Vegetarianism in Hinduism and the Swaminarayan Diet
Vegetarianism is a diet ideal among many Hindus, based on the concept of ahimsa (non-violence) and compassion towards all beings. It is also considered sattvic, which is associated with purifying the body and mind lifestyle as per Hindu texts. Lacto-vegetarianism is favored by many Hindus which includes milk-based foods and all other non-animal derived foods, but it excludes meat, eggs, and seafood.
The concept of ahimsa is central to Hinduism, and it is often translated as "non-violence." However, ahimsa is more than just abstaining from violence; it is also about promoting compassion and respect for all living beings. This includes animals, plants, and even inanimate objects.
There are many reasons why Hindus choose to follow a vegetarian diet. Some do it out of religious conviction while others do it for health reasons or environmental concerns. Whatever the reason, vegetarianism is seen as a way to live in harmony with nature and to promote non-violence in the world.
The Swaminarayan diet is a type of Lacto-vegetarian diet that is followed by members of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, a Hindu sect formerly known as the Uddhav Sampraday. The diet excludes meat, seafood, and eggs.
The Swaminarayan diet is based on the principles of ahimsa (non-violence) and sattvic (purity). The Swaminarayan Sampraday believes that eating meat is a form of violence and that it can lead to negative physical and mental effects. The diet also emphasizes the importance of eating pure foods that are free from toxins.
The Swaminarayan diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It also includes dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and clarified butter (ghee). The diet is considered to be very healthy as it has been shown to have a number of benefits including improved digestion, reduced risk of heart disease, and increased energy levels.
The Shikshapatri, a 212-versed code of conduct, contains a number of references to the importance of vegetarianism. Some of the passages from the Shikshapatri that mention vegetarianism include:
Verse 15: None shall under any circumstances eat meat, even if it be an offering of a sacrifice, or shall ever drink liquor or wine even if it be from offering to a deity.
Verse 22: None shall ever accept prasad of a deity to whom offerings of meat and/or liquor-wine or offerings mixed with meat and/or liquor-wine are offered and/or before whom goats and/or other living beings are sacrificed.
Verse 31: None shall ever take medicines which are mixed with meat and/or liquor-wine or with both; take medicines given by a physician whose antecedents are not known.
Verse 186: They shall never drink water carried in leather bags/buckets.
In addition to the ethical and health benefits of vegetarianism, there are also a number of environmental benefits.
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions: The production of meat is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study by the University of Oxford, a vegetarian diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint by up to 73%.
Reduced water use: It takes a lot of water to produce meat. For example, it takes about 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. A vegetarian diet can help to reduce water use by up to 50%.
Reduced land use: Raising livestock requires a lot of land. For example, it takes about 1.5 acres of land to produce one pound of beef. A vegetarian diet can help to reduce land use by up to 76%.
Reduced pollution: The production of meat also contributes to pollution. For example, animal waste from factory farms can pollute waterways. A vegetarian diet can help to reduce pollution by reducing the demand for meat.
Hence, Swaminarayan Sampraday believes that following a vegetarian diet is a way to live in accordance with the principles of ahimsa (non-violence) and sattvic (purity) as a way to promote healthy physical and mental well-being and reduce harmful impacts on our environment.