Here the phrase "breath of life" has been translated from the Hebrew word נֶפֶשׁ (nephesh). The Hebrew lexicon defines this word to mean: "soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion; a) that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man." This is describing the living substance within each creature - including animals, birds, and so on.
"Breath of life" means that there is a qualitatively equal living personality within each organism. We can see this quite simply by looking at a pet or any other animal. What do we see when we look into the eyes of a living creature? We see them looking back at us. We see life. We see a living individual, with a will of its own. We see within each creature a distinct personality. This personality, the organism's "breath of life," is the spiritual individual.
The spiritual individual living within each physical body lies within another plane of existence. This is why when a person dies, every physical element - every atom, molecule, nerve, cell, organ and tissue system - remains in the dead body. Something else has left the body at death, but we cannot see it. We only know that it existed in the physical body because when it was there, the body had movement, metabolism and sought to achieve particular needs. For animals and humans, this need revolves around survival, but an even more basic need of the living being within is love.
We might compare this to a car and its driver. The car just sits there until a driver steps in, sits down and drives the car away. The car only moves when it is driven by someone. The physical body is no different. Within each physical body is a driver - a distinct spiritual individual.
The predominating motive of the spiritual individual is love. Each of us needs love. Every one of us searches for true love in the form of mates, friends and groups, throughout our lives. Animals also seek love, but through their own cultures. They seek love in families, mating and pets.
As for pets, their search for love includes humans. We can see this clearly in a pet. Even when the pet is full of food, the pet will still hanker to be petted and played with. They need love just as we do.
This is further evidence that the living individual within the physical body is the same, regardless of the type of body we might be wearing. This is why we can grant equality to all people of a population, regardless of whether their bodies have dark skin, brown skin or light skin. Each of us is equal within. This equality is also the same with animals. Within each animal is the same type of living individual as within the bodies of humans.
The difference is that the spiritual individual within the human body is more evolved spiritually than the spiritual individual within the animal body. The spiritual individual within the human body has risen to a point of higher consciousness. The spiritual individual ("breath of life") within the human body has an opportunity to regain our original spiritual consciousness, and remember our relationship with God.
Those in lower forms of life have not evolved to that point. This does not mean that they won't, however. The physical world is meant to gradually raise our consciousness by running us through various lessons.
Just as each level in school prepares us for the next level or grade, each lesson within the physical world is designed to take us to the next level should we learn the lesson presented.
In fact, most of the lessons of the physical world are related to learning about relationships. Learning to treat others fairly and learning to care for others. Those who learn these lessons more quickly rise faster in their spiritual evolution.
This verse also confirms further that God’s design was that plant-based foods provided the ultimate nutrition for both animals and humans. This is why plant-based foods are anti-carcinogenic and supply an array of complete nutrition – even protein.
Why then do so many creatures, including humans, eat meat? Because God also created free will, and if one desires to eat meat, one can kill an animal (or hire someone else to) and eat meat. This doesn't mean meat is what God prefers we eat. Certainly if there is no plant-based food available, we would need to eat meat to keep the body alive. But it is clear from this statement that God prefers we not eat meat.
While the ultimate diet God arranged was from plant-based foods, He will still accept the worship of those who eat meat. This is why He allowed meat-offerings in His temple, along with grain, fruit and other offerings.
Meat offerings had strict guidelines, however. The meat had to be drained of blood and could be only from certain types of animals, and had to be prepared specially. Allowing them to make offerings with what they ate allowed them to re-develop their relationship with Him. (This is the purpose of offering our food to the Supreme Being prior to eating it: To help us re-develop our relationship with God).