|Meditation The Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet Master Answers Questions|
The Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
Master Answers Questions
Q: Eating animals is killing living beings, but isn’t eating vegetables a kind of killing, too?
M: Eating plants is also killing living things and will create some karmic hindrance, but the effect is very minimal. If one practices the Quan Yin Method for two and a half hours every day, one can get rid of this karmic effect. As we have to eat in order to survive, we choose food which has the least consciousness and suffers the least. Plants consist of 90% water, thus their level of consciousness is so low that it hardly feels any suffering. Furthermore, when we eat many vegetables we don’t cut their roots, but rather we help their asexual reproduction by cutting branches and leaves. The end result can actually be beneficial to the plant. Therefore, horticulturists say that pruning vegetation helps them grow large and beautiful.
This is even more evident with fruit. When fruit ripens, it will attract people to eat it by its fragrant smell, beautiful color and delicious taste. It is in this way that fruit trees can achieve their purpose of propagating their seed over a wide area. If we do not pick and eat them, the fruit will become overripe and will fall to the ground to rot. Its seed will be shaded from sunlight by the tree above them and will die. So, eating vegetables and fruit is a natural tendency, which brings to them no suffering at all.
Q: Most people have the idea that vegetarians are shorter and thinner, and flesh eaters are taller and bigger. Is this true?
M: Vegetarians are not necessarily thinner and shorter. If their diet is balanced, they can also grow tall and strong. As you can see, all big animals like elephants, cattle, giraffes, hippopotamuses, horses et cetera, eat only vegetables and fruit. They are stronger than carnivores, very gentle and beneficial to mankind. But flesh eating animals are both very violent and of no use. If human beings eat many animals, they will also become affected with animal instincts and qualities. Flesh eating people are not necessarily tall and strong, but their life span is very short on the average. Eskimos are almost totally flesh eating, but are they very tall and strong? Do they have a long life? This I think you can understand very clearly.
Q: Can vegetarians eat eggs?
M: No. When we eat eggs we are also killing beings. Some say that commercially available eggs are unfertilized, so eating them is not killing living things. This is only seemingly correct. An egg remains unfertilized only because the appropriate circumstances for its fertilization have been withheld, so the egg cannot complete its natural purpose of developing into a chicken. Even though this development has not occurred, it still contains the innate life force needed for this. We know that eggs have innate life force; otherwise, why is it that ova are the only type of cells which can be fertilized? Some point out that eggs contain the essential nutrients, protein and phosphorus, essential for human bodies. But protein is available from bean curd, and phosphorus from many kinds of vegetables such as potatoes.
We know that from ancient times till now, there have been many great monks who did not eat meat or eggs, and still had a long life span. For instance the Ying Guang Master ate only a bowl of vegetables and some rice each meal, and yet he lived up to the age of eighty. Furthermore, egg yolks contain a lot of cholesterol, which is a major cause of cardiovascular disorders, the number one killer in Formosa and America. No wonder we see that most patients are egg eaters!
Q: Man raises animals and poultry, such as pigs, cattle, chickens, ducks, et cetera. Why can’t we eat them?
M: So? Parents raise their children. Do parents have the right to eat their children? All living things have the right to live, and no one should deprive them of this. If we have a look at the laws in Hong Kong, even killing oneself is against the law. So, how much more unlawful would killing other living beings be?
Q: Animals are born for people to eat. If we don’t eat them, they will fill the world. Right?
M: This is an absurd idea. Before you kill an animal, do you ask it if it wants to be killed and eaten by you or not? All living beings desire to live and are afraid to die. We don’t want to be eaten by a tiger, so why should animals be eaten by humans? Human beings have only existed in the world for several tens of thousands of years, but before mankind appeared, many species of animals had already existed. Did they overcrowd the Earth? Living things maintain a natural ecological balance. When there is too little food and space is limited, this will cause a drastic reduction in population. This maintains the population at an appropriate level.
