By Nava Gauranga dasa
One of the most common reactions from people when they find out my pet dog does not eat meat is this - 'dogs are supposed to eat meat, it is unnatural for them not to eat meat!' And often people will say that 'tigers and wolves eat meat so why do you expect your dog not to eat meat?'
Infact tigers, wolves and other wild beasts incur no sinful reaction from meat eating! So my dog can eat meat with no further reaction in this regard. Yes it is his nature! But as Hare Krsna devotees we choose not to eat meat or handle meat. In our tradition the cow is infact very sacred and considered mother. She supplies us with so much milk which we can make many nice preparations from.
Most dog food on the market contains at least some traces of cow flesh. So the sincere devotee will at some stage feel a prompting in his/her heart to not have these pet food products in the household, let alone handle them. And yes, dogs can remain extremely healthy on a balanced vegetarian diet. So what is the need for the devotee to continue having meat products in the house?
Actually we need to be very wise in how we make our pet dogs vegetarian. Just like us they need a very balanced diet to remain healthy. So I do this in two ways. I purchase a very affordable (infact cheaper than canned meat product) high quality Vegan Dry Food, which is designed for a fully balanced diet. So the dog can nibble and enjoy this product at leisure, insuring he has all the necessary daily intake of vitamins etc.
Hare Krsna devotees only eat food which has first been offered to the Lord. The left-overs from the Lord's offering plate is called prasadam (mercy). Personally each night I feed my dog the prasadam remnants which I also partake of.
Infact the dog relishes his night time meal of rice, vegetables, dahl, yoghurt and occasionally various fruits. I can see when he eats how much he loves the food.
A common thing today is that people feed their dogs so much junk that the dogs can develop serious health conditions (just like humans) from being over-weight. This problem of over-weight pets is prevalent in the United States of America. So I question, is this kind treatment of your pet?
A dog that lives on healthy vegetarian food will never suffer from this health condition!
Humans do not have to eat meat. So we can choose not to very easily! Why make your belly a graveyard for dead animals? There is so much violence in the world today, so much war and violent crimes! We want world peace but we continue to support animal slaughter houses which kill thousands of innocent animals every single day, just to satisfy our tongue and bellies. If we want world peace maybe we should begin by changing our eating habits....then maybe human consciousness will become more peaceful and non-violent.
'I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals.' - Thoreau.
"While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?' - Shaw.
'I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.' - Gandhi.
So the devotee will happily take the Lord's remnants (prasadam) and relish its spiritual flavor,
being fully satisfied. And at the same time maintaining a meat free house.
So.....dogs do not have to be vegetarian in diet, but the simple hearted devotees at some stage of spiritual development definately wish to have a meat free household. Thus vegetarian pets.
Nava Gauranga dasa.