The debate on ‘why it is good to be a
vegetarian’ has long been settled. The internet
is full of information on why eating meat is
not good for both one’s own health or the
environment. In the excerpt below Sri Sri Ravi
Shankar offers his views on the benefits of
being vegetarian.
“According to US Department of Agriculture,
70 per cent of food poisoning is caused by
meat, including exposure to arsenic. Another
research says production of one kilogram of
beef is responsible for as much carbon
dioxide emission as by driving 250 km in a
There is plenty of disturbing footage also
available on what treatment animals are
subject to in slaughterhouses, like the
documentary ‘Meet your Meat’. They are
injected with hormones so that they grow
faster and add more bulk. All these chemicals
then end up in the bodies of people who eat
this meat. But their system cannot take these
chemicals and they eventually turn into
cancers and other immune system disorders.
The milk from these animals is also toxic and
is rejected by the consumers’ biology. In fact,
large number of cases of lactose intolerance
and diseases among meat eaters was what
gave birth to the vegan movement.
The human body is designed for a vegetarian
diet. Our teeth are not pointed and our
intestines are much longer than our bodies,
very much like herbivores. Carnivores have
short intestines through which meat passes
easily. It passes through our intestines much
more slowly and is very heavy to digest,
sometimes taking up to 72 hours. In this time,
it rots and ferments in our bodies. Vegetarian
food, on the other hand, is digested within a
few hours.
So, ethically, environmentally and health-wise,
it is a wise choice to be a vegetarian. It is
even better to eat organic fruits and
vegetables, which have no chemicals and
The only reason that people still continue to
eat meat is that they are driven by cultural
habit or craving for taste. The way to
overcome this craving is to make small time-
bound commitments in the beginning and
then gradually increasing it, like deciding not
to have meat for a week, then two weeks and
so on. People have also found ways to use
tofu and other forms of soy to cook ‘mock
meat’ which tastes identical to real meat. We
have also observed that with the practice of
meditation and pranayama, one’s taste
changes on its own and the body begins to
ask for food that is conducive to keep it light
and moves away from foods that make it
otherwise. Many people have become
vegetarian on their own after doing our
However, today with a massive global
consumer base, producing meat is a highly
profitable business. So, there is a big lobby
that does not want people to be educated on
the harmful effects of meat and become
vegetarian. In India, the issue of
vegetarianism also assumes religious
connotations and therefore, becomes political.
Food being an essential part of any lifestyle,
people would like to have the right to exercise
their freedom in making a choice; arguing or
forcing anyone will not work. The right way is
to make people aware and then let them
choose for themselves. It may take some time
but everybody realizes sooner or later that
short term gratification is not worth the long
term troubles it brings. Quality of life is
enhanced when we make choices that are life
supporting.Being vegetarian does not just
helps one’s own life flourish but also that of
other beings.” Source :

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