The Vegan Way – not just being a Hindu
October 1 was World Vegetarian Day, which, since 1977, has been annually observed. It is a day of celebration, medically and religiously, which was established by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977, and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978. The noble purpose is: “ To promote the joy, compassion and lifeenhancing possibilities of vegetarianism.” World Vegetarian Day initiates the month of October as Vegetarian Awareness Month, which ends on November 1. This day, and even period, coincides with a special period in the Hindu calendar, Navaratri.
Navaratri is the Hindu festival of worship. In Sanskrit, the word Navaratri literally means nine nights ; nava meaning nine, and ratri, nights. So the celebration literally means “ nine nights”. During this festival, the many forms of Shakti are worshipped, as devotees abstain from eating meat. Thus one has a remarkable opportunity to combine religion with solid scientific facts. As a caveat, one should be cognisant of the fact that many Hindu texts evince amazing scientific realities that are only now being discovered and ratified.
World Vegetarian Day is an encouragement to all for the eating of vegetables and fruits. Countless studies have proven that a diet filled with fruits and vegetables is salubrious to human health. Vegetarians have taken this path either for their health, or from a religious conviction that they should not eat meat. So one has valid reasons to ‘ up the ante’ on vegetarianism. The bottom line is that a vegetarian eats no animal. That includes fish and other forms of seafood. Their diet consists of plants, fruits and vegetables. They usually are also ethically and morally opposed to the killing of animals for food.
World Vegetarian Day, and by extension the period, is used to promote awareness of this diet and health issues, and thus people are encouraged to become vegetarians.
Since fruits and vegetables are very healthy for the human body, World Vegetarian Day is a good day to experiment with a vegetarian diet, irrespective of religious persuasion.
So one has that obvious question – what do vegetarians eat? The options are diverse. The diet may include grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits, and the nearly infinite number of foods made by combining these. And so this prompts the question of validity. The big issue here is to establish whether or not human beings are anatomically more similar to natural herbivores than they are to natural carnivores. A number of striking differences suffice here for proffering a vegan lifestyle.
In terms of the length of the intestinal tract, carnivorous animals have intestinal tracts that are three to six times their body lengths. On the other hand, herbivores have intestinal tracts 10- 12 times the lengths of their bodies. Human beings have the same intestinal tract ratio as herbivores.
When it comes to stomach acidity, carnivores’ stomachs are 20 times more acidic than the stomachs of herbivores.
Human stomach acidity matches that of herbivores. This is related quite closely to the saliva of both groups. The saliva from carnivores is acidic, while that of herbivores is alkaline.
This difference is what helps to digest plant foods; and as expected, human saliva is alkaline, a natural preparatory factor in anticipation of no- meat diets.
Again, staying with the intestines alone, carnivores’ bowels are smooth and pipe- shaped, so rapid meat passing is facilitated. However, herbivorous intestines are bumpy, pouch- like and pocket filled, so plant foods pass through in a strategically slow manner for optimal nutrient absorption.
No surprise again here – human bowels have the same characteristics as those of herbivores.
Carnivores don’t require fibre to help move food through their short and smooth digestive tracts. Herbivores require dietary fibre to move food through their long and bumpy digestive tracts, to prevent the bowels from becoming clogged with rotting food. Here, yet again, human beings manifest similarity with herbivores.
In the all- important category of cholesterol, the factor is negated for carnivores’ digestive systems. Carnivores such as cats can handle a high- cholesterol diet without any negative health consequences. Human beings just cannot do that.
Humans have zero dietary need for cholesterol because their bodies manufacture all that is needed. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods; never in plant foods. A plantbased diet is by definition cholesterol- free. So there is a logical conclusion, and just by looking at the alimentary canal the picture is graphic: human beings are anatomically and dietetically suited to be herbivores. So whatever reason human beings have, religion, specifically Hinduism, or science and biology, there is validity in vegetarianism.