Why are Sikhs vegetarians?

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Negative affect on mind and body

Sikh’s do no eat meat, fish or eggs because such foods cause spiritual instability and have negative affects on the mind, spirit and body.

ਬਾਬਾ ਹੋਰੁ ਖਾਣਾ ਖੁਸੀ ਖੁਆਰੁ ॥
ਜਿਤੁ ਖਾਧੈ ਤਨੁ ਪੀੜੀਐ ਮਨ ਮਹਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਵਿਕਾਰ ॥1॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
“O Baba, the pleasures of other foods are false by eating which is unhealthy for the body and negativity enters into the mind. ||1||Pause and reflect||”
(Ang 16)

A few of the many health benefits of being Vegetarian:

  • Vegetarians have a 20% lower rate of mortality from all causes (ie. they live longer & don’t get sick as often)
  • Meat is full of traces of antibiotics, hormones, toxins produced by stress & pesticide residues that become concentrated from all the crops they have eaten
  • Vegetarians have 24% reduced risk of getting heart disease & Vegans a 57% reduction (heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK accounting for 50% of deaths)
  • Vegans & vegetarians have lower blood pressure & cholesterol levels – high levels are associated with heart disease, strokes & kidney failure
  • Vegetarians have a 50% reduced risk of dying of diabetes
  • Vegetarians have a 40% reduced level of cancer than the general population thought to be because they have a higher intake of vitamins A,C & E
  • Vegetarians have a reduced risk of developing gall & kidney stones
  • 80% of food poisoning is due to infected meat (feces, bacteria etc.) after all meat is decomposing flesh – most of the rest is due to salmonella in eggs
  • Meat eaters have double the rate of Alzheimer’s disease as Vegans & Vegetarians – some people also think that Parkinson’s disease is also linked to meat eating
  • Meat eaters are two and a half times more likely to get bowel cancer than Vegetarians

A pure vegetarian meal served to visitors at the Gurdwara.

Avoiding tyranny and violence

ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੁ ਕੀਆ ਸੋ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਲੇਇ ਜਬਾਬੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ॥
ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਨੀਕਸੈ ਮਾਰ ਮੁਹੈ ਮੁਹਿ ਖਾਇ ॥੨੦੦॥
“O Kabeer! It is tyranny to use force and kill; the Lord shall call you to account. When your account is called for, your face and mouth shall be beaten. ||200||”
(SGGS – Ang 1375)

Eating any food obtained through tyranny, violence and oppression is considered sinful for a Sikh to eat and therefore killing animals for the purpose of eating them is considered a sin.


Video of animals screaming and crying out in a slaughterhouse:

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Animals being violently murdered for the sake of  satisfying human appetite:

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Gurbani says:

ਜੀਅ ਬਧਹੁ ਸੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਅਧਰਮੁ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਤ ਭਾਈ ॥
ਆਪਸ ਕਉ ਮੁਨਿਵਰ ਕਰਿ ਥਾਪਹੁ ਕਾ ਕਉ ਕਹਹੁ ਕਸਾਈ ॥2॥
“You kill living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what would you call an unrighteous action? If you religious people are doing “religious” killing for meat, then what is A-dharam (atheism)? If you are a religious person then whom will we call a butcher? ||2||”
(Ang 1103)

ਕਬੀਰ ਜੋਰੀ ਕੀਏ ਜੁਲਮੁ ਹੈ ਕਹਤਾ ਨਾਉ ਹਲਾਲੁ ॥
ਦਫਤਰਿ ਲੇਖਾ ਮਾਂਗੀਐ ਤਬ ਹੋਇਗੋ ਕਉਨੁ ਹਵਾਲੁ ॥੧੮੭॥
“O Kabeer! Those that use force and kill and call it lawful (halaal), after going to the Court of God, what will be their state? ||187||

(SGGS – Ang 1374)

ਕਬੀਰ ਖੂਬੁ ਖਾਨਾ ਖੀਚਰੀ ਜਾ ਮਹਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਲੋਨੁ ॥
ਹੇਰਾ ਰੋਟੀ ਕਾਰਨੇ ਗਲਾ ਕਟਾਵੈ ਕਉਨੁ ॥੧੮੮॥
“O Kabeer! (Despite the Mullah justifies eating meat with the excuse of sacrificing it to God,) the dinner of beans and rice is excellent, if it is (just) flavoured with salt. I am not ready to have my own throat cut to have meat with my bread? ||188||”
(SGGS – Ang 1374)

Compassion

Compassion evaporates when one butchers and eats meat. A carrot may have life but it will never run away screaming when you go to the garden to get it. Guru Sahib is clear in Gurbani that life must sustain itself on life. There is no lack of mercy or daya (mercy) exercised when cutting a vegetable as it does not reacts to being cut. Contrast that with animals. These animals beg and cry and little calves cling to their mothers in terror when they sense they will be slaughtered.

