Vegetarianism and religion

Vegetarianism is strongly linked with a number of religions that originated in ancient India (Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism). In Jainism, vegetarianism is mandatory for everyone; in Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism, it is advocated by some influential scriptures and religious authorities.[1][2] Comparatively, in the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the Bahá'í Faith and Dharmic religions such as Sikhism,[3][4] vegetarianism is less commonly viewed as a religious obligation, although in all these faiths there are groups actively promoting vegetarianism on religious grounds.[5][6]

A vegetarian thali from Rajasthan, India. Since many Indian religions promote vegetarianism, Indian cuisine offers a wide variety of vegetarian delicacies

Indian religions

Most Indian religions have philosophical schools that forbid consumption of meat and Jainism institutes an outright ban on the same. Consequently, India is home to more vegetarians than any other country. About 30% of India's 1.2 billion population practices lacto vegetarianism,[8] with overall meat consumption increasing.[9] The per capita meat consumption in India in 2002 was 5.2 kg, while it was 24 times more in the United States at 124.8 kg. Meat consumption in the United States and India grew at about 40% over the last 50 years. In 1961 Indian per capita meat consumption was 3.7 kg, while the US consumption was 89.2 kg.[10]


Jain Vegetarianism Illustration
The food choices of Jains are based on the value of Ahimsa (non-violence), and this makes the Jains to prefer food that inflict the least amount of violence

Vegetarianism in Jainism is based on the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa, literally "non-injuring"). Vegetarianism is considered mandatory for everyone. Jains are either lacto-vegetarians or vegans.[11] No use or consumption of products obtained from dead animals is allowed. Moreover, Jains try to avoid unnecessary injury to plants and suksma jiva (Sanskrit for subtle life forms; minuscule organisms). The goal is to cause as little violence to living things as possible, hence they avoid eating roots, tubers such as potatoes, garlic and anything that involves uprooting (and thus eventually killing) a plant to obtain food.

Every act by which a person directly or indirectly supports killing or injury is seen as violence (hinsa), which creates harmful karma. The aim of ahimsa is to prevent the accumulation of such karma.[12] Jains consider nonviolence to be the most essential religious duty for everyone (ahinsā paramo dharmaḥ, a statement often inscribed on Jain temples). Their scrupulous and thorough way of applying nonviolence to everyday activities, and especially to food, shapes their entire lives and is the most significant hallmark of Jain identity. A side effect of this strict discipline is the exercise of asceticism,[13] which is strongly encouraged in Jainism for lay people as well as for monks and nuns.

Jains do not practice animal sacrifice as they consider all sentient beings to be equal.


Vegetarianism is an integral part of most schools of Hinduism[14] although there are a wide variety of practices and beliefs that have changed over time.[15] An estimated 30% of all Hindus are vegetarians.[16][17] Some sects of Hindus do not observe vegetarianism.[18]


Vegetarian Curry.jpeg
North Indian style vegetarian thali.
Vegetarian thali at an Indian restaurant in Dubai
South Indian style vegetarian thali.

The principle of nonviolence (Ahimsa) applied to animals is connected with the intention to avoid negative karmic influences which result from violence. The suffering of all beings is believed to arise from craving and desire, conditioned by the karmic effects of both animal and human action. The violence of slaughtering animals for food, and its source in craving, reveal flesh eating as one mode in which humans enslave themselves to suffering.[19] Hinduism holds that such influences affect the person who permits the slaughter of an animal, the person who kills it, the person who cuts it up, the person who buys or sells meat, the person who cooks it, the person who serves it up, and the person who eats it. They must all be considered the slayers of the animal.[19] The question of religious duties towards the animals and of negative Karma incurred from violence (himsa) against them is discussed in detail in Hindu scriptures and religious law books.

Hindu scriptures belong or refer to the Vedic period which lasted till about 500 BCE according to the chronological division by modern historians. In the historical Vedic religion, the predecessor of Hinduism, meat eating was not banned in principle, but was restricted by specific rules. Several highly authoritative scriptures bar violence against domestic animals except in the case of ritual sacrifice. This view is clearly expressed in the Mahabharata (3.199.11-12;[20] 13.115; 13.116.26; 13.148.17), the Bhagavata Purana (11.5.13-14), and the Chandogya Upanishad (8.15.1). For instance, many Hindus point to the Mahabharata's maxim that "Nonviolence is the highest duty and the highest teaching,"[21] as advocating a vegetarian diet. The Mahabharata also states that adharma (sin) was born when creatures started to devour one another from want of food and that adharma always destroys every creature "[22] It is also reflected in the Manu Smriti (5.27-44), a particularly renowned traditional Hindu law book (Dharmaśāstra). These texts strongly condemn the slaughter of animals and meat eating.

