Did vegetarians eat onions?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Did vegetarians eat onion?” and will discuss in which religious vegetarianism onions are prohibited.

Did vegetarians eat onions?

Yes, vegetarians do eat onions. The fact that onions are plants means that they are cruelty-free. Some vegans may refuse to consume onion; however, this is largely due to individual preferences. This might also be because of religious rituals and beliefs.

Worldwide total onion production was 40 695 848 tons in 1996, but by 2016 this figure has increased by 128.94% to 93 168 548 tons. Production quantities decreased in only three years (1997, 2009 and 2012) compared to the previous year, and increased between 1.43 and 11.63% in the other years. The situation in onion production areas also showed similar features. The world onion production area of 2 460 532 ha in 1996 reached 4 955 432 ha in 2016. Only in 2000, 2002 and 2009, there was a contraction in planting areas (5).

System of spiritual nutrition

Any nutritious diet which is likely to do good for the mind, body and the soul can be termed as spiritual nutrients. To be clear, any nutrient which has been detailed in ancient culture as an associate of God giving dietary benefits can be termed as spiritual nutrients (4).

Those having a spiritual objective, such as brahmins or sadhus, should follow a spiritual diet. Sattvic foods are the only ones allowed on this diet. There is just one diet that the Hindu spiritual diet recommends: the sattvic one. A little digging will find subcategories such as Amisha and Hami, so keep an eye out.

·         Those with a spiritual purpose in mind.

·         An individual who adheres to a particular cult dedicated to personal growth or spiritual well-being. such as Vaishnavism, Satsang, Buddhism, and Jainism.

·         People who participate in religious ceremonies of some kind.

·         Performing Vrat/Upvas on time

·         Onions are off-limits to those with several health issues. They’re all adamant about avoiding eating for various reasons.

Religions that prohibit onions


Buddhism comes in a wide variety of flavors, and many adherents eat according to what may be referred to as a Buddhist diet. Many monks and nuns adhere to its teachings. Buddhist dishes are available in a wide variety of eateries across the globe. Tofu, seitan, and other processed vegan meats may take center stage in many meals, and there are several vegan alternatives to traditional meat-based fare.

Reasons why onion is prohibited in Buddhism?

Scallions, chives, leeks, garlic, and asafetida are the other five pungent roots, as are onions. The use of these noxious roots is usually prohibited.

Buddhism, which seeks internal balance and a strict diet suggests avoiding eating foods that are excessively spicy, bitter, or sour, including the five pungent roots (garlic, onion, scallions, leeks and chives). They believe that eating them is a duskrta, a sin requiring confession to another cleric. It is believed that they cause irritability of temper, and if cooked act as an aphrodisiac and to overstimulate the body and mind, thereby destroying the balance that is necessary for happiness. The five pungent roots are thought to give off strong smells, and it is thought that consumption of them obfuscates the richer and softer tastes and smells associated with vegetables (1).

There are a variety of reasons why Buddhists are advised to stay away from the Five Pungent Roots.

·         When ingested, they’re said to boost a man’s libido.

·         When eaten raw, they may elicit strong emotions such as rage and argument.

·         They may stimulate a person’s sexual desire when prepared and consumed.

·         They’re also considered a hindrance to meditation since they disrupt mental tranquility.

·         People who consume onions may find that their breath dispels positive vibes.


Followers of Jain culture and philosophy eat a vegetarian diet that has some parallels to Hinduism but also some important variances.

Jains eat dairy products like cow’s milk and goat’s cheese, although fermented yogurt, and cultured cheeses are also prohibited (2). However, many current Jain academics think that dairy should be excluded from the Jain diet since modern commercialized dairy farming uses brutality towards farm animals.

When it comes to animal products, Jains follow an Ahinsa philosophy: Ahinsa refers to a person’s lack of desire to hurt other living things and their refusal to employ violence against them. The basic concept of Jainism is equanimity, the equilibrium in anything. And ahimsa is supposed to be the tool that helps achieve that equilibrium (2).

What else are Jains unable to consume?

