We have many people insisting to take only vegan diet and they distaste non-vegan food giving various explanations. The reasons vary in their point of issue from religion to health. I have been studying this topic since a very long time and here I wish to put my findings on both points, religion and health.
First we shall see health point as I believe that is more important a point of issue than religion however, some people consider religion point is as important.
Amongst Indians, Jains is a big group of people who insist for vegan food exclusively as a part of their philosophy of non-violence. Therefore, we shall see what happens to them due to this vegan food exclusively. Next to them are Brahman people group, who are converted to vegan diet after their mentor Adi Sankar was defeated by a Jain scholar Mandan Misra (with help from his wife) from Gujarat. The terms of condition were such that if Brahman win the argument Jains will forgo Jainism and embraces Brahmanism (Sanatan Dharma) and if Brahman lose to Jains they shall accept superiority of Jainism over Brahmanism and abide by the conditions Jains put to them. Adi Sankar was defeated by Mandan Misra's wife though Mandan Misra was earlier defeated by Adi Sankar. Technically Adi was defeated and so he and his followers accepted Jain superiority in part and for that his followers switched over to veganism. Not all Brahman were his followers they continued to take non-vegan food. Kashmiri Smarta Brahman, Bengali Kali worshippers, Saraswat Brahman, Shenvi or Gaud Saraswat Brahman, Devadnya Brahman are some to mention here are not followers of Adi and so they are non-vegan until today.
Both these groups are very honest in keeping their promise and so Brahmans of Adi Sankar are practicing vegan diet since then. Interestingly, I found that most Brahmans do not know why they are vegan. A study by imminent doctors shows that pure vegan diet is not healthy diet, see following findings.
Jain people visit a pious place called Palitan situated in prabhas pattan in Gujarat. Visiting that place is considered as a very pious act by the Jains. Visiting that place involves climbing the hill seven to eight times and for that they have to first climb and then alight, continuing it in quick successions. It is observed that 30% pilgrims those who do this pilgrimage of Palitan develop kidney failure. Lack of animal protein in their diet is considered to be the reason for it. Moreover, Jain people are not designed to do hard work, they are generally occupying work that does not need hard work while this pilgrimage involves hard work of climbing and that too in quick successions. One renowned medial professional Dr. Umesh Khanna told that in addition to regular exercise, if they take animal proteins in their food it will be better; alas this advise is not acceptable to Jains as they are madly fanatic about vegan food. It has been observed that in this community complains of back pain at much earlier age is common. Dry food, oily and food with much fat is very common amongst these communities. This diet causes increase in adiposity and that leads to complains of knee pain, back pains, uneasiness and restlessness. In women of these vegan communities we often see complain of anemic bones. Medical officers suggest them to take (animal) protein diet but they instead of taking animal protein prefer to take pulses and unduly extra intake of vegetable protein cause further complications. This is because while our digestive system is naturally designed to digest animal proteins (humans are hunters and so naturally meat eaters) obesity becomes the end result. Vegetable proteins while being digested some undue toxins are produced as a bye product in our digestive system. They are duly absorbed in blood and eventually they are removed in kidneys. Because these toxins are not a part of our system removing them on regular basis puts additional pressure on kidneys and quite often this causes kidney failures. They become dysfunctional. Ultimately persons have to take to dialysis. A very expensive treatment. Particularly soybean proteins are very dangerous but somebody has popularized them as a suitable alternative to animal proteins and so Jains as well as Brahmans prefer that to animal protein as a suitable substitute for animal proteins. Experts insist that if soybean is added it must be predigested before used in cooking food preparations. However, we experience that most time soybean seeds are not precooked at very high temperatures before grinding. Unless it is done raw soybean is consumed by cooking it without precooking and that makes it very dangerous for those who consume it regularly. If we have to use soybean we must make it a compulsory rule that only predigested seeds are made available to consumers in the market. Today these seeds are available in raw condition. If this care is taken soybean is good alternative for animal proteins, they admitted.
Cholesterol means blood fat. When we digest food digestive system converts some carbohydrates and fats from food into human compatible fat. This fat in very micro sized particle form floats in our blood and travels to many parts of our body. So long as they are traveling properly every thing is alright; but when blood veins become rough from inside these fat particles get stuck up in that roughness and when that becomes a common affair we say that we have cholesterol problem. Due to this blood veins get clogged and ofter cause failure of blood supply to many parts of our body. This causes many disorders in our body culminating in some very serious illnesses. Dr. Dwight Lundell has proved that cholesterol is more connected with consumption of excessive sugar and starchy food and very little to do with oil (any Omega) consumption, see my post on siliconindia blog of 10th July 2014 for more details.
