Religion and Veganism Many religions in the world have particular set of guidelines relating to their disciples diets which will also be a factor in showing how faithful they are. This extends from avoiding specific types of foods up to fasting for certain days. The divine side of diets extends through early generations in history and that can be used to make a strong bond with both people and animals.
For most people, religion doesn’t play a key part in their transition towards veganism. The reason for this has not been studied extensively but the closest explanation or argument is that Atheists or Non-religious people are using their own sets of moral values governing their lives other than a set of guidelines created by religion or a religious figure and their moral compass reasons with them on how unethical it is to exploit and use another being, thus following a vegan lifestyle. This doesn’t mean that all atheists are vegan but most vegans are atheists.
Coming back to religious beliefs, many religious texts mentions animal products such as meat and milk in the Quran and fish and lamb in the Bible but these can be accepted as a set of guiding principles but not the exact words on how to consume. This is very much similar to the guidance “disciples should not wear clothes made from mixed materials” on both Leviticus and Deuteronomy. But present day followers are most likely to have cotton / polyester blended garments with them.
In Lord Buddha’s teachings, he never forced his disciples to follow his ideology without self – reasoning. But it was mostly focused on not inflicting harm to any living being. The five percepts of Buddhism known as “pañcasikkhapada” and “pan sil” on Pali and Sinhalese respectively are considered to be the basis of Lord Buddha’s teaching on the way of life. The first of the five is “Panathipatha veramani sikkhapadan samadiyami” which translates to “I undertake the training rule to abstain from taking life.” This considers all living beings has an equal right to co-exist on this world we live in and taking that right from them regardless of the method is wrong. Explaining further, the term “taking life” is reflected as not only to take a life of another on their own but also to force or create reasons for another to do it not just by killing, but also by making one’s life hard or miserable.
Many of the modern Buddhists are not vegan or even vegetarians for this matter as their religious figures are interpreting Lord Buddha’s words with justifiable whys and wherefores on consuming other animals. Only a countable few reasons on their own regardless of the modern interpretations and follows a harmless vegan diet.
Jain Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism left the message of “All living, breathing, conscious creatures must not be killed, molested, exploited, tortured or driven away.” to his disciples which is identical to the ideology of a vegan. The key rule of Jainism is Non – Violence or as they call it “Ahimsa”.
According to Jain ideology, dairy and dairy based products are regarded as Vigai (tempting foods) and are forbidden of consumption during Ayambil (A method of fasting where you eat only once a day) thus making the concept of eradicating or reducing the use of dairy or dairy based products is not an out of the world practice for them.
Some Jains uses the holy writ as a line of reasoning where it shows that their Tirthankaras used some milk products in their days but it is better to keep in mind that in those days, there were no practices of mass farming or factory farming nor the mass distribution or storage systems in the modern era for dairy or any other agricultural products whatsoever so that it is acceptable consuming small amounts of locally made fresh milk and related products where zero to minimum harm is presented in the conditions back in those days. However, we cannot be sure on how it has been at that time but we can safely assume that it would’ve been better than the current conditions.