Gandhi observed parallels between the treatment of Indians by the British and the way men treated animals. One of his most famous quotes is,”The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Ghandi is revered as a pioneer for promoting compassion towards man and animals. It makes sense he chose to pursue a vegetarian diet. Here are Gandhi’s thoughts on vegetarianism from his autobiography, The story of my experiments with truth:
“As I searched myself deeper, the necessity for changes both internal and external began to grow on me. As soon as, or even before, I made alterations in my expenses and my way of living, I began to make changes in my diet. I saw that the writers on vegetarianism had examined the question very minutely, attacking it in its religious, scientific, practical, and medial aspects. Ethically they had arrived at the conclusion that man’s supremacy over the lower animals meant not that the former should prey upon the latter, but that the higher should protect the lower, and that there should be mutual aid between the two, as between man and man. They had also brought out the truth that man eats not for enjoyment but to live. And some of them accordingly suggested, and effected in their lives, abstention not only from flesh-meat but from eggs and milk. Scientifically some had concluded that man’s physical structure showed that he was not meant to be a cooking but a frugivorous animal, that he could take only his mother’s milk and, as soon as he had teeth, should begin to take solid foods. Medically they had suggested the rejection of all spices and condiments. According to the practical and economic argument, they had demonstrated that a vegetarian diet was the least expensive. All these considerations had their effect on me, and I came across vegetarians of all these types in vegetarian restaurants. There was a Vegetarian Society in England with a weekly journal of its own. I subscribed to the weekly, joined the society, and very shortly found myself on the Executive Committee. Here I came in contact with those who were regarded as pillars of vegetarianism, and began my own experiments in dietetics.“
Above, the Belize Zoo displays a quote by Gandhi.
Like Gandhi, and many others, I have an incredible fondness and passion for animals. From an early age I understood that animals were no different than me because I observed how animals experienced feelings and emotions. This empathy and compassion turned into an insatiable interest in the animal kingdom and I pursued a career in biology. Through my work as a biologist, as an activist, and as a compassionate soul, I have come to the conclusion that our society treats animals horribly. Just as people have certain inalienable rights, these same rights exists for all other species on our planet. However these rights are stripped from animals on a daily basis in the most horrendous of ways. No one wants to suffer, right? So why do we make animals suffer every day? I want no part in that system and as a result I am vegan. I do not consume animals or animal bi-products, I do not wear their skin, and I do not use products that are tested on animals. It is a lifestyle that chooses to do no harm and it is the only way to live life with the most integrity, honesty, and compassion.
To conclude, here is a quote by the man, Mahatma Gandhi, “Live simply so others may simply live.” The others. The animals. You. Me. All of us are others. Show respect and love for all others that call our planet home, and you will find peace. Happy Birthday Gandhi.