By Ahimsa, Patanjali meant the removal of the desire to kill. All forms of life have an equal right to the air of maya. The saint who uncovers the secret of creation will be in harmony with nature’s countless bewildering expressions. All men may understand this truth by overcoming the passion for destruction. Sri Yukteswar to Paramahansa Yogananda
Ahimsa is simply, not causing pain. In the modern world, if we are observing Yamas as part of our yoga practice, then this, many believe means abstaining from meat, fish and even dairy products.
One of the clearest interpretations of Ahimsa is that we should not condone cruelty to any living being, whether human or animal nor the planet we live on.
Not only does consuming animal products contribute to many major health conditions including cancer, heart disease, stoke and obesity, the means by which the meat goes from field or barn to plate involves a process of great suffering and pain.
The roots of non-injury, non- killing and non-consumption of meat are found in the Vedas, Agamas, Upanishadas, Dharma Shastras, Tirumurai, Yoga Sutras and dozens of other sacred texts of Hinduism.
In our culture and civilisation, we do not need to rely upon meat from animals to provide us with protein. We are no longer hunter-gathers and can easily get all the nutrients we need from a plant-based diet.
No matter which way you turn, the consumption of animal products inherently has involved the fear and suffering of the creature it has been derived from. By going vegetarian or vegan makes a statement that you no longer wish no part in this cycle of suffering.
The meat and dairy industries also cause massive damage to the environment through production of more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transport systems put together, so observing AHIMSA in terms of animals also recognises a love and respect for our planet.
As we grow spiritually, we can experience a great deal of love, compassion and balance with nature and with others following a similar path. Living in peace and with respect for all life creates a wonderful common bond between people and animals.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way in which its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi