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I attended a session of a priest. He described how eating non-veg food is disfavoured in Hinduism. He told us that a verse of Bhagavad-Gita says that eating non-veg food is evil.

Priest: If you eat non-veg food, you share the karma of killing an innocent animal.

Me: Plants are also living beings. Eating them should also be equally bad.

Priest: Yes, thats why you should only eat food offered to Krishna, so the Karma on it is removed.

Later on, a thought came to me which confused me:

Why can't I just offer animal flesh to Krishna and then eat it?

I am not asking "why is non-veg forbidden" but rather "why is there a difference between eating plants and eating animals?".

P.S. I am strictly vegetarian.

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    Have a look at answers in the hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/67/eating-beef-as-a-hindu/… – AksharRoop Jun 19 '14 at 6:57
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    Ahimsa Paramo Dharma.. – user11 Jun 19 '14 at 7:52
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    AFAIK, A hindu can eat non-veg. I think so because of Ashwamedha yagna. But again, in some other theories, hindus can eat fruits from plants when they fell off on the ground. They are not allowed to pluck and eat. There are more theories to consider but no correct answer. to me atleast. – Mr_Green Jun 19 '14 at 9:37
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    @AwalGarg It would be best if you clarified your question - you are not actually asking "why is non-veg forbidden" but rather "why is there a difference between eating plants and eating animals?". I agree that this is a different question than the "eating beef" question, but it doesn't look like that at first glance. – senshin Jun 19 '14 at 16:34
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    @Mr_Green I know exactly what you mean. But let me tell you, ALL OF THAT IS BS, injected during Christian Rule in India!! Your can NOT even know the 'H' of Hinduism, with that Wendy Doniger's Sh#t! Pardon my language but thats what it is... – Hindu Oct 10 '14 at 6:10

15 Answers 15

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I am going to give the answer from a different perspective. The conception of Guna (property).

There are Three types of Guna

  1. Sattva (the quality of goodness): Sattva is Calm, Saintly. Its brings up quality that allows spiritual holiness, forgiveness and submission to God. Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart. (BG 17.8)

  2. Raja (the quality of passion): Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease. Onions and garlic fall into this category. (BG 17.9)

  3. Tamas (the quality of ignorance): Food prepared more than three hours before being eaten, food that is tasteless, decomposed and putrid, and food consisting of remnants and untouchable things is dear to those in the mode of darkness. (BG 17.10)

We are what we eat, so you see. When you see the whole picture from the Gunas' perspective it will start making sense altogether. Why we can't eat certain types of foods, why we do not use some types of food in our Pujas (rituals or worship).

In order to be a saint/God's servant, humans must suppress raja and tamas guna, and eating sattvic food is a large part of that.


EDIT:

In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna states what should be used to worship him with Patram (leafs), Puspam (flowers), Falam (fruits), Toyom (water). So, god didn't say worship me with meat. The priest meant to say the same. Krishna only takes Sattvic foods from us. See the Bhagavad Gita 9.26 quote here.

Is it true that if we eat vegetables, we are still taking lives, therefore we're guilty?

Unfortunately, yes. The only way to mitigate this is to offer the food first for sacrifice. This is supported in Bhagavad Gita 3.13:

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.

There is also a difference in picking fruits or greens from a plant, which does not always kill the plant. Regardless, the food must be offered to get free from negative karma.


There are five types of people who gets equal share of sin of killing an animal.

  1. Person who kills it.
  2. Person who sells the meat.
  3. Person who carries it to home
  4. Person who cooks it.
  5. Person who eats.

Edit

Request to anyone edit this answer If you want to relate science with religion please post your own answer. The answer given is strictly theoretical (how concepts is described in scriptures).

You can also read Chaandhogya Upanishad They says that Your Food divides into 3 parts:

  1. Shthul change into solid waste food. Example-Toilet
  2. Aadhu change into liquid food like blood
  3. Shushm change into mind balancing elements like Brain
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    Can you please tell me if the info given by that priest is valid or not? And how? – user3459110 Jun 19 '14 at 8:19
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    @AwalGarg Yes, it's valid. To summarize Sisir's answer, yes, killing plants is also violence, but offering them to Lord Visnu removes that karma. You can only offer foods in the mode of goodness to Visnu, therefore the offerings are limited to grains, fruits, vegetables and milk. Why can we only offer foods in the mode of goodness? Because Krishna says so in Bhagavad Gita: 9.26 – cheenbabes Jun 19 '14 at 21:41
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    it is different also because to eat an animal you have to kill it, the equivalent in plan would be cat a tree ... pick up a fruit is not exactly killing a plant – WonderLand Jun 20 '14 at 7:59
  • @Sisir, I'm not with your answer completely, things which we eat, mostly are fruits, vegetables, roots and grains. Fruits,vegetables are part of plants reproductive system, and they grow to be eaten, roots ie. potato, are only chopped after the plant is fully grown up and also the part of plants reproductive system, where as grains are only chopped down when they see there death,ie. browned from green. There is no killing ever of any plant unless you are eating a half grown plant and that too full. – Mr. K Aug 23 '14 at 6:59
  • I am setting this as community wiki as this answer doesn't looks like what i had answered and edited so much. – Sisir Aug 24 '14 at 11:51
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It is because eating non-movable things has been allowed by Prajapati (Brahma or the lord of the beings).