Q: Why should I be vegetarian?
M: I am vegetarian because the God inside me wants it. Understand? Eating meat is against the universal principle of not wanting to be killed. We ourselves don’t want to be killed, and we ourselves don’t want to be stolen from. Now, if we do that to other people, then we are acting against ourselves, and that makes us suffer. Everything that you do against others makes you suffer. You cannot bite yourself and you shouldn’t stab yourself. In the same way you should not kill, because that is against the principle of life. Understand? It would make us suffer, so we don’t do it. It doesn’t mean we limit ourselves in any way. It means we expand our life to all kinds of life. Our life will not be limited within this body, but extended to the life of animals and all kinds of beings. That makes us grander, greater, happier and limitless. Okay?
Q: Would You speak on vegetarian eating and how this can contribute to world peace?
M: Yes. You see, most of the wars that happen in this world are due to economic reasons. Let’s face it. The economic difficulties of a country become more urgent when there is hunger, lack of food, or a lack of equal distribution of food among different countries. If you took the time to read magazines and research the facts about the vegetarian diet, then you would know this very well. Raising cattle and animals for meat has caused our economy to go bankrupt in all aspects. It has created hunger throughout the world — at least in the Third World countries.
It’s not I who is saying this, it is an American citizen who did this type of research and wrote a book about it. You can go to any bookshop and read about vegetarian research and food processing research. You can read, “Diet For a New America” by John Robbins. He is a very famous ice-cream millionaire. He gave it all up in order to be a vegetarian, and to write a vegetarian book against his family tradition and business. He lost a lot of money, prestige and business, but he did it for the sake of Truth. That book is very good. There are many other books and magazines which can give you a lot of information and facts about the vegetarian diet and how it can contribute to world peace.
You see, we bankrupted our food supply by feeding cattle. You know how much protein, medicine, water supply, manpower, cars, trucks, road construction and how many hundreds of thousands of acres of land have been wasted before a cow is good enough for one meal. Understand? All these things could be distributed equally to underdeveloped countries, then we could solve the hunger problem. So now, if a country is in need of food it probably invades the other country just to save its own people. In the long run, this has created a bad cause and retribution. Understand?
As you sow, so shall you reap. If we kill someone for food, we will be killed for food later, in some other form the next time, the next generation. It’s a pity. We are so intelligent, so civilized and yet most of us do not know the cause of why our neighboring countries are suffering. It is because of our palates, our tastes, and our stomachs.
In order to feed and nourish one body we kill so many beings, and starve so many fellow human beings. We aren’t even talking about the animals yet. Understand? Then this guilt, consciously or unconsciously, will weigh down upon our conscience. It makes us suffer from cancer, tuberculosis and other kinds of incurable diseases, including AIDS. Ask yourself, why does your country, America, suffer the most? It has the highest rate of cancer in the world, because the Americans eat a lot of beef. They eat more meat than any of the other countries. Ask yourself why the Chinese or communist countries don’t have that high a rate of cancer. They don’t have as much meat. Understand? That is what the research says, not I. Okay? Don’t blame me.
Q: What are some spiritual benefits that we get from being vegetarians?
M: I’m glad you asked the question in this manner, because it means you only concentrate on, or care about, spiritual benefits. Most people would care about health, diet and figure when they ask about the vegetarian diet. The spiritual aspects of a vegetarian diet are that it is very clean and nonviolent.
Thou shalt not kill. When God said this to us, Hes did not say do not kill human beings, Hes said do not kill any beings. Didn’t Hes say that Hes made all animals to befriend us, to help us? Did Hes not put the animals in our care? Hes said, take care of them, rule over them. When you rule over your subjects, do you kill your subjects and eat them? Then you would become a king with no one else around? So now you understand when God said that. We must do it. There is no need to question Hirm. Hes spoke very clearly, but who understands God except God?
