The non-vegetarian extremists assert that meat is an essential part of man’s diet, which is needed to supply the body with proteins. They strongly state that without a regular intake of meat a person’s health will drastically decline. What is forgotten here is that meat is not the only source of protein. There are many other foods available that can provide the body with its protein requirements.
It is also worthwhile pointing out that if we are able to choose to be vegetarian or non-vegetarian, then we are fortunate. Diet for much of the world’s population is often more a matter of eating what is available than being able to choose a particular diet from a wide variety of foods. In some cases, all that is available is meat; for example, Eskimos through absolute necessity eat an exclusive diet of flesh. Are we to accuse the Eskimos of immoral habits because of their situation? On the other hand, people in other parts of the world are too poor to include meat in their diet. Are these people to be praised for being ‘moral’ or being vegetarians when they are merely following the dictates of necessity? So if you have the good fortune to be able to choose your eating habits, realize that it is a privilege and be sure not to condemn others for not eating the same food as you do.
In this topic we will consider the subject of vegetarianism mainly from the point of view of nutrition and health. Because we are vegetarians, we will of course be biased on the subject. Yet because some of us in the ashram were once non-vegetarians, and have known the trauma of being subjected to and overwhelmed by zealous advocates of vegetarianism, we will try not to ‘push vegetarianism down your throats.’ We will present a few basic facts to you, the same facts that eventually persuaded us to adopt the vegetarian way of life. We will leave you to decide for yourself if these are valid reasons for seriously adopting vegetarianism.