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Ask A Hindu: How is Vegetarianism Viewed?

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By Sreedharani Nandagopal 

How is vegetarian viewed in Hinduism? 

Vegetarianism is viewed very highly in Hinduism. In fact, vegetarianism is one of the fundamental principle beliefs of Sanathana Dharma, or Hinduism as this faith is known worldwide.

The soul of every living being is the soul of the Great Divine. It is called the Pramaathma (Great Soul). Vegetarianism comes from the Hindu belief in “Ahimsa Paramo Dharma,”which in Sanskrit means non-violence. It is the greatest duty. It is this fundamental principle which advocates the people who follow Sanathana Dharma to not harm any living being, in any shape or form. This leads to vegetarianism. Milking the cows is not considered harmful as long we let the calf have plenty of milk for its sustenance.  

With its roots originating from Sanathana Dharma, vegetarianism has spread to the western world.  Many westerners these days follow vegetarianism, be it due to animal cruelty, health concerns, capitalistic profit motive, or environmental consciousness or some other reason.  Whatever the reasons are, does not matter, vegetarianism is gaining popularity in the western world.  

It has been well established that vegetarianism is very beneficial to the health of the human being. Many diseases can be avoided following a vegetarian diet. This has been known for thousands of years in India. There is a book in India, written in Sanskrit called “Ayurveda” (meaning science of living) which focuses on eating roots, berries, vegetables, grains, dairy, etc. to maintain optimum health. It is believed that Ayurveda which can be traced to 6000 BCE and originated as an oral tradition. The first recorded forms of Ayurveda as medical texts have evolved from the Vedas. 

Faiths such as Buddhism and Jainism which have evolved from Sanathana Dharma have their origins in India.  These faiths follow and advocate non-violence and vegetarianism as well.  

Although many people who follow Hinduism are vegetarians some Hindus are not.

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