Gandhiji and Vivekananda on Eating Meat (Post No.11,979)


Post No. 11,979

Date uploaded in London – –  May 7 2023                  

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A correspondent is born in a meat -eating family. He has successfully resisted the pressure from his parents to return to the fish pot. “But” he says , “ in a book I have before me , I read the opinion of Swami Vivekananda on the subject, and feel a good deal shaken in my belief. The Swami holds that for Indians in the present state flesh-diet is necessary and he advises his friends to eat flesh freely. He even goes so far as to say, “if you incur any sin thereby throw it upon me; I will bear it.”. I am now in a fix whether to eat flesh or not”.

This blind worship of authority is a weakness of mind. If the correspondent has such a deep seated conviction that the flesh eating is not right, why should he moved by the opinion to the contrary of the whole world? One needs to be slow to form convictions, but once formed they must be defended against the heaviest odds.

As for the opinion off great Swami, I have not seen the actual writing but I fear the correspondent has correctly  quoted him. My opinion is well- known.  I do not regard flesh food as necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live. I hold flesh food is unsuited to our species. We err in copying the lower animal world if we are superior to it.  Experience teaches us that animal food is unsuited to those who would curb their passions.

But it is wrong to over estimate the importance of food in the formation of character or in subjugating the flesh.  Diet is a powerful factor no to be neglected.  But to sum up all religions in terms of diet, as is often done in India, is as wrong as is to regard all restraint in regard to diet and to give full reins to one’s appetite. Vegetarianism is one of the priceless gifs of Hinduism.  It may not be lightly given up.  It is necessary therefore to correct the error that Vegetarianism as made us weak in mind or body or passive or inert in action. The greatest Hindu reformers have been the activest in their generation and they have invariably been vegetarians.  Who could show greater activity than Shankara or Dayananda in their times?

But my correspondent must not accept me as his authority. The choice of one’s diet is not is not a thing to be based on faith. It a matter for every one to reason out for himself. There has grown up especially in the West an amount of literature on Vegetarianism which any seeker after truth may study with profit. Many eminent medical men have contributed to this literature. Here in India we have not needed any encouragement for Vegetarianism. For it has been hitherto accepted as the most desirable and the most respectable thing. Those who however like the correspondent feel shaken, may study the growing movement towards Vegetarianism in the West.

Young India, 7-10-1926


Tags – Vegetarianism, Gandhiji, Vivekananda, flesh, Shankara , Dayananda, priceless gift

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