An interview on t.v. news last week featured the oldest man in
America, age 114. When asked the secret for his special durability he
replied, “I am a vegetarian.” Everyone called into the station to
congratulate him for his good health.
Congratulations to him indeed for his vegetarianism! Statistics show that your average vegetarian does tend to live about five years longer than those with a meat-centered diet. As early as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that 90 to 97% of all heart disease, the cause of more than one half of the deaths from disease in the U.S., could be prevented by a vegetarian diet.*
Congratulations are also due to the oldest man in America for keeping his diet considering the general eating habits that have developed during his lifespan. He crossed over two centuries, one that was based on the family farm, another that exploded into agri-businesses with massive meat production and “Where’s the Beef?” propaganda to go with it.
In the 1800’s in the U.S., and presently, in 3rd world countries, to slaughter a cow was a major decision. The meat could not be refrigerated or distributed very efficiently. Also, no longer would your family cow be there to provide your children her milk, which is more essential to their diet than meat. If you made a decision to slaughter the farm’s team of oxen there would be no help in tilling the soil come spring.
As a century old man up to 1995 this gentleman saw more complications develop in human civilization than anyone has ever seen before. Present generations are entangled in it beyond our ability to overcome it. There is an embarrassing and debilitating lack of simple living and deep thinking.
It is a slaughterhouse culture, which employs every high-tech machine it can create for butchering helpless animals. Big lobbies in congress are held for government subsidized farm animal killing. Do not consider that the planet would be overrun with cattle if we failed to keep open the slaughterhouses. The fact is that the millions of farm-fattened animals produced for big business are a product of highly developed strains of artificially inseminated creatures, genetically engineered to produce pounds of flesh beyond any of their ancestor’s capabilities.
Simple living and high thinking is one of the mottos of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. The simplicity that adorns a vegetarian diet is spiritual. You can taste what you are eating because it is not ridden with the strong smell or flavor of flesh foods. Only God can make food for us by his mystic potency. No scientist can manufacture even one grain of rice in his laboratory.
Krsna says in Bhagavad-Gita 9.27:
“If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a fruit, a flower or water, I will accept it.”
Our spiritual founder, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes of this in the purport:
“If one wishes to engage in devotional service to the Supreme in order to be purified and reach the goal of life- the transcendental service of God- then one should find out what the Lord desires of him. One who loves Krsna will give Him whatever He wants, and he avoids offering anything which is undesirable or unasked. Thus meat, fish and eggs should not be offered to Krsna. If He desired such things as offerings, He would have said so. Instead He clearly requests that a leaf, a fruit, a flower and water be given to Him, and He says of this offering, “I will accept it.” Therefore, we should understand that He will not accept meat, fish and eggs. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk and water are the proper foods for human beings and are prescribed by Lord Krsna Himself. Whatever else we eat cannot be offered to Him, since He will not accept it. Thus we cannot be acting on the level of loving devotion if we offer such foods.”
A change in the way we eat is obviously in demand. A vegetarian diet is the very beginning of nonviolence. From there we can take up the spiritual path, recognizing life’s eternal goals which have nothing to do with aggression and slaughter. Obviously we don’t all have the training or inclination to take up an agrarian lifestyle, but those who do should not become suppliers of flesh to us. Even our city life can become pure and nonviolent by considering that what we eat should always be an offering to the Supreme Lord. He gave it to us. Cooking it is loving service to Him. Eating His food is loving service to Him. Sharing His food is loving service to Him.
By offering our vegetarian foodstuffs ultimately we come to respect that everything we do should be an offering to God. He is so kind He has outlined in Bhagavad-Gita what favorable devotional service is, right down to what we eat.
*”Diet and Stress in Vascular Disease,” Journal of the American Medical Association, June 3, 1961, p. 806.