Guiding Light: Vegetarianism as a philosophy of life

Dada J. P. VaswaniUpdated: Monday, November 14, 2022, 06:40 PM IST
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I would not go so far as to argue that a vegetarian is more philosophically inclined than a flesh food eater. But those who advocate a universal policy of nonviolence and urge people to stop all killing definitely adopt a more morally and ethically positive position than those who justify animal slaughter. Philosophy, in this sense, may be defined as the system of values by which one lives. It is also a critical analysis of the beliefs and assumptions of a particular system. Thus vegetarianism is a philosophy of life with the following assumptions:

1. All forms of life are equal and must be revered. (The principle of reverence for all life)

2. Animals are not resources to be exploited at man’s will– for food, attire, entertainment or sport.

3. As human beings, we are a part of the world of nature, not its owners or masters.

4. No life is superfluous, and we have no right to take a life away, since we can never give it back.

5. There is no ‘hierarchy’ in living beings that justifies the killing of certain creatures.

6. Cruelty, violence and infliction of pain and suffering on another being is abominable and morally repugnant.

7. Peace, harmony and progress cannot be achieved at the expense of violence, cruelty and killing.

8. Compassion and benevolence are high humane values to be extended to all living beings.

9. The Universe is inter-connected. Each one of us is responsible for the protection and well being of the environment in which we live.

10. The prime value of mindfulness, compassion and reverence for all life should override all other aspects of custom, culture, tradition, taste and convenience.

Since the 1970s a great deal of literature and research has been published on the subject, not to mention the fact that millions of people worldwide have taken to vegetarianism for ethical, moral and medical reasons. Ancient philosophers saw the vegetarian way of life as arête – virtuous and of excellence.

In more recent times, vegetarianism is becoming popular on fresh grounds: concern for the environment and ecology; sustainable development; health concerns; and a reassessment of the morality of animal rights. Concerns about world poverty, hunger and malnutrition in the third world have also led to ethical preference for vegetarianism.

When it comes to vegetarianism, we should practise it whole heartedly, rather than take sides with one group or another.

You can pledge to remain vegetarian on November 25 at www.sak.org.in/pledge/

Dada J P Vaswani is a humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader

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