|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
The hall-mark of civilized living is scrupulous avoidance
of inflicting injury upon, and the unstinted extension of selfless love
to, other fellow-beings. Tested upon this touchstone, flesh-eating is
cent per cent base metal. The reason is obvious, for it positively involves
extinction of life: it amounts to robbing Peter to pay Paul, an act
which is unjustifiable beyond measure. Contrarily, a fruit diet entails
no risk to the tree from which the fruit is plucked ; it stands the
test well enough and is, therefore, unalloyed sterling to be utilized
by man with impunity.
Countless orders of animate beings are born to spend their
allotted span of earthly existence in enacting the parts, assigned to
them by the Creator, in the great drama that is being staged in the
universe. Mankind is evidently one of them, with the distinction of
being the highest on the zoological scale. This unique position has
its roots in the specialized equipment with which man is blessed and
with which the sub-human creation is not fortunate enough to be endowed.
Leaving aside man, the faculty of understanding, that
has been granted to other living creatures, is instinctive and stereotyped.
Consequently there is no necessity of their being tutored in the school
of experience. At the same time they cannot set at naught this guiding
instinct but do abide by it under all circumstances. On the other hand,
man must unremittingly have recourse to trial and error -a life-long
experiment - in order to accumulate the requisite know-how for his guidance.
Right endeavor crowns him with the happiness of success ; wrong means
end in failure and frustration. The experience so gained serves as his
torchbearer to show up the way in future. To cope with this uphill task,
Nature has furnished mankind with the most highly organized nervous
system which is the speciality referred to above. This seductive experimentation
goes on continuously throughout life and knows no bounds.
The superior intellect and the operation of free will, thus conceded by Providence to man, has, no doubt, given him an exalted rank among his fellow creatures, but standing on the high pedestal he carries on his shoulders responsibilities of an equally high order. Accordingly, the appellation of 'human' can be applied to his behaviour towards other living entities only when it is entirely in keeping with his dignity. As far as the element of life is concerned, all beings in nature stand on the same footing; the dissimilarity in form and intelligence do not affect this equality at all. Considerations of superiority arise only when the quota of intelligence and instinct are taken into account. Those of superior intelligence - the elder brothers and sisters - are expected to safeguard the interests of the less fortunate, but all the same equally living-brethren and sisters as their sacred duty. Any neglect in this regard is tantamount to sacrilege, The Universal Father created all without exception and resides in them. Therefore the living body is the sanctum sanctorum of the Almighty Who can be, and ought to be, worshipped in His temple, where He is so easily accessible, rather than defile His abode.
Having secured a peep through the veil that masks the
common descent and realized the divinity common to all beings, the sages
and seers of yore, from the very dawn of civilization. laid down the
principle of universal love and, so to say, enclosed the ocean of social
dealings in a nutshell for posterity in the following memorable words
which is translated thus :-
Disregarding the plain duty defined above, causing hurt
to any being whatsoever, depriving an innocent creature of its life,
or denying it the means of its livelihood, the fact whether such conduct
should be classed as just or otherwise is self -proven.
As hinted above. the part to be played by and the wherewithal
for every participant in the world-drama are unmistakably obtained before
it incarnates. Thus none can be labelled as useless unless this divine
purposiveness be lost sight of.
Above all, the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent
Creater Who bestows life, the Universal Creator, and the Director of
the cosmic play keeps constant vigil upon the life-activities of His
nominated actors, because of the fact that the awarding of the fruits
of their acting is exclusively His prerogative. This goes to prove that
man is not exempt from the bondage of the reaction of action, and must
inevitably bear the natural consequences of the human or inhuman treatment
that he metes out to his allies. There is not an iota of doubt about
the due recompense of his action. This unquestionably contra-indicates
his killing other beings for food or any other purpose. Furthermore,
a flesh diet is the worst possible stumbling block in the way of one
who aspires to the realization of the summum bonun of human existence
which is to know oneself and the way one is related to other selves
as shrines of One and the same Self. This consummation is impossible
until and unless one identifies oneself with other,-apparently separate
- Selves, and without this accomplishment life is not worth living.
Poet Rabindranath Tagore brought home the truth of the
above statement when he said:-
Thus from the ethical stand-point flesh-eating is a self-condemned
may of sustaining life.
