Diet in Hinduism differs from its sundry religions. The medieval and historic Hindu texts endorse ahimsa or non-violence towards all live organisms, including humans and animals, because they suspect that it decreases the risk of animal deaths.
Most of the Hindus stick to a healthy vegetarian diet that may or may not comprise dairy products and eggs. They believe eggs and dairy products are in a synchronized manner with nature and other life forms.
People usually eat with those individuals who are of equal rank. It is believed that those people who go and eat everywhere are of deficient status. If an individual from one caste provides food to a member of another caste, then all the members of the initial caste are known to be of a higher caste.
The majority of the Hindus practice Intermittent fasting for religious reasons on holy and festive days, but this practice varies according to their local customs and preferences. Some people forgo all the nourishment while others consume only juice and limit themselves to a single meal in a day.
Fasting is a physical and spiritual reset that enhances the human body’s condition. A successful religious fast should not lead to the urge to eat or be in a hurry whenever the fast is over.
The Diet of non-vegetarian Hindus comprises meat, fish and poultry, and red meat to an extent. Some of them consume beef too in summation to dairy products and eggs and dairy products. For killing birds and animals for food, Non-vegetarian Hindus often make use of jhatka or quick death.
Ancient Indian Culture texts report the whole creation as a massive food chain and the universe as a vast food cycle. Hindu sanyasis do not prepare their food. They rely either on charity or harvesting fruits from the woodlands, as they believe this decreases the harm caused to living creatures and nature.
History Of Hindu Diet
Being the world’s third-largest and the oldest religion, Hinduism positively promotes simple and natural living as a way to spiritual and physical purity. The Hindu diet varies enormously as some people are strict vegetarians, while other individuals eat meat that is hunted locally.
Hindu dietary customs are dependent on the belief that the human body is made up of water, fire, earth, and air and that the food you consume can either throw them out of balance or balance these elements.
Food In The Vedas
Ancient Vedic texts like the Rigveda state that Nanditha Krishna criticizes people who kill cattle, men and horses, and invokes Lord Agni to penalize people who kill. The Brahmanas state that squandering of beef from oxen and cows is a major sin. The Atharvaveda information that rice, beans, and barley are food items allotted for the Hindu community’s consumption.
Food In Upanishads & Samhitas
The Upanishads structure the basis for Vedanta, the Vedas’ pinnacle, and Hinduism standard. They support abstaining from harming living organisms while proposing ahimsa as a requisite for salvation or Moksha or enlightenment.
The Upanishad texts of Hindu culture inform about regular diet and appropriate nutrition. These Upanishad texts also invoke self-restraint theory in food affairs, while the Samhitas tell about what and when particular foods are suitable. Self-control in the diet is known as Mitahara, and this is studied in Shandilya Upanishad and Svatmarama as good quality.
The Bhagavad Gita incorporates verses on self-control and diet in food in its chapters. It tells that a Yogi is supposed to eat too much nor too less neither. Also, he should neither sleep much nor too little. Observing and understanding one’s habits about sleeping, eating, and pleasure are known to be very important in the practice of yoga.
Three Categories Of Hindu Diet Code:
According to Hindu mythology, all foods have separate possessions and features. Different food items create other effects on various parts of the mind or the brain. Consumption of meat, sparrow, eggs, fish, onion, and garlic creates passion in your mind and soul. Fruits and pulses make the serene, soulful, and calm. The properties of good food influence the healthy being of a person.
Human beings have a desire for certain foods according to their temperament Guna. Our body is an instrument by which we can accomplish all our goals and purposes in the universe. Moreover, the horse takes an individual to his final goal or destination: liberation or Moksha. Therefore, the mind should be kept healthy, clean, and robust.
Everything in this universe is threefold, and so are the food items. They are either Rajasic, Sattwic, or Tamasic according to their properties and effect on the mind and body. You can quickly learn about an individual’s character or temperament from the type of food he consumes. You can also find out your characteristics by the food you eat. You can know whether you are Rajasic, Sattwic, or Tamasic from your fondness for specific food items.
1. Sattvic Food
Original food items increase the strength and liveliness of people. It also increases the flow of energy in the body and makes us fit and powerful. Sattvic food introduces calmness and mental satisfaction and helps people to enter into meditation.
