For those concerned with improving their health, vegetarianism is now being promoted by many medical doctors who claim that this diet provides optimum nutrition and guards against many diseases caused by non-vegetarian foods. When considering the vegetarian diet, most people focus on the health benefits.
They may learn about the variety of vegetarian dishes that can be prepared, take nutrition lessons on how to eat a balanced diet using vegetarian foods, and study how to get protein from meat substitutes such as vegetarian products made from soy, nuts, beans, and vegetable protein, among others.
However, other aspects of the vegetarian diet are equally important. Along with improving our physical well-being, there exists a vital connection between our spiritual essence and the foods we eat.
Connecting with Your Inner Essence
Spirituality is not only concerned with discovering our own inner side but is an extension of having love and concern for all life in creation. Spirituality involves bringing us closer to our true nature, our inner self, which is one with God.
As God created this universe, the earth, and its creatures, it is natural for us to respect all life rather than destroy what God has created. Those who are truly connected with God feel a love for all creatures, great and small. They perceive the Light of God in human beings and living creatures.
This Light exists as much in the humble ant as in the powerful lion. It shines in the snake as well as the cow. It shimmers in the fish, as well as the birds. When we look at life through the eyes of the soul, we witness God in even the humblest and most grotesque of creatures. With that angle of vision, we develop love for all that exists.
When we look at life through the consciousness of the soul, we begin to live in a gentler manner and start respecting all forms of life. This is one of the reasons that many people who are in touch with their soul turn to a vegetarian diet. They feel God has provided enough food in the form of plants to sustain them, and it is not necessary to take the life of any of God’s creatures for food.
A Diet That Complements Meditation
Vegetarianism complements meditation. Vegetarianism is the most compassionate diet because it involves eating food containing the least amount of destruction of life. For those who wish to make rapid progress in meditation, a vegetarian diet is important.
Many great philosophers, artists, poets, writers, and many enlightened people have been vegetarians as well.
The great artist, Leonardo da Vinci, was a vegetarian who had great compassion. Whenever he saw a caged bird, he would pay the owner for the cage and the bird. Then he would open the cage door and watch the joyful bird soar to freedom.
Sir Isaac Newton, Mahatma Gandhi, and Albert Schweitzer are just a few examples of great philosophers, scientists, humanitarians, and world leaders who inspired others to adopt a path of nonviolence towards all creation.
We Are Accountable for Our Actions
Enlightened beings have taught that animals too have consciousness or a soul, which makes them also a part of God. Thus, the spiritual basis of vegetarianism is not to take the life of any other creature, not to harm any living creature. If we wish to find God, then we need to be loving and caring to all God’s creatures. That is why a vegetarian diet forms a part of a spiritual life.
A Vegetarian Diet Helps You to Improve in Meditation
For those who are seeking to improve in meditation, including for spiritual growth, vegetarianism offers another benefit. Those involved in developing spiritually who want to experience their inner self or soul can do so through meditation, which is enhanced by a vegetarian diet.
Meditation requires stillness. Our attention is usually focused on the outer sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations of this world, which keeps us from tuning ourselves to the spiritual gifts within. This requires concentration.
To concentrate in meditation, we need to be calm and collected. What benefit do we gain from avoiding foods from dead animals? One benefit is that avoiding such foods can raise our consciousness. We know the effect that our own hormones have on our body. Just imagine how many stress hormones we are adding which were circulating in the animals, birds, or fish when they were being killed or slaughtered to be used as meat! That is all forming a part of us when we partake of it. The food we eat not only has an effect upon our physical, emotional, and mental makeup, but on our spiritual consciousness.
If we are trying to lead a life of nonviolence and compassion, if we are trying to become more serene and peaceful, if we are trying to still our mind to concentrate within to find our spiritual treasures, then we will naturally want to follow a diet that helps us achieve our goal.
When the Roman poet, Seneca, on learning of the teachings of Pythagoras, became a vegetarian, he found the change a happy one and discovered to his surprise that his “mind had grown more alert and more enlightened.”
Albert Einstein, the great physicist, said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
For those who wish to achieve spiritual growth and lead a life of nonviolence and love for all creation, then a vegetarian diet can help. In doing so, we will not only have compassion on the younger members of God’s creation and on other human beings, but we will also have compassion on our own selves.