Why Hinduism promotes Vegetarianism?
True Hindus see themselves as an embodiment of Divinity. The very acquisition of this human body is possible only by the hands of Providence, and therefore it is an integral part of His cosmic master plan. Our body is a vehicle and a forum by which the soul has a unique opportunity to move to the highest and most desired state of existence. The maintenance and general management of this vehicle, the human body, is a function of both our physiological and intellectual need. The choices which we make today to satisfy those needs will determine what changes will be resulted tomorrow. One of those choices is the things we eat.
Because we are an embodiment of Divinity, our actions subscribe to this purpose. Our food then is an offering to God. It is called “Prasad”. We offer food which is “satvik” or pure in nature and this connotes “ahimsaa” or non-violence in it’s truest meaning.
It is important to note that Lord Shri Krishna indicated in the Bhagwat Gita that “Whatever a devotee offers to me, be it a fruit, a leaf or water, I accept that, the devotion at heart”. In our daily lives we seem to fall short in the explicit meaning in this instruction, for we either do not seek hard enough to acquire the things for offering, or we simple do not care for those sacrifices ourselves. Bhagwan Krishna meant that only after all the necessary efforts have been exhausted and the devote still cannot find suitable items for prasad, then the offering of the available materials, will He accept as Prasad. Why? Because the penance of acquisition sanctified those items. This penance is exemplified by Shri Ram who although a king, equipped with bows and arrows while in exile, eat herbs and roots as being appropriate to the occasion.
Enshrined in the meaning of “...devotion at heart” also, is the thought process of the devotee himself. The devotee do not involve in the injury of others, for he or she experience the probable pain and suffering that entity (animals) go through at the time of death. While all living things will probably go through this experience, what is offered as food are those things which will experience the least pain and suffering. In fact, the Shiva Purana states that a devotee of Shiva does not even commit a mental offence or injury. Bhagwan Shiva is seen in meditation most of the time to exemplify the need for tranquility of the mind.
The pain and suffering at the time of death is indeed an experience shared by all the cells of the body. The scientific community is aware that those memories can remain in the cell even after the body has become void of life as we know it. When another being (humans) consume those cells as food, those memories are consumed as well. By genetic mutation those cells becomes us and with the passage of time we ourselves are changed. Therefore, we (mankind) are not the same today as we were centuries ago. Indeed, humans have evolved and will continue to evolve. The question now is "How do I want to be evolved?" By eating and living according tot the ordinance of the Bhagwat Gita, we can all realize the cherished dream of Moksha or eternal bliss!