As we collectively embark upon the building of a nonviolent civilization, it is prudent to take a closer look at the assumptions and values that underlie our diets. There are a number of potential advantages in vegetarian and vegan diets. While the discussion of vegetarianism has in the past been centered around health and the treatment of animals, there is also an important environmental aspect that only recently has received serious attention. It is an established fact that, on average, it takes a significantly larger area of land to grow food for a meat-eating individual than for a vegetarian person. Hence, if most of the world opted for a vegetarian diet, it would be significantly less taxing on our environment.
It should be stressed that vegetarianism is not considered a major issue in the Bahá'í community. Indeed, Bahá'ís are not generally vegetarian, coming as they do from every part of the earth and from many religious and ethnic backgrounds. However, many Bahá'í teachings on diet are similar to those of Gandhi, an ardent vegetarian.
While there are no dietary restrictions in the Bahá'í Faith (aside from the prohibition against intoxicants), Shoghi Effendi said, ``It is certain, however, that if man can live on a purely vegetarian diet and thus avoid killing animals, it would be much preferable.'' Furthermore, `Abdu'l-Bahá said, ``Fruits and grains [will be the foods of the future]. The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in its infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is that which grows out of the ground.'' It should be noted that many Bahá'ís all over the world opt for vegetarian diets and even Bahá'ís from traditionally meat-eating cultures are slowly becoming vegetarian.
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