This food can be very quickly eaten and absorbed while supplying the maximum energy level to the body. A sattvic person consumes juice, fruits, and vegetables that taste and nourish the body. Food items that are sattvic In nature are-
- Wheat and cereals.
- Fruits, almonds, and dates.
- Butter, milk, and ghee
- Vegetables and pulses.
You will be required to ban fish, eggs, and liquor from becoming a true sattwa.
2. Rajasic Food
Items desirous in nature produce evil thoughts and restlessness in mind and cause pain and trouble to an individual. A Rajasic individual always prepares a lot to satisfy his hunger pangs and his dinner plate. He consumes chilies, salt, cloves, pickles, etc., in excess amount.
Tears would flow, and water would dribble from his nose, but he would still not leave the pungent and hot food. The person remains unhappy and unsatisfied till the stomach is not filled with hot and spicy things. Some Instances of Rajasic food are-
- Puri, kachori, and fried loaves of bread.
- Beatles, tobacco, tea, and coffee.
- Onion, garlic, lemon, and masoor daal.
- Meat, fish, and eggs.
Rajasic food items disturb the mind. To control this, you need to give up on salt. Abandoning salt helps in controlling hunger and also calms the mind and soul. Scorpion and snake bite sting will not affect an individual who has refrained himself from salt. Garlic and onions are even worse than beef and meat.
3. Tamasic Food
Individuals who are Tamasic in nature consume food in the afternoon time. The food they consume is cooked on the previous day. Tamasic people like food that is half cooked or half burnt. The person and his children eat from the same dish that has been mixed into a mess. The food consumed by them is either stale or half-cooked. They highly drink liquor and are horrible individuals.
Some of the instances of tamasic food are-
- Ganja, bhang, opium.
- Charas and stale articles.
- Overcooked or undercooked food.
Hindu Vegetarian Diet
Lacto-vegetarianism diet is often followed by Hindus, which comprises milk-based food items and many other items that are not derived from animals. A typical vegetarian Hindi diet prohibits consuming eggs and meat. The two important reasons for this are
- Non-violence or ahimsa against animals.
- The aim is to offer only vegetarian food to Hindu gods and then consume it again in prasad or blessings from Lord Shiva.
A classic Hindu vegetarian meal is a combination of rice, green vegetables, wheat, and other dairy products. Depending on the terrestrial region, the chief food items can include millet pieces of bread. Slaughtering of animals is avoided.
Many Hindus, who follow the Vaishnava tradition, hold themselves back on consuming garlic and onions during Chaturmas time ranging from July till November.
Hindu Non-vegetarian Diet
Although many Hindus are vegans, a large portion of people still consumes fish and eggs. According to research, 13% of the non-vegetarians in the nation are Hindus. Individuals who are non-vegetarians usually prefer fish, poultry, and seafood as their meat sources.
In Assam and West Bengal, fish is the Chief food of most individuals and communities. It is also a major food item in coastal regions of India.
Hindus who consume meat often differentiate meat from beef. Respect for cows is a Hindu belief. Most of them prohibit the consumption of meat that is sourced from cows as they are treated as mothers and are often considered a family member—few Hindus who consume non-vegetarian food refrain from eating it during festivals Diwali, Janmashtami, and Dussehra.
Hindu Food Rituals
In Hindu culture, many rituals are linked with food. Some of these rituals are
- A child’s first and the foremost feeding ceremony is celebrated and remembered as a samskara and is popularly known as Annaprasana.
- The funeral rites and rituals consist of serving and offering food to the deceased soul.
- According to research, food that is regularly worshipped provides vigor and power to the mind and soul of human beings. Therefore, it is advised that a man who is born twice should always consume food with a focussed mind, and after he has eaten his food, he should cleanse his hands with water and get rid of the mouth’s cavities.
Hindus always observe a few main rituals before consuming food. These rituals are discussed below.
- Cleaning the Ground: You should always consume food in a clean place. Hindu law prohibits eating food in contaminated areas.
- Sprinkle water around the food-As soon as the food is served. You must sprinkle water around the plate, accompanied by prayers and mantras. This will purify the food and make it worth eating for the Lord’s.
- Food is offered to five breaths, namely apana, prana, udana, vyana, samanya, and the Brahmana instilled in the heart. Some individuals also make sure to provide food to the divinities before eating.
