Growing up in a primarily vegetarian country like India, mealtimes right from my childhood days were a diverse affair – sometimes a grandparent would not eat processed rice, sometimes a friend would not eat any meat, sometimes my mother would only eat fruits, sometimes an aunt would not eat garlic or onion and sometimes an uncle would be skipping the meal altogether. Suffice it to say that I grew up in a very democratic environment as far as cuisine and nourishment was concerned. Each one had their beliefs, likes and dislikes – some fasted on certain days (either for spirituality or detoxification), some were vegetarian and some fervently believed in eating everything.
Yet, I recall always regarding the vegetarians with a certain sympathy – I was convinced that they were missing out on the real joys of food. I also disliked their ‘holier than thou’ airs and general fussiness around the table. Never had I imagined that I would ever be the vegetarian I am now. In fact as a young child, I would literally cry at the sight of only fruits and vegetables on the table. So what happened?
It started with a moral smote to my conscience thinking about mammals like pigs and lambs being slaughtered (I always refrained from beef anyway). Slowly my sensitivity expanded to the plight of birds like chicken and turkey. Why, when there is other choice, I asked myself, should I take the life of a living thing that feels the same human emotion of fear when its life is threatened?
I then came to understand the more scientific elements behind human nourishment (mainly by listening to the talks of spiritual masters like Sadhguru, but this information is also verfied by modern scientists). Like the fact that our intestines are rather long as observed in herbivores and not short as observed in carnivores. Carnivores have short intestines so that the meat can pass through quickly from the system. If herbivores eat meat, it takes very long to pass through the disgestive system, during which time, it decays within the body. And this decaying meat produces toxins that cause disease. In fact, the more complex the life form that we consume (the more human-like the emotion they possess, the more complex the life form), the more information and memory it carries and therefore the less good it is for us to eat because our bodies are not able to process it so easily (See more on this). It’s no wonder meat eaters suffer higher incidences of cancer, heart disease, etc.
So whether you are motivated by the moral or the scientific arguments, it would be a healthier choice to be vegetarian. If you practice spritituality, like yoga or meditation, you will start to realise that your body does not even need the kind of concentrated nourishment that meat provides. In fact, the lighter your system, the better it will function. In Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of food and healing, meat is referred to as ‘tamasic’ food which is the lowest form (of the three types) of food characterised by the fact that it produces inertia and laziness in the body. While Ayurveda goes into much finer detail about different types of food avoiding meat can be a simple and easy start for those looking for health and well-being.
India has a dizzying variety of vegetarian food (as below) as and the Living-Wise Project promises to reveal some simple, tasty vegetarian recipes that won’t let you miss the meat!
You might also like: Recipe: Grilled Indian Cheese & Veggie PlatterShare your thoughts in the comments section below.
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I definitely agree about how one’s culture in which they are raised from is important to eating habits. With two parents who were born and raised in South Korea, I find that Korean food is centered mostly on vegetables and grains and not so much meat – although Korean BBQ is widely popular these days. Thus, even though a lot of people ask how Koreans can be so slim while eating so much rice, I think it’s not so much the certain or specific food group we are eating that makes us slim but our outlook on food and how we prepare and eat our food in addition to our vegetarian lifestyles. I’m certainly not a vegetarian – I love Korean BBQ too much – but your post is convincing me to perhaps take a vegetarian day three or four days a week. Thanks for sharing once again!
Hi Stephanie, thanks so much for commenting and sharing about your culture and perspective. I had no idea Korean food is traditionally vegetarian-centric- that’s great to know. I had completely the opposite impression given as I can never find anything to eat in Korean restaurants (even before I turned vegetarian, I didn’t eat beef and found most Korean restaurants centered around it). I think old traditions and cultures are often wiser than we admit. I am definitely realising the wisdom in many ancient Indian traditions that I used to dismiss earlier.
I do definitely think that if people become conscious of what they are consuming, they will naturally tend towards veggie food. I’d love to see more East Asian veg cuisine in restaurants- I’m sure it would be super interesting and good!
Who knew this day would come when Miss Bakshi would write about going vegetarian!! But great stuff 🙂
Haha, I know right? 😉 At least your comment validates the first 2 paras!
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