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Q: What kind of food should we eat? Is it ok to eat meat?

A: Sikhism encourages healthy living by consuming simple and natural food only. Over-eating and eating unhealthy food should be avoided. The concept is not to hurt anything or anyone and live in harmony by sharing with others.

Simple rationale: If eating meat is not spiritually harmful then both vegetarians and meat eater are not affected but if it is not, then vegetarian are still not affected but the non-vegetarians are.

However, Guru shows us the guide to attain salvation. Guru Granth Sahib Ji shows us the path and the type of life one should live in order to meet God. Guru Ji tells us to accept the simple and vegetarian lifestyle in order to advance in spirituality. Nowhere in Guru Granth Sahib Ji a single verse have been found that permits eating of meat. However, one can find a number of verses instructing not to eat meat.

Eating meat acts as a barrier to some extent in meditation and concentration. All kinds of meats, drinking alcohol and doing drugs interfere with meditation. If you want to concentrate and be able to meditate properly, it is better to eat simple food as possible. The mind is so powerful, it takes all your strength and thoughts wander in your mind when you try to meditate. If your food is not simple, it hinders your ability to meditate. That’s why Sikhs are told to have simple and vegetarian food.

The following verses from Guru Granth Sahib Ji clearly states whether one should eat meat or not:

"Countless are fools, blinded by ignorance. Countless are thieves and embezzlers. Countless impose their will by force. Countless cut-throats and are ruthless killers. Countless are sinners who keep on sinning. Countless are liars, wandering lost in their lies. Countless are wretches, eating filth as their ration" (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 4).

Guru Nanak Dev Ji sheds light on the countless people who keep on sinning. Guru Ji implies that the ones who cuts throats and murder are one of those sinners. Furthermore, Kabeer Ji says, "You keep your fasts to please Allah, while you murder other beings for pleasure. You look after your own interests, and so not see the interests of others. What good is your word? O Qazi, the One Lord is within you, but you do not think or contemplation on Him. You do not care for others, you are mad about religion, this is why your life is wasting away" (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 483).

Killing animals for taste has been called unrighteous in Guru Granth Sahib Ji. “You kill living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what would you call an unrighteous action? You call yourself the excellent sage; then whom would you call a butcher? (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1103).

"Kabeer says, to use force is tyranny, even if you call it a religious sacrifice. When your account is called for in the Kingdom of God, what will your condition be then? Kabeer says, the dinner of beans and rice is excellent when flavored with salt. Who would cut throats to have meat with his bread?" (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1374).

Kabeer Ji is saying that it is a tyranny to cut the throats of the animals with force. He does not like to cut throats of animal to have a meal, he would rather prefer beans and rice flavored with salt. In addition, “Kabeer, for those who consume marijuana, fish and wine. No matter what pilgrimages, fasts and rituals they follow, they will all be consigned to hell” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 1377).

In the above verse, fish is placed in a category with marijuana and wine, which is strictly forbidden in Sikhism. Kabeer Ji states that one who consumes fish, drugs and wine will be consigned to hell no matter how many pilgrimages they go to or how many fasts or ritual they carry out.

Guru Nanak Dev Ji says, “To take what rightfully belongs to another, is like a Muslim eating pork, or a Hindu eating beef. Our Guru, our Spiritual Guide, stands by us if we do not eat those carcasses. By mere talk, people do not earn Liberation. Salvation only comes from the practice of truth. By adding spices to forbidden foods, they are not made acceptable. O Nanak, from false talk, only falsehood is obtained” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 141).

“Living by neglect and greed, the world eats dead carcasses. Like a goblin or a beast, they kill and eat the forbidden carcasses of meat. Control your urges, or else you will be thrown into the tortures of hell” (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 723). In this verse, Guru Arjan Dev Ji considers non-vegetarian people like a goblin or a beast. Even Bhai Gurdaas Ji writes, “They eat meat by cutting throats, what will their own condition be?” (Vaar 24, Pauree 17).

All Sikh Gurus were vegetarian and Gurus taught their disciples to be vegetarian, never to drink alcohol, consume tobacco, do any kind of drugs or cut their hair. Sikh Gurus taught Sikhs to be vegetarian centuries ago and nowadays scientists conduct studies, which show that being vegetarian has a lot of advantages and no harm at all. Even beyond religious views, vegetarian lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle.


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