Popular Diets
Religious Aspects Of Vegetarian Diets

This article introduces some religious aspects of vegetarianism and veganism...

Hindu Vegetarians

Hindu Vegetarians in popular diets

Many, many Hindus refuse to eat meat.

Be sure to go to the appropriate sources for further information. Should you desire to become vegetarian or vegan plan your diet with a dietician or nutritionist.

Some major Hindu groups consider vegetarianism as an ideal. Their reasons include: the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa) applied to animals; the intention to offer only pure (vegetarian) food to a deity and receive it back as prasad; and the belief that non-vegetarian food is detrimental for spiritual development and the mind itself. Most Hindu vegetarians are lacto-vegetarians; consuming milk and dairy products.

Most followers of Jainism are also lacto-vegetarians. They stress the principle of all-round non-violence. They won’t eat honey because collecting honey is seen as violence against bees. Some Jains will not eat roots and bulbs to avoid killing tiny animals during the harvest. Some Jains are fruitarians, eating only fruit. Both Hinduism and Jainism teach vegetarianism as moral conduct. According to some Buddhists, the Buddha himself ate meat and he did not prohibit it for his followers. Others teach that he instructed his followers to avoid meat. Observant Sikhs are also divided on the question of consuming meat. Many Sikh Gurus prefer a simple diet that may include meat.

Many Jewish medieval scholars regarded vegetarianism as a moral ideal, not as an issue of animal welfare. They felt the slaughtering of animals might cause the slaughterer to develop negative character traits such as cruelty. The famous modern scholar Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook wrote of vegetarianism as an ideal, and reminded us that Adam did not eat meat. Some Kabbalists believe that only a mystic, one able to sense and elevate the reincarnated human souls, is permitted to consume meat, though eating animal flesh might still spiritually damage the soul. Many Orthodox Jewish vegetarians believe that the halakhic permission to eat meat is a temporary leniency for those who are not ready yet to accept the vegetarian diet. Other Orthodox Jews feel that God gave people some animals for our consumption.

Vegetarian Christian Saints book in popular diets

Some of the saints refused to eat animals.

Vegetarianism is relatively uncommon in western Christian thought. The Bible states that in the beginning humans and animals were vegetarian. After the Great Flood, God permitted meat eating, some say as a temporary measure because all the plants were destroyed. Some Christians feel that in the future, humans and animals will return to vegetarianism. Certain Christian leaders hold that Jesus was a vegetarian. Romans 14:1-3 asserts that a person's dietary choice is of small consequence and should not be a point of confrontation. Therefore, some modern Christians consider vegetarianism as a perfectly acceptable personal choice with many of the same implications as fasting. Christian denominations advocating a fully vegetarian diet include the Seventh-day Adventists, the Rastafarians, and the Hare Krishnas.

Eastern Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox monastics abstain from meat year-round, and many abstain from dairy and seafood as well. Traditionally Eastern Christians abstain from animal products on Wednesdays (the day when Judas arranged to betray Jesus Christ) and Fridays (the day of the crucifixion), as well as during the four major fasts. Fasting is seen as purification and the regaining of innocence. The faster aims to conquer his or her disposition to sin.

Islam allows the consumption of halal meat, which meets ritual requirements. Vegetarianism is also an option. The decision to eat meat or not is a personal one supported by a religious philosophy stressing the kind treatment of animals. In January 1996, The International Vegetarian Union announced the formation of the Muslim Vegetarian/Vegan Society. Many Muslims who normally eat meat will select vegetarian options when dining in non-halal restaurants and thus assure the observance of their dietary restrictions.

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