Adapted from the awesome book Hinduism Today.
Scriptures of all Hindu denominations speak clearly and forcefully on nonkilling and vegetarianism. The roots of noninjury,nonkilling and nonconsumption of meat are found in the Vedas, Dharma Shastras, Tirumurai, Yoga Sutras, Tirukural and dozens of other sacred texts of Hinduism. Perhaps nowhere is the principle of nonmeat-eating so fully and eloquently expressed as in the Tirukural, written in the Tamil language by a simple weaver saint over 2,000 years ago. Some of the quotes from these scriptures are reproduced here.
One who partakes of human flesh, the flesh of a horse or of another animal, and deprives others of milk by slaughtering cows, O King, if such a fiend does not desist by other means, then you should nothesitate to cut off his head.
Rig Veda Samhita 10.87.16
Protect both our species, two-legged and four-legged. Both food and water for their needs supply. May they with us increase in stature and strength. Save us from hurt all our days, O Powers!
Rig Veda Samhita 10.37.11
O vegetable, be succulent, wholesome, strengthening; and thus, body, be fully grown.
Those noble souls who practice meditation and other yogic ways, who are ever careful about all beings, who protect all animals,are the ones who are actually serious about spiritual practices.
Atharva Veda Samhita 19.48.5
You must not use your God-given body for killing God’s creatures, whether they are human, animal or whatever.
Yajur Veda Samhita 12.32
The ignoble ones who eat flesh, death’s agents bind them fast and push them quick into the fiery jaws of hell (Naraka, lower consciousness).
When mindstuff is firmly based in waves of ahimsa, all living beings cease their enmity in the presence of such a person.
Yoga Sutras 2.35
Ahimsa is not causing pain to any living being at any time through the actions of one’s mind, speech or body.
Having well considered the origin of flesh and the cruelty of fettering and slaying of corporeal beings, let one entirely abstain from eating flesh.
The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing: he who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases, sells or cooks flesh
and eats it—all of these are to be considered meat-eaters.
Mahabharata, Anu. 115.40
He who desires to augment his own flesh by eating the flesh of other creatures lives in misery in whatever species he may take his birth.
Mahabharata, Anu. 115.47
Those high-souled persons who desire beauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, understanding, mental and physical strength and memory should abstain from acts of injury.
How can he practice true compassion who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh?
Tirukural Verse 251
Riches cannot be found in the hands of the thriftless. Nor can compassion be found in the hearts of those who eat meat.
Tirukural Verse 252
Goodness is never one with the minds of these two: one who wields a weapon and one who feasts on a creature’s flesh.
Tirukural Verse 253
If you ask, “What is kindness and what is unkind?” it is not killing and killing. Thus, eating flesh is never virtuous.
Tirukural Verse 254
Life is perpetuated by not eating meat. The clenched jaws of hell hold those who do.
Tirukural Verse 255
If the world did not purchase and consume meat, there would be none to slaughter and offer meat for sale.
Tirukural Verse 256
When a man realizes that meat is the butchered flesh of another creature, he must abstain from eating it.
Tirukural Verse 257
Greater than a thousand ghee offerings consumed in sacrificial fires is to not sacrifice and consume any living creature.
Tirukural Verse 259
All that lives will press palms together in prayerful adoration of those who refuse to slaughter and savor meat.
Tirukural Verse 260
My opinion is well known. 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.”