12. Vegetarianism in Vedas, Flesh-Eating in Bible



Vegetarianism is the pivot round which Vedic philosophy revolves. According to Vedas, flesh-eating is strictly prohibited. It is not only unnatural food, but also detrimental to body and soul.

Man is vegetarian by nature. He is herbivorous and graminivorous, not carnivorous. Flesh-eating does not suit his body and nature. Those animals which are carnivorous like lion, wolf etc; are given by nature sharp teeth and claws in order to enable them to cleave the flesh with sharp claws and cut the same with sharp teeth. But human teeth are blunt, fit for fruits, grains and vegetables. Human intestines are different from those of carnivorous animals. The intestines of human body cannot digest properly flesh of animals. The intestines of those men who are flesh-eaters are generally weak. Those who are addicted to flesh-eating generally fall victim to diseases like cancer, gastric ulcers, paralysis, high blood-pressure, indigestion, gas trouble, heart-trouble, kidney trouble etc. The flesh-eaters no longer enjoy longevity. The germs that stick to the slaughtered animals are being devoured by flesh-eaters with the result that they fall victim to those diseases in which the slaughtered animals were involved. Tuberculosis is the most common disease among animals especially cattle. Besides, flesh-food consists of unexcreted waste material of the butchered animal. When animal is slaughtered, the decomposing cells and partly oxidized waste matter, which are normally in the blood and tissues of muscles, are left in the flesh. Moreover, when the excretion and circulation of the slaughtered animal are suddenly stopped, the muscle cells which still live for some hours, continue to produce animal poison; and since there is no circulation to throw it out, it accumulates in the meat which is swallowed by man. Thus man invites diseases through flesh-eating.

Diet produces great effect on man’s temperament. Non-vegetarian food makes man lustful, revengeful, wrathful, fierce, furious, ferocious, hardhearted, savage, brutal and barbarian; while vegetarian diet makes him kind, cool, compassionate, contented, soft, sober, civil and serene. Flesh-eater’s heart is as hard as stone, while vegetarian’s heart is as soft as velvet. Flesh-eater’s brains is like a furnace full of flames. Vegetarian’s brains is like a fountain from where pleasant jets of cool water spring forth. Flesh-eater believes in violence, destruction and devastation; while vegetarian believes in non-violence, construction and creation. His heart throbs with warmth of selfless love for all fellow-creatures.

He who slaughters tongue-tied dumb creatures, who are faithful friends of men, in prosperity as well as adversity, just to fill his stomach, commits the most heinous sin

Anaagaaohtyaa vaO BaImaa kRxtyao maa naao gaamaSvaM paur]YaM vaQaI:|
a Aqava-vaod 10o1o29

Oh violent man
It is the most heinous sin
To kill the innocent creatures,
Kill not our cows
Our horses and our men.
- Atharva Veda 10/1/29


Holy Bible does not forbid flesh-eating. According to Bible, one can eat the flesh of ruminating animals, which have cloven (cleft or cracked) hoof and chew the cud.

141. ‘3. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.’

- Leviticus, 11/3

The swine has cloven (cleft) hoof, but it does not chew the cud, hence its flesh is forbidden :

142. ‘7. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.’

- Leviticus, 11/7

Among the animals living in the waters, one can eat the flesh of the animal having fins and scales :

143. ‘9. These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever bath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.’

- Leviticus, 11/9

Among the fowls and creepers, one can eat the flesh of those birds and four-footed creepers which can leap upon the earth with their legs and feet :

144. ‘21. Yet these may ye cat of every flying creeping thing that goeth upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap withal upon the earth;’

- Leviticus, 11/21

‘Those who slaughter the animals should be looked upon as enemies of the whole human race.’

- Swami Dayanand Saraswati