What is Vegetarianism?

A Vegetarian diet is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat (red meat, poultry, seafood, and the flesh of any other animal), and also includes abstention from by-products of animal slaughter.

The vegetarian practice can be traced to Indus valley civilization in 3300–1300 BCE Ancient India. Early vegetarians included Indian philosophers such as Mahavira and Acharya Kundakunda, the Indian poet Thiruvalluvar, the Indian emperors Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka; Greek philosophers such as Empedocles, Theophrastus, Plutarch, Plotinus, and Porphyry; and the Roman poet Ovid, the playwright Seneca the Younger. The Greek sage Pythagoras advocated an early form of strict vegetarianism.

In the Indian culture, the diet is closely connected with the attitude of nonviolence towards animals (called ahimsa in India) and was promoted by many (including Hindu) religious groups and philosophers. The ancient Indian work of Tirukkural explicitly and unambiguously emphasizes vegetarianism and non-killing. It has been translated into at least 40 languages as of 2014, Tirukkural is one of the most widely translated non-religious works in the world. Chapter 26 of the Tirukkural, through couplets 251 to 260, deals exclusively on vegetarianism or veganism. See English translation along with original in Tamil by clicking here and is also given below :

Chapter 26 of the Tirukkural, couplets 251 to 260 – Abstaining from Eating Meat

Verse 251

How can he practice true compassion

Who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh?

Verse 252

Riches cannot be found in the hands of the thriftless,

Nor can compassion be found in the hearts of those who eat meat.

Verse 253

Goodness is never one with the minds of these two:

One who wields a weapon and one who feasts on a creatures’ flesh.

Verse 254

If you ask, “What is kindness and what is unkind?”

It is not killing and killing. Thus, eating flesh is never virtuous.

Verse 255

Life is perpetuated by not eating meat.

The clenched jaws of hell hold those who do.

Verse 256

If the world did not purchase and consume meat,

There would be none to slaughter and offer meat for sale.


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