Why are Hindus vegetarian?

By on April 1, 2013

Vegetarianism is varied among the different faiths within Hinduism. Some refrain from eating all types of egg, including “hidden” egg in cakes, pastries and breads. Others will happily indulge in these treats, but will refuse to eat a succulent char siu bao (barbecue pork bun), and some will dive straight into the seafood section at a buffet.


I’m personally happy to swing either way, except on Monday and Thursdays, where I remain strictly vegetarian. But why? Is it because my mother told me from young to be vegetarian on those days? Or because I remember the arguments from my debating days at school in favour of animal rights? Or is it because I just dislike the taste of meat? As a young Hindu, why am I blindly vegetarian on those specific days?

There are several lines of thinking as to why vegetarianism is widely practised among Hindus. The crux of the arguments always link to ahimsa, or non-violence.

When an animal is slaughtered for food, it most likely suffered. One argument suggests that when eating meat, you are also ingesting the emotions of the animal as it died – pain, suffering and violence. Thus, by being vegetarian, you avoid bringing these negative emotions upon yourself. Furthermore, meat is considered to be heavy food, so it not only weighs down the body, but also the mind and stops both from working effectively and efficiently.

Another argument is found in the Mahabharata, “one should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self.” So simply we should not think of eating someone for dinner, for one day we could be someone else’s dinner.

We all know about cows being holy – but what about other animals? Pork is considered a “dirty meat”, because pigs are considered dirty animals with all the disease they have. By eating pork, it was thought that people would contract the same diseases.

So, here are a few explanations about why many Hindus are vegetarian. Take what you will from it, and consider yourself in the know.

Did you like the article? Leave a comment below.
Shaneli Dadlani

Shaneli is a writer and editor based in Hong Kong. She grew up here and has a penchant for tea and scones, and all things royal. Shaneli is a world news and current affairs junkie, and has experience writing for magazines and newspapers. She loves writing short stories, and one day will have a novel published. You heard it here first!


  1. janan

    May 29, 2013 at 2:45 am

    It seems according to Hiinduism, it sounds Ok to wear fancy leather bags but just don’t consume their meat. Your thought please!!!

  2. janan

    May 29, 2013 at 2:43 am

    How about wearing fancy bags made of animals’ skin? Doesn’t that invoke the same feeling of pain, agony and barbarianism as felt by the animal during the slaughtering time?

  3. Robert

    April 25, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    > Pork is considered a “dirty meat”, because pigs are considered dirty animals with all the disease they have.

    According to Hinduism ?
    Can you cite some references ?

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