Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948) also known under the honorific of Mahatma ("Great Soul") Gandhi, was one of the major figures in the Indian independence movement, a pioneer of non-violent civil disobedience, and the first leader of independent India. He was strongly influenced by Jainism in his youth, and the principle of ahimsa or nonviolence to all beings, neccesitates Vegetarianism as a natural consequence.
The following quotations from Gandhi are from International Vegetarian Union - History of Vegetarianism - Mohandas K. Gandhi . See that page also for details of Gandhi's vegetarianism and online texts on the subject
I do not regard flesh-food as necessary for us at any stage and under any clime in which it is possible for human beings ordinarily to live. I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in copying the lower animal world - if we are superior to it.
I hold today the same opinion as I held then. To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon earth.
I abhor vivisection with my whole soul. All the scientific discoveries stained with innocent blood I count as of no consequence.
"Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good."
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