Food - Emotions and Sensitivity.7, Apr, 2014, by Seema Bhatnagar
WHO celebrates April 7 as a "World Health Day". It is to create health awareness internationally. Health is definitely a wealth, to know it's significance ask any patient who is suffering with some illness, however small or grave it may be. The purpose of this post is to create awareness about the need of making right food choices because right food choices play a very substantial role in maintaining and building physical and mental health of an individual.
Food is an essential component for our survival. The quality of our food creates a major impact on our personality, not just physically, it has a very deep impact on our emotions too. For some, those who pick wrong choices, food creates lifelong health problems, while for some, those who make informed and conscious choices, food brings salubrity.
Vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan are three broad categories of food that we consume. Our everyday choices of food are based on combination of these three categories. People who are health conscious are always thinking about the nature of food they should consume. The most common dilemma for a health conscious individual is - "should I be vegetarian or non-vegetarian?". Instead of seeking a straight answer it is better to understand the underlying chemistry and then make an informed choice.
Chemistry of Food
We understand that humans and animals are more complex than plants, which means they have more chemical complexity present in their system as compared to plants. Our body loves simple food because it doesn't have to deal with the complexity of chemicals present in food and it can focus more on the wear and tear or any other inefficient process in the body.
During digestion process, each and every chemical present in food particle reacts with chemicals present inside stomach. More the chemicals present in the food, it would create more possibilities of reactions going imbalanced and more would be the time required to handle this imbalance in the body. If this imbalance becomes frequent and occurs with every meal then slowly body would start experiencing diseases of various forms - it could be of bones, nervous, digestive, respiratory or reproduction.
How non-vegetarian food reacts in body?
Since animal forms are more complex in nature as compared to plant kingdom, so it is logical to conclude that anything eaten from animal kingdom brings extra burden on body to maintain the homeostasis. It is interesting to note that animals at the time of killing are under immense stress out of panic and fear of being killed and they release several stress related hormones in their body, which remain inside them even after killing, because these chemicals seeps in to different body parts of the animal. The same hormones of animals reach to a human who eats this chemical laden meat. This actually means, the level of stress hormones will increase in the body of eater and will produce unnecessary stress or stimulation to the system. As a result, even if an individual is moderately aggressive, eating this chemical laced flesh will further trigger the aggression in the body. Check out following link to know more about this fact: Animal Stress Results in Meat Causing Disease
Yoga and Food
In Hinduism, like everything, food is also revered as a God because once it goes inside it becomes our part and because of this we get energy to interact with the world. Ancient Indian sages used to live on fruits and roots of plants or kandmools , originated from plant kingdom, like tubers (potatoes, radish, carrots etc.). Fundamental reasons for making these choices were - not to commit violence against any animal and secondly, it is easy to digest and enabled them to focus more on their meditation and other scholarly activities.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of health and life, conceptualize that each and every food has it's own quality in terms of earth, water, air, fire and ether, the basic five elements out of which our body is made up of. Any food which disturbs the balance of these elements in body should not be consumed. True Yogis consumes only saatvik food according to bio-rhythms of body. Saativ food is basically originated from plants and it gets digested easily and allows an individual to focus more on activities than feeling lethargic after having food. This is a reason why during all religious fasts, only saativ food is allowed to be consumed.
My personal experience
I was never fond of non-vegetarian food, first, for its possibility of lacking in hygiene, secondly, of lacking any particular flavor and thirdly the killing and violence involved in it. It is not that I have never eaten it, have eaten only chicken but never developed any fondness for its' taste and always felt afraid of consuming heavy calorific food which can pose risk of increased cholesterol and body weight. It was a combination of these reasons due to which I never made it a habit. Since I have lived in Europe, I had all the liberty to eat anything I wanted to but my personal dislike never made me to feel tempted for non-vegetarian food. The third factor of non-violence was not too much important earlier as I never saw the cruelties committed on animals with my own eyes. But slowly, as I came across articles, documentaries and news about violence and unimaginable cruelties committed on animals even a trace of liking for flesh got evaporated from my mind.
In today's date, Yes, I do consume egg but only in things available in market. For cakes and pastries also, my first preference is eggless. I have stopped cooking egg at home as omelets or boiled eggs. Again for two reasons, first, the presence of violence and second the irritating smell. Eating egg was also not my habit so its' absence hardly make any difference.
Gradually progressing in Yoga and spiritual efforts to experience inner peace and calm, my liking is becoming towards foods which enhances body energy and easy to digest. Also, being a vegetarian, it gives me a deep seated satisfaction that my food is not encouraging any violence against animals. Moreover, since I love nature, so causing violence against any being for food is against my nature.
Many people decide to become vegetarian only when their doctor advice them, because of raised cholesterol and extra pounds. People feel themselves punished for not eating flesh and switch back to same non-veg diet quickly. On deeply analysing this behaviour, I have realized that health reasons cannot be the best reason for leaving flesh eating, you have to have a deep feeling of hatred for violence only then one can think of vegetarian diet otherwise there is always a temptation of switching over to non-veg diet.
While researching on this topic I came across an interesting video which really touched my heart and made me tearful. Since I never visited any slaughter house, only heard the stories about it so it was difficult to visualize the violence and cruelly involved, but after seeing this video I realized how much pain and cruelty we humans are causing to innocent animals just for the sake of our taste and health when Mother nature has bestowed us thousand other ways to feed and nourish us. You must watch this video to see your contribution of violence towards animals.
Food and emotions
"I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon earth." ~ Mohandas Gandhi
Just imagine a feeling that somebody who is more powerful is killing you for food or just to have taste of fleshy human heart. Oh..that would be really disgusting and dreadful to even think of. But this cruelly is committed everyday for millions of helpless and vulnerable animals, just because we want more taste and energy and variety in our food. How can a human who is considered to be full of love and emotions with highly developed conscious can commit such a cruelty or inhumanity.
Killing somebody for no reason or a reason just as trivial as having a different taste can never give happiness to anybody unless that human is devoid of emotions and love.
There might be several reasons for not eating flesh but the biggest reason is the love and care towards weak and helpless. If it is missing, then it is highly likely that humans will become cannibals soon.
I am not making any attempt to convince you to stop eating non-veg food but want you to be aware of the violence that is involved in the served food and how this violence becomes a part of your body. Want you to feel your sensitivity and thoughtfulness for the lives of weak and helpless. If you are really on your journey of personal growth, sensitivity and thoughtfulness are two some of the very important factors which must not be ignored. Lacking these will affect your complete framework of thoughts and emotions, which ultimately would affect your relationships with the world.
To understand the power of food and effects it creates on your body, have a variety of food (vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan) in a week and see how your body responds to external events and how calm and peaceful you feel after consuming it. Initially, you might not be able to recognize but if you maintain this routine for a month, you would surely reach to a conclusive state. It is a very simple experiment to enable yourself to make the best choices of food for your body. Since every individual is unique so should be the food choices. The basic mantra to have best of health and emotions is to be sensitive and thoughtful about your food choices.
Help yourself and help curbing violence for food. Contribute your efforts in making this world loveful for all beings. Stay healthy and stay thoughtful.