The topic of whether it is better for one to be a vegetarian or a non vegetarian has generated much debate with a third group emerging to be neutral. The neutral groups which are majorly Christians have embraced a combination of the two forms of diets as the ideal . Vegetarianism is strict following of plant based diet with or without inclusion of dairy products or eggs but with the exclusion of meat. In the earlier days, a larger percentage of the world’s population was attracted into implemented a non-vegetarian diet. However, the concept is now changing with the increasing dietary problems related to modern foods. According to the new developments in medical sciences, vegetarian diet is the most ideal for human nature.
The non vegetarian diet is continuously receiving criticisms because of their cholesterol and saturated fatty acid content. These contents are linked to various health problems such as coronary heart disease, strokes, eye disease and high blood pressure (Rakesh 1). Studies have shown that only around 60% of non vegetarian diet content is useful for the body while the remaining 40% contains harmful and toxic products. Non-vegetarian diet has also been proved to be generally heavy for the stomach. Much of its contents also produce acidity which is responsible for various diseases related to the gastrointestinal system. Non-vegetarian diet is criticized of lacking in fiber. This means there is increased chances of non-vegetarians contacting diseases like coronary heart diseases, cancer, piles obesity, diabetes, constipation dental caries and many others. These facts have caused a massive shift of people all over the world to adopt vegetarianism.
The history of vegetarian and non-vegetarian
In the prehistoric times, man was a hunter and gather and his diet was majorly consisting huge quantities of fruits and vegetables (Begum’s Kitchen 1). Man also consumed a wide variety of plant food than is the case with today’s generation. He only ate meat occasionally whenever he succeeded in killing smaller animals (Begum’s Kitchen 1). However, with human beings learning how to think and communicate with each other, hunting was made easier. Many were increasingly beginning to enjoy eating animal products such as meat. The abundance of meat supply was also made possible with the development of food preservation methods.
With the invention of cultivation man realized that he could plan and grow his own crops and avoid having to gather fruits from the wilderness. However, lack of preservation methods for fruits meant it could not be a major source of food until the idea of fermentation was invented . Fermentation increased dependence on grains as the fermented grains could be stored for future use. These led to increased cultivation and planting of a number of grains like wheat and barley. With the increased ease of preservation of plant foods, the need for hunting reduced. Man’s diet therefore consisted of both the plant products from their farms and the animal products from the domesticated animals. This diet continued concurrently for several thousands of years until humans started to develop philosophies, religious believes and morals. Such factors started to impact on our diet differently. Most of these groups have been campaigning against non-vegetarianism.
Vegetarian cultures and spirituality
Various scholars have proved a strong connection between vegetarianism and religion. This is clearly shown in various practices of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The first religious and moral stand on the eating of meat was that of the Buddha in India over 2500 years ago. He allowed his followers to only consume meat from animal that had not been killed by either themselves or anyone else. That is, he allowed them to eat meat but not to kill the animal a practice that is still continuing to date. The religion thus became the first group to embrace vegetarianism. Buddhists believes that they have a role to help animals because animals can’t understand what is happening to them and can’t do anything about it. They know that harming the animal’s community will directly impact on all other systems.
Buddhists were then followed by Jainism which also became strict against eating meat. Jainism made vegetarianism mandatory to its followers. This was supported by their principle of non-violence (ahisma). Jainism separated from Hinduism because of their opposition to animal sacrifices practices. They are either lacto vegetarian or vegans but are against any unnecessary injury to nature. Their major commitment is to reduce the amount of any form of non violence treatment on nature.
Ahisma practice has also been witnessed among some Hindus. They propagate non-violence to animals and holds vegetarianism as an ideal diet. They offer only vegetarian foods to a deity as a sign of generosity. This group of Hindus believes that any non-vegetarian food is harmful to the development of the mind and to spirituality. Their Mahabharata describes non-violence as the highest duty of any individual and the highest teaching.
Though the Islam faithful take a moral view of violence to animals, they do not prohibit their actual killing. To them an animal must not be caused undue pain while slaughtering. They prohibit beating an animal with blunt objects, and smashing the animal on the ground.
The mainstream modern religions like Christianity often dissociate in majority doctrine from their obligation to the environment and animas. They instead place the emphasis on the individual while downplaying the need for interconnectivity and community. This is a deviation from the ancient spiritual tradition which had a deep spiritual balance between humans, the animals and the Earth. The group has therefore been facing criticism from other groups which have embraced vegetarianism.