St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals.
There are many reasons people go vegetarian: health, personal preference, economy, environment, etc. Spiritual practice is also a reason why many people world-wide have traditionally abstained from eating meat.
Religions of both the East and the West have long denounced the consumption of flesh. Compassion, kindness to creatures and respect for nature that God, Allah, Jah, Vishnu, etc. created seems to be at the heart of why some religions forbid the eating of certain meat.
In Hindu India the cow is sacred and the precept of ahisma (nonviolence) would suggest kindness to living creatures.
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Jainism and Buddhism, other religions in India, also espouse the virtues of practising kindness to living creatures. Principles of the Chinese religion Taoism (of yin/yang fame) suggest the merits of a vegetarian diet.
In both Judaic and Islamic tradition the concepts of kosher and halal, respectively, suggest humane ways in which animals should be treated. Though a vegetarian diet is not a requirement for followers of these Abrahamic religions, the consumption of pork is forbidden.
In the Christian realm, the Seventh Day Adventists actively promote a vegetarian diet while orthodox Christians in Ethiopia and Egypt fast from eating meat for approximately two-thirds of the calendar year.
The Rastafari tradition also does not include meat or shellfish in their diet, though some practitioners do eat fish.
This post has been brought to you by the kind folk at Weal Food for Vegetarian Awareness Month.
A sample of some Famous Vegetarians