Saturday 8 April 2017

Who is dictating the food items on my Food Plate? | Vegetarian Vs non-vegetarian Food debate

Written by Anil Singh

Is anyone dictating what we should eat? Are you thinking about going vegetarian? We can do so, but only when we have weighed all the factors involved in the decision.

Is anyone dictating what we should eat?

I think someone is.

More so after the arrivals of new Governments in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

It all started with the much marketed campaign of locking down of illegal slaughter houses in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The clampdown on illegal slaughter houses is still on. Because it's not easy to defend such "all of a sudden" actions, hence Governments try to find ways to placate the resulting anger among people. On the other hand, since it's not easy for people to make sense of such clampdowns, they try to find ways to make some sense of them.

That's why many of us remain busy filling down online surveys, reading and sharing articles such as:

What is better -- Vegetarian food or non-vegetarian food?
What religion says about -- Vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food?
Is non-vegetarian food an obstacle in spiritual progress?
What Hindu scriptures say about consuming meat?
Can I eat meat and still meditate successfully?

Although I want to have my say on all the above, let I reserve that for the latter part of the write-up.

But first, let we discuss why all this propaganda circulating about meat consumption is wrong, especially for Uttarakhand. I want to digress here to the clampdown of illegal slaughterhouses, but you can read this write-up instead (In this write-up you will get a glimpse of why such clampdowns are not good. In a nutshell, such all of a sudden clampdowns paralyze business activity. Something which is not good for any business).

Dictating what we eat is a direct onslaught on our right to decide for ourselves

The foremost reason which i think of is that it's a direct onslaught on our right to decide for ourselves.

What if tomorrow someone comes and says, eating plants is wrong as they're living creatures.

What if tomorrow someone says, only milk and non-cereal food must be consumed.

Will you start following such advice?

Obviously, any intelligent person will not blindly follow such advice. So why we. We will use our minds.

What we eat, is not limited to our survival

Food is not for survival alone.

Food is for celebration.

Food is for adding value to our lives.

On the surface, all the rhetoric around why someone must become vegetarian, sounds very benevolent and noble. But if a person starts following all the non-sense being preached around food, then forget about what else food offers beyond mere survival. Believing and following all the non-sense being preached these days under the garb of religion will mean we will not even be able to consume anything.

For instance, if living or non-living is the factor which decides what we should have on our food plates, then even plants become non-edible.

If the food we eat is decided by our conscience then forget about meat, any animal product such as milk, milk products, honey etc. go out of fringe. Why? Because milk is for the calf, honey is for the bees.

What we eat is an entirely subjective Choice

Thus instead of looking for objectivity in other person's and our own food plate, we must see our food from an entirely subjective view point.

Yes, what one must eat is an entirely subjective choice.

It's subjective because what you may be deriving from your food, will be very different from what I will derive by eating the same food. You may feel happiness, joy, festivity or anything. On the contrary, I may not feel anything special about it.

In the same line, food is subjective choice because the emotions, consciousness and conscientiousness you link to your food will be different from what the other person does. That's why we see vegans around us. Who is a Vegan? A person who does not eat or use animal products. In simple, a vegan not only stops eating meat, he/she stops consuming any product which comes from an animal. This means no milk, cheese, honey, no ice cream etc.

Hence before questioning our and other person's food habits, we must understand that food must always be viewed from a subjective view point. That's why restaurants have Menus! That's why the same food is made available in different tastes, textures and flavors!

Eat what you like, and respect what other person likes

Seeing food from living and non-living perspective is unnecessary. This is unnecessary because cruelty again differs from person to person. For some killing an animal for food stands as cruel. For others, uprooting a plant for food may invoke same degrees of emotional turmoil. For some others, sucking microorganisms during an inhale may be cruel (Jain monks cover their mouth and nose with a placard, so that they may not ingest some microorganism while breathing in).

Thus the best way to deal with food is: Following your heart and mind.

If you like to eat something, why not eat it.

A simple observation tells that there's no tangible link as to why meat cannot be consumed while pursuing one's spiritual path. Buddhist monks who spend hours practicing deep meditation have no problems with eating meat.

That said, ultimately what a person wants to eat is guided by many things. Such as region one lives in, history of food availability, history of vocations pursued by people, migrations etc. Thus it's not easy to solve the puzzle of food on our food plates. The simplest way to deal with food is to not complicate it too much. By over thinking.


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