Prince Siddhartha (young Buddha) taking care of injured Swan that was shot by his royal cousin
During my recent visit to Siem Reap, I stayed at Golden Takeo, a family owned guesthouse. It is run by Prom: a professional, friendly and kind gentleman. No wonder, it repeatedly gets the best reviews. This place is centrally located and makes a perfect base for exploring Angkor Wat and other historic temples.
I requested Prom for a vegetarian meal on the day I was checking out. I just wanted to take it easy and relax instead of venturing out on my last day in Siem Reap. He was surprised to know that I was a strict vegetarian. The people eat anything and everything in this part of the world and majority of the visitors indulge in these local rituals e.g. eating insects :-).
Prom (Buddhist by birth) was curious to know of my reasons for being a vegetarian. So we had a long discussion about vegetarianism and the two main pillars of Buddhism: Non Violence and Compassion. He mentioned that he was a vegetarian earlier and knew well that eating meat was not good for him. Prom quoted many verses by Buddha on Non Violence and Compassion. He showed a great concern for animal cruelty and was almost in tears when he shared his realizations about the bad karmic reaction of killing animals. I was taken aback by his depth of knowledge and realization.
I asked Prom what was holding him from being a vegetarian. He mentioned the key reasons: society and friends that he keeps, specially his family at home. I could sympathize with him because I know the importance of Good Association well enough. This was one of the reasons for our move to Atlanta from the Northeast. I needed an environment that was conducive for acquiring good habits. To become a vegetarian was one of them.
I know of many friends who want to make a change for the better but the surroundings (home or outside) are not of much help. Why not pray intensely, seek help, make new friends? It works.
You will be surprised to know that some of my vegetarian friends are Jewish, Muslim and Christians…religion is no bar!! Don’t believe me? Just google, you will find many sects/societies of these religions that are strict vegetarians. They will even quote the verses from their scriptures related to compassion for all living beings and a preference for vegetarian diet.
Best is to start slow if you’re really addicted to eating meat. You can follow your favorite role model or celebrity that are vegetarians. For example, Paul McCartney’s Meat Free Monday’s. Even if you don’t believe in having compassion for animals, being a Vegetarian is still good for your own health, family and the environment. You got nothing to lose!!