The Mahabharata (12.260;[23] 13.115-116; 14.28) and the Manu Smriti (5.27-55) contain lengthy discussions about the legitimacy of ritual slaughter and subsequent consumption of the meat. In the Mahabharata both meat eaters and vegetarians present various arguments to substantiate their viewpoints. Apart from the debates about domestic animals, there is also a long discourse by a hunter in defence of hunting and meat eating.[24] These texts show that both ritual slaughter and hunting were challenged by advocates of universal non-violence and their acceptability was doubtful and a matter of dispute.[25]

Current situation

In modern India the food habits of Hindus vary according to their community or caste and according to regional traditions. Hindu vegetarians usually eschew eggs but consume milk and dairy products, so they are lacto-vegetarians.

According to a survey of 2006, vegetarianism is weak in coastal states and strong in landlocked northern and western states and among Brahmins in general, 55 percent of whom are vegetarians.[26] In 2018, a study from Economic and Political Weekly shows that in facts only a third of the upper-caste Indians could be vegetarian.[27]

Many coastal inhabitants are fish eaters. In particular Bengali Hindus have romanticized fishermen and the consumption of fish through poetry, literature and music.

Hindus who eat meat are encouraged to eat Jhatka meat.[28][29]

Animal sacrifice in Hinduism

Animal sacrifice in Hinduism[30] (sometimes known as Jhatka Bali) is the ritual killing of an animal in Hinduism.

The ritual sacrifice normally forms part of a festival to honour a Hindu god. For example, in Nepal the Hindu goddess Gadhimai,[31] is honoured every 5 years with the slaughter of 250,000 animals. Bali sacrifice today is common at the Sakta shrines of the Goddess Kali. However, animal sacrifice is illegal in India.[32]


Buddhist influenced Korean vegetarian side dishes.

The First Precept prohibits Buddhists from killing people or animals.[33] The matter of whether this forbids Buddhists from eating meat has long been a matter of debate.

The first Buddhist monks and nuns were forbidden from growing, storing, or cooking their own food. They relied entirely on the generosity of alms to feed themselves, and were not allowed to accept money to buy their own food.[34][35] They could not make special dietary requests, and had to accept whatever food alms givers had available, including meat.[34] Monks and nuns of the Theravada school of Buddhism, which predominates in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, and Laos, still follow these strictures today.

These strictures were relaxed in China, Korea, Japan, and other countries that follow Mahayana Buddhism, where monasteries were in remote mountain areas and the distance to the nearest towns made daily alms rounds impractical. There, Buddhist monks and nuns could cultivate their own crops, store their own harvests, cook their own meals, and accept money to buy anything else they needed in terms of food in the market.

According to the Vinaya Pitaka, when Devadatta urged him to make complete abstinence from meat compulsory, the Buddha refused, maintaining that "monks would have to accept whatever they found in their begging bowls, including meat, provided that they had not seen, had not heard, and had no reason to suspect that the animal had been killed so that the meat could be given to them".[36] There were prohibitions on specific kinds of meat: meat from humans, meat from royal animals such as elephants or horses, meat from dogs, and meat from dangerous animals like snakes, lions, tigers, panthers, bears and hyenas.[34]

On the other hand, certain Mahayana sutras strongly denounce the eating of meat. According to the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Buddha revoked this permission to eat meat and warned of a dark age when false monks would claim that they were allowed meat.[35] In the Lankavatara Sutra, a disciple of the Buddha named Mahamati asks "[Y]ou teach a doctrine that is flavoured with compassion. It is the teaching of the perfect Buddhas. And yet we eat meat nonetheless; we have not put an end to it."[37] An entire chapter is devoted to the Buddha's response, wherein he lists a litany of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional reasons why meat eating should be abjured.[38] However, according to Suzuki (2004:211), this chapter on meat eating is a "later addition to the text....It is quite likely that meat-eating was practiced more or less among the earlier Buddhists, which was made a subject of severe criticism by their opponents. The Buddhists at the time of the Laṅkāvatāra did not like it, hence this addition in which an apologetic tone is noticeable."[39] Phelps (2004:64–65) points to a passage in the Surangama Sutra which implies advocacy of "not just a vegetarian, but a vegan lifestyle"; however, numerous scholars over the centuries have concluded that the Śūraṅgama Sūtra is a forgery.[40][41] Moreover, in the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the same sutra which records his retraction of permission to eat meat, the Buddha explicitly identifies as "beautiful foods" honey, milk, and cream, all of which are eschewed by vegans.[35]

In the modern Buddhist world, attitudes toward vegetarianism vary by location. In China and Vietnam, monks typically eat no meat, with other restrictions as well. In Japan or Korea some schools do not eat meat, while most do. Theravadins in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia do not practice vegetarianism. All Buddhists however, including monks, are allowed to practice vegetarianism if they wish to do so. Phelps (2004:147) states that "There are no accurate statistics, but I would guess—and it is only a guess—that worldwide about half of all Buddhists are vegetarian".


At the Sikh langar, all people eat a vegetarian meal as equals.

Followers of Sikhism do not have a preference for meat or vegetarian consumption.[42][43][44][45] There are two views on initiated or "Amritdhari Sikhs" and meat consumption. "Amritdhari" Sikhs (i.e. those that follow the Sikh Rehat Maryada - the Official Sikh Code of Conduct[46]) can eat meat (provided it is not Kutha meat)."Amritdharis" that belong to some Sikh sects (e.g. Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Damdami Taksal, Namdhari,[47] Rarionwalay,[48] etc.) are vehemently against the consumption of meat and eggs.[49]

In the case of meat, the Sikh Gurus have indicated their preference for a simple diet,[50] which could include meat or be vegetarian. Passages from the Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of Sikhs, also known as the Adi Granth) say that fools argue over this issue. Guru Nanak said that overconsumption of food (Lobh, Greed) involves a drain on the Earth's resources and thus on life.[51] The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh, prohibited the Sikhs from the consumption of halal or Kutha (any ritually slaughtered meat) meat because of the Sikh belief that sacrificing an animal in the name of God is mere ritualism (something to be avoided).[42]

On the views that eating vegetation would be eating flesh, first Sikh Guru Nanak states:

ਪਾਂਡੇ ਤੂ ਜਾਣੈ ਹੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਿਥਹੁ ਮਾਸੁ ਉਪੰਨਾ ॥ ਤੋਇਅਹੁ ਅੰਨੁ ਕਮਾਦੁ ਕਪਾਹਾਂ ਤੋਇਅਹੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਭਵਣੁ ਗੰਨਾ ॥ O Pandit, you do not know where did flesh originate! It is water where life originated and it is water that sustains all life. It is water that produces grains, sugarcane, cotton and all forms of life.

— First Mehl, AGGS, M 1, p 1290.[52]

On Vegetation, the Guru described it as living and experiencing pain:

Page 143 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

Look, and see how the sugar-cane is cut down. After cutting away its branches, its feet are bound together into bundles,

and then, it is placed between the wooden rollers and crushed.
What punishment is inflicted upon it! Its juice is extracted and placed in the cauldron; as it is heated, it groans and cries out.
And then, the crushed cane is collected and burnt in the fire below.

Nanak: come, people, and see how the sweet sugar-cane is treated!

— First Mehl, Page 143 Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji[53]

Sikhs who eat meat, eat Jhatka meat.

Abrahamic religions

Judaic, Christian, and Muslim traditions (Abrahamic religions) all have strong connections to the Biblical ideal of the Garden of Eden,[54] which includes references to a herbivore diet.[Genesis 1:29-31, Isaiah 11:6-9] However, only minorities within those populations actually practice and advocate such diets.


Medieval rabbis such as Joseph Albo and Isaac Arama regarded vegetarianism as a moral ideal,[55] and a number of modern Jewish groups and Jewish religious and cultural authorities have promoted vegetarianism. Groups advocating for Jewish vegetarianism include Jewish Veg, a contemporary grassroots organization promoting veganism as "God's ideal diet"[56], and the Shamayim V'Aretz Institute, which promotes a vegan diet in the Jewish community through animal welfare activism, kosher veganism, and Jewish spirituality.[57] One source of advocacy for Jewish vegetarianism in Israel is Amirim, a vegetarian moshav (village).[58]

Jewish Veg has named 75 contemporary rabbis who encourage veganism for all Jews, including Jonathan Wittenberg, Daniel Sperber, David Wolpe, Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Kerry Olitzky, Shmuly Yanklowitz, Aryeh Cohen, Geoffrey Claussen, Rami M. Shapiro, David Rosen, Raysh Weiss, Elyse Goldstein, Shefa Gold, and Yonassan Gershom.[59][60] Other rabbis who have promoted vegetarianism have included David Cohen, Shlomo Goren, Irving Greenberg, Asa Keisar, Jonathan Sacks, She'ar Yashuv Cohen, and Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog. Other notable advocates of Jewish vegetarianism include Franz Kafka, Roberta Kalechofsky, Richard H. Schwartz, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Aaron S. Gross.

