Vegetarian Journals - Entry 1

Why Am I a Vegetarian?
July 2003
The purpose of these 'Vegetarian Journals' is to share information on vegetarianism.
Hello Jayanthi

I was reading some of thenew FAQs and was indeed impressed you have taken the vegetarian path. When did this happen?
I am impressed in that many Hindus are not vegetarians and observe that only on select days.

But has Hinduism been the main factor you have adopted this diet change.

I just want to know your thoughts because all my life when people ask me why I am a vegetarian, saying I am Hindu does not cut it for they will have a Hindu friend who is a non vegetarian.

Over the years I tell them well I was born Hindu, (although I have changed my views, ie: you can adopt a Hindu lifestyle and be anyone can be a Hindu) and was brought up as a vegetarian which I find comfortable and so continue to be so.

But any fresh objective views on the subject I welcome for my next round of ammunition for my non vegetarian friends.


Jayanthi's feedback:


Yes, explaining vegetarianism to others who can't understand it is a challenge. In fact I am trying to work on an essay I am going to post on my site about this, many have inquired.
I find even in Hindus that are 100% vegetarian, they have given some nice reasons why they are vegetarian. One friend told me that the sight of meat and thought of where it comes from is horrifying and disgusts her to no end. The mere thought of that makes her queasy. Of course meat eaters may not understand this.

Initially, I became a vegetarian as an 'experiment' to see if I could do it. This began in 1996. I had an American friend who had been vegetarian for about six years and we were room mates. So, I thought I would try it. I did, for about a year. For a year, I did not eat any meat or meat products (minus egg). Then after a year, I wanted to eat some meat again to see how my body would react to it. Oh- it was a horrible feeling. I ate this meat pizza and I felt the meat just sitting in the bottom of my stomach. It would not digest at all for almost a day or more. I also got sick, physically from this, and actually mentally also. I felt mentally sick that for my carnal enjoyment I was eating dead flesh. Of which, during this one year period, I had watched documentaries about slaughter houses and how brutally animals in this country (US) are killed, maimed, tortured and processed for human enjoyment. Honestly, this may be my propaganda, but the thought of it litteraly makes me sick. So, after this experience, sometime in 1997, I decided I wanted to become vegetarian for good. I also decided this meant, besides not eating meat, not eat fish, meat or fish products (ie. broths, gelatin or any thing with animal fat), though I did indulge in eggs and products with egg (ie. cake). However, recently, I have stopped egg completely. Though, the stopping of eggs in other products takes time because I am reading food product labels in detail(which also make me sick for other reasons).

So- my journey into vegetarianism was not an overnight change for me or my family. It took a lot of time. In this process, I got teased and was asked several times to eat meat or meat products cooked by my family. These were dishes I used to love as a child. But, now I was refusing adamantly. I know this hurt my family in some way, I was moving away from our 'culinary' traditions. However, I was not doing this to hurt others. I was, in fact, doing this to prevent hurting of other living beings. This, however, was not easy for my family or other meat-eating friends to understand.

Many also thought, "Why are you eliminating things from your diet!? How will you get protien?? How will you get variety??" Well - at first I did also see it as elminating. Now I see it as making conscious alternative choices about what I put into my body. Yes, back then, variety was a problem. I did not know how to be vegetarian. So, I ate 'American vegetarian' for several years until I met my Indian friends and learned about Indian vegetarian, which has an overabundance of variety!

Of course, after becoming vegetarian and making Indian friends, I also began adopting Hinduism. So, both ways of life - vegetarianism and Hinduism - did not come at the same time or for the same reasons. Hence, for those of us vegetarians who are such due to Hinduism and ahisma, of course the above is part of our feelings, but another part of this is karma. Do we really want to eat what could eat us later? (ie. If I ate a goat, and in my next life would I come back as a goat to feel his pain?) But non- Hindus also find this idea of reincarnation and karma hard to believe or understand.

So, what have I used, and I have to say especially in India I used this a lot with my Christian friends- I am a vegetarian for health reasons. Really, so are Hindus. Why? Vegetarian food is simple and provides all our nutrients. And the process of digestion does not weigh us down, like meat eaters. In fact vegetarian food is 'cleaner' to digest and doesn't need to use the kidneys to flush out as many toxins and disease (there is plenty of disease in meat people don't even know about). Then non vegetarians say the obvious - Where do you get your protein? Well from pulses and dhals and yogurt. In fact in consuming 100 grams of soybeans we get 43.2 grams of protein, from 100 grams of moong dhal, we get 24 grams of protein, peanut, 26.2, yoghurt, 18.3, cheese, 24.2 - in comparison with 100 grams of pork, 18.7, beef, 22.6, eggs, 13.3. These are very comparable. I have got this information from the book Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian, Choose Yourself by Gopi Nath Aggarwal. (Books for All, Division of DK Publishers Distributors (p), Ltd, A-6 Nimri Community Centre, Near Bharat Nagar, Ashok Vihar Phase IV, Delhi, 110 052 (India) If you want to order it. It covers many aspects of vegetarianism. Some seems propaganda like, but it is over very good.

Another reason I used to give was that vegetarianism is better for the environment. For one, to raise cattle or any animal for food they require lots of water- more than they would in the wild. This water can be used for humans. Cows eat so much grain to get fat for slaughter. This grain could feed 100s more people than it does even after the cow is killed this grain turned into cow meat feeds only a fraction of people in this form. Also- when cows are slaughtered, we loose their manure. Hence, farmers need to buy the synthesized and not so healthy fertilizers. Again, we only hurt ourselves in using all these man made fertilizers which are toxic. (Us vegetarians are to be careful about this.) This not only affects the environment in many different ways, but affects the economy adversely- people suffer in loosing food grains to the animals who produce less output in food for those consuming that, and farmers have to spend more money on synthesized aids for growing their crops. Especially in countries like India, where farmers may not understand the importance of this and see short term economic gain in raising animals for food, this is a problem. (ie we all know that the green revolution was not as green as they expected.)

Interestingly, many of our strongest animals in the world that are revered or admired by the world over are vegetarian- ie. elephants and cows. And to feed these animals meat for our human gain causes many problems. (ie. The mad cow disease. In this case the meat we humans ate really did eat us! - Mad cow came from feeding fodder to cows mixed with dead parts of animals unable to go to market.) And vegetarian animals are friendlier to each other and prefer to eat together, there is no fighting over food, whereas tigers, lions and other animals that eat meat would go for the kill and eat alone and greedily horde it to themselves getting what they can out of it before leaving it 'to the dogs'. The digestive tract of god-made meat eaters is very short (so toxins don't' have much chance to seep in through digestion), but we humans have long digestive tracts, and hence meat eating is not recommended.

I think I have gone on very long. This topic fascinates me. After reading this book I am very keen on realizing I have made the right choice to be a vegetarian. I don't eat any meat, meat products, eggs or fish.

If anyone has any good links to vegetarianism on the web, in books, magazines or other sources, please contact me.

Other - Why I am a Vegetarian Articles:

  • A Short, but to the point reason for vegetarianism.
  • Explores, Health, Environmental and Humanitarian reasons for Vegetarianism
  • The Farm Sanctuary- This sanctuary takes in orphaned and mistreated farm animals. They teach about veganism (no dairy or meat products) and if you browse their site you can find out why animals are treated so badly when grown for dairy and meat consumption. I have visited this sanctuary, which is about one hour from my home and my eyes became wide open to the extreme disgust of the industry and the inhumane ways in which animals are treated.
    Copyright July 2003.
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