Non-violence through vegetarianism
By Esther Williams
"The core of Buddhism is non-violence and this should be reflected in our diet. Since killing of animals amounts to violence, non-violence in diet is vegetarianism," says Founder President of the Pune-based Sarva Jeev Mangal Pratishthan ( 'reverence for all life') movement Dr.Kalyan Gangwal. Holidaying in Sri Lanka recently, he visited Kandy, Polonaruwa and Colombo to discuss this issue with priests in several temples.

Vegetarianism, he argues, has a scientific basis which accounts for why the whole world is going vegetarian. More importantly, many are being forced to become vegetarian for medical reasons. The human body is made for a vegetarian diet, Dr.Gangwal stresses. Our teeth, intestinal tract, gut, saliva, secretions of different glands are all meant to digest vegetarian food.

"Scientists probing the secrets of the immune system have found that healthful diet, physical fitness and a positive emotional state of mind stimulate and strengthen the body's immune system, while illness, drugs, improper diet and excessive stress can depress and weaken it," he says.

Food therefore has an effect on one's mind, emotions, feelings and behaviour. While Tamas (non-vegetarian) food invokes feelings of anger and violence, Satvik (vegetarian) food leads to calmness which is good for meditation, he says. Reports indicate that excessive consumption of meat leads to cancer and heart disease as it contains cholesterol, saturated fatty acids and no fibre. Meat eating is also linked to many other diseases such as high BP, gallstones, osteoporosis, diabetes, asthma, etc. Besides, there are toxins in all flesh and by eating meat, man is simply adding other toxins to those which his own body generates placing a heavy burden on the heart, liver, kidney, lungs, etc.

Every time he travels, Dr. Gangwal passes on this message of good health which is to be close to nature and live by the laws of nature. "Our bodies often tell us that we are meant for vegetarian food," says this champion of vegetarianism.

The movement he founded in India has protested actively against fast food chains such as McDonalds and KFC. It has a following of some 50-60 lakhs of people in India, also leading to the formation of an Islamic vegetarian society.

Dr. Gangwal has authored many books on vegetarianism and religious practices. He is also the recipient of many national and international awards for his work in the field. He strives to dispel the myth that consumption of meat makes people strong or that non-vegetarian food has more nutritive value. "To live long, without suffering any illness, you need to go vegetarian," he stresses.

Back to Top  Back to Plus  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.