Foods are placed in the categories of eatable (bhkashya) or non-eatable (abbhakshya). The most basic Jain food prohibition is that a Jain must never eat meat. This is constant in all Jain texts. Eggs, root vegetables (zamikand) such as onions, garlic, and potatoes are prohibited. Alcohol, drugs, honey, and any food with a large number of seeds are also non-eatable. During certain times of the year, such as the monsoon season (chaturmas), Jains often refrain from eating leafy green plants and mangos, due to the large numbers of insects that could be accidentally eaten in this way (2). Overall, they don’t eat:

·         Root vegetables, such as potatoes, garlic, onion, carrots, beets, radish, and leeks, are forbidden to Jains because of their spiritual significance. By avoiding these items, little insects and microbes will not be harmed during the harvesting process.

·         As honey is seen to be a kind of aggression towards bees, it is avoided.

·         It is not recommended to consume mushrooms because of the risk of getting an infection from insects that they may carry.

·         Other restrictions include how water is handled before drinking, when food should be consumed, and how often people fast. To learn more about these restrictions, have a look at these articles.

·         Devout Jain people use a facemask to protect themselves from inhaling insects by accident.

Why do Hindus abstain from eating onion?

In the Vedic Hindu Society there is a subdivision into 4 castes on the basis of labor: Brahmin (priestly), Kshatriya (defense), Vaisya (agriculture and business), and Shudra (menial labor). Lord Krishna compared the community to a human body, in which the Brahmin caste represents the head, and the others the arms, legs and bowels. Brahmins never handle any meat, fish, or eggs let alone eat any of these foods. Furthermore, many orthodox Brahmins abstain from cooking or eating onion and garlic as they are said to increase passions like anger and sex drive (3).

Hindus believe that “Foods in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such nourishing foods are sweet, juicy, fattening, and palatable. Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty and pungent, dry and hot, are liked by people in the modes of passion. Such foods cause pain, distress, and disease. Food cooked more than three hours before being eaten, which is tasteless, stale, putrid, decomposed and unclean, is food liked by people in the mode of ignorance” (3).

For a variety of reasons, Hindus avoid eating onion. We’ll look at a few of them right now.

Onion is a Tamasic Food

Onions are often avoided since they are regarded as tamasic foods. Ayurveda classifies food into three categories: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic, based on their effects on the body. Foods high in tamasic compounds induce negative emotions such as rage, boredom, and sickness.

Improve the urge for sexual relations

Anger, Kam (sexual desire), and Lobh (greed) are three of humanity’s worst foes, according to Hindu scripture. Onion is said to heighten sexual desire and rage in humans.

Unpleasant Odor

When you consume raw onion, your tongue and body emit a foul odor via perspiration. The way you smell is significant if you’re a Hindu spiritual practitioner. If you’re heading to a sadhu gathering, you’ll want to make sure you don’t stink. Many individuals avoid eating onions for the same reason. Moreover, you’ve seen that the offerings to god include several items that have a pleasant scent, such as incense, flowers, and perfume.

Distract your attention

Those pursuing a spiritual objective must restrain their thoughts and remain laser-focused. Onion is annoying because it generates too much heat and heightens your sexual desire. To this day, captains who must fly should abstain from eating onion or garlic 72 hours before takeoff. Because it reduces your ability to make sound decisions and dulls your mind.

Other FAQs about Vegetarian that you may be interested in.

Did vegetarianism become popular?

Do vegetarians eat dairy?

Do vegetarians live longer?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Did vegetarians eat onion?” and discussed in which religious vegetarianism onions are prohibited.


  1. Kembel, By Nick. Meat, garlic and onions: An analysis of eating restrictions in Buddhist culture. 2003.
  2. Stevens, Robert Ray. Jain food traditions and beliefs: fieldwork, film, and flavor in Jaipur, India. 2015. Faculty of California State University
  3. Meyer-Rochow, V.B. Food taboos: their origins and purposes. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed, 2009, 5, 18. 
  4. Suchitra M. R, Parthasarathy S. Intermittent Fasting on the Ekadashi Day and the Role of Spiritual Nutrition. Curr Res Nutr Food Sci, 2021, 9, 1.
  5. Hanci, Fatih. A comprehensive overview of onion production: worldwide and Turkey. J Agri Veterin Sci, 2018, 11, 17-27.