Healthy Vegetarian Discovery
The earliest records of the practice of vegetarianism stems back to the dawn of civilization in ancient India and in the ancient Greece. In both instances, the basis of the vegetarian diet was a direct consequence of peace and non-violence towards animals. Known as ahimsa, which translates to mean non-violence in India, this practice was promoted strictly by temple clergymen and by the philosophers of the time.
With the advent of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the much revered vegetarian practice in these prehistoric cities came completely to a halt. Nonetheless, monks in medieval Europe were still recorded to have banned the consumption of meat for Spartan reasons, although fish was never forbidden from the practice.
Although the practice of vegetarianism re-emerged in Europe during the Renaissance, it only became a more widespread practice in the early 20th century. As the popularity of the vegetarian practice grew with time, more and more modern reasons arose for the purpose of the practice. Today, the practice of vegetarianism is not strictly a religious or spiritual affair but more of an environmental and economic concern.
Statistics show that the largest number of vegetarians are found in India where they are approximated to make up more than 70% of the world’s vegetarians. Their purposes and reasons behind the vegetarian practice is still closely connected to the interest of non-violence as well as the concept of living in harmony with all living creatures on the planet.
Simply said, vegetarianism is a diet that includes all forms of vegetables with the exclusion of animal flesh or slaughter by products. Today, the most common to have been posed to the vegetarian is “Isn’t eating plants equal to violence, where a plant is killed for consumption?” The answer lies specifically in the geographical conditions that the vegetarian practice stemmed from.
Typically, there were 2 classes of vegetarians:
- Vegetarians that practiced total vegetarianism. These vegetarians were born in the mainland.
- Vegetarians that practiced vegetarianism with the inclusion of fish. These vegetarians belonged to the fishermen colony.
Thus, their manner of practice of vegetarianism became the custom of these sectors of people and soon became a way of life.
By Indian standards, the practice of vegetarianism was one of convenience as well as a part of the religious requirements in the villages of olden India. Most of the people of that time were considered poor and were unable to afford the luxuries of meat, their cows fed their families milk and ploughed their land which gave them the ability to support their young. They gave reverence to their animals for they were used for work to support the hungry. Also, the temple clergymen in the olden times were of the opinion that to reach the highest levels of peace and harmony, there must not be any killing or consumption of products that is a result of the killing.
Hence, they were taught to grow their own foods, where upon harvest, the roots of the plants remained underneath the earth for the sake of future growth, whilst leafy vegetables were cut off from the top, leaving their roots below to sprout more leaves. Thus, the plants were never destroyed, allowing the process of growth and transformation to take on a continuous cycle. To the people of this time, the concept of uprooting plants were akin to destroying the earth, which the Hindus call ‘Mother’, as the earth would have to break open for the process of uprooting. This was the essence of vegetarianism by the Indian beliefs.
Having considered the factors in which the classic vegetarian of the olden times practiced their cause, the question of killing never arose as the life of one was not used to feed the life of another.
Modern day vegetarians do not have the ability to grow their own vegetables as there are common space constraints in the housing areas that they live in. Today, unless the vegetarian has his own land and space to plant his vegetables, he consumes vegetables that have been uprooted for the sake of commercial gains.
Types and Classes of Vegetarians
There are a wide variety of vegetarians today of which the practice is still not quite understood by the practitioner himself. Although not many vegetarians know the classes they belong to, a huge number of people are beginning to embark on the vegetarian path only because they think it is the right thing to do.
Being a vegetarian is about being conscious about what you do with your food and why you choose to be a vegetarian. Is it a lifestyle change that you are seeking or is it your way of contributing to the peace around you? Or is it because you feel so much more intuitive with a vegetarian diet or is it simply a diet that fulfills you? Whatever the reason, more and more types of vegetarian practices are being born from the need to satisfy the groups of people worldwide to apply the vegetarian concept of living.
Ovo-Lacto Vegetarians – vegetarians who will consume any kinds of food but not any kind of meat. This kind of diet also allows for the consumption of eggs, honey and dairy products.
Lacto Vegetarians – vegetarians who will not consume any kind of meat and eggs but will consume honey and dairy products.
Ovo Vegetarians – vegetarians who will not consume any kinds of meat and dairy but will consume eggs and honey.
Vegans – the classic vegetarians who will not consume any kind of meat, eggs, dairy products or honey.
Macrobiotics – vegetarians who eat nuts, legumes, whole grains and fish.
Raw Vegans – vegetarians who limit themselves to unprocessed food that has not been heated to above 46°C (115°F). Their diet mainly consists of raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, raw eggs, unheated dairy products and sushi.
Fruitarianism – a diet of only fruits, nuts, seeds and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.
Pescetarians – those who refrain from consuming meat but will take in shellfish, seafood and fish.
Pollo Vegetarians – vegetarians who are in a sense only half vegetarian, they allow chicken and fish but not red meat.
Flexitarians – who refrain from meat if the specific beast was raised or slaughtered cruelly.
Freeganists – who eat all kinds of meat unless the environment was damaged or humans or animals were exploited while the meat was being prepared.
Embarking on the Vegetarian Path
With all the varieties of food available, being a vegetarian is indeed a difficult path to follow. In fact, vegetarian restaurants are not as common as the odd stall that offers all the mouth watering non-vegetarian dishes.
Strict discipline and the willpower to overcome the temptation of these wide arrays of food is your personal choice of wanting to be a vegetarian. Whatever your reasons may embark on the path is firmly your belief that this is what you really want for yourself.
Start slow and progress further into your journey. Remember that it should not be a difficult journey from the beginning, for if it is difficult for you to maintain, this kind of diet was not meant for you. Choose the kind of vegetarian diet that will be initially be easy for you to follow so that you can ultimately become a vegan. But if your lifestyle does not permit you the privilege of reaching a vegan diet, choose any other vegetarian diet that will complement your lifestyle.
Why Practice Vegetarian
Over and above the core reason of non-violence, there are many more positive reasons as to why the vegetarian diet should be your choice diet and they are:
- vegetarian diet is a cleaner diet
- vegetarian diet enhances bodily functions
- vegetarian diet increases mental concentration
- vegetarian diet provides the calm you need
- vegetarian diet aids with the faster digestion of food
- vegetarian diet can complement any kind of medication you consume
- vegetarian diet makes the body lighter
- vegetarian diet helps clear the skin
- vegetarian diet aids with easier toxin release from the body
- you become more tolerant and forgiving
- you tend to eat less
- you become conscious of what you’re putting into your body
- you take control of your life by choosing to refrain from temptations
It is common knowledge that man was born vegetarian. By simply following the growth process of the human child from birth to a year old, you will notice that a child is never fed any form of meat or fish. This is because the human digestive system is unable to work efficiently with the consumption of meat, more so when it is a system as premature as that of a child’s.
It can be seen that the vegetarian diet has been proven to be a scientific diet that is able to rival any condition that the body may be exposed to. So go ahead and give it a try.