what he undertakes, and what he fixes his mind on." (Manu-samhita 5.46-
"If he has a strong desire (for meat) he may make an animal of clarified
butter or one of flour (and eat that); but let him never seek to destroy an
animal without a (lawful) reason. As many hairs as the slain beast has, so often
indeed will he who killed it without a (lawful) reason suffer a violent death in
future births." (Manu-samhita 5.37-38)
"By not killing any living being, one becomes fit for salvation." (Manu-
The earlier texts, such as the Rig-veda (10.87.16), also proclaim the need
to give up the eating of slaughtered animals. "One who partakes of human
flesh, the flesh of a horse or of another animal, and deprives others of milk by
slaughtering cows, O King, if such a fiend does not desist by other means,
then you should not hesitate to cut off his head."
There are also references in the Mahabharata that forewarn the activity of
eating flesh: "He who desires to augment his own flesh by eating the flesh of
other creatures, lives in misery in whatever species he may take his birth."
"The purchaser of flesh performs violence by his wealth; he who eats flesh
does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does violence by actually tying and
killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing. He who brings flesh
or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases,
sells, or cooks flesh and eats it--all these are to be considered meat-eaters."
"The sins generated by violence curtail the life of the perpetrator.
Therefore, even those who are anxious for their own welfare should abstain
from meat-eating." (Mahabharata, Anu.115.33)
"Those who are ignorant of real dharma and, though wicked and haughty,
account themselves virtuous, kill animals without any feeling of remorse or
fear of punishment. Further, in their next lives, such sinful persons will be
eaten by the same creatures they have killed in this world." (Bhagavata Purana
From these verses there should be no doubt that the Vedic shastra
recommends that such selfish meat-eating must be given up if one has any
concern for his future existence, or for attaining any spiritual merit.
In Bhagavad-gita, however, we also find similar verses on what is
recommended for human consumption. Lord Krishna says, "If one offers Me
with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it."
(Bg.9.26) This means that not only should one be a vegetarian and eat only
fruits, water, grains, vegetables, etc., but such items should be made as an
offering to God with love. The reason is that, "The devotees of the Lord are
released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for
sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat
only sin." (Bg.3.13)
As further elaborated in Bhagavad-gita by Lord Sri Krishna: "O son of
Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give away, as well
as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an offering unto
Me. In this way you will be freed from all reactions to good and evil deeds,
and by this principle of renunciation you will be liberated and come to Me."
As the Vedic literature explains, what we eat is an important factor in the
process of purifying ourselves and remaining free from accumulating bad
karma. It actually is not so difficult to be vegetarian, and it gives one a much
higher taste in eating and in one's spiritual realization. For those of you who
would like to learn more about what a vegetarian diet can do for you and how
to cook vegetarian meals easily, there are plenty of books available to help
you get started. Or check my website for additional information, at:
THE PRINCIPAL OF BEING MERCIFUL
Meat-eating and animal slaughter also disrupts and disregards the doctrine
of ahimsa, or non-violence. It is not possible to kill animals for the pleasure
of the tongue without violence. The Padma Purana (1.31.27) simply says that
"Ahimsa is the highest duty." Therefore, one must honestly ask themselves if
they intend to truly follow the Vedic tenants or not, at least if they call
themselves a Hindu. If they are, then they must adopt the ways of ahimsa.
Ahimsa is more directly explained in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (2.30)
wherein it is said: "Having no ill feeling for any living being, in all manners
possible and for all times, is called ahimsa, and it should be the desired goal
of all seekers."
It is also said in the Buddhist scripture, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, "The
eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion."
One of the principles that one must follow in the endeavor to be free from
acquiring bad karma and for spiritual advancement is being merciful, based on
ahimsa. Mercy means more than just being nice. Mercy means being kind to
all living entities, not just to humans, but also to animals, birds, insects, etc.
