Vivekananda on Meat-eating
vegetarian diet I have to say this - first, my Master was
a vegetarian; but if he was given meat offered to the Goddess,
he used to hold it up to his head. The taking of life is undoubtedly
sinful; but so long as vegetable food is not made suitable
to the human system through progress in chemistry, there is
no other alternative but meat-eating. So long as man shall
have to live a Rajasika (active) life under circumstances
like the present, there is no other way except through meat-eating.
It is true that the Emperor Asoka saved the lives of millions
of animals, by the threat of the sword; but is not the slavery
of a thousand years more dreadful than that? Taking the life
of a few goats as against the inability to protect the honour
of one’s own wife and daughter, and to save the morsels for
one’s children from robbing hands - which of these is more
sinful? Rather let those belonging to the upper ten, who do
not earn their livelihood by manual labour, not take meat;
but the forcing of vegetarianism upon those who have to earn
their bread by labouring day and night is one of the causes
of the loss of our national freedom. Japan is an example of
what good and nourishing food can do.
Complete Works, 4.486-7
liking for fish and meat disappears when pure Sattva is highly
developed, and these are the signs of its manifestation in
a soul: sacrifice of everything for others, perfect non-attachment
to lust and wealth, want of pride and egotism. The desire
for animal food goes when these things are seen in a man.
And where such indications are absent, and yet you find men
siding with the nonkilling party, know it for a certainty
that here there is either hypocrisy or a show of religion.