“What about protein?”
“Is it because you worship cows?”
Voices immediately chime up to ask these questions as soon as people realize that I am vegetarian. Especially being surrounded by future doctors, I get a variation of these questions from someone, weekly. So in this post I will tell you my reasons for being vegetarian and why you probably should be too. Before you close the tab, hear me out. Hopefully you won’t be disappointed.
Why did I become vegetarian? The reasons are numerous and can’t be constrained in a single post so I will expand on an important reason. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite. There were two reasons I was feeling hypocritical. One, I called myself a Hindu; and two, I told myself I loved animals. These were two parts of my identity that did not align to my meat-eating actions. So naturally, it was time to break the hypocrisy.
If you are a Facebook frequenter, you know that every once in a while a video pops up on your newsfeed about gruesome reality behind the meat industry, especially in a corporate nation such as America. Many of you naturally skip over the video. It’s just another video from crazy vegan people wanting to force their will upon you. You can eat what you want damn it! I have heard many friends say that they could never watch those videos. It’s just too gruesome. “Ignorance is bliss.” To you I say: Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is ignorance. Bliss is bliss.
Please, educate yourself on what really happens to the poor animals. And if after that, you still want to indulge in the suffering of other beings, unfortunately that is your prerogative.
Okay, so let me explain my perspective as a Hindu. Primarily, Hinduism is a religion based in non-violence and non-duality. We believe that all life is sacred, even if it is an animal. When I was younger, my mom asked me to learn Thirukkural, a compilation of 1330 couplets written by saint Thiruvalluvar. One chapter that particularly spoke to me was the one on saying no to meat.
“How can he practice true compassion who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh?” (Verse 251). This verse was a graphic reminder of my hypocrisy, and over the years, it wore me down. This was also a belief that I was weary of expressing openly because I didn’t want to call people out on being uncompassionate. Now, I am doing so fearlessly. Compassion is not restrained to a single group or population. It is free flowing and abundant.
Technically speaking, vegetarianism is not a requirement for Hinduism. However, I wholeheartedly believe that vegetarianism is an important part of being Hindu. It is an essential spiritual practice for anyone intent on discovering the divine that resides in each of us. Meat is not only detrimental to the body and soul but also to mother earth. Animal agriculture is the cause of over 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions and livestock production accounts for 90% of the Amazon rainforest’s destruction. Hinduism is not a religion of dos and don’ts but a religion of whys and hows. Certain measures are necessary to prepare ourselves (bodies and minds) to receive higher states of consciousness. Vegetarianism is one such practice.
So now, when I walk into a grocery store, I see not only the meat wrapped in plastic but also the suffering that some animal went through in order for that piece of meat to be produced. And so by being vegetarian, I take a step in cleansing my body, soul, being, and the earth at large.
For those of you who think you can’t do it, you can! Here is a great list of vegan/vegetarian recipes to help you get started.