Really, why? In this modern age of material sufficiency (at least in the West), when any basic food item is affordable for most of us, why deprive oneself from eating meat? If not from meat, where else one can get proteins from? What about traditional cuisines that call for meat as the main ingredient around which the rest of the meal is fashioned? What about strength and stamina that meat is thought to provide?
If history is any indication, answers to the above questions could be gleaned from human experience. Vegetarianism is known since the times of ancient India and ancient Greece. The famous Greek mathematician Pythagoras practiced vegetarianism and had a large following. Spartacus and his slave warriors, who led a successful rebellion against the well-trained and disciplined army of the Roman Empire, were strict vegetarians and were feared by the Romans for their strength, stamina and physical agility.
Research on human remnants from the ancient Egypt revealed many modern diseases which existed already then, but which were limited to mummified bodies of the higher cast. High priests and distinguished rulers, whose bodies were mummified, could afford meat and refined products, which the lower but much healthier casts faring on a simple vegetarian diet of grains and beans did not have access to.
In modern times, increasingly more people choose a vegetarian lifestyle. Many well-known figures and celebrities, such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Brad Pitt, Brigitte Bardot, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Leonardo diCaprio, Madonna, Prince, Montserrat Caballe, Sinead O’Connor, Sir Isaac Newton, Anoushka Shankar, Steven Jobs, Victoria Beckham, Voltaire and many others are known to be vegetarians.
Meat is often nowadays a source of lethal bacteria. The most recent outbreak of Ebola, a deadly disease originating on the African continent, is thought to have spread to humans from fruit bats and monkeys who are butchered for their meat.
Meat, aside from artificial growth hormones and the preservatives it includes, is very acidifying to the human body. It is thought to cause cancer, arthritis and other debilitating diseases.
The economics of meat production is inefficient and socially unfair. The grain that is produced to then feed cattle would be more than sufficient to eradicate for good malnourishment and famine globally.
This brings us perhaps to the most important reason for becoming a vegetarian if one is serious about meditation. A vegetarian diet, which excludes meat, poultry, fish and seafood, but which may include dairy and eggs, is a great aid to meditation. Meat-eating individuals tend to have a more aggressive and restless nature which cannot be explained by genetics, upbringing and life circumstances alone. In contrast, vegetarians tend to have a more agreeable and calmer nature (but by no means all vegetarians!). By virtue of their calmer nature, vegetarians may have a better shot at entering into and sustaining a good meditation. For non-vegetarian meditators, eating meat is akin to carrying a heavy load, while vegetarians, who travel lighter, are better prepared to reach their meditation goals.
As always, the proof is in the pudding. Regardless of the reason that may attract you to become vegetarian, the best way to approach a vegetarian practice is to start one. You should make the transition to a vegetarian diet step by step, by reducing gradually and over several months your meat intake. You should also be reasonable and pay attention to ingesting sufficient and varied food from natural sources that include quality vegetarian proteins, minerals and vitamins. Only then, and after giving it sufficient time, will you be able to see for yourself how it affects your body and mind. As you combine vegetarianism and meditation, you stand only to benefit – guaranteed!
For more articles on integrating meditation into the present-day lifestyle and for more information on starting a meditation practice of your own, visit www.GenevaMeditation.ch.