As per the scripture:

What is sthavara (immovable i.e. vegetables, plants, etc.) is the food of jangama (movable i.e. animals) [Manu. Smrt. - 5.29]

Why it is so? Because, if we don't eat something then we will die. Scriptures allow eating anything whether it's movable(animals) or immovable (plants) when life is in danger:

One can eat meat when his life is in danger. (i.e. if the condition is such that if you don't eat meat you will die.) [Manu. Smrt. - 5.27]

For the sustenance of life Prajapati created everything. So both movable and immovable are the food of prana (life force) [Manu. Smrt. - 5.28]

Having stated that, the scripture has heavily instructed in the favor of not eating meat as it includes causing pain to animals please see here. Now, because we can't eat meat, only plant food is left. So to sustain our lives we have to eat plant food anyway.

Now the question is, don't plants feel pain when they are uprooted or their fruits, leaves, vegetables are plucked? Well, may be they do. But in case of plants, the pain, suffering and self identification is certainly less than the animals. So it involves less karma.

Why can't I just offer animal flesh to Krishna and then eat it?

Your priest is partially right. You can certainly offer meat to gods and eat it (Manu 5.27), but this doesn't mean offering to Krishna. This means offering it to certain higher beings like manes and demigods (in the mode of tamas). In that case proper rite and ritual must be done with proper mantras. Simple mental offering wouldn't work.

Krishna being God Himself doesn't need any kind of food or offering for His sustenance. Whatever a devotee offers Him as a token of love and devotion He accepts it. But other demigods and manes being another form of existence need certain things for their satisfaction which can be offered to them through yajna or sacrifice. Eating meat by offering to them in that way has been accepted:

Irrespective of whether one has bought the meat, killed the animal himself or has received from another person, there is no fault in eating meat when it has been offered to the gods and the manes. [Manu - 5.32]

But anyway, offering food to God before eating it is certainly a good habit because food may contain many other faults apart from it being veg or non-veg.

Edit: the answer has been updated as the question has changed

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    From science :) To feel pain nervous system is required and plants don't have any. But in spiritualism everything is considered to have a spirit, hence generally it's told that they suffer when fruit if plucked. – Be Happy Jun 19 '14 at 9:20
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    If you go into science then you will find that experiments have been done to find out whether plants have nervous system, feelings, etc. Jagdish Bose from India conducted researches and found out that they feel pain, affection etc. But I have already mentioned in the answer that their level of pain and suffering is lesser compared to animals, hence less karma is involved in eating plants. If you take much care about not causing anyone pain, then you yourself will die with pain without having anything to eat :) Won't that be killing an innocent good animal? ;) – Be Happy Jun 19 '14 at 9:32
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    Hehe, good point. I think a lot of microbes and bacterias are also killed every day inside our body itself just because of the daily metabolic activities! – user3459110 Jun 19 '14 at 9:40
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    @AwalGarg Plants may feel pain when plucking their fruits but that is what they want. Fruit's purpose is to attract animals to eat it & disperse the seed. It's the tree's dharma(natural law). Leave science out for a while and look at Swadharma of the being. Tree's Swadharma is to have it's fruits be dispersed by other being by plucking it. – Bharat Jun 20 '14 at 15:27
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    this is the most amazing answer :) totally agree with this. It is said that when one is saturated with Love of God, then he/she needs no food to survive, but the bliss itself sustains him/her. :) – Sai Sep 11 '14 at 13:51
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Killing of both ANIMALS and PLANTS is prohibited.

In the Vedic age, AGRICULTURE was not in vogue. People used to PLUCK fruits and vegetables from the naturally growing plants which does not amount to killing the plants.

Even the CEREALS, PULSES, OIL SEEDS which were withered from the plants were collected and used - which again does not amount to killing the plants.

Killing of Plants started with the introduction of Agriculture as means of food production when man used to cultivate food items of his choice.

Our forefathers & RISHIS were so sensitive to the feelings of the plants - that they generated VEDIC HYMNS to appease the plants before plucking their products - even though plucking does not harm the plants,

  • very good answer. Shows you really understood life deeply. I hope you are involved in agriculture in some way. Shubhamastu – user4592 Jan 26 '16 at 4:18
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    I agree with your explanation above. In case of plants/trees etc if we don't pluck them the fruits, vegetables etc will fall off naturally so that the new ones can grow in the next cycle and it's a repetitive process but that's not the case with animals, once killed they are gone. Yes we can use by-products like milk (cows,goats etc) but can't kill them. – Just_Do_It Sep 8 '17 at 19:51
  • Even today most of the time CEREALS, PULSES, OIL SEEDS and FRUITS etc. are collected and used only when their life cycle is completed. Because if they are collected before the right time then, no oil from oil seeds can be produced and FRUITS taste will not be good... – YDS Oct 21 '17 at 7:12
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Killing of 'living' being always happens. Every moment the anti-bodies in us are killing microorganisms. But being a human we possess the the unique quality of rationality. Hence rationally we need to choose a path of least destruction/least himsa.

Refer to this video where Rajiv Malothra excellently explains this concept:

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Core belief of Hinduism is always to be Sattvik, respect balance. Be least supportive to the increasing "entropy" around.

Supposes the current generation of ALL Humans get vanished, by some magic, from the face of earth. What will happen? A most amazing thing. Whole world would eventually reach the state of equilibrium.

