I have been vegetarian for four years now and it has made me only better and stronger. These days I wonder why human beings live in other lives and why they are named “human” at all. People have asked me why I abandoned meat and they want me to start eating again.
But I have promised them and to myself that I would rather die of hunger than living on other lives, and I am a man of words in this case. Ever since I became vegetarian, I have been finding myself in renowned libraries and huge bookshops, rummaging through stacks of books until I find at least a couple of books to make a purchase. This way, I found myself at a higher level of consciousness, as Coleridge said. I had to quit eating meat for spiritual, material and health reasons. However, spirituality was the greater force behind it. I willingly adopted the spiritual practice and coincidentally I found materialistic and health-related advantages too.
In the beginning, I would like to explain how spirituality guided me toward the path of vegetarianism. One day, when I was at the Bachelor’s level, my sociology teacher asked the whole class whether anyone was vegetarian. Not a single student raised a hand. Then, he asked, “have you eaten dog’s meat?” Everyone mumbled, “no, sir.” He countered that if we ate the meat of any other animals why not that of dog? God knows how they felt, but I was more than ashamed.
Having returned from college, I went to the Boudhanath Stupa in the afternoon and prayed for a long time and promised to the God that I would never eat meat again. I browsed about vegetarianism on the internet and found famous names like the Lord Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Leonardo da Vinci, George Bernard Shaw, Leo Tolstoy, Mary Shelley, Plato, Albert Einstein (during his last years of life), etc. Some of them were born-vegetarian whereas some had given up afterward.
The Lord Buddha assumed:
“the eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.”
If he had lived on innocent lives, he would never have obtained the enlightenment, for the religious enlightenment is unachievable unless you have a humane heart. Likewise, Plato asserted:
“The gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies . . . they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.”
We assume that human is the most superior being on the planet and we have been ruling the planet accordingly. But are we the most superior when it comes to loving other creatures? Do we have the abundance of love for others that other creatures do not have? We are designed to earn and eat, not to take things for granted. Leonardo da Vinci was a profound vegetarian who would buy caged birds and set them free. He called human beings the “burial places” of other animals. If we want freedom, he asserts, we have to free those imprisoned birds and animals. Albert Einstein had eaten meat with a guilty conscience. He, more importantly, assumed that there is nothing else like a vegetarian diet that will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth. Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School approves “nowadays, plant-based eating is recognized as not only nutritionally sufficient but also as a way to reduce the risk for many chronic illnesses.
Finding meat consumption as a religious conviction turned out to be advantageous for me materialistically. In the context of Kathmandu, it is pretty difficult for students, like me, to manage expenditure. In a way, everything seemed unaffordable for me in the beginning days. Fortunately, my conversion from carnivore to vegetarian turned out to be favorable. I realized, if I had to adapt I had to be more economical, and vegetarianism was the only option.
Another realization: I killed two birds with the same stone (no offense intended with the word ‘killed’). You must go, if possible, vegan or at least vegetarian, for avoiding meat can save a significant amount of spare money. Once you are a vegetarian, it is not necessary for you to be surprised by finding an extra amount in your pocket. In my case, all the books on my shelf have replaced the taste of meat in my mouth. Compare between spending a certain amount on books and the same amount on meat. In one hand, the meat lasts for as long as you don’t eat and it is tasty for as long as it is in your mouth. On the other hand, reading books is time-consuming, for it is a kind of adventure in itself. While reading, you will be flying and once you finish reading, your soul will find tranquility to stay in. I can guarantee that once you become vegetarian, your life will become a lot easier, from both religious and materialistic perspectives, and you will definitely stay healthy.
Even for health reasons, I had to give up meat. I ate meat until the age of 19, but like Einstein, I too had always felt guilty. Finally, I left it. I had no marked effects in my health caused by meat, though I was aware meat was poisonous to health. In a US-based BDG Media, Rachel Krantz, in 2014, wrote:
Most of us saw the story last year when the World Health Organization declared processed meat a “carcinogen” which increases one’s risk of colon or rectum cancer by 18 percent. But it’s not just processed meat that puts you at risk. A vast array of studies from top universities and independent researchers has found that eating chickens, cows, and other animals promote cancer in many forms. Large studies in England and Germany showed that vegetarians were about 40 percent less likely to develop cancer compared to meat-eaters, the most common forms being breast, prostate, and colon cancers.
This is not new information, regarding meat being harmful to health. Almost all of us already know it, but we are still sticking to the meat. We, humans, have been addicted to it. I see some friends making grudges when it comes to buying books, but when it comes to eating meat, they manage money anyhow. For me, it is a better idea to quit meat before suffering from the multiplicity of cancerous diseases. Former US president Bill Clinton, in order to get to see his grandchildren, became vegan. Krantz claims that meat contains high amount of cholesterol and saturated fat which contribute to America’s top killers: heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, various cancers, etc. He says it very well “Instead of contributing to the destruction of your body, the environment, and animals’ lives, you’ll be on the side of health, sustainability, and respect for all living beings.” Sacrificing animal doesn’t merely mean harming yourself, rather it badly affects the environment. The ecosystem on earth is very sensitive and it must be preserved, otherwise, we will be calling to destruction and ultimately extinction of all lives, including humans.
Now, you have an ample amount to utilize by buying books. The definition of “education” is not limited to going to academic institutions and reading and writing as per the demand of teachers. I assume education has no boundary and we should always be willing to explore the world. Several times, I have had to return home disappointed due to the unaffordable price of books that I wanted most. However, I scribble those moments of disappointments on sheets of paper and it solely brings me happiness. Save the money, with which you buy meat, and invest it in books because the same amount can bring you ten-fold of vegetables. Do not just read Nepalese stories, go for the foreign ones too because the world demands you to know it. Even in the English literature classes of the Tribhuvan University, I find my fingers enough to count on the ones who read a wide variety of literary books. It is a misfortune and weakness of the Nepalese education system. How can you gain mastery of English literature when you do not read even the prescribed texts, let alone going beyond?
This is the only reason we have had to bow in front of other countries. I know not all dreams come true, but there is no problem in dreaming and we have to dream high. I think I know how difficult it is to earn the name by writing. I have a dream of bringing a Nobel Prize to Nepal for literature. I am almost sure I will not be successful, but the tiny hope always keeps me positive. Even if I fail to achieve it, I will suggest my successors dream as high. I want this award not because I need fame, but because I need to prove Nepal as strong as others. Precisely, I want to see Nepalese literature in the global market, competing against other nations’ literature.
Howard Lyman has said “No animals need to die in order for me to live. And that makes me feel good.” This makes me feel good to all vegetarians. Why do we bury the flesh of innocent lives in our belly, when they have a desire to live unharmed life? Let’s do good to all beings so that good thing will come to us. We take pride in being born in the same country where the Lord Buddha was born, and we have been fighting against India claiming that Buddha was born in Nepal. Unfortunately, we have always talked the talk but never walked the walk. If we have to prove Buddha’s Nepalese identity why don’t we follow his teachings? If we have the slightest hesitation to choose the path of peace, it is worthless to be proud of Buddha. Let’s stop saying and let’s start showing lord Buddha is ours. Let’s stop the sacrifice of animals at temples and at any other places and stand out of the crowd on this planet. Let’s develop the habit of reading and engage ourselves in better activities. Only in lifting others up shall we rise, someone had once said. If we invest all the money, that has so far been spent on meat, on education, the sky will be the limit of our progress. Let’s not be pulled back by outdated, superstitious traditions, let’s be vegetarians, let’s be different.