Vegetable proteins cause formation of toxins (cytokinins, they are needed for plants but bad for us) as mentioned earlier, these toxins along with some other sugars (sucrose) cause this roughness. Too much sugar inputs in our food is responsible for cholesterol. For sweet food we should prefer fruit sugars to common sugar. Today people avoid oils to save from cholesterol and continue food full of starch and sugar.
Amongst Jains they have a delicacy prepared by adding pudina (mint), a spicy leaf, to butter milk. They fondly call it Jain beer. Taking regularly this butter milk is not good for health but Jains do not know it. For healthy diet Jains prefer pulses of protein and carbohydrates or starch food for supply of energy. Both of them in large quantity cause development of many toxins because basically our digestive system is not suitable for converting them to human compatible proteins and energy. Small quantity of these vegetable products are good but when we depend on them for all our need for protein and energy they cause many disorders in our body, nevertheless, we do not understand it so much so that we continue to take it inviting many disorders. For example, we take wheat products regularly with no concern for the bad effects of gluten in our intestines. If somebody says, do not take bread, roti and such wheat products, nobody will accept it but that is the need for good health. Our present diet is not suitable for nature and so we have many health problems. Nevertheless, Jains and Brahmans take a lot of milk and milk products and we should understand that they are surviving because of this non-vegan diet. If they do not consume milk and milk products their health will deteriorate much faster. Some Jains have also begun to eat eggs from poultry farms, that is a good sign and that will help them keep better health. We see some Jains under pressure from their munis try to practice veganism fanatically. That is not good for them. We should understand that we cannot cross borders laid down by Nature, we should follow it without making prestige issue of food habits.
In non vegan diet, we prefer animal proteins to supply our proteins and fats to supply energy to our body. It is appreciated by all medical professionals that a proper mix of both diets is the answer to our food problem. Neither total non vegan or vegan food is suitable for humans. Unfortunately, we have a habit of making prestige issues of food and so we shall never be able to understand that both types of food is best suitable for good health. By god, we are designed to take both vegan as well as non vegan food in proper balance to keep ourself in good health. Exclusively vegan or exclusively or in excess non vegan food are not recommended by experts of this subject.
I feel we should not bring any religion in this, as religions were told by ignorant of health science but smart people many thousand years ago; and their Inapt imaginations about food we should not allow to over ride modern knowledge. We should take a note that Ayurveda does not recommend vegan diet. We must appreciate that at present we are more knowledgeable than all the prophets put together. We by now know that those prophets were ordinary people with smartness with which they created these religions. Concept of God has nothing to do with our food. If we see Hindu religion, all male gods were hunters and they are shown with arms of killing to do hunting that means, they are shown to be non vegan. As for Jainism they do not have any god though they pray before their Tirthankars as if they are gods! Sociologists have admitted that the massage of vegan diet was propagated because during the time of these Tirthankars much killing of animals was happening on the alter of yajnas by Brahman. Who were beef eaters in those Vedic period. To stop this over killing of animals they proposed vegan diet and so non veganism became taboo for good.
There are other things to be considered from Tantrik techniques of Shakta Hindu system. It may not be accepted by some however, it is one way of looking to food habits. In Tantra branch of Shakta practice to which I belong, vegan diet makes one spiritually weak so much so that bad spirits can take over one. That means, vegan diet makes one easy to beat by evil spirits and so evil spirits encourage vegan diet in humans so that they can control humans. In other religions evil spirits are called Satan or Devil. That means, eating exclusively vegan diet is not good for keeping bad spirits away. May be that is why all Hindu Gods are non vegan! There are many ways to justify vegan diet through the philosophy of non-violence (Ahinsa) but they are not correct as we cannot kill anybody as it is given in Gita by Krishna. It is not killing that matters, what matters is pain that precedes death. If there is no pain before death there is nothing wrong in death. A painless death to killed animal is the answer to this problem. Devil or Satan is not interested in painless kill, evil spirits need painful death but when that is not allowed to happen Devil or Satan is not satisfied. Killing animals for food is allowed in Aurveda also. Killing for pleasure or for nothing at all (just for fun) are considered evil but killing for food is allowed. Painless killing for food without cruelty is recommended. Modern technology provides for all the suitable means to afford a painless kill to animals.
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