Yeah! its us, Humans who are the "Kshetragya" of this Kshetra of Mother Earth. Exactly like, YamaRaj is of Yamloka, Indra is of SwargaLoka. Its ONLY us that can maintain or disturb the balance of the earthly system. Its ONLY us who will face the consequences too. AND this our ancient sages knew VERY WELL!

So whats the point here?

Its this. When by removing the chaotic West-influenced society on Earth, Earth's Harmony can be retained, what if we CHOOSE to live on earth, BUT DISTURBING IT TO THE LEAST!!

For pleasure of tongue, a man-turned animal kills another animal, changes happen. It happens too, when he kills a bacteria, or even a Tree or Plant. A STUPID would say, "Killing is killing, what if its of an animal, insect, bacteria or a plant". But actually the "changes" caused by these killing are different and can be arranged from least to most. These "changes" are NOT just on physical paradigm, but also on psychic, emotional etc. level too.

Being a veggie you contribute LEAST in increasing the "Entropy" of the earthly system. And this has NOTHING to do with what you offer to your deity. Its for your own good, not for God, that is BOTH in the Killer and the Killed.

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The exact reason is: mercy (dayā). The human society depends on 4 qualities: cleanliness(purity), mercy, austerity and truthfulness [Bhagavata purana 1.17.24]. Meat-eating destroys mercy, as a result the human society degrades into a flock of 2-legged animals. Meat-eating is also the principal cause of all the wars, because it cultivates hatred. The amassed hatred needs some escape, therefore it erupts into the wars.

The answers about gunas are not entirely correct,

because plants have more tamas than animals, and also make the eater tamasic (e.g. mushrooms, asafoetida), but are still allowed. The principal difference is that it is the divinely-appointed service of plants to be eaten by man (or rather, to be used in sacrifice: BG 3.13), and they advance spiritually by being used. Animals used in sacrifice are supposed to be revived by the priest in a new, reformed body, but current day priests don't have the power, or don't even know the mantras or neglect the process entirely. And by just being killed, most animals don't make progress. The exception is snakes and scorpions, so you can kill them for eating, if you want.

Answering a comment: as the soul transmigrates through 8.4 million species, some species are progressive (prepare the soul for more freedom in higher species) and some are regressive (limit the freedom due to bad qualities). Snakes an scorpions are very envious by nature and can never progress towards a higher form until they get killed.

On the other hand, cows and bulls are the most advanced animals by their character, next to human, therefore their abuse (killing) is especially sinful (creates misery for people).

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    How plants have more tamas guna than animals ? How snakes and scorpions are an exception? – swapnesh Jul 17 '14 at 17:34
  • Most Plants are NOT Tamasik. Broadly speaking, Whatever happens by the virtue of Inertia is Tamsik. And ONLY Mushrooms grow that way. – Hindu Oct 10 '14 at 6:17
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Isopanishad says:

īśāvāsyam idam sarvaṁ
yat kiñca jagatyāṁ jagat
tena tyaktena bhuñjīthā
mā gṛdhaḥ kasya svid dhanam

Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.

The quota mentioned above is also decided as per Hindu Dharma.

Kings are allowed to eat meat. Lord Rama ate deer meat. Sita cooked it as per Ramayana. Sage Agasthya ate meat during a ritual where Pitru Karma is performed. During Pitru Karma or performing rituals of the dead, eating meat was allowed in olden days but not in kaliyuga. That's way when sage Agasthya ate meat he digested Vatapi with his saying "Jeernam Jeernam Vatapi Jeernam". Likewise dharma varies based on the time and period. It has to be taken wisely to eat meat or not. So it depends on time and period and based on one's conscience. Now a days it is very tough for people to give proper dharma on eating non veg in this Kaliyuga. But it is very much advisable to avoid it.

  • Ram did not eat meat see stephen-knapp.com/… – Aditya K Apr 17 '15 at 14:29
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    @AdityaK Here is the verse from Ramayana that Rama left eating meat for 14 years. चतुर्दश हि वर्षाणि वत्स्यामि विजने वने | मधु मूल फलैः जीवन् हित्वा मुनिवद् आमिषम् || २-२०-२९ "I shall live in a solitary forest like a sage for fourteen years, leaving off meat and living with roots, fruits and honey". Lord Rama Chandra, even being a kind, stood on his oath and left eating non-veg for 14 years. So I think, our hindu's should learn from it to avoid eating non-veg as there is no more a system of kind ruling a kingdom. Exception should be only for a few like soldiers, sports persons and labors etc – Naga Vemprala Apr 18 '15 at 3:17
  • @AdityaK The reference you gave is saying about a phrase from Sundarakanda. Hanuma is telling Sita and she is listening with a lot of happiness filled in her eyes. I am writing here with utmost respect towards Rama Chandra prabhu. Hanuma is telling about the current the then condition of Rama as न मांसं राघवो भुङ्क्ते न चापि मधुसेवते | वन्यं सुविहितं नित्यं भक्तमश्नाति पञ्चमम् || ५-३६-४१ Meaning: He is not eating meat anymore, nor indulging in liquor (not even spiritual liquor) and he is just eating the fruits available from forest which are well arranged for him. – Naga Vemprala Apr 18 '15 at 3:23
  • Perhaps you should look at hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/2002/… and contribute your thoughts there – Aditya K Apr 20 '15 at 8:49
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This is because plants come at the lowest level of evolution and hence eating them is least sinful, while living animals have already evolved from that level to based upon their Karmas. This is explained in various puranas like Bhagwat and Vishnu Puran. This is from Vishnu Puran.

