More than 200 million land animals are slaughtered each day around the world for their meat. If you add wild animals and fishes, more than a billion animals turn to meat every day. What do major religions have to say about this?
Vegetarianism has its roots in major religions. One of these religions is Judaism, where the followers believe that God instructed Adam and Eve to eat fruits from all the trees in the Garden of Eden. According to them, the Bible clearly states that only plants should provide food for humans. The book of Daniel stresses the vegetarianism diet further. When Daniel and three other slaves were held in captivity, they were offered the King’s rich diet, but they refused. Instead, they asked for vegetables and water—the Saddleback Church in California references to this story of Daniel in their lifestyle change program.
In their dietary laws, Jews stress the need to minimize cruelty to animals, whether in food production or as beasts of burden. The vegetarian diet is observed in some major religions and sects of some religions, such as Christianity. Read on to learn more:
Christians do not have a problem eating meat. However, some sects within Christianity believe that meat-eating is cruelty to animals. Others, such as Catholics, avoid meat on specific days of the week. The stand on meat-eating is conflicting amongst Christians. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 11, God instructs Israelites to eat all animals except those that do not chew curd and those whose hooves are not split. Pigs and donkeys fall in that category. In 1 Timothy 4:4, the Bible says that everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving. Christians use these two verses to argue why they eat or don’t eat the meat of certain animals.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has the strongest teaching on vegetarianism. The founder of the church, Ellen White, was vegetarian. In the church, therefore, Lacto-Ovo-vegetarianism is promoted. Followers who adhere to a plant-based diet have shown better health and longer lifespan according to research. A group of researchers posits that Jesus was a vegetarian.
Early Muslims lead a pastoral and nomadic lifestyle that made it a challenge for them to be vegetarians. During early civilization in Asia, distinguished meat-eating Muslims from Hindus and Buddhists who were predominantly vegetarians.
The teachings of the Qur’an are the same as the teachings of the Bible in many aspects. Forbidden foods among Muslims include blood, pork, and the meat of any animal that has not been cut along the jugular with a very sharp knife while reciting a prayer. The Qur’an preaches compassion towards animals. Prophet Mohammed favored vegetarian food, especially honey, yogurt, butter, nuts, cucumber, dates, grapes, and fig, among others.
The halal, Muslim laws, dictates that only “clean” animals slaughtered properly with compassion are allowed. The Qur’an says that all animals are like humans and should be treated with compassion. However, no animal will be slaughtered in Mecca, Prophet Mohammed’s birthplace. All 1.4 billion Muslims each meat and will get the popular type of grill to enjoy the meat – they do so while claiming that no one should reject what Allah permits.
Hindus are the majority of the world’s vegetarians. They have perfected the art of eating diverse food servings of a vegetarian diet. From the North to the South of India, you will find different meatless cuisines as an indication of the many years that the Hindus have perfected the Vegetarian diet.
Early writings in India indicate that a vegetarian diet has been the staple for Hindus. In the Mahabharata, it is clearly explained that the “meat of animals is like the flesh on one’s own son, and anyone fool who eats meat is to be considered the vilest of all human beings.”
There is also the issue of the sacred cow, which makes vegetarianism a daily sadhana, spiritual practice.
Buddhists, like Hindus, are strict vegetarians. Buddha advised his monks not to eat meat, but they were to accept anything that was served to them. He preached compassion towards animals, although meat-eating and animal slaughters were common during Buddha’s lifetime.
According to Buddha, his followers were not to eat meat if they saw the animal being slaughtered, gave consent for the slaughter, or knew the animal as being slaughtered for them.
Jains have the same preaching as Buddhists and Hindus. Religion stresses the practice of ahimsa or non-violence towards animals. Most Jains abstain from meat and honey as they believe that every creature deserves compassion and should never be harmed.
All animals should be shown mercy, compassion, and respect – at least all major religions agree on that. Mercy can be in not slaughtering these animals for food or in the way they are slaughtered. For Muslims and Christians, animals need to be slaughtered with compassion. For the Hindus and Buddhists, the slaughter of animals for food should be avoided.
As Albert Einstein puts it, human health and survival will benefit from the evolution of a vegetarian diet. Some people believe in a vegetarian diet even when they do not subscribe to any religion.