This is because the living entity, depending on its consciousness, can take a
material body in any one of the 8,400,000 species of life. Therefore, to
develop and maintain the quality of mercy, one must follow the principle of
no meat-eating. This includes no eating of meat, fish, eggs, or insects. This
way, those who are serious about a spiritual path remain free from so many
unnecessary karmic reactions. Karma means that for every action there is an
opposite and equal reaction. Killing an animal to eat is certainly an act of
violence which creates a negative reaction in the atmosphere which returns as
more violence, which comes back to us as reversals in life which we must
endure in the future.
It is stated that meat-eating is actually the grossest form of spiritual
ignorance. To kill other living entities for the pleasure of the tongue is a cruel
and selfish activity which requires one to be almost completely blind to the
spiritual reality of the living being. It also causes one to remain hard-hearted
and less sensitive to the concern for the well-being and feelings of others.
As previously explained, according to the law of karma, whatever pain we
cause for others we will have to suffer in the future. Therefore, a wise man
does not even want to harm an insect, what to speak of slaughtering an animal
in order to taste blood. The sinful reaction for animal slaughter is received by
six kinds of participants, which include, (1) the killer of the animal, (2) one
who advocates or advertises meat-eating, (3) one who transports the meat, (4)
one who handles or packages the meat, (5) one who prepares or cooks the
meat, and (6) one who eats it.
The sinful reaction shared by these six participants in animal slaughter is
very severe. In fact, the Bible compares the killing of cows to murdering a
man: "He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man." (Isaiah 66.3) It is also
explained in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrta,(Adi-lila, Chapter 17, verse 166):
"Cow killers are condemned to rot in hellish life for as many thousands of
years as there are hairs on the body of the cow," which is referenced in the
Manu-samhita. So an intelligent person will try to avoid this fate.
Some readers may say, however, that the sacrifices in the early Vedic
literature prescribed animal slaughter, so for that reason it is all right to kill
animals. But such activities in this day and age is refuted by Sri Caitanya
Mahaprabhu in the Caitanya-caritamrita, (Adi-lila, Chapter 17, verses
159-165) which He explains to the Chand Kazi who was a Muslim:
"The Vedas clearly enjoin that cows should not be killed. Therefore any
Hindu, whoever he may be, does not indulge in cow killing. In the Vedas and
Puranas there are injunctions declaring that if one can revive a living being, he
can kill it for experimental purposes. Therefore the great sages sometimes
killed old animals, and by chanting Vedic hymns they again brought them to
life for protection. The killing and rejuvenation of such old and invalid animals
was not truly killing but an act of great benefit. Formerly there were great
powerful brahmanas who could make such experiments using Vedic hymns,
but now, because of Kali-yuga, brahmanas are not so powerful. Therefore the
killing of cows and bulls for rejuvenation is forbidden. 'In this age of Kali, five
acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow
in sacrifice, the acceptance of the [renounced] order of sannyasa, the offering
of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man's begetting children in his
brother's wife.' Since you Mohammedans [and others] cannot bring killed
animals back to life, you are responsible for killing them. Therefore you are
going to hell; there is no way for your deliverance."
This quotation makes it perfectly clear how anyone who participates in
killing other living beings is responsible for such acts which cause one to
attain a hellish future. We mentioned the karmic reactions for killing the cow,
but there are karmic results that one acquires from killing other entities as
well, which is to suffer a similar pain or die in a similar way. Whatever you do
unto others will later return to you, either in this life or in a future life. For
every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is the law of karma.
We can now begin to understand how dark the future is for someone who
owns or manages something like a hamburger or fried chicken stand. Not only
is he responsible for the animals that are killed, cooked, and then sold by his
business, but he is also responsible
for those he hires to help with it.
THE BENEFIT FROM COWS
The cow and bull are the prime targets of the meat industry. However,
cows and bulls are very important to human civilization. Until the recent
invention of the tractor, the bull was used for helping to cultivate fields for
producing food, and the cow has always supplied milk for human
consumption. Milk is important and a moderate supply of it in our diet
provides the proper nutrients for developing a good brain for understanding
spiritual topics. [However, this is not to condone the present mainstream or
western milk industry.] From milk one can make many other foods that are
used in thousands of recipes that we all appreciate, such as cheese or curd,
yogurt, kefir, butter, ghee, ice cream, and so on. This means that, according
to the Vedas, the cow is one of our mothers and the bull is like a father for the
benefit they have done for society. To do outright harm to such creatures is
considered extremely serious.
