Question: Do you feel it is important for the aspirant to follow the vegetarian diet?

Sri Chinmoy: The answer will be yes and no. It depends on the individual aspirant. We all know that we have come from the animal kingdom. We believe in reincarnation. So once upon a time, we were all animals. Now, we have come into the human creation and we are progressing and evolving and all of us will realise God on the strength of our aspiration.

For an aspirant, it is advisable to be a vegetarian precisely because when he eats meat, the aggressive quality of the animal enters into him. We are trying to live a life of peace and tranquility. If we sincerely want that kind of life, then it is foolishness on our part to eat something that would diminish our peace and tranquility and stand in the way of our meditation, concentration, etc. So it is always advisable to accept the vegetarian life. But, again, there are some countries or some parts of the world where it is exceptionally cold and there it is impossible for those particular people, to live on vegetables alone. What are they going to do then? There only if they eat meat can they remain on earth. Then, again, there are some sincere seekers whose physical constitution is very weak. Some children, for example, who are very ill require meat for a short time to regain their strength. Others from the beginning of their lives have been eating meat and now they have formed such a habit, such a bad habit, you can say, that they cannot manage without it even for a day. What are they going to do? On the one hand, they have sincere aspiration, genuine aspiration, but their body revolts. I feel, in such rare cases, that they should eat meat.

But as a general rule, it is always advisable to be a vegetarian because we are trying to throw away the animal qualities and propensities from our nature. Already when we go deep within, we see that we have two different qualities or natures; the divine and the undivine. The undivine is the animal in us and the animal within us will always be aggressive and destructive. The divine in us will always be progressive and illumined. So if we want to march and run towards our Goal, then we have to do away with our animal life. To do that, whatever animal qualities we take into us in the form of meat or in some other form have to be discontinued.

Now to come back to your question, if one says that one has to be a vegetarian in order to realise God or that one cannot achieve God-realisation unless he is a vegetarian, then I say that it is pure foolishness. There are many meat-eaters who have realised God: Christ, Vivekananda and many others who realised God, but ate meat as others do. There are many. A few months ago someone told me that in order to have purity in abundance, he stopped eating meat, but he also felt that just by becoming a vegetarian, he would be able to realise God. He would not have to meditate, he would not have to concentrate; only by becoming a vegetarian, he could achieve union with the Absolute. So I told him that in India, all widows without exception are forbidden to take meat. When their husbands die, on that very day, they have to stop taking meat. Now in spite of my deepest love and respect for Indian widows, I don't think that they are all God-realised souls. That kind of feeling towards the vegetarian life is absurd. Yet we have to strike a balance. For a sincere aspirant, it is certainly advisable and helpful to be a vegetarian.