Monday, 03 May 2021 | Vir Singh
The state of our contemporary world is largely attributable to human food habits. As production, extraction, supplies, processing, preparation and consumption of foods is the largest human activity, its phenomenal impact on global environmental scenario is inevitable. The fate of the future to come is mostly to be written by our foods. Man is omnipresent on Earth. Humans have inhabited the areas where animals, trees, plants and even bacteria and viruses could not survive. Human species is a bigger consumer of the earth’s resources than all other millions of the species put together. Humans have monopolised all the rights to eat whatever is eatable on this planet. We are omnivorous. We devour everything we can, from fruits, grains, vegetables to birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and moths.
Our all innate species-specific characteristics reveal that human species has evolved as a vegetarian species. A human being is a vegetarian creature based on human morphology, anatomy and physiology. Humans cannot be compared to any carnivorous creature, whereas all herbivores are similar to us in many ways. Thus, eating meat and other non-vegetarian products by humans is in defiance of the nature’s laws. Furthermore, our digestive system cannot digest flesh directly, like it would in the case of carnivorous mammals. We have to process the flesh with heat treatment to convert it into meat. We cannot subjugate or kill our ‘prey’ with the help of our body parts, as a tiger, a wolf or a cat can do. A weapon has to be used to kill the intended prey.
Carnivores’ killing their prey by their physical abilities is in accordance with nature’s laws and in the process ecological balance is also implied. But it is very expensive to eat meat by human beings and the earth cannot tolerate it relentlessly. The carnivorous tendency of man is directly related to the ecological destruction. We know that foods on the earth are produced by green plants through photosynthesis. Therefore, foods obtainable from flora in nature are available in abundance.
Food energy in nature is limited despite the fact that its source- the solar energy, is infinite. The flow of energy from the first trophic (food) level of photosynthesizers to the higher trophic level of top carnivores is governed by a 10 per cent law according to which only about 10 per cent of the energy contained in one food level flows through the food chain to the next food level. This implies that if the energy at one food level of the food chain is exhausted, then the survival of the animals dependent on it is bound to be in jeopardy.
This ecological analysis leads to the conclusion that at the first food level (the plants), the dependent animals are the most stable and healthiest, and they cannot be threatened so long as photosynthesis persists; and photosynthesis will persist so long as green plants persist. On the contrary, the problem of existence of top carnivorous animals has become so deep that many of their species have become extinct and many, like lion, tiger, eagle, are on the verge of extinction. As they move away from photosynthesis for their dependence, crisis of their existence go on becoming deeper.
The energy of food, which governs our life, is ultimately the light of the sun. If we are vegetarian, then naturally we are based on abundance of light. As soon as we cease to be vegetarian, we deviate away from the abundance of light. In other words, all our consciousness is made by sunlight. The closer we are to photosynthesis for food, the more conscious and active we will be, the more intellectual abilities we will attain. If we are vegetarian, we are saving more energy on earth, we are dependent on the most renewable resources of nature (plants), we are directly dependent on the first action of light to transform itself into life: the photosynthesis. And above all, if we are vegetarian then we are close to the ultimate power of this world—the sun.
All animals eat according to their natural instincts. They have no alternate choice. A tiger will die, but cannot eat grass. A cow would prefer death than compromise with its eating habits. An elephant cannot opt for fish or chicken or pork or mutton. But humans compromised their fundamental nature and took control over all the food sources, even those meant for other species. According to its natural development, man is not born to eat everything, but is born to be vegetarian. Being vegetarian means getting your nutrition from the immense biodiversity of nature. For the non-vegetarians, there are only a few animals for their food, while for the vegetarians there are thousands of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, including all cultivated crops from which they can choose their food and enjoy the biodiversity of the earth.
About 5,000 years ago we used to derive our foods from about 5,000 types of plants. The variety of food-providing plants has shrunk today, but we still have a plethora of vegetarian options. When we connect directly with photosynthesis through a variety of plant-based foods, we absorb the seven colors of light and get the blessing of the power of the sun.
The biggest mantra in Coronavirus pandemic is our immunity. Well-nourished vegetarians certainly have immunity much higher than that of non-vegetarians. The variety of tastes of foods synthesised with colourful light and their pleasing aroma awaken our sense of humanity and our psyche, physical and intellectual abilities, our aesthetics and emotional strength, giving our soul the utmost fulfillment.
The famous English writer George Bernard Shaw once said: “My stomach is not a graveyard of dead animals.” Non-vegetarians are to blame for the violence and torture of animals slaughtered for consuming meat. Hormones produced in animals resorted to violence also cause a tendency for violence in humans. Vegetarianism is not just a mode of nutrition, but a philosophy in itself—the philosophy of ecological justice.
(The author is a former professor of Environmental Science in GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology)