Vegetarianism and religion

Vegetarianism and religion

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Let's analyze the link betweenvegetarianism and religion. From the Christian religion to the religions that originated in ancient India.

Manyvegetariansthey assert to the causereligious reasons. Even here in Italy there is no lack of vegetarian Catholic movements and interpretations of the words of the Gospel. In this article we will talk about Dharmic religions (Indian religions) and Abrahamic or Abrahamic religions (such as Christianity).

Vegetarian religions

Veganism and Vegetarianism in Eastern and Western Religions.

In fact, thevegetarianismis linked to a number of ancient religions of Indian origin:

  • Jainism
  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism

In these three religions mentioned, being a vegetarian is a duty of faith. In particular in Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, thevegetarianismit is supported by the "sacred scriptures" of these religions and also by the relevant religious authorities.

In parallel, Abrahamic religions such as our Christianity or Judaism see vegetarianism as an optional choice of the path of faith. In the Christian religion, for example, the authorities do not actively promote vegetarianism for religious reasons, but there is no shortage of religiously motivated vegetarian groups. The same goes for the other Abrahamic religions such as Judaism or Islam.

The Abrahamic religions leave freedom of choice on the diet to be followed. Christianity is the most widespread religion in the world with around 2.5 billion faithful.

Most Indian religions focus on schools of thought that prohibit the consumption of meat. Consequently, India is the homeland with the largest number of vegetarians compared to other nations in the world.

To make a comparison, in 2002 the per capita consumption of meat in India was 5.2 kg while in the USA it was 124.8 kg. Of thereligionswho practicevegetarianismwe highlight some aspects.

Janism or Janism

InJanismthevegetarianismit is an act of faith linked to"Nonviolence". The word "ahimsa" literally means "no wound". Thevegetarianismis considered mandatory by faith.

In this religion we have both pure vegetarians (vegans) and lacto-vegetarians (vegetarians who consume milk and dairy products). InJanismthe use and consumption of products obtained even from spontaneously dead animals is not allowed.

The principle ofnonviolenceof this religion goes far beyond the animal kingdom. Religious try not to cause suffering to any living thing, including microorganisms and the plant kingdom. This leads the faithful to avoid eating roots, tubers such as potatoes, garlic and other plants that require complete uprooting (hence killing).

The purpose of theahimsais to avoid the accumulation ofnegative karma. For the faithful, nonviolence is essential for all and must be pursued scrupulously on a daily basis.

This religion, apparently sopure and admirableit is not without “side effects” (pass me the term!). The faithful often fall intoasceticism, that is, that complex of practices that concern the conquest of perfection. The human tries to overcome the world of the flesh and raise the spirit, thus freeing himself from "slavery" that binds the body to the material world.


Over time, many Hindu practices have undergone changes so there is no shortage of different schools of thought. Even if thevegetarianismis an integral part of this religion, many Hindu communities do not observe a vegetarian diet.

It can be said that Hinduism was born as a vegetarian religion but that over time it has undergone many changes.

Also in this case vegetarianism is linked to the principle of nonviolence (Ahimsa) and even in Hinduism the attempt is to avoid the accumulation ofnegative karmathrough the infliction of suffering on animals.

It may seem in contrast to nonviolence but in Hinduism the voluntary killing of animals is a practice of faith known as sacrifice. In Hinduism, carnivorous nutrition is encouraged by a ritual that involves the sacrifice of an animal to honor a Hindu god. In Nepal, to honor the Hindu goddess Gadhimai, every 5 years the religious ritual sees the slaughter of 250,000 animals. The sacrifice of Jhatka Bali is very common in the shrines of the goddess Kali.


The first Buddhist precept forbids the indistinct killing of people or animals.

The first Buddhist monks were forbidden to have any food needs: they could not ask for food or ask for money for the purchase of food. They had to make do with the food they received as donations (including meat). The Buddhist monks and nuns of the Theravada school (which today prenominates in Cambodia, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka) continue to follow this "rule".

Chinese, Korean, Japanese and other Buddhists follow Mahayana Buddhism. Here also the monks can cultivate and provide for their own food without having to adapt to donations. Monks who follow Mahayana Buddhism can use the money to buy food.

Vegetarianism in the Buddhist religion has always been a source of debate. Some schools of thought see specific prohibitions for the ingestion of meat, in fact they exclude human meat, meat of elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, bears, hyenas, tigers, panthers, lions ... On the other hand, some schools of thought Buddhists completely exclude the ingestion of meat.

For more information: what vegetarians can eat

Video: A History of Vegetarianism and Veganism in the Great World Religions (July 2022).


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