The various stages of existence, Maitreya, are inanimate things(like trees and plants), fish, birds, animals, men, holy men (Brahmins and saints), gods, and liberated spirits; each in succession a thousand degrees superior to that which precedes it: and through these stages the beings that are either in heaven or in hell are destined to proceed, until final emancipation (Kaivalya Moksha) be obtained.

  • Your reference to source is irrelevant to the question asked. – Vijay Sekhar Feb 18 at 21:58
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Hinduism supports vegetarianism because it is ethical, healthy and environmentally good:

The debate on 'why it is good to be a vegetarian' has long been settled. The internet is full of information on why eating meat is not good for both one's own health or the environment. For example, according to US Department of Agriculture, 70 per cent of food poisoning is caused by meat, including exposure to arsenic. Another research says production of one kilogram of beef is responsible for as much carbon dioxide emission as by driving 250 km in a car.

There is plenty of disturbing footage also available on what treatment animals are subject to in slaughterhouses, like the documentary 'Meet your Meat'. They are injected with hormones so that they grow faster and add more bulk. All these chemicals then end up in the bodies of people who eat this meat. But their system cannot take these chemicals and they eventually turn into cancers and other immune system disorders. The milk from these animals is also toxic and is rejected by the consumers' biology. In fact, large number of cases of lactose intolerance and diseases among meat eaters was what gave birth to the vegan movement.

The human body is designed for a vegetarian diet. Our teeth are not pointed and our intestines are much longer than our bodies, very much like herbivores. Carnivores have short intestines through which meat passes easily. It passes through our intestines much more slowly and is very heavy to digest, sometimes taking up to 72 hours. In this time, it rots and ferments in our bodies. Vegetarian food, on the other hand, is digested within a few hours.

So, ethically, environmentally and health-wise, it is a wise choice to be a vegetarian. It is even better to eat organic fruits and vegetables, which have no chemicals and fertilisers.

The only reason that people still continue to eat meat is that they are driven by cultural habit or craving for taste. The way to overcome this craving is to make small time-bound commitments in the beginning and then gradually increasing it, like deciding not to have meat for a week, then two weeks and so on. People have also found ways to use tofu and other forms of soya to cook 'mock meat' which tastes identical to real meat. We have also observed that with the practice of meditation and pranayama, one's taste changes on its own and the body begins to ask for food that is conducive to keep it light and moves away from foods that make it otherwise. Many people have become vegetarian on their own after doing our workshops.

However, today with a massive global consumer base, producing meat is a highly profitable business. So, there is a big lobby that does not want people to be educated on the harmful effects of meat and become vegetarian. In India, the issue of vegetarianism also assumes religious connotations and therefore, becomes political.

Food being an essential part of any lifestyle, people would like to have the right to exercise their freedom in making a choice; arguing or forcing anyone will not work. The right way is to make people aware and then let them choose for themselves. It may take some time but everybody realises sooner or later that short term gratification is not worth the long term troubles it brings. Quality of life is enhanced when we make choices that are life supporting.Being vegetarian does not just helps one's own life flourish but also that of other beings.

From an article by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: http://www.speakingtree.in/article/the-smart-choice-is-to-be-vegetarian

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Non vegetarian food was a norm during Vedic period. The only restriction was not to eat animals having 'five nails' since the time of smritis.

The difference in veg and non-veg might have been introduced in Hinduism from Buddhism in which killing/eating of 'sentient' being is forbidden.

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    I think Hindu attitude towards non-veg food was influenced by Jainism. According to Mahabharata Pandavas were voracious meat eaters. – Pradip Gangopadhyay Jul 31 '14 at 15:25
  • @PradipGangopadhyay that's an interesting info about pandavas been meat eaters. Could you pkease site the reference? – gaj Aug 1 '14 at 2:48
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    You will find Pandava's prodigious meat eating in Mahabharata, Vana Parva, Section CCLVI. Some deer appeared to Yudhisthira in his dream and requested him to move to a different part of the forest to save the total extinction of deer where Pandavas were located. Yudhisthira says there, 'We aught to feel pity for dwellers of the forest. We have been feeding on them for a year together and eight months....' – Pradip Gangopadhyay Aug 1 '14 at 15:47
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    Plz Don't propagate the BS added in Hindu scriptures by Christian rulers of the past. – Hindu Oct 10 '14 at 5:21
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    @Hindu, how does one go about finding what was "added"? – Emacs User Feb 5 '16 at 16:58
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Simple, animals can feel pain. Plants do not feel pain. I'm not saying that cutting a plant is OK. As per Dharma, it is OK to cut so that you can eat it to live, but you shouldn't be living to cut them and eat. To clarify on sin about eating meat, it is hard to give a clear cut answer. Patients may need to take fish oil, lactating mothers may need more protein/creatine. In these cases, is it a sin if you are responsible for killing an animal?!! May be not, only God knows. If a father is buying meat so that the son can be happy, I don't think the father gets the sin. He is just doing his duty. At the same time, meat eating shouldn't be for building muscles and please your palate. That is a sin.

  • Please provide a source which states plants do not feel pain. Modern scientific research source is ok, but please provide in answer. – Vijay Sekhar Feb 18 at 22:01
0

1. First thing is that ‘Brihadaranyaka Upanishad’ begins about mention of hunger. Doesn’t a new born child in your home has a natural tendency to drink milk. From the birth of a child is hunger present or not?