I have heard Western people criticize India for not slaughtering its cows.
Uncultured tourists talk about how there would be no more starving children
if they would just eat the cows. For one thing, I have traveled all over India
and have seen hungry people there as well as in American cities. Homeless
people are found in every country. For another thing, cows are one of India's
greatest resources. They produce food, fuel, and power. Bullocks do as much
as two-thirds of the work on the average farm. They help plow the fields, hall
produce, and turn the presses. For India to convert to machinery to do these
tasks would cost as much as 20 to 30 billion dollars. For a country like India,
that is out of the question and a waste of time and money.
The cows also supply up to 800 tons of manure each year for fuel. Cow
dung gives a slow even heat, good for cooking. Using coal for cooking would
cost 1.5 billion dollars a year. And besides, believe it or not, cow dung kills
bacteria and is antiseptic. And keeping cows is cheap since they eat things like
wheat stubble, husks, and rice straw, which people cannot use.
So why raise cattle for meat consumption when it takes seven times more
acreage for a pound of beef than a pound of milk? Only four to sixteen pounds
of flesh food is produced for every hundred pounds of food eaten by cattle.
Ten to twenty tons of nutritive vegetable food can be produced from the same
amount of land that can produce only one ton of beef. In one year, you can
get much more protein from a cow in the form of milk, cheese, etc., than in
the several years it takes for a cow to mature enough to produce meat. To
produce one pound of wheat takes 25 gallons of water, whereas one pound
of beef requires 2500 gallons. And water is not always a plentiful resource in
countries like India. Obviously, using agricultural resources for meat
production is nothing but wasteful.
Furthermore, if we are so concerned about the starving people in the
world and the environment we live in, then let us consider the fact that 60
million more people in the world could be fed if Americans reduced their meat
consumption by only 10%. Plus, an estimated 216,000 acres of rainforest is
lost every day in various countries, and it is said that 50% of that is directly
linked to raising cattle for meat production. And though 76% of Americans
consider themselves concerned about the environment, only 2.8% are
vegetarians (at the time this was written). Many Americans may say they love
animals, but they still eat them on a regular basis. Obviously, they need to
raise their consciousness about this. In any case, there are many books on the
market that present this type of environmental information much more
VEGETARIANISM: BIBLICAL VERSES
THAT SUPPORT IT
The Bible has many quotations against meat-eating as can be seen from
the following: "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; at the hand of
every beast will I require it." (Genesis 9.4-5) Certainly we can see in this verse
that no one was meant to live by eating the flesh and blood of others. If one
did so, then he would have to pay with his own blood, as it says, "your blood
of your lives will I require." This is merely a reference to the law of karma: for
every animal who suffers because of you, you will also similarly suffer: "at the
hand of every beast will I require it."
"To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? Saith the
Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I
delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of goats. When ye spread
forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many
prayers, I will not hear, for your hands are full of blood." (Isaiah 1.11,15)
"It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your
dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood. (Leviticus 3.17). . . And
whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of strangers who sojourn
among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set My face against
that soul that eateth blood." (Leviticus 17.10)
From these verses and others not included here, we can certainly see that
God's law, as set down in the Bible, was against the eating of flesh and blood
and the killing of other entities. However, there are some people who try to
legitimize the eating of meat by draining the blood and, thus, make the meat
"kosher." Of course, this idea doesn't really work. Blood permeates meat, so
how can one be free from eating blood by trying to drain it from the flesh?
This is not very realistic, and it certainly does not free one from the violence
that must be inflicted on the animal when it is killed in order to eat its flesh.
The real point of the matter is not to kill. This is clearly stated in Exodus
(20.13) in the Hebrew lo tirtzach, which, when accurately translated, means
"thou shalt not kill."
In fact, the Bible compares the killing of cows to murdering a man: "He
that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man." (Isaiah 66.3)
There are a few verses, however, which I am sure some students of the
Bible will reach for that seem to support the eating of flesh. But in every case,
this is due to inaccurate translations as we shall see.
