A human being is part of the whole, called by us "Universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts, and feelings, as something separate from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The delusion is a kind of prision for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
... I have long been an adherent to the vegetarian cause in principle. Besides agreeing with their aims for aesthetic and moral reasongs, 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
But why should diet be singled out from so many other aspects of person's lifestyle? When so many of our thoughts and actions are constantly penning invitations for a host of consequences to visit us, why is what we eat so important in determining whether pain or pleasure becomes our most frequent companion?
Admittedly, diet seems to be a mundane and rather in-consequential aspect of right living. Why pinpoint meat eating for special attention when it appears that there are so many other worse evils? Murder, torture, child abuse, and wife beating, not to mention stealing, lying, infidelity, and alcoholism. The list of human vices is almost endless. Wouldn't it make more sense to focus on someting other than our eating habits?
No. And the reason why is simple. Before we can do right or wrong, we have to just be. Being human, that means existing in a physical body. Life is maintained automatically for a baby in its mother's womb. When the child is born, actions have to be taken to sustain life -- some by the infant some by caregivers. The baby has to breathe on its own. Someone else supplies food and water. Shelter against the elements is needed.
Regardless for how long we licve, our basic needs remain the same: air, food, water, shelter. Some would add love and companionship to that list, but they are not necessary for life itself, only for a decent life. So let's stick with air, food, water and shelter as the essentials for maintaining raw human existence. Now, if the very foundation of our physical being is rooted in pain and suffering, whatever is built upon it rests on shaky ground.
If karma lies at the root of both health and disease, then to become truly healthy we need a spiritual doctor, not a medical doctor.
Yet modern medicine has its proper role as well, and bit by bit is making progress towards uncovering the causes of chronic illness. As written in the April 1996 issue of the University of Californina at Berkely Wellness Letter: "In the past decades, scientists have made great strides in understanding the relationship between diet and health, and have suggestedd that cancer, heart disease, and other chronic ailments may in some sense be 'deficiency' diseases. That is, if we would improve our eating hapits, may be we could decrease our risk of chronic diseases".
While true, this is a cautious interpretation of scientific facts. Many medical researchers have concluded that chronic disease almost certainly is related to diet. That is, most of the health problems that afflict us, particularly in our later years, are self-induced. A large proportion of heart attacks and tumors are produced by the food we eat. And what kind of food do these reports indict as one of the main culprits that causes so much pain and suffering? Of course, we can guess.
Isn't that interesting? Frequemntly people say that is natural to eat meat; that evolution has fine-tuned humans to subsist on a mixture of animal and plant foods; that we are descended from hunters of mammoths and sober-toothed tigers; and that cows, pigs, sheep, and other domesticated creatures are simply a substitute for the savage beasts on which our ancestors once survived. In other words, our bodies are naturally designed to consume meat, and we shouldn't argue with nature.
well, this view may have its own logic, but it is strange that someting humans supposedly are meant to eat is so bad for health. Perhaps nature actually is telling us something different, that meat eating is bad for us, both physically and spiritually. Certainly solid support for shunting meat comes from an expanding body of scientific research. Today parents who want to raise their children to be vegetarians have a much larger arsenal of facts to support their decision than was the case a decade or so ago.
There are plenty of books avilable for those readers who want to know, in detail, why meat is bad for our health. That isn't the primary cocus of this page, because its argument for vegetarian diet is based on compassion for ourself and others, not on physical well-being. Killing animals for food is an unwise and unsafe choice because it causes suffering to a form of life that has a refined mind which feels pain when slaughtered. For many people, this one thought is reason enough to be a vegetarian.
However, the reality is that our concern for others also is balanced by self-interest, "What's in it for me?" As we've seen, karmic law has a ready answer to this question; "Do good fr others, and in return you will receive pleasure; do wrong, and receive suffering".
So this is just like a twice-baked potato. It many not be essential, but it adds flavor to the thesis that life is fair, and those who kill get what they deserve. The "first baking" is the suffering inflicted on animals by people who eat meat. The "second baking" is the suffering that rebounds on meat-eaters as a result of the suffering they've caused.
We reap what we sow.
Coming Soon: The evidence against meat is in: Guilty. The views would be based both on Science (Health) and Spiritual.