Vegetarianism in India

The word ” Vegetarian ” was coined by the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom in about 1847. It is a derivation of the Latin word ‘ vegetari ‘ which means to enliven.

Vegetarian, the belief in and practice of eating exclusively vegetable foods and abstaining from any form of animal food. Food plays a major role and forms the essence in the practice of Religion in India.

Each religion has its own rules when it comes to food preparation and eating, which is mostly governed by cultural and religious history. Majority of Indians are vegetarian. The rise of vegetarianism in India goes back to more than 500 BC, when India saw the rise of Buddhism and Jainism. These religions preached the principle of ahimsa or “non-violence.” 

During the ancient Aryan Vedic period meat was consumed after animal sacrifice to the Gods.  This slowly changed with the rise of Jainism and Buddhisim, since their founders advocated the principle of ahimsa or ”non-violence”.  Saints like Kabir, Tulsi Sahib, Mira Bhai, Sant Tukaram always encouraged and preached Vegeterianism to their followers. And of recent, even Mahatma Gandhi, encouraged vegeterianism.  Mahatma Gandhi became a vegetarian too.

By 1908 vegetarianism had become an organized global movement gaining popularity when the International Vegetarian Union was founded in Germany.

Factors involved in Vegetarianism in India today are : (1) Religious or ethical beliefs; and (b) Income considerations or poverty

Rural Indian food in India is often vegetarian. Food items like roots, cereals, pulses, wheat, rice, form the main portion of the diets.  Many Indians, being farmers, find it cost-economical to stick to a vegeterian diet.

            Indian Scriptures Against Killing and Meat-Eating.

Hindu scripture speaks in favour of vegetarianism.  The roots of  vegeteriansim in India are found in the Vedas, Upanishads, Dharma Shastras, Yoga Sutras and most sacred texts of Hindus.

The Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita & Vegeterianism

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.

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.

Those who are ignorant of real dharma and, though wicked and haughty, account themselves virtuous, kill animals without any feeling of remorse or fear of punishment. Further, in their next lives, such sinful persons will be eaten by the same creatures they have killed in this world.
~ Shrimad Bhagavatam

One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Yielding to desire and acting differently, one becomes guilty of adharma.

Those high souled persons who desire beauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, mental &  physical strength and memory should abstain from any acts of injury.


From : The Tirukural.

The Tirukural was written in Tamil by a simple weaver – saint in a village close to Chennai ( Madras)  over 2,000 years ago and is regarded as the world’s greatest ethical scripture.

How can he practice true compassion Who eats the flesh of an animal to fatten his own flesh?

Riches cannot be found in the hands of the thriftless. Nor can compassion be found in the hearts of those who eat meat.

Goodness is never one with the minds of these two: one who wields a weapon and one who feasts on a creature’s flesh.

Life is perpetuated by not eating meat.The clenched jaws of hell hold those who do.

If the world did not purchase and consume meat, there would be none to slaughter and offer meat for sale.

Perceptive souls who have abandoned passion will not feed on flesh abandoned by life.

Greater than a thousand ghee offerings consumed in sacrificial fires is to not sacrifice and consume any living creature.

All that lives will press palms together in prayerful adoration of those who refuse to slaughter and savor meat.

It is the principle of the pure in heart never to injure others, even when they themselves have been hatefully injured. What is virtuous conduct? It is never destroying life, for killing leads to every other sin.

Harming others, even enemies who harmed you unprovoked, assures incessant sorrow. The supreme principle is this: never knowingly harm any one at any time in any way.

What is the good way? It is the path that reflects on how it may avoid killing any living creature. Refrain from taking precious life from any living being, even to save your own life.


From : Vedas and Agamas

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 not hesitate to cut off his head. ~ Rig Veda Samhita

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

If we have injured space, the earth or heaven, or if we have offended mother or father, from that may Agni, fire of the house, absolve us and guide us safely to the world of goodness.


Healthy vegetarian recipes



Famous Vegetarians of the World
Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Isaac Newton,  Leonardo da Vinci, Ben Franklin, Socrates, Thomas Edison, Pythagoras, Plato, Voltaire, & many more

World Champion Sportsmen who are Vegetarian

Martina Navratilova (USA)- tennis champ

Cheryl Marek and Estelle Gray -world record holders, cross-country tandem cycling

Desmond Howard (USA)- pro football & Heisman trophy winner

Billie Jean King (USA)- tennis champ

Ingra Manecke (Gr) -discus throw champ

Paavo Nurmi (Fin)- runner & winner of 9 Olympic medals and 20 world records

Bill Pearl (USA) -4 time Mr Universe

Ridgely Abele -(winner of 8 national championships in karate)

Dave Scott (USA) -6 time Ironman triathlon champ

Andreas Cahling (Sw)- champion body builder & Olympic gold medalist in ski jump

Sixto Linares (world record holder, 24-hour triathlon)

Bill Manetti (USA) -power lift champ

Stan Price (world weight lifting record holder)

Murray Rose (swimmer, Olympic gold medalist)

Edwin Moses (USA)- Olympic gold medallist & world record holder in track

Surya Bonaly (Fr) -Olympic figure skater

Chris Campbell (USA) -Olympic wrestling Champion

and more sportsmen

Vegetarian Stars

Paul McCartny, Richard Gere, Alicia Silverstone, Linda McCartny, Billy Crystal, Bryan Adams, Kim Basinger, Lisa Bonet, Steve Howe, Chrissie Hynde Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Steve Martin, Dennis Weaver, Vanessa Williams,

Interesting links :

low calorie and vegetarian recipes

healthy vegetarian recipes

healthy snack recipes

foods that burn fat

nutrition and balanced diet

NOT FOR HUMANS – How humans are not physically created to eat meat.

Why Hindu Don’t eat Meat – History of Vegeterianism in India.

Debate for Being a Vegetarian versus Non Vegeterianism

PHYSICAL FITNESS– The Physical advantages of being vegetarian.

Healing Health –The correlation between meats, diseases and obesity

Eight Good reasons to be a Vegeterian

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