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When Hindu children brought up in the western countries, are asked about their vegetarian diet, they don't have the answers always.

This is the first in a series of articles that we hope to provide some of the answers. The articles are written in the style of question and answer between a father and a son. The father, born in India, is 40 and he came over to Britain 18 years ago. The son is 14 and he is born in Britain. The conversion starts when the son arrives back from school one day and asks his father a question.

Son : Dad, why don’t we eat meat? Peter asked me this question today. I answered that it is because it is against our religion. He was satisfied with my answer, but he has got me thinking, I am sure there must be other reasons for not eating meat.

Dad : I think there are 5 good reasons for not eating meat: (1) Killing is unethical, (2) Vegetarian food is better for the health, (3) God does not allow the meat-eaters into Heaven, (4) Vegetable agriculture is less wasteful, (5) Vegetable agriculture is less harmful to the environment.

Son : What do you mean by “Killing is unethical"?

Dad : “Thou shalt not kill” should be the basic law of human conduct. Most people would agree that we have no right to take the life of another human being. But what gives us the right to take the life of an animal?

Like humans, all animals experience fear and pain. Can you think of anything that is morally worse than causing suffering to other begins?

Mahatma Gandhi says : “the basis of my vegetarianism is not physical, but moral. If anybody said that I should die if I did not take beef-tea or mutton, even under medical advice, I would prefer death...."

Son : Is there any proof that Vegetarian food is better for the health?

Dad : No, but, bad diet is linked to all the major killer diseases such as heart disease, cancer and strokes. Saturated fat in the diet leads to high blood cholesterol, the fatty substance which blocks arteries, leading to heart disease. Meat, dairy products and eggs are the principle sources of saturated fat and cholesterol. The Coronary Prevention Group, Health Education Council and doctors – all recommended that we should eat less meat and dairy products.

Bad diet causes one third of all cancers. Studies of vegetarians have shown that their diet actually protects them against some cancers, particularly against one of the commonest cancer of the colon.

In Great Britain, 1 in 4 people die from heart disease and breast cancer is the second biggest killer amongst the women.

“Women who are vegetarian, seem to have lower rates of endometrial and breast cancer than their meat-eating sisters."