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Editorial – October 2019

Discussion in favour and contrary to vegetarianism is not a new topic. Anthropological development highlights the reliance on non-vegetarians by hunter-gatherer societies among primitive men. Almost all great civilizations also developed along the river sides, rivers being a rich source of fishes and water for irrigation purposes. Virtually, cultural influences on attitudes and ideas towards foods are established facts. Being a vegetarian or non-vegetarian is matter of preference. There is no compulsion of eating specific types of food in Vedas, except when required according to conditions. Sacrifices are still in practice in India, specifically among worshippers of Shakti (Goddess Durga and Kali) in Bihar, Bengal etc. where meats are taken by followers as Prasad. Even Manu Smriti allows eating of meat only on occasions after sacrificing before gods. But, with the development of Yoga-Sutras, concept of non-violence was suggested for stillness of mind. Food was also related with triguna. Even in western philosophy, Pythagoras advocated for vegetarian foods in teachings of metempsychosis. Buddhism and Jainism also prescribed to avoid such food where violence is involved. Focus of Sattva guna was inferred to vegetarian foods. But, medical science has its own concepts based on requirements in specific cases.
Charak Samhita Sutrasthana 27/314-15 refers to regular intake of meat soup to avoid weakness for people involved in physical exercise, women and wine. It is also prescribed for strength and intelligence. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type omega-3 fatty acid (long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid) is a structural component of human brain. It is found in human milk and fishes. The Telegraph (21st December 2017) published the findings of researchers from University of Pennsylvania that omega-3 fatty acids of fishes improve intelligence and sleep. While another interesting finding was published online in British Medical Journal (December, 2006) that ‘those who were vegetarian by 30 had recorded more IQ points on average at age of 10. However, lead researcher, Catherine Gale added that such link may merely be result of lifestyle preferences or learning of benefiting animal or environment. It means everything has its own pros and cons.

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