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QUESTION: If  you are a stickler regarding vegetarianism, what is your logic to make a distinction between plants and animals? Both have life!
It doesn't need unusual  intelligence to recognize that animals have an extra dimension of sentience than plants.  But more than that. Here is something which the animals themselves would put forth as their plea!. You cut a plant and eat it ; the remaining thing left on its roots sprouts again and it grows. You cut one  leg of a lamb, but the remaining three legs  remain as three for ever; the fourth leg never grows!
The concept of non-violence has its roots in the Hindu theory that every life is a spark of the divine and our recognition of the divine must be so universal as to identify ourselves with this divinity in every living being., and therefore, the least harm that you can do to life is all that is permitted. The ideal state of non-violence may never be reached. Eating plant food is also a kind of harm done to the plant world.  In consonance with this , Hindu rituals prescribe various compensatory, repentant rites as a daily chore, for the several explicit and implicit killings that we cannot do without in our day-to-day lives. It is in this context that the practice of vegetarianism varies from region to region in the country and from one level of society to another. In fact, the higher you consider yourself in the cosmic evolution to spiritual perfection, the nearer you would yourself like to be to the ideal of non-violence.
A delicate balance has to be attempted. Earth is the most concrete form of expression of Nature through its five elements. These five elements themselves - earth, water, fire, air and space - are nothing but expressions of the same divinity. This expression is what is technically known as prakRti.
So for worship, we take the most concrete form of prakRti and that is why, the linga and the salagrAma risen from earth are worshipped the 'forms' bordering on the 'formless'. Plants are the next in evolution from this concrete form of prakRti. But still they have no soul. Animals have a soul. So they should not be killed. Eating plant food with proper disc ipline is called vegetarianism. Even among plant food there are taboos from the point of view of sAtvic food!
In sum  the understanding of the concept of non-violence is dependent on the extent of  one's  conviction about the identity of all living beings. The nearer one is  to this conviction the more non-violent one is  likely to be. It is this attitude of identity that matters. The amount of violence that one  cannot but do without in one's  own life depends upon the intensity of identity with all beings that one  feels or can train oneself  to feel.  This coupled with various traditions and sociological

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