Gurbani says:

ਅਠਸਠਿ ਤੀਰਥ ਸਗਲ ਪੁੰਨ ਜੀਅ ਦਇਆ ਪਰਵਾਨੁ ॥
“Rather than bathing at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage and the giving of charity – the most meritorious act that will be accepted by the Lord is showing compassion to all beings.”
(Ang 136)

ਦੂਖੁ ਨ ਦੇਈ ਕਿਸੈ ਜੀਅ ਪਤਿ ਸਿਉ ਘਰਿ ਜਾਵਉ ॥
“Do not cause any being to suffer, and you shall go to your true home with honor.”
(Ang 322)

ਜੇ ਰਤੁ ਲਗੈ ਕਪੜੈ ਜਾਮਾ ਹੋਇ ਪਲੀਤੁ ॥
ਜੋ ਰਤੁ ਪੀਵਹਿ ਮਾਣਸਾ ਤਿਨ ਕਿਉ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਚੀਤੁ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਨਾਉ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਾ ਦਿਲਿ ਹਛੈ ਮੁਖਿ ਲੇਹੁ ॥
ਅਵਰਿ ਦਿਵਾਜੇ ਦੁਨੀ ਕੇ ਝੂਠੇ ਅਮਲ ਕਰੇਹੁ ॥੧॥
“If one’s clothes are stained with blood, the garment becomes polluted. Those who drink the blood of others – how can those people’s consciousness be pure?”
(Ang 140)

Guru Nanak Dev Ji simply tells us that if blood stains our clothes are clothes become dirty and polluted, and the mind’s of the people who drink blood also becomes dirty. Therefore, blood is considered as unpleasant thing to drink. Blood can be obtained be killing any living being – whether man or animal through butchery, torture or slaughter. Guru Ji tells us that a cold-hearted person cannot maintain a pure mind, only a compassionate person can have a pure mind.

Plants have no nervous system. Plants are a life form that can’t feel pain – animals are not as such. The word “gardener” has no pejorative connotation. The word “butcher” on the other hand stands for someone who has no mercy. If one’s heart doesn’t melt at seeing the shrieks and anguish of animals, why would it matter when a human does the same? Why is it Muslims can do Halaal on humans? It’s because they have so much experience with animals that the jerking, gasping of dying animals and blood is something usual for them. A butcher will have the heart of a butcher. A butcher can never be a ‘Dharmee’ (spiritually pious) person.

ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਕਹਹੁ ਮਤ ਝੂਠੇ ਝੂਠਾ ਜੋ ਨ ਬਿਚਾਰੈ ॥
ਜਉ ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਏਕੁ ਖੁਦਾਇ ਕਹਤ ਹਉ ਤਉ ਕਿਉ ਮੁਰਗੀ ਮਾਰੈ ॥੧॥
ਮੁਲਾਂ ਕਹਹੁ ਨਿਆਉ ਖੁਦਾਈ ॥
ਤੇਰੇ ਮਨ ਕਾ ਭਰਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
“Call the religious ways of the Vedas and Semitic Books (Torah, Bible, Quran etc.) false, and one who does not realize this is also false. (O dear Mullah!) If you say that the One Lord is in all, so why do you kill chickens (as a sacrifice before that Lord)? (Does He not pervade in the chicken? What is the meaning of killing the creation of the Lord and presenting it before Him?) ||1|| O Mullah! Tell me: is this God’s Justice? The doubts of your mind have not been dispelled. ||1||Pause||”
(Ang 1350)

Conclusion

When Guru Nanak Dev Jee travelled to Kurukshetra he met some Vaishnav Pandits who were staunch vegetarians and had such a disgust for flesh that they hated even the word meat, yet they had little or none (Gurmat) wisdom and Bhagti (meditation). Guru Ji enlightened the hypocritical Pandits that it is foolish to start bitter controversy over meat, as one cannot know whether there is sin in flesh (ਮਾਸ) or vegetables (ਸਾਗ).

ਮਾਸੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਰਿ ਮੂਰਖੁ ਝਗੜੇ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਜਾਣੈ ॥
ਕਉਣੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਕਉਣੁ ਸਾਗੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ਕਿਸੁ ਮਹਿ ਪਾਪ ਸਮਾਣੇ ॥
“Only the fool quarrels over the question of eating or not eating of flesh. They do not have the True Wisdom. (Without True Wisdom they harp on) what is flesh and what is vegetable and which food is sinful and which is not.”
(Ang 1289-1290)

In the true sense neither meat or vegetables are condemnable or sinful in itself. Actually the commendable is the tyranny, violence and evil means adopted in the act of obtaining the meat, driven by one’s lustful palate and is, thus, a sinful act. Even vegetarian food obtained through foul means of bribery, extortion and exploitation is deplorable:

ਹਕੁ ਪਰਾਇਆ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਉਸੁ ਸੂਅਰ ਉਸੁ ਗਾਇ ||
“(Nanak) Grabbing the rightful share of others is like (a Muslim) eating pork and eating beef (for a Hindu).”
(Ang 141)

ਖੁਸਿ ਖੁਸਿ ਲੈਦਾ ਵਸਤੁ ਪਰਾਈ ||
ਵੇਖੈ ਸੁਣੇ ਤੇਰੈ ਨਾਲਿ ਖੁਦਾਈ ||
“You happily, cheerfully steal the possessions of others, but the Lord God is with you, constantly watching and listening.”
(Ang 1020)

Guru Nanak Dev Ji squezed the dry roti from the pious Bhai Lalo’s house and the fried Puri from the corrupt Malik Bhago’s house.