So now you have to become God in order to understand God. I invite you to be God-like again, to be yourself, to be no one else. To meditate on God doesn’t mean you worship God, it means that you become God. You realize that you and God are one. I and my Father are one, didn’t Jesus say so? If He said He and His father are one, we and His father can also be one, because we are also children of God. And Jesus also said that what He does we can even do better. So we may be even better than God, who knows!
Why worship God when we don’t know anything about God? Why use blind faith? We must first know what we are worshipping, just like we must know who the girl is we’re going to marry before we marry her. Nowadays, it’s customary that we don’t marry before we date. So why should we worship God with blind faith? We have the right to demand that God appears to us, and to make Hirmself known to us. We have the right to choose which God we would like to follow.
So now you see that it is very clear in the Bible that we should be vegetarians. For all health reasons, we should be vegetarians. For all scientific reasons, we should be vegetarians. For all economic reasons, we should be vegetarians. For all compassionate reasons, we should be vegetarians. As well, to save the world, we should be vegetarians.
It is stated in some research that if people in the West, in America, eat vegetarian only once a week, we would be able to save sixteen million starving people every year. So be a hero, be vegetarian. For all of these reasons, even if you don’t follow me, or don’t practice the same method, please be a vegetarian for your own sake, for the sake of the world.
Q: If everyone eats plants, will it create a food shortage?
M: No. Using a given piece of land to grow crops provides fourteen times as much food as using the same piece of land to grow fodder to feed animals. Plants from each acre of land provide 800,000 calories of energy; however, if these plants are used to raise animals which are then eaten as food, the animals’ meat can only provide 200,000 calories of energy. That means that during the process 600,000 calories of energy are lost. So the vegetarian diet is evidently more efficient and economical than the meat diet.
Q: Is fish all right to eat for a vegetarian?
M: It’s all right if you want to eat fish. But if you want to eat vegetarian, fish is not a vegetable.
Q: Some people say that it is important to be a good-hearted man, but it is not necessary to be a vegetarian. Does this make sense?
M: If one is truly a good-hearted person, then why does he still eat another being’s flesh? Seeing them suffer so, he should not be able to bear to eat them! Flesh eating is unmerciful, so how can this be done by a good-hearted man?
Master Lien Ch’ih once said, Kill its body, and eat its meat. In this world there is no one more cruel, malevolent, atrocious and evil than this man. How can he ever claim that he himself has a good heart?
Mencius also said, If you see it alive, you can’t bear to see it die, and if you hear it groaning you cannot bear to eat its meat; so the real gentlemen keep far from the kitchen.
Human intelligence is higher than that of animals, and we can use weapons to make them unable to resist us, so they die with hatred. The kind of man who does this, bullying small and weak creatures, has no right to be called a gentleman. When animals are killed, they are terribly stricken with agony, fear and resentment. This causes the production of toxins that stay in their meat to harm those who eat it. Since the frequency of the vibration of animals is lower than that of mankind, they will influence our vibration, and affect the development of our wisdom.
Q: Is it all right just to be a so-called “convenient vegetarian”? (Convenient vegetarians do not strictly avoid meat. They would eat vegetables out of a mixed vegetable and meat dish.)
M: No. For example, if food is put into a poisonous liquid and then removed, do you think it will become poisonous or not? In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Mahakasyapa asked Buddha, When we beg and are given vegetables mixed with meat, can we eat this food? How can we clean the food? Buddha replied, One should clean it with water and separate the vegetables from the meat, then one can eat it.
From the above dialogue we can understand that one cannot even eat vegetables which are mixed with meat unless one first cleans them with water, not to mention eating meat alone! Therefore, it is very easy to see that Buddha and His disciples all kept a vegetarian diet. However, some people slandered Buddha by saying that He was a “convenient vegetarian”, and that if alms-givers gave meat, He ate meat. This is truly nonsense. Those who say so have read too little of the Scriptures, or don’t understand the Scriptures they have read.
