Being a Vegetarian

Kishore (January 2004)

Are you a vegetarian who is hell bent up on avoiding meat stuff? Do people take special note of you when you mention your vegetarianism. 

Well, Non-vegetarians may not really understand why you are a vegetarian and have curious questions to ask? Have you not tasted meat at all. If not, why? Is it because of your religion? Does your religion ban you from eating meat? If you don't eat meat what do you eat? Salad and Raw vegetables? 

As a vegetarian you might find a center of attraction among a party of meat eaters with all the curious questions. At the same you are wondering what kind of answer will convince them that you can 'survive' without eating meat. 

I am a vegetarian, but I would not say 100% vegetarian in the strict sense. I do think I understand what being a vegetarian means. By understanding the purpose behind being a vegetarian, it becomes easy being one. 

Vegetarianism is not something that is demanded by religion nor it is a fashion. It is not a custom that should be kept. Purpose of following a vegetarian diet is to foster spiritual growth and progress.  It has been recommended for spiritual progress. 

For spiritual progress, it is important to keep one's senses under control. Staying focused on spiritual path and not being tempted by senses can be achieved by controlling diet. Some people fast to retain control on senses. Some people follow vegetarian diet. A strict vegetarian diet that fosters spiritual growth is eating raw vegetables and fruits, just to fill stomach and not stay hungry. Eat enough to live and not live to eat. This diet will even mean not cooking the vegetables and not adding spices to the vegetables. 

But no modern vegetarian food is like that. Though we don't cook meat, we put all spices and make it stimulant. There are enough ways to make the vegetarian dishes tasty and attractive. Though eating only items cooked with vegetables if they are highly stimulant and is accompanied by drinks etc, it is equivalent to a non-vegetarian diet in a spiritual way. 

If you are not really worried about spiritual aspects of diet, don't get worked up about being a vegetarian. If you enjoy eating non-vegetarian stuff go for it without lot of guilt. You are putting yourself under lot of stress, by denying yourself something without really understanding why. 

If you have stopped eating meat just to impress others or joining a club of vegetarians, it does not matter. 

If you have a tendency to criticize meat eaters and you yourself take vegetarian food with spices, you better stop being critical.  

Summary

Vegetarianism in strict sense means eating raw vegetables and fruits that helps keep a control on senses easy. Any other "noise" over being vegetarian should not be taken seriously if one is not interested the spiritual aspect of it.  I just wanted to share my understanding of this in this article. Hope it makes sense.


Article reprinted with permission by CS Kishore. Original content at cskishore.com
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