Looking at the problem from the scientific angle one observes
that man belongs to the class of frugivorous mammals designated Anthropoidea.
The Family Hominidoe, Genus Homo exemplifies man, while
the immediately preceding family Simidoe, in the same Order,
includes the anthropoid ape viz. the Orang-utan, the Gorilla, and the
Chimpanzee. Because of the striking similarity of bodily structure and
function that these Simians bear to man they are very appropriately
called "anthropoid" i. e. man-like. The distinctiveness of
man, from these apes, depends merely upon certain minor details, of
little consequence, which are briefly given here.
Man has the specific privilege of building up ideas and
of guiding his conduct by ideals. The structural peculiarities that
attract attention are the erect position without drooping of the head
despite the heavier brain, increased command of the vocal mechanism,
planting the soles of the feet flat on the ground, the longer great
toes which are in line with the other toes, a better heel. arms shorter
than the legs, a bigger forehead, a loss protrusive face, smaller cheek
bones and supra-orbital ridges, a true chin and lastly a dentition (2123
as in the apes) with more uniform teeth, forming an uninterrupted horse-shoe,
without conspicuous canines ; the sigmoid.curvature of the spine is
most like that in the Chimpanzee. Man's bodily life is like that of
monkeys, both being subject to similar diseases. Various traits, gesture.
expression etc.. are paralleled among the apes, who have distinct societies
and combine in families for protection. None of the distinctions stated
above are momentous enough to be reckoned with. The similitude is all-pervading
and so they hail from the same zoological category.
These Simians are exclusively frugivorous by nature. Hence,
it stands to reason, that man being their contiguous neighbour ought
to follow the apes in the matter of food, and by so doing he can truly
get indirect natural sanction about his dietetic regime as apes instinctively
obtain directly from Dame Nature. This will do away with his experimentation
with one clean sweep.
The fruits themselves have a lesson to teach. These quality
foods of Nature, provided by her in a sterile package, are so inviting
to the human senses of sight, smell and taste, that, recalling even
a single previous experience, the mouth begins to water on hearing their
very name due to excitation of the nerves of taste by the memory of
the variegated pleasing colours, the luscious tastes, and the exhilarating
aroma associated with them. This prompting, in other words, is a mute
call to man to enjoy his natural food and ensure a sound mind in a sound
body. Bounteous Nature has showered an infinite variety of fruits in
the shape of cereals, drupes, pods, berries, pomes, nuts etc. that can
and do meet all the requirements of a balanced diet in a harmless way
The evidence regarding man's being a herbivorous rational
animal, not a carnivore, is overwhelming. Herbivora and carnivora are
poles apart in their bodily structure and function, and man is akin
to the former and not to the latter. Suffice it to say that man has
not been equipped by Nature to follow the carnivore's footsteps.
Physiologically speaking a fruitarian diet, besides providing a balanced menu, is absolutely free from the effete matter resulting from rnetabolic activity of the animal mind abounding in its flesh, and hence it obviates the extra burden which is thrown upon the excretory mechanism of the flesh-eater to dispose of such noxious residues. These, if retained in the body due to defective excretion, set up various disorders which cause self-imposed suffering.
Corroborative proof of the wholesomess of a fruit diet has been afforded by the statistics of a dietetic survey carried out by scientists to pick out the healthiest race extant on this planet and the nature of the food habitually consumed by its people. The race that came up to the standard was found in the Hunza Valley which lies in the north of Kashmir. The staple diet of these people consisted of fruits and milk.
The economic point of view has been dealt with, equally favourably, by Western agronomists who have established that (1) ten times more cereals, and (2) hundred times more vegetable crops, can be raised from the same acreage as is taken up by animal grazing for meat production, and (3) that animals consume five to ten times the quantity of food required to feed human beings, and even then as many as two-thirds of the lot have, at times, to be rejected on account of being diseased, so that ultimately the whole affair is highly wasteful in comparison.
To silence all arguments advanced for a meat diet the most undebateable one is that the vegetable is the fountain-head from which meat springs.
With so many feathers to adorn its cap, a fruitarian diet is the diet, par excellence, to be coveted by mankind in contradistinction to one obtained by annihilating innocent sub-human kith and kin as eminently useful as man himself.