So hunger is called as death in ‘Brihadaranyaka Upanishad’. Hunger means death. Bhagwaan Shankaracharya interpreted it as when a person feels hunger so how will be that hunger satisfied? Through food. The food will be composed of body of either movable or immobile creatures. So hunger means that it will cause an aptitude for violence. Aptitude for violence means death of other only will become the support for our life.

That’s why in Bhagavata Purana it is said that a creature only becomes the consumer of other creature. So in it a person is helpless as he has to eat when he feels hunger. If we view through a microscope even a drop of water contains innumerable creatures which are so small that are not visible to naked eyes. When someone feels hunger or thirst than we know that through consumption of other creature’s body only as ‘Jeev’ (creature) is eternal, he becomes satisfied. Even when we breathe and due to heat present in our body many organisms die.

2. So a convention has been set that immobile creatures like tree, vines etc. which are called ‘Udhbheej’ as they grow by breaking Earth surface through seeds. They are immobile organisms and their level of consciousness is low. If you live by consuming immobile creatures though they are also bodies of ‘Jeev’, as there is description of ‘Panchagni’ knowledge in ‘Chhandogya Upanishad’.

3. There are more rules in that too like, For a Sannyasi, he can not even pluck a leaf from Tulsi, not even a flower too. Full ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence) is applicable on him. He is not allowed to cook food or touch fire. This means that even in plants rules have been set that the fruits which have ripened should be consumed, the leaves which have matured should be consumed. Even days are prescribed like on which day you should pluck a Tulsi leaf and when you shouldn’t. There are rules prescribed for even consuming immobile creatures. Immobile creature means the ‘Anna’ (cereal) which is vegetarian.

4. Now for mobile creatures like fish, goat, rabbit, tortoise etc in that only animals having ‘Panch Nakah Bhakshya’ (animals having five claws are only consumable). This is called ‘Parisankhya Vidhi’,

For Example: if a chain smoker smokes 40 cigarettes everyday then if someone tells him to smoke only 24 in a day then this means that 24 is also not desirable but intention is to minimize from 40. If we make a chain smoker to gradually reduce the number of cigarettes from 40 so the ultimate aim is to free him from addiction of cigarettes.

Just like that it is described in ‘Manusmriti’ that when consuming meat too, as a person is naturally inclined towards food, sleep, liquor and coitus for that ‘Parisankhya Vidhi’ is applied.

5. Which food to eat, which not to eat, when to eat, when not to eat, who should eat, who shouldn’t eat, if you cannot remain fully celibate then marry and remain limited to only their wife. If you can't remain without sleep then sleep during night only not during day, don’t sleep in Brahma Muhurta, in evening.

In this too, gradually minimization is performed. Manu Maharaj has written ‘Nivritti Mahphalah’.

‘Pravritti’ (inclinations) should lead to ‘Nivritti’ (dis-inclinations) and ‘Nivritti’ (dis-inclinations) should lead towards ‘Nirvritti’ (liberation) then only life becomes successful.

6. The motion which produces only more motion isn’t appreciated, motion is appreciated when the motion makes us reach the destination. We will not appreciate the motion which produces more motion only. So for consumption of meat too there are rules like to consume which animal and not consume so and so animal.

7. In ‘Vama Marg’ meat is consumed as offering for so and so Devi, Devata, Bhairav, Bhairavi etc. So this is like eating through a spoon like if you put your hand directly in hot milk then it will get burnt but if you use a spoon then you won’t burn.

In this too a rule has been prescribed that if someone can’t live without it then use it for conducting proper ritual worship of Devi, Devata. The result of this will be that the mobile creatures like goat who can not achieve moksha themselves so if they are sacrificed as offering towards Devi, Devata they will become free from their ‘Tamas’ body and as they have become food for Devi, Devata they will get a divine body. This is a way for their betterment. A strange thing is that if you want to send Indian currency to your relative in America than you will have convert it into Dollar or not? Just like this the object which reaches Devi, Devata becomes their food.

For Example: ‘Indraya Swaha Idam Indraya Namah’ whether it’s a piece of sandalwood, barley, sesame and ghee, the Devi, Devata will not eat these but when they are put in fire through ‘Shastriya’ process they convert into food of Devi, Devata like currency exchange. Like this if someone’s father after dying became lion, so when he will do ‘Shradha Tarpan’ for his father then the cereal and water will reach his father who is in lion's body as lion’s food. So those objects also achieved betterment and our tongue also gets satisfied but this is done through ‘Dravidah Pranayama’. Tongue is also restrained through this process. The result of this will be that in a person’s life desire for meat will become extinguished.

8. The King Bharat on whose name our country is called Bharat due to ‘Karma Vipaak’ became a deer right, but it is written in Bhagavata Purana that though he became a deer he used to only consume leaves that fell down themselves. Though he was in a deer’s body he didn’t used to eat leaves after plucking from tree but only those which fell on their own to ground. For Dharmavyadha it is written in Mahabharata that he was a Brahman before after coming into contact of Kshatriya he became a hunter after dying he became a huntsman. He used to earn his living through selling meat but he sold meat of only those animal who were not ill and died naturally. There he used to sell meat too and also remained aloof from violence.

9. In Puri, Fishermen don’t fish on Thursday. They belong to Andhra tradition. There too ‘Parisankhya Vidhi’ is applied or not as they don’t fish at least on Thursday though they are fishermen, so isn’t ‘Ahinsa’ (nonviolence) present there too or not.