Foods Forbidden In Hinduism
Consuming beef is strictly prohibited in typical orthodox Hindu culture. Hindus remain Lacto-vegetarian and drink cow’s milk, which is the only food-related to any animal. The habit of eating beef is highly encouraged in other religions, but Hindus consider beef and neglect it as much as they can.
Apart from consuming beef, there are many vegetables too that are abstained by an orthodox Hindu culture. Turnip, garlic, onion, etc., is a taboo in the list of these vegetables strictly prohibited from eating. Alcohol is not meant to be consumed and is strictly prohibited for Hindus.
Usually, the preaching sects of Hindus like Swaminarayan and Brahmin communities avoid drinking alcohol. They do not even take the roots of vegetables. They believe that it drains out all the spiritual beliefs and thoughts and builds and enhances Tamasic qualities inside an individual’s body.
The most preferred and vital meat that Hindus generally opt for consumption is the meat of a goat. Note that they do not consume the flesh of pork as the animal is considered to be dirty. In India, individuals belonging to other castes consume the root of all types that also includes beef and pork. Hindus living in the same nation are prone to destroy it instead of avoiding it.
The traditional Hindu religion never persuades or forces the Hindu followers to eat only vegetarian. Still, for the cause of “ahimsa,” Hinduism is always taught to be vegan and avoid meat. It is stated and described that whenever Hindus consume fish, eggs, seafood, and meat, there is a vibration of small creatures.
This vibration can pull down the nature of the human that consumes meat. Especially for this purpose alone, Hindus are refrained from consuming meat and other non-vegetarian food items. The majority of Hindus are vegetarian and avoid consuming meat and eggs. However, many Hindus consume chicken or fish.
Can Hindus Drink Milk?
Yes, Hindus consume milk products. A cow is described as a theomorphic animal in Vedas. So, Hindus refer to cows as their mother and as a God. Hindus consume products like yogurt, milk, ghee, and butter. As cows are regarded as mothers and God, Hindus don’t ever try to kill any Cow and bull for their food. A cow is also stated as Mother earth various times in the ancient Puranas.
Lord Krishna, the holy avatar of Lord Vishnu, likes to consume milk, yogurt, and butter. Milk Products provide Sattva Guna while the flesh of animals provides Tamas Guna. Krishna worshippers have a special bond with cows because of Krishna’s role as a cowherd. Facts and Stories about his love for milk and butter are legendary. Lord Krishna is also known as “Makhan chor,” or butter thief.
Hindus utilize dairy products and milk for religious purposes because it is believed to have refining qualities. Butter or ghee is used in lighting lamps Or diyas for rituals. Milk is used for bathing Hindu lords on unique festivals.
Sweets are also made from ghee or dairy, which are often used to offer to gods. Milk is also used in the funeral rites of the deceased ones. Hence, for this particular reason, most Hindus follow a Vegetarian diet.
Ghee spread on loaves of bread can be an excellent treat for the poor people. Buttermilk is a popular summer drink that refreshes and soothes your stomach.
In case you are in India, you can never escape the calorie-filled sweets prepared from milk. One important thing that is common across India is the morning cup of hot milk tea. Tiny street-side tea stalls Commence their work early morning with laborers and other individuals as their first customers.
Do Hindus Eat Pork?
Hindus who do not consume meat and chicken often differentiate all the meat items from beef. The respect for the holy cow is a part of Hindu belief and culture, and most of the Hindus avoid consuming meat that is sourced from a cow as they are treated like a motherly animal and a member of the family.
The Hindus staying in Vietnam do not consume beef and pork. For the longest time in our country, pork eaters have been significantly less even though meat is consumed in large portions of the country like North-Eastern states, Karnataka, Kerala, and Goa, various other communities like the Kodavas and the Catholics.
Hinduism is not just a culture, but it is more than a religion. It is an emotion and a way of life and behavior. According to Hindu symbols, many Hindus are Lacto-vegetarians who avoid eggs and meat.
However, some Hindus may eat chicken, lamb, or fish. Fats derived from animals such as lard are not allowed. The sayings are reflected in statements that are utilized by Hindus to inform about Hinduism- Sanatana Dharma, which means eternal faith. Unlike Jainism, Buddhism, or Sikhism, Hinduism has no founder.