The vegetarian diet: you are what you eat

There is an expression: “You are what you eat.” In the countries of the East where vegetarianism has been the diet for thousands of years, people recognize that everything you eat is part of your body and also influences your thoughts. They believe that if they eat the meat of an animal, the vibrations or mental and emotional characteristics of the animal will become part of their own nature. Today, science is investigating the effect that our own stress hormones have on our bodies and the damage that long-term stress causes to our organs. Imagine eating animals whose last days or minutes of life on earth were drenched with the hormones released in the state of fear they were in when they were about to be slaughtered. Those who eat meat not only ingest the meat, but also all the stress hormones that are released due to the animal’s fear. Therefore, many people raised in the traditions of the East prefer to live on plant foods, which are more conducive to mental balance.

Others can often pick up on the effect on our vibrations based on what we eat. To illustrate this, there is an instructive story from the life of a great Sufi saint lady named Rabia Basri. Once, when she had gone to the mountains, a group of wild animals (deer, gazelle, and ibex) gathered around her. They came and looked at her and stood close to her. Suddenly, her friend Hasan arrived. When he saw Rabia he approached her. When the wild animals saw Hasan, they all ran away in fear. Hasan was puzzled upon seeing this.

He looked at Rabia and asked, “Why did they run away in fear from me while acting friendly to you?” Rabia asked: “What did you eat today?” He said: “A little onion, fried in animal fat.” She said, “You eat their fat, why shouldn’t they run away from you?”

Many enlightened beings, saints, mystics, and spiritual teachers have traditionally advocated a vegetarian diet for spiritual and moral reasons. For those following a spiritual path, a vegetarian diet is essential for several important reasons. First, spiritual teachers have always taught that we are more than a body and a mind; we are also touching. They have also taught people the meditation process to help rediscover our true nature as a soul. To help gain proficiency in spiritual practices, vegetarianism is a helpful factor. In order to concentrate in meditation, we need to be calm and collected. If we eat meat from dead animals, our own conscience will be affected.

In the East, vegetarianism has been considered essential for spiritual development. Spiritual teachers promote a life of nonviolence. Helping factors for spiritual growth include developing the ethical virtues of nonviolence, truthfulness, purity, humility, and selfless service. The vegetarian diet is a natural by-product of nonviolence, in which no living creature is harmed. That is why the saints throughout the ages have recommended a vegetarian diet, avoiding meat, fish, poultry, and eggs.

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