10. Just like this if you are listening to Bhagavata Purana and are married then you shouldn’t touch your wife on those days, eat vegetarian food and sleep on ground. Wherever we see violence there too some process is there which can lead us towards ‘Nivritti’ (disinclination).

Summary: ‘Pravritti’ (inclinations) should lead to ‘Nivritti’ (dis-inclinations) and ‘Nivritti’ (dis-inclinations) should lead towards ‘Nirvritti’ (liberation) then only life becomes successful.

  • You have written the same answer to different questions. While it is okay to post same questions with some changes according to question, pasting exactly the same answer is discouraged. You may post the link of original answer in the comments under the question once you earn a reputation of 50. – Sarvabhouma Apr 5 at 20:28
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The question is

"Why can we eat 'living' plants but not 'living' animals?"

Before answering the question, let me clarify that I am Vegetarian.


I) Vegetarianism or Non-Vegetarianism is a way of life, but nothing to do with the adoration of God.

Basically, we should not get confused with the concepts of Vegetarianism, Non-Vegetarianism with the prerequisites for SPIRITUAL practices.

People leading normal householder life has to sustain their families. Depending upon the nature of duties that their profession calls for, they may cultivate different food habits.

1) The profession of a priest/teacher may not require much physical strength, but demands a clear understanding of subjects involved. So they may cultivate vegatarianism. It does not mean that some people from this profession should not adopt non-vegetarianism. It depends on their personal interest.

Story of Vatapi and Ilvala tells that brAhmanAs of Ramayana era used to partake meat. They might be partaking meat on some particular occasions, but still it is not prohibited to them.

https://www.valmikiramayan.net/utf8/aranya/sarga11/aranya_11_frame.htm

2) A warrior can be a devotee/jnani also, but his basic duty is to defend his people. Naturally, he needs strength, which can be derived from Non-vegetarian food only.

Sri Krishna says

कट्वम्ललवणात्युष्णतीक्ष्णरूक्षविदाहिनः।

आहारा राजसस्येष्टा दुःखशोकामयप्रदाः।।17.9।।

Foods that are bitter, sour, salty, very hot, pungent, dry and burning, and which production pain, sorrow and disease, are dear to one having rajas.

Valmiki describes that meat eating is acceptable to kshatriyas.

पंच पंच नखा भक्ष्या ब्रह्म क्षत्रेण राघव | शल्यकः श्वाविधो गोधा शशः कूर्मः च पंचमः ||

(Kishkinda Kanda 17th Sarga 39th Shloka)

Raghava, five kinds of five-nailed animals, viz., a kind of wild rodent, a kind of wild-boar, a kind of lizard, a hare and fifthly the turtle are edible for Brahmans and Kshatriya-s.

Sri Rama was born in a warrior class and thus people from warrior class used to partake meat. However, during the exile period, Sri Rama adhered to Vegetarianism.

II) As far as SPIRITUALITY is concerned, Vegetarian food is preferable

Non-vegetarian food give rise to great strength and passion. A person desiring to control his mind, has to control his desires first, in which food occupies first place.

Sri Krishna says

आयुःसत्त्वबलारोग्यसुखप्रीतिविवर्धनाः।

रस्याः स्निग्धाः स्थिरा हृद्या आहाराः सात्त्विकप्रियाः।।17.8।।

Foods that augment life, firmless of mind, strength, health, happiness and delight, and which are succulent, oleaginous, substantial and agreeable, are dear to one endowed with sattva.


So everything depends on one's food habits and professions.

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Eating animals is controversial, its allowed in some scriptures like Mahabharat but abhorred in some scriptures like Manu Smriti. This opinion was also raised by Sikh Gurus and Swami Vivekananda.

The Mahabharat Anusasana Parva

"Bhishma said, 'Listen to me, O Yudhishthira, what those Havis are which persons conversant with the ritual of the Sraddha regard as suitable in view of the Sraddha and what the fruits are that attach to each. With sesame seeds and rice and barley and Masha and water and roots and fruits, if given at Sraddhas, the Pitris, O king, remain gratified for the period of a month. 1 Manu has said that if a Sraddha is performed with a copious measure of sesame, such Sraddha becomes inexhaustible. Of all kinds of food, sesame seeds are regarded as the best. With fishes offered at Sraddhas, the Pitris remain gratified for a period of two months. With mutton they remain gratified for three months and with the flesh of the hare for four. With the flesh of the goat, O king, they remain gratified for five months, with bacon for six months, and with the flesh of birds for seven. With venison obtained from those deer that are called Prishata, they remain gratified for eight months, and with that obtained from the Ruru for nine months, and with the meat of the Gavaya for ten months.With the meat of the buffalo their gratification lasts for eleven months. With beef presented at the Sraddha, their gratification, it is said, lasts for a full year. Payasa mixed with ghee is as much acceptable to the Pitris as beef. With the meat of the Vadhrinasa the gratification of the Pitris lasts for twelve years. 1 The flesh of the rhinoceros, offered to the Pitris on the anniversaries of the lunar days on which they died, becomes inexhaustible. The potherb called Kalasaka, the petals of the Kanchana flower, and meat of the goat also, thus offered, prove inexhaustible.

