My dad is a hard-core non-vegetarian. My mother has always been an absolute vegetarian. I remember as a child I couldn’t appreciate the taste of meat when I was told to have some by my father. I didn’t like mutton at all. Chicken and fish were still fine to me.

But for most of my life as a child, I can’t really remember appreciating non-vegetarian food, for eating it made me realize that it was a corpse of an animal. 

Once back when I was a child, I went with my father to the butcher shop. There I saw chickens being snatched out of their cage like rag-dolls; I heard the screaming and crowing sound and fear in the voice of those little birds. 

They were slaughtered with their head chopped off and I saw the chicken that was going to go on our plate being murdered. His head lay on the sink below and its body within the grasp of the butcher. The body was still trembling. The site was nauseating.

I was a sensitive kid and this one incident triggered deep repulsion in me and I refrained from eating meat altogether for most of my teenage years.

But I again started eating non-veg deliberately while I was in college because I was on heavy psychiatric medications and I thought I need to have more energy. I thought I will get it by eating meat. I tried to re-learn eating non-veg.

This has been always the case with me. For a long time I would not eat meat and suddenly I would eat it again and then again stop. My average is I eat meat once in a year and I am not proud of it. 

I would want to stop eating non-veg altogether because it contradicts one basic principle in the path of Bhakti for Bhagwaan: ahimsa. Some may say that even plants also feel pain when we cut them for eating. But the fact is that the physiology and the psychology of species on the lower level of food chain, such as plants, is highly under-developed when compared to animals’.

Animals have a central nervous system like ours and they feel fear, pain and will fight for their life just as we do. This is not the case with plants. They are living but not as receptive to pain.

The spirit of ahimsa is to minimize pain of others as much as possible and by choosing a vegetarian diet over non-vegetarian we are minimizing that violence. Absolute non-violence is not possible in this world for we have to eat to survive but our diet can be as compassionate as possible.

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Nalin

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