Vegetarianism is linked to numerous religions but it took shape in India as- Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. There are instances of having non-vegetarian food but from the ancient times, Hindu community people have always supported the vegan way of living and have always fought against violation of animal rights.
The Hindu text, Vedanta teaches that the only goal of a life is ‘Atmanam Bodhi’(self-realisation). It shows the path to a person who can experience being Atman (eternal soul), the indivisible part of God, that has never been born or will never die. As every person is compositive of mind, body, and soul; it is necessary to control the mind to come into direct contact with Atman or soul.
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Swami Vivekananda explains the control of mind with an analogy,”Get hold of the mind. The mind is like a lake, and every stone that drops into it raises waves. These waves do not let us see what we are.” Thus the thoughts- fears, desires, and attachments create waves in our mind, which can be mastered by control on food habits. Food habits change the mind and personality as claimed by Swami Chinmayananda (Founder of Chinmayananda Mission). He says,“Non-vegetarian food is laced with many toxins that create agitation and disturbance in the mind.” The non-vegetarian foods make the mind restless, as a result one fails to concentrate while they worship, study or meditate, hence, vegan food is important. So to know the true self and get liberated from the cycle of birth and death, Hinduism always emphasised on vagan way of living or Sattvik food (vegetables).
Swami Avedananda (a direct disciple of Paramahamsa Shree Ramakrishna) said,“A Hindu is a vegetarian from the standpoint of Love. Love means an expression of oneness.” Hinduism defines that the whole universe is originated from non-materialised consciousness, Brahman. Chandogya Upanishad recites, “Tat Twam Asi” means, which unifies a person with every animal.
Apart from these spiritual realisations, Hinduism always nurtured the idea of ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence). Yajur Veda advises, “You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s creatures, whether they are human, animal or whatever.” In Mahabharata, Ved Vyasa stated, “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma“(Non-violence is the primary religion).
George Bernard Shaw once said,“My stomach and body are not a crematorium or cemetery for killed or dead animals. While we ourselves are living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”
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Not only him, but the great scientist Albert Einstein said, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
Hinduism gives the theory of Karma (cycle of work and result), and considers slaughtering of animals as sinful. One can understand, how modern is the faith, if one delves into it. In Hindu texts, to protect the nature- it is personified as the mountains, rivers, air etc. and worshiping animals as the deity, is a known fact to all, this vegan way of living is important.