Abstaining from meat eating for worldly people, who are already involved with other sensual pleasures like women and gold in the hope of getting Moksha is both laughable and sheer hypocrisy. Only those who are on spiritual path and have accepted Sanyass/monkhood or want to do so in future for Self/God realization should go for pure vegetarian diet and non-violence like Buddha and Mahavir did as first teaching of Yamas in Yoga is non-violence.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 5/Writings: Prose and Poems/The East and The West/Food and Cooking

All our different sects of Hinduism admit the truth of the celebrated saying of the Shruti, "आहारशुद्धौ सत्त्वशुद्धिः सत्त्वशुद्धौ ध्रुवा स्मृतिः—When the food is pure, then the inner-sense gets purified; on the purification of the innersense, memory (of the soul's perfection) becomes steady." Only, according to Shankarâchârya, the word Ahâra means the sense-perceptions, and Râmânuja takes the word to mean food. But what is the solution? All sects agree that both are necessary, and both ought to be taken into account. Without pure food, how can the Indriyas (organs) perform their respective functions properly? Everyone knows by experience that impure food weakens the power of receptivity of the Indriyas or makes them act in opposition to the will. It is a well-known fact that indigestion distorts the vision of things and makes one thing appeal as another, and that want of food makes the eyesight and other powers of the senses dim and weak. Similarly, it is often seen that some particular kind of food brings on some particular state of the body and the mind. This principle is at the root of those many rules which are so strictly enjoined in Hindu society—that we should take this sort and avoid that sort of food—though in many cases, forgetting their essential substance, the kernel, we are now busy only with quarelling about the shell and keeping watch and ward over it.

Râmânujâchârya asks us to avoid three sorts at defects which, according to him, make food impure. The first defect is that of the Jâti, i.e. the very nature or the species to which the food belongs, as onion, garlic, and so on. These have an exciting tendency and, when taken, produce restlessness of the mind, or in other words perturb the intellect. The next is that of Âshraya, i.e. the nature of the person from whom the food comes. The food coming from a wicked person will make one impure and think wicked thoughts, while the food coming from a good man will elevate one's thoughts. Then the other is Nimitta-dosha, i.e. impurity in food due to such agents in it as dirt and dust, worms or hair; taking such food also makes the mind impure. Of these three defects, anyone can eschew the Jati and the Nimitta, but it is not easy for all to avoid the Ashraya. It is only to avoid this Ashraya-dosha, that we have so much of "Don't-touchism" amongst us nowadays. "Don't touch me! " "Don't touch me!"

But in most cases, the cart is put before the horse; and the real meaning of the principle being misunderstood, it becomes in time a queer and hideous superstition. In these cases, the Acharas of the great Âchâryas, the teachers of mankind, should be followed instead of the Lokâchâras. i.e. the customs followed by the people in general. One ought to read the lives of such great Masters as Shri Chaitanya Deva and other similarly great religious teachers and see how they behaved themselves with their fellow-men in this respect. As regards the Jati-dosha in food, no other country in the world furnishes a better field for its observation than India. The Indians, of all nations, take the purest of foods and, all over the world, there is no other country where the purity as regards the Jati is so well observed as in India. We had better attend to the Nimitta-dosha a little more now in India, as it is becoming a source of serious evil with us. It has become too common with us to buy food from the sweets-vendor's shop in the bazaar, and you can judge for yourselves how impure these confections are from the point of view of the Nimitta-dosha; for, being kept exposed, the dirt and dust of the roads as well as dead insects adhere to them, and how stale and polluted they must sometimes be. All this dyspepsia that you notice in every home and the prevalence of diabetes from which the townspeople suffer so much nowadays are due to the taking of impure food from the bazaars; and that the village-people are not as a rule so subject to these complaints is principally due to the fact that they have not these bazaars near them, where they can buy at their will such poisonous food as Loochi, Kachoori, etc. I shall dwell on this in detail later on.

This is, in short, the old general rule about food. But there were, and still are, many differences of opinion about it. Again, as in the old, so in the present day, there is a great controversy whether it is good or bad to take animal food or live only on a vegetable diet, whether we are benefited or otherwise by taking meat. Besides, the question whether it is right or wrong to kill animals has always been a matter of great dispute. One party says that to take away life is a sin, and on no account should it be done. The other party replies: "A fig for your opinion! It is simply impossible to live without killing." The Shastras also differ, and rather confuse one, on this point. In one place the Shastra dictates, "Kill animals in Yajnas", and again, in another place it says, "Never take away life". The Hindus hold that it is a sin to kill animals except in sacrifices, but one can with impunity enjoy the pleasure of eating meat after the animal is sacrificed in a Yajna. Indeed, there are certain rules prescribed for the householder in which he is required to kill animals on occasions, such as Shraddha and so on; and if he omits to kill animals at those times, he is condemned as a sinner. Manu says that if those that are invited to Shraddha and certain other ceremonies do not partake of the animal food offered there, they take birth in an animal body in their next.