For example, in John (4.8) it states: "For his disciples were gone away
unto the city to buy meat." The word meat was taken from the Greek word
trophe, which actually means nourishment. This is exactly the same case in
Acts (9.19): "And when he had received meat, he was strengthened." When
translated accurately it means that by receiving nourishment, he felt stronger.
In Luke (8.55) we find, "And her spirit came again and she arose
straightaway: and he (Jesus) commanded to give her meat." The word meat
in this case was translated from the Greek word phago, which translated
correctly simply means to eat.
In I Corinthians (8.8) it states: "But meat commendeth us not to God, for
neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither if we eat not, are we the worse."
The word for meat here is broma, which actually means food. Therefore, this
verse signifies that eating or not eating food has little to do with our
relationship to God and not, as some people think, that eating meat holds no
In Romans (14.20-21) the verses are: "For meat destroy not the word of
God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with
offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything
whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." The word
for meat here is broma, which actually means foods, and the word for flesh is
kreas, which does mean flesh. Therefore, this verse makes it clear that flesh
eating is unacceptable.
If the Bible explains that eating meat is wrong, then what is the proper
thing to eat? Genesis (1.29) clearly states: "And God said, Behold, I have
given you every herb bearing seed, which is on the face of all the earth, and
every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for
meat." This makes it quite obvious that the food for human beings is herbs,
seeds, grains, and fruits.
We also find in Isaiah (7.14-15): "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give
you a sign; Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall
call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to
refuse the evil, and choose the good." The first verse is often quoted by
Christians for proof that Jesus was the savior, but the next verse shows that
he will be a vegetarian to know the difference between right and wrong.
As mentioned earlier, meat-eating is a sign of spiritual ignorance and tends
to keep one from developing compassion and mercy towards our fellow living
entities. To be merciful only to man and yet be an enemy to animals by killing
and eating them is Satan's philosophy. One will never live in true harmony
with God while performing such activities. This is often overlooked by the
Christians, Muslims, and others. If these verses were actually understood and
the meaning fully realized and practically applied by the Christians and others,
I am sure it would bring beneficial reactions the world over in their spiritual
development. After all, one of the ten commandments specifically says thou
shalt not kill. It does not say merely thou shalt not murder, which would imply
only humans, but it says "Thou
shalt not kill," meaning any living being.
VEGETARIANISM: QUOTES FROM
NOTEWORTHY PEOPLE ON THE NEEDS FOR IT
"Is it not a reproach that man is a carnivorous animal? True, he can and
does live, in a great measure, by preying on other animals; but this is a
miserable way--as any one who will go to snaring rabbits, or slaughtering
lambs, may learn--and he will be regarded as a benefactor of his race who shall
teach man to confine himself to a more innocent and wholesome diet. What
my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the
human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely
as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact
with the more civilized." Henry
David Thoreau in "Walden"
"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." Mahatma Gandhi
"It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical
effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot
of mankind." Albert Einstein
"As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he
who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love."
"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"
"Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution.
Until we stop harming all living beings, we are all savages." Thomas
"When a man wants to murder a tiger, he calls it sport; when a tiger wants
to murder him, he calls it ferocity." George
"Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live
by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured
the use of meat..."
Leonardo da Vinci, painter,
"A dead cow or sheep lying in a pasture is recognized as carrion. The
same sort of carcass dressed and hung up in a butcher's stall passes as food!"