In India, over ninety percent of the people are vegetarians. When people see mendicants in yellow robes they all know they should offer them vegetarian food, not to mention that most of the people have no meat to give anyway!
Q: A long time ago, I heard another Master say, “Buddha ate a pig’s foot and then got diarrhea and died.” Is this true?
M: Absolutely not. It was because of eating a kind of mushroom that Buddha died. If we translate directly from the language of the Brahmans, this kind of mushroom is called the “pig’s foot”, but it is not a real pig’s foot. It’s just like when we call a kind of fruit “longan” (in Chinese this literally means the “dragon’s eye”). There are many things that by name are not vegetables but actually are vegetarian foods, such things as the “dragon’s eye”. This mushroom in Brahmanic language is called “pig’s foot” or “pig’s joy”. Both have a connection with pigs. This kind of mushroom was not easy to find in ancient India and was a rare delicacy, so people offered it to Buddha in worship. This mushroom cannot be found above the ground. It grows under the ground. If people want to find it they must search with the help of an old pig which likes very much to eat this kind of mushroom. Pigs detect it by their smell, and when they discover one, they use their feet to dig in the mud to find and eat it. That was why this kind of mushroom is called the “pig’s joy” or “pig’s foot”. Actually these two names refer to the same mushroom. Because it was translated carelessly and because people did not truly understand the derivation, the following generations have been caused to misunderstand and mistake Buddha for a flesh devouring man. This is really a regrettable thing.
Q: Some meat-lovers say that they buy meat from the butcher, so it’s not killed by themselves, therefore, it is all right to eat it. Do You think this is right?
M: This is a disastrous mistake. You must know that butchers kill living beings because people want to eat. In the Lankavatara Sutra, Buddha said, If there was no one eating meat, then no killing would happen. So eating meat and killing living beings are of the same sin. Because of the killing of too many living beings, we have natural disasters and man-made calamities. Wars are also caused by too much killing.
Q: Some people say that while plants can’t produce poisonous things like urea or urokinase, fruit and vegetable growers use lots of pesticides on the plants, which are bad for our health. Is that so?
M: If farmers use pesticides and other highly toxic chemicals like DDT on crops, it can lead to cancer, infertility and diseases of the liver. Toxins like DDT can diffuse into fat, and are usually stored in animal fat. When you eat meat, it means that you take in all these highly concentrated pesticides and other poisons stored in animals’ fat, which have accumulated during the growth of the animal. These accumulations can be as much as thirteen times that in fruit, vegetables or grains. We can clean the pesticide sprayed on fruit surfaces, but we cannot remove the pesticides deposited in animal fat. The accumulating process occurs because these pesticides are cumulative. So consumers at the top of the food chain are the most harmed.
Experiments at the University of Iowa showed that of the pesticides found in human bodies almost all came from eating flesh. They discovered that the pesticide level in the bodies of vegetarian people is less than half of that in meat-eaters. Actually, there are other toxins in flesh besides pesticides. In the process of raising animals, much of their food consists of chemicals to make them develop faster or to change their meat color, taste or texture, and to preserve the flesh, et cetera.
For example, preservatives produced from nitrates are highly toxic. On July 18, 1971, the New York Times reported, “The great hidden dangers to health for meat-eaters are the invisible pollutants in meat such as bacteria in salmon, remnants of pesticides, preservatives, hormones, antibiotics and other chemical additives.” Besides the above, animals are injected with vaccines, which may remain in their flesh. In this respect, the protein in fruit, nuts, beans, corn and milk are all more pure than the protein of meat, which has 56% water insoluble impurities. Research shows that those man-made additives can lead to cancers, other diseases or deformed fetuses. So it is even proper for pregnant women to eat a pure vegetarian diet to ensure the physical and spiritual health of the fetuses. If you drink lots of milk you can get enough calcium; from beans you can get protein; and from fruit and vegetables you get vitamins and minerals.