We are nowadays constantly exhorted to see to it that our personal and collective “ecological footprint” stays as small as possible. We hear an especially great deal of talk about our “carbon footprint”. But of a similar degree of importance is the moral imperative to limit our “himsa footprint”. The Sanskrit word himsa signifies “injury” or “violence”; ahimsa, on the other hand, is the principle of non-violence, non-injury. The person who lives frugally, consuming no meat or (so far as possible) no animal products at all, leaves behind him a relatively small “himsa footprint” – in marked contrast to the person who frequently takes journeys by plane or car, and quite especially in contrast to the meat-eater, who with every meat-product he consumes contributes to extending the chain of breeding, fattening-up, and brutally slaughtering living beings.
The heaviest “himsa footprint” of all, however, is left by the person who procreates. Parents bring a human being into the world who will, with absolute certainty, become a victim of one or another form of biological violence (i.e. sickness, accident or death) and will also, with a barely lesser degree of certainty, become a victim (or a perpetrator) of one or another form of social violence (chicanery, punishment, insult or humiliation). Whoever procreates condones, in one way or another, that course of history up to the present day which is so filled and over-filled with violence and lays a new foundation stone for this violent history’s perpetuation.