J. H. Kellog
"I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as
human diet when there are so many substitutes. After all, man can live without
meat..." The Dalai Lama
"He who does not value life does
not deserve it." Leonardo da Vinci
"Flesh-eating is simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act
which is contrary to moral feeling--killing." Count Leo
Tolstoy, great Russian philosopher
"I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in copying the
lower animal world if we are superior
to it." Mahatma Gandhi
"I look my age. It is the other people who look older than they are. What
can you expect from people who eat corpses?" George Bernard
Shaw, great English playwright
"Oh, my fellow men, do not defile your bodies with sinful foods. We have
corn, 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
"Can you really ask what reason Pythagorus had for abstinence from
flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of
mind the first man touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh
of a dead creature, set 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. How could eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit
and hides flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the
stench? How was it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made
contact with sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal
wounds? 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 the duration of life to which they are entitled by birth and
"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." The
Roman Plutarch, in an essay "On
In a similar line of thinking is this quote: "I'm no shrinking violet. I played
hockey until half my teeth were knocked down my throat. And I'm extremely
competitive on a tennis court. . . But that experience at the slaughterhouse
overwhelmed me. When I walked out of there, I knew I would never again
harm an animal! I knew all the physiological, economic, and ecological
arguments supporting vegetarianism, but it was firsthand experience of man's
cruelty to animals that laid the real groundwork for my commitment to
Peter Burwash, champion tennis player in his book, "A
"I do not want to make my stomach a graveyard of dead animals." George
"He who, seeking his own happiness, punishes or kills beings who also
long for happiness, will not find happiness after death." Buddhist
"It may indeed be doubted whether butchers' meet is anywhere a
necessary of life. Grain and other vegetables, with the help of milk, cheese,
and butter, or oil where butter is not to be had, afford the most plentiful, the
most wholesome, the most nourishing, and the most invigorating diet.
Decency nowhere requires that any man should eat butchers' meat."
Economist Adam Smith in "The Wealth of Nations"
"In all the round world of Utopia there is no meat. There used to be. But
now we cannot stand the thought of slaughterhouses. And, in a population
that is all educated, and at about the same level of physical refinement, it is
practically impossible to find anyone who will hew a dead ox or pig... I can
still remember as a boy the rejoicings over the closing of the last
slaughterhouse." H. G. Wells, vision of the future in "A Modern
"We are all God's creatures--that we pray to God for mercy and justice
while we continue to eat the flesh of animals that are slaughtered on our
account is not consistent."
Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel-prize
"Vegetarianism is a greater progress. From the greater clearness of head
and quicker apprehension motivated him to become a vegetarian. Flesh-eating
is an unprovoked murder."
Benjamin Franklin, great American
"Various philosophers and religious leaders tried to convince their
disciples and followers that animals are nothing more than machines without
a soul, without feelings. However, anyone who has ever lived with an animal--
be it a dog, a bird, or even a mouse--knows that this theory is a brazen lie,
invented to justify cruelty."
Isaac Bashevis Singer
"To be nonviolent to human beings and to be a killer or enemy of the poor
animals is Satan's philosophy. In this age there is always enmity against poor
animals, and therefore the poor creatures are always anxious. The reaction of
the poor animals is being forced on human society, and therefore there is
always strain of cold or hot war between men, individually, collectively or
nationally." A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, in Srimad-
"Every act of irreverence for life, every act which neglects life, which is
indifferent to and wastes life, is a step towards the love of death. This choice
man must make at every minute. Never were the consequences of the wrong
choice as total and as irreversible as they are today. Never was the warning
of the Bible so urgent: 'I have put before you life and death, blessing and
curse. Choose life, that you and your children may live.' (Deuteronomy
30:19)" Erich Fromm
"To avoid causing terror to living beings, let the disciple refrain from
eating meat... the food of the wise is that which is consumed by the sadhus
[holymen]; it does not consist of meat... There may be some foolish people in
the future who will say that I permitted meat-eating and that I partook of meat
myself, but... meat-eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, I
will not permit meat-eating in any form, in any manner and in any place; it is
unconditionally prohibited for
all." The Buddha in Dhammapada
In the words of George Bernard Shaw:
We are living graves of murdered beasts
Slaughtered to satisfy our appetites.
We never pause to wonder at our feasts,
If animals like men could possibly have rights.
We pray on Sunday that we may have light,
To guide our footsteps on the paths we tread.
We are sick of war, we do not want to fight,
And we gorge ourselves upon the dead.
Like Carrion Crows we live and feed on meat,
Regardless of the suffering and pain
We cause by doing so, in this we treat,
Defenseless animals for sport or gain -
How can we hope in this world to attain
The peace we say we are so anxious for,
We pray for it o'er hetacomba of slain,
To God while outraging the moral law,
Thus cruelty begets the offspring ---
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