At Malik Bhago’s feast, Guru Nanak Dev Ji refused to eat any of the food because it was prepared through wealth snatched from the poor by force. When one kills the living beings for obtaining meat, the blood virtually flows out and the use of tyranny and oppression is obvious. Such an action is considered sinful according to Gurbani:

ਅਸੰਖ ਗਲਵਢ ਹਤਿਆ ਕਮਾਹਿ || ਅਸੰਖ ਪਾਪੀ ਪਾਪੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਾਹਿ ||
“Countless people are the cut-throats who commit murders. Numberless are the sinners, who go on committing this particular sin.”
(Ang 4)

Simply by avoiding meat as food no one can become holy person. One can become a religious person only by leading a pious life and simply by practising the rituals or by renouncing certain foods. Religion is far more deep and is about leading towards union with Vaheguru through Naam.

ਸਰਬ ਧਰਮ ਮਹਿ ਸ੍ਰੇਸਟ ਧਰਮੁ ||
ਹਰਿ ਕੋ ਨਾਮੁ ਜਪਿ ਨਿਰਮਲ ਕਰਮੁ ||
“Of all religions, the best religion is to chant the Name of the Lord and maintain pure conduct.”
(Ang 266)

Other virtuous deeds, for example truthful living, contentment, compassion, non-attachment, good will towards others etc, are very essential and noble qualities of a person. However,their grace is enhanced only alongside Naam-Simran just as a marriage party looks glorious only in the company of the bridgegroom. In fact, all these virtures come only from Naam-Simran and without Naam-Simran they lose their significance because in that case they tend to create ego.

It is important to cultivate one or more of the above mentioned virtues. However, one can become a fully religious person only if they adhere to Naam-Simran, the most important basis of all the virtues. Without Naam-Simran, all the other qualities are reduced to false show. If a zero is placed after any numeral, its value is increased, but all alone it is a mere zero.

ਹਰਿ ਬਿਨੁ ਅਵਰ ਕ੍ਰਿਆ ਬਿਰਥੇ ॥   ਜਪ ਤਪ ਸੰਜਮ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਣੇ ਇਹਿ ਓਰੈ ਮੂਸੇ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥   ਬਰਤ ਨੇਮ ਸੰਜਮ ਮਹਿ ਰਹਤਾ ਤਿਨ ਕਾ ਆਢੁ ਨ ਪਾਇਆ ॥   ਆਗੈ ਚਲਣੁ ਅਉਰੁ ਹੈ ਭਾਈ ਊਂਹਾ ਕਾਮਿ ਨ ਆਇਆ ॥੧॥
“Without meditating upon God (i.e. Naam-Simran), all other actions are useless. Mere lip recitation, penance, austere self-discipline and rituals are all snatched (as tax by Death) at the outset. ||1||Pause|| Fasting, daily rituals, and austere self-discipline – those who keep the practice of these cannot get even a penny in return. In the domain following death, the currency is different. These rituals are of no use at all there (in the True Court). ||1||”
(Ang 216)

Guru Ji condemned people’s hypocrisy who believed that just by being vegetarian alone they were holier or purer than others yet their other actions were just as equal as to eating meat:

ਮਾਸੁ ਛੋਡਿ ਬੈਸਿ ਨਕੁ ਪਕੜਹਿ ਰਾਤੀ ਮਾਣਸ ਖਾਣੇ ॥   ਫੜੁ ਕਰਿ ਲੋਕਾਂ ਨੋ ਦਿਖਲਾਵਹਿ ਗਿਆਨੁ ਧਿਆਨੁ ਨਹੀ ਸੂਝੈ ॥
“Those who renounce flesh and hold their noses sitting near it, devour men at night. They practice hypocrisy, and make a show before other people, but they do not understand anything about meditation or spiritual wisdom.”
(Ang 1290)

The source of holiness and piety is nothing else but NAAM. Without Naam-Simran one remains impure even if one performs all other so-called virtuous deeds specified above. Then, if a human being who is basically formed of blood and semen, contends that he is pious simply because of his avoidance of flesh and fish as food, that claim is absolutely false.

 

 

Related article:

Why is there a controversy in the Panth over eating meat?

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One Response to “Why are Sikhs vegetarians?”

  1. Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa !
    Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh !

    Vaheguru Ji Bless You all.

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