In the West, the contention is whether animal food is injurious to health or not, whether it is more strengthening than vegetable diet or not, and so on. One party says that those that take animal food suffer from all sorts of bodily complaints. The other contradicts this and says, "That is all fiction. If that were true, then the Hindus would have been the healthiest race, and the powerful nations, such as the English, the Americans, and others, whose principal food is meat, would have succumbed to all sorts of maladies and ceased to exist by this time." One says that the flesh of the goat makes the intellect like that of the goat, the flesh of the swine like that of the swine, and fish like that of the fish. The other declares that it can as well be argued then that the potato makes a potato-like brain, that vegetables make a vegetable-like brain—resembling dull and dead matter. Is it not better to have the intelligence of a living animal than to have the brain dull and inert like dead matter? One party says that those things which are in the chemical composition of animal food are also equally present in the vegetables. The other ridicules it and exclaims. "Why, they are in the air too. Go then and live on air only". One argues that the vegetarians are very painstaking and can go through hard and long-sustained labour. The other says, "If that were true, then the vegetarian nations would occupy the foremost rank, which is not the case, the strongest and foremost nations being always those that take animal food." Those who advocate animal food contend: "Look at the Hindus and the Chinamen, how poor they are. They do not take meat, but live somehow on the scanty diet of rice and all sorts of vegetables. Look at their miserable condition. And the Japanese were also in the same plight, but since they commenced taking meat, they turned over a new leaf. In the Indian regiments there are about a lac and a half of native sepoys; see how many of them are vegetarians. The best parts of them, such as the Sikhs and the Goorkhas, are never vegetarians". One party says, "Indigestion is due to animal food". The other says, "That is all stuff and nonsense. It is mostly the vegetarians who suffer from stomach complaints." Again, "It may be the vegetable food acts as an effective purgative to the system. But is that any reason that you should induce the whole world to take it?"

Whatever one or the other may say, the real fact, however, is that the nations who take the animal food are always, as a rule, notably brave, heroic and thoughtful. The nations who take animal food also assert that in those days when the smoke from Yajnas used to rise in the Indian sky and the Hindus used to take the meat of animals sacrificed, then only great religious geniuses and intellectual giants were born among them; but since the drifting of the Hindus into the Bâbâji's vegetarianism, not one great, original man arose midst them. Taking this view into account, the meat-eaters in our country are afraid to give up their habitual diet. The Ârya Samâjists are divided amongst themselves on this point, and a controversy is raging within their fold—one party holding that animal food is absolutely necessary, and the opposite party denouncing it as extremely wrong and unjust

To eat meat is surely barbarous and vegetable food is certainly purer—who can deny that? For him surely is a strict vegetarian diet whose one end is to lead solely a spiritual life. But he who has to steer the boat of his life with strenuous labour through the constant life-and-death struggles and the competition of this world must of necessity take meat. So long as there will be in human society such a thing as the triumph of the strong over the weak, animal food is required; otherwise, the weak will naturally be crushed under the feet of the strong. It will not do to quote solitary instances of the good effect of vegetable food on some particular person or persons: compare one nation with another and then draw conclusions.

-1

To sustain life food is essential. Only an organic source can be considered as food for Animals and Humans. Plants derive their food known as nutrients directly from the 5 Elements of Nature-Space, Air, Fire (Sunlight), Water and Earth. Plants have the least intelligence among the created living organisms and rooted to earth remaining immobile. Plants replenish the oxygen supply in the atmosphere by absorbing carbon-di-oxide from air during its lifetime in a process called photosynthesis and help keeping the balance of the eco-system of the earth. The plants during their lifetime blooms giving leaves, flowers, fruits, nuts and roots only to procreate and multiply its species and not to use them as food for themselves. So, the entire plant kingdom is meant to be the self-sustaining sacrificial living beings. God/nature has thus specific purpose for the existence of plants-to serve basically as the principal source of food for the other living beings such as animals and humans as they cannot convert the elements of nature into food. Animals are bestowed with higher intelligence than the plants and also are ambulatory. Animals are of two kinds by nature in their food habits- Herbivorous (Vegetarian) and Carnivorous (non-vegetarian). The reason for creating the bifurcation of food preference in the animal kingdom is to preserve the availability of food from the plant kingdom from being over-consumed by the un-restrained growth of animal population. So, the animal kingdom has natural food cycle conservation through a predator/victim selection for food. The humans that are on the higher pedestal in the intelligence scale than both plants and the animals and are fundamentally designed to be vegetarians deriving their staple food from plant kingdom and only milk from the Herbivorous animals. However, man being ever greedy and megalomaniac in nature transgressed all the natural laws of food cycle prescribed in god’s creation and indiscriminately violated the food discipline of Nature and assumed proprietary over the entire planet’s living stock. For performing all the prescribed duties of life, man has adequate nutritional resources in plant kingdom augmented by the milk from the domestic animals such as cows, buffaloes, goats etc. While the human beings can grow plantation through agriculture to produce his own food, he cannot produce animal stock on their own. His denture and digestive system are not capable of eating the plants or the animals without cooking them. It is simply the vanity and penchant for satisfying the wildly varying inconsistent taste preferences, man has changed his food habits in the most atrocious and unnatural manner. So, from a natural vegetarian man degenerated to a non-vegetarian by forcing himself omnivorously adept eating any organism that moves around! It is well known in Vedic religion that only the humans are expected to abide by Shastras and the plants and animals are not. Accordingly the scriptures recommend for the humans to practice least harm to fellow living beings (Ahimsa) while discharging their Karmic duties. This includes their activities that involve choosing the right food to satisfy hunger and to have adequate energy to discharge his normal duties of life.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

  • 2
    Please cite sources to support your statements - 1) the humans ... are fundamentally designed to be vegetarians and 2) Accordingly the scriptures recommend for the humans to practice least harm - preferably from Hindu scriptures. Also, for readability, you might want to logically split your answers (this and others) into paragraphs. Thanks. – sv. Dec 29 '15 at 21:09

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