The spiritual reasons for being vegetarian

Roast Veggie Tart

I became a vegetarian when I joined the Sri Chinmoy Centre. Sri Chinmoy asks his students to be vegetarian for their spiritual development:

If a seeker does not stop eating meat, generally he does not get subtle experiences, subtle visions or subtle realisations… the mild qualities of fruits and vegetables help us to establish, in our inner life as well as in our outer life, the qualities of sweetness, softness, simplicity and purity.” 

Sri Chinmoy 1

Green Salad
Notbacon and egg pies

So there you have it. I became a vegetarian in 1991, cold turkey, just like that. And to my surprise I never looked back! I gave it a go to see how long I would last before cravings for meat overtook me – arising from some mad dietary imbalance – however none have yet, and it has been more than 20 years since I started.

One of the most common questions that I get quizzed about by people who are not vegetarian is: “Where do you get your protein from?” Of course the answer is that I get it from my food. The 20 or so amino acids that make up a full complement of proteins are everywhere – my favourite response to that question comes from Sherry Brescia, who states: “Have you ever seen a protein-deficient cow? I haven’t – and all they eat is grass!”

Blue Cheese and Caramelised Onion Galettes in a Hazelnut Pastry Case

What’s more, in vegetarian food the amino acids are far more available and in a readily digestible state than in animal flesh – whatever you eat you have to break down, no matter what form it is in, and the process of breaking down animal tissues causes the body far more harm than the process of breaking down plant tissues.

But each to their own.

Vegan Chocolate Cake
Toshala giving a Becoming Vegetarian workshop upstairs at The Blue Bird

I owned The Blue Bird vegetarian cafe for many years, and I would offer general introductory workshops in vegetarianism to those who are either interested in becoming vegetarian (for whatever reasons – be it for better health or global awareness or humanitarian reasons or spiritual or because the food is tasty, or anything), or who are just interested in what we eat and would like to try some. People came away from the workshop unanimously liking the samples of vegetarian food offered during it. Which is very satisfying.

  • 1. Excerpts from Meditation: Man-Perfection in God-Satisfaction