Is egg vegetarian in Hinduism?
In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is egg vegetarian in Hinduism?” and will discuss why Hindus do not eat eggs.
Is egg vegetarian in Hinduism?
No, the egg is not vegetarian in Hinduism. Although a vegetarian diet is not a requirement of Hinduism, some adherents do so since it reduces the harm done to other living forms. Many Hindus advocate Lacto-vegetarianism, which includes milk-based foods and all other non-animal-derived foods, but excludes meat and eggs. However, contrary to popular belief, beef-eating is prevalent amongst most religions including Hinduism, and forms an important part of the regional cuisine (1).
The egg (Sanskrit: ‘aa’) initially appears in Hindu mythology as a basic building block of the cosmos. The ‘Lord of beings’, Prajapati, was born from an egg. One of the most significant Vedic manuscripts is the satapatha-Brahmana, which was composed between the 10th and 7th centuries BCE. Describes how the universe came into being, as well as the primary Vedic ceremonies and hymns: There was nothing but water at the beginning of this [world].
They wanted to know, ‘How can we duplicate ourselves?’ When they had worked long and hard and done intense devotions, a golden egg appeared. There was no such thing as a year back then: this golden egg hovered in midair for a year. After a year, a guy named Prajapati was born from it.” It is Prajapati, in yet another song from the same scripture, who created the waters and then entered them with the assistance of véda (knowledge), where the egg-formed. Agni, the deity of fire and the source of all sacrifices, was born from its embryo, and the shell it was enclosed in created the Earth.
‘The cosmic egg,’ also known as ‘Brahma,’ is connected to the ‘brahman,’ the basic energy and the ultimate principle. It serves as a bridge between the sexes, bringing them closer together. One of the most prominent Vedic “philosophical teachings” is that the cosmos is divided into two parts: the sky and the ground. There was nothing here in the beginning. So, it existed. It progressed. It hatched into an egg of some kind. It was there for a year. It was torn in half.
Eggshells were turned into silver and gold according to their color. This is the ground where the silver used to be. The sky is that which was once gold. The mountains were formed by the outer membrane. The clouds and mist that make up the inner membrane are what you see when you look through the telescope. The veins serve as the rivers that flow through the body. “The ocean is the fluid that flows throughout.” The next year.
Eggs, on the other hand, seem to have had no involvement in sacrifice rites in Brahmanism, despite the prominence of such ceremonies in Hinduism. Traditionally, dairy products (such as “ghee,” milk, cream, and curds) and meat (especially goats) were utilized in Vedic oblations and libations as the elixir of immortality. According to subsequent literature, egg mythology has waned since the Vedic period, and the only reference to the egg is to condemn or criticize individuals who exchange eggs.
In India, the term ‘non-vegetarian’ is used to describe those consuming either egg, fish, meat or any combination of these, and though milk is from an animal source, milk and its products are consumed by those who define themselves as ‘vegetarians’ (1).
Vegetarianism is revered in Hinduism, as is the reality that not all Hindus practice it. This diet’s list of approved and prohibited foods may vary greatly from area to region and from one group of people to the next, except for the common taboo against eating beef among those who adhere to it, mostly those of Brahman heritage. Among Hindus, cows are regarded as sacred animals, and their milk and milk products are used in every religious and cultural function. Development of the dairy system in ancient India has been mentioned in some of the historical records. Mention of cows and the importance of milk products can be found in Rig Veda, the oldest sacred book of the Hindus (2).
However, a sizable number of people in India are meat eaters; however, regular consumption of meat is too expensive for a majority of the poor people. People slaughter domestic animals (goats, pigs, cows, yaks, and sheep) usually on special occasions, such as festivals and weddings. During festivals, goats are ritually sacrificed after the ceremony, and then fresh meat is cooked and eaten as a family feast (2).
Eating eggs is no different. In Rajasthan, just one out of every ten households consume eggs, but six to seven out of ten families consume eggs in Goa or West Bengal. Despite their aversion to meat, many Brahmans will eat an omelet or other meal that contains eggs.
In 2014, a national-level survey showed that more than two-thirds of the respondents identified themselves as non-vegetarians, with the states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal reporting more than 90% as non-vegetarians. A household consumption pattern showed that 29.2% of rural and 37.6% of urban households reported consuming eggs, 26.5% rural and 21.0% urban consumed fish/prawns, 21.7% rural and 27% urban consumed chicken, 6.4% rural and 10.0% urban consumed goat meat/mutton, and 4% rural and 5% urban consumed beef/ buffalo meat (1).
Egg consumption in India has increased significantly over the last several decades, indicating that this commodity is becoming more essential in the diets of Indians, particularly those in urban areas. In 1980, per capita egg consumption was 0.7 kilograms; by 2005, it had risen to 1.8 kilograms, according to FAO data released in 2009. Between 1985 and 2005 poultry meat and egg production grew by about 12 and 5 percent per year, compared to an annual growth rate of 1.5 to 2.0 percent for beef, milk and mutton and lamb. At present, with an average annual consumption of 1.5 kg of poultry meat and 1.8 kg of eggs (35-40 eggs) per person, exclusive of milk though, poultry meat and eggs contribute almost 50 percent to the per capita consumption of animal protein (3).
There are several reasons for the interest demonstrated by urban middle-classes in this meal, including its cheap cost, high protein content, and lack of religious taboos on the consumption of chicken and its products.
A Hindu cannot eat what?
Hindus are lacto-vegetarians; however, some may eat lamb, chicken, or fish; the majority are vegetarians. Because the cow is revered, it is taboo to consume its meat, yet dairy products are commonplace. Animal fats, such as dripping and lard, are prohibited. Besides, Hindus are traditionally vegetarians, but many non-Brahmins are nonvegetarians. Brahmin Hindus do not eat garlic, onion, and intoxicants (2).
A Hindu’s diet consists of mostly vegetarian fare
A majority of Hindus are vegetarians. Even meat-eating Hindus are forbidden from consuming beef since the cow is considered holy. To determine if a person is a Hindu or not, it is essential to inquire about their dietary preferences. However, an authoritative study completed in 1993 by the Anthropological Survey of India found that 88% of the population comprised ‘meat eaters’, and follow some restrictions on meat in their diet, including refraining from eating certain meats, not eating meat on certain days, or both (1).
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In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is egg vegetarian in Hinduism?” and discussed why Hindus do not eat eggs.
- Sathyamala, Christina. Meat-eating in India: Whose food, whose politics, and whose rights?. Pol Futur Educ, 2019, 17, 878-891.
- Tamang, Jyoti Prakash. Indian dietary culture. J Ethnic Foods, 2016, 3, 243-245.
- Pica-Ciamarra, U., and J. Otte. Poultry, food security and poverty in India: looking beyond the farm-gate. World’s Poult Sci J, 2010, 66, 309-320.