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Degrees of Vegetarianism

by Vikas Kamat
First Online: July 05, 2003
Page Last Updated: October 31, 2016

Some notes on what is considered as  vegetarian food in India, and some reasoning behind those practices.

  • Generally it is accepted in India that life is precious and should not be tortured or abused. However, sacrificing the animals has a very long tradition in India.
  • Some people define life as "Something that Moves" -- these people do not consider plants as life and will eat plants. People who follow this definition will eat eggs, and surprisingly, even mollusks like oysters, because they do not move!
  • Some people in India eat only food that does not result in killing of any life. These are the most rigid of the vegetarians. So these people cannot eat roots, leaves (unless they have fallen naturally from a tree), or meats. They consume milk (because milking the cow does not kill it), fruits (because the trees shed them), and nuts.
  • Beast's Day Out -- a large number of people practice selective vegetarianism in India, opting not to eat meats on certain days of the week. Examples - No fish on Mondays, no chicken on very other Friday etc.,
  • Contrary to popular belief, most people in India do consume meats - even beef. The so called lower-strata of the society, namely the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, and the Backward Castes, who form over 75% of India's population fall in this category. Many of them practice the Beast's Day Out mentioned above. (see: castes)
  • Cultural Vegetarians and Cultural Non-vegetarians -- there are a lot of people who follow them as part of culture, and do not attach much importance. It may be recalled that spiritual teachers such as Buddha, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Vivekananda were non-vegetarians by any definition.
  • A new generation of Indians has emerged that eats animals, except animals that in turn eat other animals. These people can eat fish and beef, but not dogs or sharks.

See Also:

  • List of Recipes at Kamat's Potpourri
  • Vegetarian Links
  • Fun with Vegetables -- Kamat's lust for life is reflected even in the vegetables he buys! Pictures of common and uncommon vegetables of India.

 

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