What Food Is Forbidden In Hinduism

What Food is Forbidden in Hinduism

India is home to many faiths, one of which is Hinduism, the second most populous religion in the world. This article examines food practices in Hinduism, a religious tradition with its roots deep in India’s history.
Hinduism recognizes the idea of dharma, the concept of spiritual and moral law governing individuals and society. Hindu dharma prescribes certain dietary restrictions, and these serve as the basis for the food prohibited in this faith. Among those foods considered unsuitable for Hinduism are beef, alcohol, and non-vegetarian dishes.
Beef is prohibited because cows are considered sacred in Hinduism – the holy animal of the faith. The cow is inherently linked to fertility, prosperity, and motherhood. Hindus all over India revere, respect and honour cows and abstain from consuming beef. Alcohol is prohibited because it is believed to cloud judgement and cause lack of self-control and therefore goes against the principle of dharma. Those with a strong faith system will abstain from consuming alcohol.
Another form of food prohibited in Hinduism are non-vegetarian dishes. Some Hindus may choose to adhere to a vegetarian diet for religious or personal reasons, part of the Ayurvedic principle of ahimsa, which means “non-injury”. As such, Hindus who adhere to ahimsa will not consume meat of any kind, including chicken, pork, mutton, fish, and shellfish.

Vedic Perspective

The Vedas, the ancient sacred Hindu texts, offer a further perspective on what food is forbidden in Hinduism. The Vedas suggest that the practice of food purity is not only about abstaining from certain foods, but also about adding purity to the foods that are eaten. This includes eating clean, organic produce; following ethical, sustainable food practices; and not introducing external chemicals, unnatural preservatives, and genetically modified organisms to the body. As such, Hindus adhere to the idea that natural, unprocessed, and organic is best.
Not only is it important to consider what foods are eaten, but how they are eaten is just as important. Eating with intention, mindful of food choices and channels of energy while consuming nourishing, vital foods is an essential part of the Hindu food practice. Eating should be a joy and a blessing, a nourishment not only of the body, but also of the mind and spirit.


Sikhism, one of the youngest world religions, has its own unique perspective on prohibited foods. Its chief holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, outlines the concept of mitjh, which refers to the effort to continually strive for purity in all facets of life, particularly in regards to food.
Sikhs pay special attention to what they eat, consuming only those foods that are healthy, necessary and natural. They try to stay away from unhealthy, artificial, or unnatural foods that might introduce imbalance or even illness into their lives. As part of their practice, Sikhs abstain from meat, fish, and eggs, and they adhere to a vegetarian diet.


The Jains, another major Indian religion, have a different perspective on what food is forbidden in Hinduism. Jains also practice ahimsa, and they strictly adhere to a vegetarian diet. Not only do they abstain from eating meat, fish, and eggs, but they also abstain from consuming certain vegetables. Such vegetables, most notably the infamous onion and garlic, are believed to cause certain biological changes in the body that contribute to aggression and violence. Thus, Jains try to stay away from such foods.

Diet and Health

There’s a growing body of research about the potential health benefits of Hinduism-based diets. There’s evidence that eating a vegetarian diet may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers; and keep triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure at healthy levels.
Studies have also shown that vegetarian diets may be important when it comes to reducing environmental impacts. By reducing animal-based foods, they don’t create the same harmful farm runoffs and environmental contamination that animal-based diets do. Such dietary practices can also reduce water consumption and land use.
From a health perspective, a diet based on the principles of Hinduism may be beneficial. Some studies have even suggested that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet because it supports the environment. But further research is needed to determine if and how this type of diet could offer advantages for overall health.

Hindu Food Traditions

Food is an important part of Hindu life, as dining is often seen as a spiritual act. For Hindus, food is a form of spiritual offerings to their gods and is considered nourishment for the body and spirit.
Hindu families observe certain food traditions. Food is traditionally cooked in the home and preparations are made according to a religious code. Hindus refrain from eating after sunset, and food must be consumed on the same day it is cooked. It is believed that food that has been left out overnight has been contaminated with impure energy and becomes spiritually dangerous. Everything must also be cooked and served in clean vessels, and no foreign objects should be placed in the food.
The concept of food purity is closely linked to Hindu religious practices, so it is important for Hindus to respect and adhere to the restrictions set forth by their faith. Being mindful of not only what you eat, but also what the food you consume is made of and how it is prepared can help to ensure that these dietary restrictions are properly followed.

