We all have noticed phenomenal spiritual awakening in recent years, typically including a transformational shift to Vegan food in those people who meditate and develop inner love, compassion or connection with the universe. But did you know that even our ancient spiritual and religious traditions all over the world, including The Bible included Veganism?
- The Bible: In the first chapter, Genesis it is stated that God said (to humans), “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.” This statement conveys a belief that in the beginning of creation, God had intended us to consume plants for food because plants are designed in such a way that they regrow and are not killed when eaten. It is only later after we ‘fell asleep’ that humans indulged in animal farming, rituals of animal sacrifices and meat consumption as noted in the Bible and in our world, although these would go against the Biblical commandment of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ . Our awakening therefore is likely to involve a return to compassion and veganism as per the original divine plan.
- Vedas: The concept of Ahimsa as per ancient Vedic precepts includes ‘Non Harming’. According to Atharvaveda which predates The Bible by thousands of years, “Ahimsa is not causing pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one’s mind, speech or body.” Thus ‘himsa’ or harm includes harming any being not only physically but also mentally through negative thoughts or words. This greatly expands our concept of ‘Ahimsa’ to include not only Veganism but also purity of mind and speech by acknowledging the magical power in our thoughts and words. Practices of animal sacrifices as part of religion seem to divert from or contradict the ancient teachings of ahimsa.
- Taoism: According to ancient Chinese texts from 5th century, the first of precepts or guideline from the Lord includes, abstaining from killing. “The precept against killing is: All living beings, including all kinds of animals, and those as small as insects, worms, and so forth, are containers of the uncreated energy, thus one should not kill any of them.” In modern China there are few animal welfare laws and killing of several varieties of animals and even eating some of them alive has been a social norm in stark contrast to their ancient spiritual guidelines.
- Buddhism: As described by Buddha in the Pali-Canon (said to be the words of Buddha), “There is the case where a certain person, abandoning the taking of life, abstains from the taking of life. He dwells with his rod laid down, his knife laid down, scrupulous, merciful, compassionate for the welfare of all living beings.” As such the first precept of Buddhism has been stated as “to abstain from killing”. Not all Buddhists abstain from meat as some have been initiates in the older Bhikku traditions where they accepted whatever food was offered to them, however the first precept of Buddhism remains central to most of its followers who believe in vegatarianism.
- Hinduism: The Bhagvat Gita which is based on the words of Krishna (avatar or incarnation of Vishnu or God) when he displayed his infinite-form mentions ‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence as one of the qualities of divine beings. Although Krishna speaks several thousand years B.C. at the battlefield of Mahabharata which is full of violence and killing, the virtues of non-violence is still stated as one of the highest of all. In Maha-bharata “He who desires to augment his own flesh by eating the flesh of other creatures, lives in misery in whatever species he may take his [next] birth.” The Hindu word ‘Karma’ is all about our actions, both mental and physical, and each action leads to a re-action leading us into entanglement with the world-process wherein we would keep receiving the result of our deeds. To free ourself from the bondage of karma is the path of salvation and it begins from being as harmless as possible, thus reducing the negative karmic cycles that cause us suffering in life and afterlife.
- Manu-Samhita: According to the ancient Indian text of the ‘laws of Manu’ or the first man who survived the ‘great flood’ in an ark as guided by a prophetic fish (incarnation or avatar of Vishnu or God), much like the Biblical Noah but dated hundreds of years B.C, “He who does not seek to cause the sufferings of bonds and death to living creatures, but desires the good of all, obtains endless bliss. He who does not injure any creature attains without an effort what he thinks of, what he undertakes, and what he fixes his mind on.” It also states that , “Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to the attainment of heavenly bliss.” Furthermore, “He who permits the slaughter of an animal, he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buys or sells meat, he who cooks it, he who serves it up, and he who eats it, must all be considered as the slayers of the animal.”
- Jainism: One of the most clear of all teachings of Ahimsa or non-violence is from Mahavira (appx 500 BC) who stated “Kill not, cause no pain. Nonviolence is the greatest religion.” Instead of rites and rituals, Jain teachings focus on cultivation of inner peace and non-violence as the path to liberation from the illusory cycles of life and death or rebirth. Meditation and vegetarian diet are the main practices of this ancient spiritual path.
Regardless of the teachings of ancient religions, we all know today that a plant based diet is a much more harmless alternative to animal meat and is well within our reach unlike the cave-men of the past who relied upon hunting. It is quite possible for us to consciously choose a diet that does not involve killing by training ourself to enjoy fruit and vegetable based foods that are organically grown, free of harmful pesticides and great for our health.