VEGETARIANISM & CONSCIOUSNESS
I consider the degree to which vegetarianism has been embraced by a culture to be an excellent indicator of the extent of its evolution. Refusing to kill animals for food demonstrates the ethical progress and humanity of a civilisation.
In India, vegetarian food is widely considered to be the best – a mark of the great advance of consciousness that took place here many centuries ago.
(Of course, we also see contradictions: social injustice, exploitation, corruption and environmental damage – but we shall deal with these another time)…
The concept "Pure Vegetarian" is common here. It generally means no meat, fish or eggs, though it sometimes also excludes onions, garlic and mushrooms – foods that are considered to create imbalance in the body and cloud the mind.
It is interesting that the term "Non-Vegetarian" is usually used to convey that a particular food or restaurant uses meat. Such terminology puts the emphasis on vegetarian being the norm, rather than the other way around.
Green spots are used on packaging and menus as an indication of "Pure Veg" foods and red spots for "Non-Veg" foods:
CONSUMED BY THE WEST
However, out of hunger for the material development of the West, India seems to be short-sightedly abandoning many of its finer qualities. These days, meat is being promoted as a glamourous and prestigious food for the up-and-coming generation. Wildly inaccurate campaigns are used to push the "non-vegetarian diet" on a population that has lived as vegetarians for literally thousands of years.
The fallout from this move has started to appear – obesity, heart disease and cancers were previously unknown, but are now taking root in the big cities.
INTO THE FUTURE
Let us hope that India’s age-old tradition of vegetarianism can resist the pressure to conform to an increasingly homogenous global pseudo-culture. The world needs great moral leadership, not more of the same.