Impact of Hinduism on Different Cultures

The Hindu dietary specifications have had a significant impact on the eating habits of many cultures around the world. For example, Hindus in India avoid eating beef, and this has led to an overall decrease in the consumption of beef worldwide. Similarly, many cultures have adopted Hindu food principles such as the concept of avoiding pre-packaged and processed food items, avoiding leftovers, and eating the freshest possible. The adoption of such principles has led to improved diets and a greater sense of awareness of the importance of healthy eating in many cultures.

What to Consider When Eating Hinduism Friendly Foods

When considering which foods to include as part of a Hindu-friendly diet, there are a few points to keep in mind. For example, consuming foods made with whole grains can be a great source of fiber and provide essential vitamins and minerals. Similarly, a variety of vegetables and fruits provide essential nutrients and antioxidants. For those who choose to consume dairy and eggs, these can provide valuable dietary sources of protein, zinc, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Nevertheless, it is important to consider where one’s food is coming from and try to obtain from ethical and sustainable sources.
Finally, foods that contain artificial colours and preservatives should be avoided as these are thought to be unhealthy. Similarly, refined sugars and processed fats should be kept to a minimum as these can lead to health problems. Eating a balanced diet of fresh, organic, and sustainable, foods should be the goal of any Hindu-friendly diet.

Seeds of Dharma and Karma

Hindus believe that each action has a consequence, called karma. However, although food is a part of Hindu traditions and culture, it is important to remember that food is not the only determinate of one’s karma. Intentions, actions, words and thoughts–all of these have an affect on a person’s karma.In addition, living with love, selflessness, kindness and understanding will enable a person to maintain good karma, regardless of diet.
Hinduism’s path is one that cannot truly be measured. It contains elements of truth, beauty, and spirituality that challenge the status quo of society. What is universally accepted is the importance of Dharma and its aim towards achieving unity with the state of pure consciousness. These values of ahimsa and balance in the world — both inner and outer– reign supreme when considering what foods are forbidden in Hinduism.

Cultures of India and Their Influences on Food Customs

The varied cultures of India have had a profound influence on its food customs throughout the centuries. For instance, regional cuisines tend to spotlight regional ingredients. North Indian cuisine relies heavily on spices such as cardamom, cloves, and cumin, while South Indian cuisine draws upon ingredients such as coconut, tamarind, and curry leaves. Meanwhile, vegetarian cuisine is most commonly found in the states of Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala.
Regional preferences for particular food items can also reflect their religious customs. In Hinduism, many food items have their own spiritual connotations. For instance, foods such as the mango, banana, and ghee are used in religious rituals and ceremonies. Elderly Hindus in particular may fast or exercise dietary restraint to increase spiritual awareness.
Finally, the history of India’s food customs has been shaped by outside influences, such as the interaction of different cultures. Forged through the meeting of Hindus and Muslims, as well as Europeans, Indian cuisine has a vast variety of styles and ingredients.

The Significance of Food in Indian Culture

Food is an integral part of the culture of India. It not only serves as a source of nourishment and sustenance but also plays a large role in the social, religious, and cultural life of India. Food has been used to bring people together, as it is considered to be an important signal of hospitality, love, and friendship.
Food is also used in many rituals and ceremonies. For Hindus, food is an expression of love for the divine. Hindus will often offer food with an intention of worshipping and expressing gratitude for the divine. Food is also viewed as a symbol of the unity of all life, and consuming it is seen as an act of uniting with all beings.
Finally, food plays an important role in festivals and celebrations in India, as it is seen as a symbol of joy, happiness, and abundance. In many festivities, large quantities of food are prepared, shared, and enjoyed with friends and family. The exchanging of food as gifts has also been a part of Indian culture for centuries, and it is still practiced today.

Jennifer Johnson is an experienced author with a deep passion for exploring the spiritual traditions of different cultures and religions. She has been writing about religion and spirituality for the past ten years in both print and digital platforms, engaging readers in meaningful dialogue about the soul's journey through this life. With degrees in Comparative Religion and English Literature, she brings an insightful perspective to her work that bridges the gap between traditional knowledge and modern theories. A lifelong traveler, Jenn has lived in multiple countries exploring various paths to understanding faith, and her dedication to learning new things is palpable in every piece she creates.

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