What is Vegetarianism ?

By editor - 20.11 2023

A very simple question but so many people seem to get it wrong. Some even seem to think eggs are a vegetable or a fruit or "given naturally" and then okay to eat, some even think fish are part of a vegetarian diet - fruit of the sea.......  There are some funny ideas out there, so we will try to clean them up and give some practical assistance herein.

(Eggs are NOT vegetarian - read this important article)

Vegetarianism as wholistic:
The word vegetarian, coined by the founders of the British Vegetarian Society in 1847, comes from the Latin word vegetus, meaning "whole, sound, fresh, or lively," as in homo vegetus - a mentally and physically vigorous person.  The term 'Vegetarian' was coined in 1847. It was first formally used on September 30th of that year by Joseph Brotherton and others, at Northwood Villa in Kent, England. The occasion being the inaugural meeting of the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom.

The original meaning of the word implies a balanced philosophical and moral sense of life, based on a sustainable culture, implying a lot more than just a diet of vegetables and fruits.

Prior to 1847, non-meat eaters were generally known as 'Pythagoreans' or adherents of the 'Pythagorean System', after the ancient Greek 'vegetarian' Pythagoras.

The original definition of 'vegetarian' was "with or without eggs or dairy products" and that definition is still used by the Vegetarian Society today. However, most vegetarians in India exclude eggs from their diet as did those in the classical Mediterranean lands, such as Pythagoras did due to their being either the waste by product of the bird's menstrual cycle, or a living being.

Most vegetarians are people who have understood that to contribute towards a more peaceful society we must first solve the problem of violence in our own hearts. So it's not surprising that thousands of people from all walks of life have, in their search for truth, become vegetarian.

General Misconceptions on Vegetarianism:
I think in my experience the biggest misconception that carnivores and omnivores have is that suddenly one becomes limited to eating the two veg after the meat had been taken away. Actually this couldn't be further from the truth. There are hundreds of vegetables, fruits, grains, combinations of flours, nuts, beans, ghee, milk products, yogurt, cheese, etc., to choose from.
    The bottom line in vegetarianism is to have a well balanced sensible healthy diet.. From one person to another that may vary due to different natures, different work or even different climatic situations, or cultures, but a basic balance can be applied that can easily be applied to allow all those of us with a human body to live a healthy, happy, peaceful life in harmony with those around us.

VEGETARIAN FOOD PYRAMID: A couple of months ago, I reviewed Food Politics by Marion Nestle. One of the chapters I found interesting was about the USDA Food Pyramid, and how it is a product of special interests and agri-business lobbying. Vegetarian and vegan food pyramids seem to be more based on common sense, and readers may be interested in comparing those to the mainstream pyramid. You’ll find the Vegetarian Pyramid and Vegan Pyramid on Vesanto Melina’s web site, Nutrispeak.com: (from the "In a Vegetarian Kitchen" - http://www.vegkitchen.com - Issue #22- Oct. 2002)

Vegetarian: htp://www.nutrispeak.com/vegetarianpyramid.htm
Vegan: http://www.nutrispeak.com/veganpyramid.htm

The meat-eaters keep changing their pyramid every few years. Presently they are now influenced by the latest research from Harvard (March 2003) and even within their research they over and over again mention that there's a need to take lots of fibre such as whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables etc. Makes you wonder why they bother with their strange unnatural life-style. Presently the New Zealand Consumer magazine is carrying the research article, if you have time to waste, or would just like to re-confirm our position it does make some useful reading. Remember, it is an article written by meat-eaters for meat-eaters, and the research was done on meat-eater - could say that was a little biased............but that's the way they do things.

Vegetarianism and Beyond:
The devotees in the Hare Krishna movement, understand that the ultimate perfection of a vegetarian diet is to eat food offered first in sacrifice of love to the Lord.  After all, even many animals such as the elephant, the cow, the horse are also vegetarian. Just to be vegetarian doesn't necessarily make one a spiritual person.

According to the laws of Karma, (nature's laws of action and reaction) human beings are held responsible for any act of violence on any living being. Each scripture in the world mentions to minimize our own needs, and to lessen the burden on others. As well as the fact that everything is His in the first place, if we do not show rightful recognition of ownership, and appreciation for all that He has given us, and then do as He requests, are we not like thieves? For this reason, out of love and appreciation, in devotion we offer what the Lord asks of us. In Bhagavad Gita (9.26) He says, "If one offers me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or some water I will accept that." As anyone who has come in contact with us before will tell, this sanctified offering of foodstuffs called prasadam, or mercy, is then distributed to the full satisfaction of the receiver, to be enjoyed without karmic reaction.