“Animal food is not meant for the human being. For chewing solid food, the human being has a particular type of teeth meant for cutting fruits and vegetables. The human being is endowed with two canine teeth as a concession for persons who will eat animal food at any cost. It is known to everyone that one man’s food is another man’s poison. Human beings are expected to accept the remnants of food offered to Lord Shri Krishna, and the Lord accepts foodstuff from the categories of leaves, flowers, fruits, etc. (Bg. 9.26).” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.3.19 Purport)
Friend1: Surely, one of the more attention-grabbing headlines for a person first learning about the bhakti way of life is the restriction on meat eating.
Friend2: You mean if they were to remember just one or two key points from the presentation, either in personal interaction or through reading a book, they would not be able to look past the issue of control over the senses as a whole?
Friend1: There is that; no doubt. But if a person is accustomed to eating animal flesh, they will feel threatened immediately. “You are teaching me about God, and for some reason I have to change the entire way I live in order to understand Him.” That might be a little too much to take.
Friend2: Undoubtedly, but there is no requirement to do anything drastic at the beginning. Just sacrifice some time to hear. Sit and listen peacefully. Don’t turn off your brain, though. You can ask questions as they arise. You can request clarity on any topics that are difficult to understand.
Friend1: One of the counterarguments is that the Supreme Lord gave us special teeth for a reason.
Friend2: Besides to eat food?
Friend1: A distinct set of teeth is there especially for chewing through animal flesh.
Friend2: Then why do people need a knife and fork? Why are there rules of etiquette stating which hand should hold which utensil?
Friend1: I’m not sure. I’m just giving you the argument, as I heard it.
Friend2: Hold on a second. If someone were to eat their steak with their hands, no one would take issue? I have been witness to such a scene, where an intoxicated person at a wedding started picking up their meat.
Friend1: Was there a reaction?
Friend2: Others were aghast. It was like the greatest offense. I should have brought up the argument about the special kind of teeth.
“Don’t sweat it. God made us this way. He doesn’t want us to use the knife and fork.”
Friend1: Humor aside, is there not some validity to the argument?
Friend2: To what, the presence of those teeth?
Friend2: Why are you stopping at the teeth?
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: If you want to highlight the real distinction, the way God made human beings superior or distinct, reference the intelligence.
Friend1: How man is smarter than the animals?
Friend2: To the largest degree conceivable. In an open battle, the human against the tiger is a one-sided affair. Yet the human being has so much intelligence that they don’t have to worry about being attacked. They can take care of any animal if they so choose.
Friend1: Okay, so what is your point?
Friend2: If you are saying that a special set of teeth is license for killing innocent animals by the millions, such as with cows in the slaughterhouse, then a superior intelligence can be utilized on an even larger scale. Kill other human beings by the millions.
Friend1: But that is sinful. It is also not necessary.
Friend2: But God made us this way. The smartest ones rise to the top. Survival of the fittest. I can use my intelligence however I please.
Friend1: No. There should be some discrimination applied.
Friend2: That is the whole point. Don’t just eat anything and everything. Question the reason for living. Find a higher purpose. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. With freedom comes responsibility. The person practicing bhakti-yoga aims to limit the negative influence of the senses. Everything is focused on pleasing the Supreme Lord, who is the master of the senses, Hrishikesha. Every rule and regulation is devoted to this principle. The restrictions don’t get created on a whim. There is a science to every aspect of the culture descending from the Vedas.
Special set of teeth two,
Meant for flesh chewing through.
My excuse made for eating meat,
But another perspective from guru’s seat.
Intelligence bigger advantage still,
Yet not license for everyone to kill.
Proper food with principles combining,
For consciousness with Divine aligning.