Essays Archives

As the age old saying goes, “You are what you eat.”

1.But does that mean if you eat a carrot, you’ll turn orange? A guinea pig in his own experiment, 33-year-old filmmaker Morgan Spurlock decided that he would go on a fast food only diet to put this adage to the test. In his documentary, Super Size Me, he recorded the effects that McDonald burgers, fries, and soda had on his health. The results at the end of his thirty day experiment not only uncovered the health risks associated with the Great American Diet, but highlighted a new wave of health-consciousness surging across the country.
At the forefront of this movement towards healthier living is the vegetarian diet, which doctors and nutritionists both laud as “healthful, [and] nutritionally adequate.
2. In fact, a Scandinavian study carried out in 1984, reveals “the benefits [of vegetarianism] in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
3. Of all the participants in the study, 75% were able to discontinue their high blood pressure medication within a year of adopting a vegetarian diet.
4. As a result of such stunning medical tests and health awareness, vegetarianism is currently gaining momentum now more than ever before. In a poll taken in 2000, the estimated statistical population who can be considered vegetarian in the USA is 2.5%.
5. Loosely defined, a vegetarian diet is one that excludes all forms of meat, however there are many variations of vegetarianism that exist today. For example, there are vegans who avoid all animal products, such as meat, fish, and poultry. They also refuse the use of any animal by-products, such as honey, dairy products, and eggs.
6. Lacto-ovo vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry, yet they do eat dairy products and eggs. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, poultry, or eggs, but they eat dairy products. Semi-vegetarians, or flexitarians, occasionally eat meat, fish, or poultry, usually no more than once a week. Finally fruitarians consume fruits, nuts, seeds, and certain vegetables.
7. The classifications of vegetarianism are not rigid and are culturally specific.
Vegetarianism is not only a dietary choice but also represents a way of life; it has a deep-rooted history, especially within the doctrines of Hinduism, long before the common era.
8. The ethical foundation called ahimsa, or non-violence, is a principle that can be traced back to the incantations of the Vedas (ancient Hindu scriptures). On the spiritual path of Hinduism, a pinnacle that aspirants strive towards is God-realization, or the ability to recognize the divinity residing within all beings.
9. Outwardly, this is the commitment to avoid the obvious forms of violence, such as the use of coercion and brutality upon any life-form; animals and humans alike should be treated kindly. Not only does the philosophy apply to behaviour but more broadly to encompass thought. Mohandas Gandhi, a well-known promulgator of ahimsa, explained that each person has a moral obligation “not to hurt any living creature by thought, word or deed.
10. For Hindus, this translates to adopting a peaceful temperament as well as a vegetarian diet.
The concept of non-violence and vegetarianism is not unique to just Hinduism, but is evident in many faiths across the world. Buddhism, like Hinduism, teaches the precepts of ahimsa and is demonstrably positive towards vegetarianism; Lord Buddha explicitly preached against animal killing. The Old Testament used by both Jews and Christians instructs “Thou Shall Not Kill.
11. Furthermore, Steven Rosen writes that the Jewish Old Testament carefully circumscribed what was permissible and “never endorsed the wholesale slaughter of animals so prevalent today.”
12. Principles of non-violence across all traditions have contributed immeasurably to the evolution of ideas about compassion and equal treatment towards animals.
13. Especially, after learning the inconceivable truth of the agribusiness industry’s animal breeding and animal slaughter, many agree that it is nothing less than inhumane. In Deep Vegetarianism, Michal Allen Fox recounts an eyewitness story from USA slaughterhouses which “routinely skin live cattle, immerse squealing pigs in scalding water and abuse still-conscious animals in other ways to keep production lines moving quickly.
14. Unethical procedures include crowded confinement, brutal declawing, forced impregnation, and cruel castration.
15. The mutilation of animals on a slaughter farm and noxious hormone treatments are both grounds that many take for adopting a vegetarian diet.
Yet another complication of the meat industry is the economies of scale, which is correlated to hunger in many developing countries. The bottom line is that “meat feeds few at the expense of many.
16. Essentially, large-scale meat production is a noted contributor to world hunger due to the fact that many developing countries export agricultural products to feed livestock rather than to feed people.
17. The industry exhausts vast quantities of less costly resources from poorer nations in order to produce relatively scanty returns to humans.
18. All in all, a vegetarian diet has physical, spiritual, social, and economic implications. From a medical perspective, there are positive health benefits. Spiritual adherence to non-violence supports vegetarianism, pledging to show compassion to all living being. Moreover, the present day agricultural industry clearly mistreats animals even before they are slaughtered and put on the grocery shelf. Finally, in terms of globalization, the industry itself perpetuates world hunger by siphoning raw materials from developing countries. Whether a vegetarian life style is adopted for any of the reasons mentioned above, or others, it unmistakably has a rippling effect in the community at large.


1.German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872) made the famous declaration that “a human being is what he eats,” in “Der Mensch ist, was er isst”; in Jacob Moleschott, Lehre der Nahrungsmittel: Für das Volk, ‘Advertisement’ (Erlangen: Enke, 1850).
2.The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada released this joint statement in June 2003. Vegetarian Times. Oak Park: Oct 2003, Iss. 314; p. 13.
4.Vegetarian Times. Oak Park: Jan. 2005, Iss. 327; p. 33.
5.A 2000 National Zogby Poll sponsored by the Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG). “How Many Vegetarians Are There?” 1996-2000 The Vegetarian Resource Group August 30, 2000
6.Diabetes Forecast. Alexandria: Oct. 2005. Vol. 58, Iss. 10; p. 50.
7.Paul R. Amato and Sonia A. Partridge, The New Vegetarians: Promoting Health and Protecting Life (New York and London: Plenum Press, 1989), p. vii.
8.Michael Allen Fox, Deep Vegetarianism, (Philadelphia, Pa.:Fox Publication: Philadelphia Temple University Press, 1999), p. 6.
9.Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, “Non-Violence of the Strong and of the Weak,” in Moral and Political Writings, vol. 2, p. 405.
10.Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, “Ahimsa or Love,” in The Moral and Political Writings of Mahatma Gandhi, ed. Raghavan Iyer (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986–87), vol. 2, Truth and Non-Violence, p. 577.
11.Exodus 20:13.
12.Rosen, Diet for Transcendence, p. 93.
13.Michael Allen Fox, Deep Vegetarianism, (Philadelphia, Pa.:Fox Publication: Philadelphia Temple University Press, 1999), p. 134.
14.“Animals Butchered Alive, Former USDA Inspectors Say,” Toronto Globe and Mail, 4 April 1998, p. A16 (Reuters News Agency story).
15.Michael Allen Fox, Deep Vegetarianism, (Philadelphia, Pa.:Fox Publication: Philadelphia Temple University Press, 1999), p. 77.
16.Adiraja Dasa, “Vegetarianism: A Means to a Higher End,” html #Ethics.
17.Michael Allen Fox, Deep Vegetarianism, (Philadelphia, Pa.:Fox Publication: Philadelphia Temple University Press, 1999), p. 96.

18 Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet, rev. ed. (New York: Ballantine, 1975).

© 1999-2024 Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha), Swaminarayan Aksharpith | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions | Feedback |   RSS