Vegetarian eating: Food for the Inner Quest
Once you start meditating, you become conscious of things affecting your state of well-being that you previously were unaware of, including what you eat. Sri Chinmoy asks those who would like to become his students to move away from eating meat, to avoid taking in the restless and agressive qualities it embodies.
Spirituality and vegetarian eating
Questions answered by Sri Chinmoy
Question: What role does a vegetarian diet play in your teachings?
Sri Chinmoy: In my teachings the vegetarian diet plays a most important role. In order to become pure, a vegetarian diet helps us considerably. Purity is of paramount importance in our spiritual life. This purity we must establish in the physical, the vital and the mental. When we eat meat, fish and so forth, the aggressive, animal consciousness enters into us. Our nerves become agitated; we unconsciously become restless and aggressive. The mild qualities of vegetables, on the other hand, help us to establish in our inner life as well as in our outer life, the qualities of sweetness, softness, simplicity and purity.
But again, if you ask me whether by becoming a strict vegetarian you can realise God or not, then I would say “No,” a definite “No.” There are millions and millions of people on earth who are strict vegetarians, but I don’t think there are millions and millions of God-realised souls on earth. For God-realisation we need aspiration. But in answering your question, I wish to say that it is always advisable, if possible, to have a vegetarian diet in order to further one’s progress in the inner discipline, so that one can feel that even the body, with its purity, can help one’s inner aspiration to become more intense and more soulful.
So a vegetarian diet is not necessary in order to realise God?
Sri Chinmoy: Just by becoming a vegetarian one will not realise God. It is impossible! Many people have followed strict vegetarian diets, but there are not very many people on earth who have realised God. In India all widows of respectable families are supposed to be vegetarians. But if you count all Indian widows, you will not find many God-realised souls among them. Unless these women pray and meditate most sincerely and devotedly, they will make very little spiritual progress.
If you stop eating fish and meat you will not realise God overnight. Far from it! You must not expect such great results from so small an effort. But your aspiration will be increased. Your mild qualities, soft qualities, aspiring qualities will come to the fore sooner. Everything depends on how fast you want to make progress. If you feel that each second counts, if you feel that there is no end to your goal, then the best thing is to achieve the things that are ahead of you as soon as possible.
Vegetarian eating...made easy!
In our introductory meditation classes, we encounter many people who would like to explore a vegetarian diet but who have worries about nutrition or simply don't know what to put on the dinner plate in place of meat.
Question: But a vegetarian diet doesn’t give you enough strength…..
As Sri Chinmoy says “it is not meat that gives you strength, but your idea about meat that gives you strength”.
Many people have found that the switch to vegetarianism, gave them added vitality and ‘lightness’- and rid them of feeling like they had a bowling ball in their stomach after mealtimes. The health benefits are manifold – vegetarians typically have a diet with less saturated fat and cholesterol, higher fibre intake, and a stronger immune system
A vegetarian diet in no way inhibits ability to undertake strenuous physical activity – this year’s Sri Chinmoy 3100 Mile Self-Transcendence race (the world’s longest certified road race) was run solely by vegetarians.
Question:But didn't I read somewhere that there wasn’t enough iron or protein in a vegetarian diet?
Well, the main reason for the iron deficiency is that nobody (vegetarian or otherwise) eats enough fresh green vegetables like broccoli or spinach which would more than compensate for the iron lost by giving up meat. However, if you can’t bring yourself to eat your greens, then iron can be obtained in supplement form.
As regards the protein: In addition to the dinner options above, you could also try introducing more eggs, milk and cheese into your diet – omelettes and cheese toppings on the dinner, for example.
Another source of protein that is very much overlooked is nuts. Nuts also happen to be full of monounsaturated fats, which many health food experts reckon we can’t get enough of. Try putting some on the cereal in the morning, or carrying some around with you if you’re fond of snacking.
Here are a few links which we ourselves have found very useful:
www.vegsoc.org – website of the U.K. Vegetarian Society. Very well done, with loads of information and support for those just embarking on the vegetarian adventure.
www.vegetarian.ie – Website of the Irish Vegetarian Society.