Jewish vegetarians often cite Jewish principles regarding animal welfare, environmental ethics, moral character, and health as reasons for adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.[61][62] Some Jews point to legal principles including Bal tashkhit (the law which prohibits waste) and Tza'ar ba'alei hayyim (the injunction not to cause ‘pain to living creatures’).[63] Many Jewish vegetarians are particularly concerned about cruel practices in factory farms and high-speed, mechanized slaughterhouses.[64] Jonathan Safran Foer has raised these concerns in the short documentary film If This Is Kosher..., responding to what he considers abuses within the kosher meat industry.[65]

Some Jewish vegetarians have pointed out that Adam and Eve were not allowed to eat meat. Genesis 1:29 states "And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit—to you it shall be for food," indicating that God's original plan was for mankind to be vegan.[66]· According to some opinions, the whole world will again be vegetarian in the Messianic era, and not eating meat brings the world closer to that ideal.[66] As the ideal images of the Torah are vegetarian, one may see the laws of kashrut as actually designed to wean Jews away from meat eating and to move them toward the vegetarian ideal.[63]


Joseph Bates
Joseph Bates, vegetarian and one of the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Several Christian monastic groups, including the Desert Fathers, Trappists, Benedictines, Cistercians and Carthusians, all of the Orthodox monks and also Christian esoteric groups, such as the Rosicrucian Fellowship, have encouraged vegetarianism.[67][68]

The Bible Christian Church, a Christian vegetarian sect founded by Reverend William Cowherd in 1809, were one of the philosophical forerunners of the Vegetarian Society.[69][70] Cowherd encouraged members to abstain from eating of meat as a form of temperance.[71]

Some Christian groups, such as Seventh-day Adventists, the Christian Vegetarian Association and Christian anarchists, take a literal interpretation of the Biblical prophecies of universal veg(etari)anism[Genesis 1:29-1:31, Isaiah 11:6-11:9, Isaiah 65:25] and encourage veg(etari)anism as preferred lifestyles or as a tool to reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose, although some of them say it is not required. Other groups point instead to allegedly explicit prophecies of temple sacrifices in the Messianic Kingdom, e.g. Ezekiel 46:12, where so-called peace offerings and so-called freewill offerings are said that will be offered, and Leviticus 7:15-20 where it states that such offerings are eaten, what may contradict the very purpose of Jesus' purportedly sufficient atonement.

Some Christian vegetarians, such as Keith Akers, argue that Jesus himself was a vegetarian.[72] Akers argues that Jesus was influenced by the Essenes, an ascetic Jewish sect. The present academic consensus is that Jesus was not an Essene.[73] There is no historical record of Jesus’ precise attitudes to animals, but there is a strand in his ethical teaching about the primacy of mercy to the weak, the powerless and the oppressed, which Walters and Portmess argue can also refer to captive animals.[19]

Other, more recent Christians movements, such as Sarx and CreatureKind, do not maintain that Jesus himself was a vegetarian, but instead argue that many practices which occur in the contemporary industrialized farming system, such as the mass culling of day-old male-chicks in the egg industry, are incompatible with the life of peace and love to which Jesus called his followers.

Within Eastern Christianity, Vegetarianism is practiced as part of fasting during the Great Lent (although shellfish and other non-vertebrate products are generally considered acceptable during some periods of this time); vegan fasting is particularly common in Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodox Churches, such as the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, which generally fasts 210 days out of the year.


Islam explicitly prohibits eating of some kinds of meat, especially pork. However, one of the most important Islamic celebrations, Eid al-Adha, involves animal sacrifices. Muslims who can afford to do so sacrifice a domestic animals (usually sheep, but also camels, cows, and goats). According to the Quran,[74] a large portion of the meat has to be given towards the poor and hungry, and every effort is to be made to see that no impoverished Muslim is left without sacrificial food during days of feast like Eid-ul-Adha.[75] Certain Islamic orders are mainly vegetarian; many Sufis maintain a vegetarian diet.[76] Some Muslims think that being a vegetarian for reasons other than health is un-Islamic and it is a form of emulation of the infidels (tashabbuh bil kuffar).[77]


Rastafarians generally follow a diet called "I-tal", which eschews the eating of food that has been artificially preserved, flavoured, or chemically altered in any way. Some Rastafarians consider it to also forbid the eating of meat but the majority will not eat pork at the very least, considering it unclean.

Bahá'í Faith

While there are no dietary restrictions in the Bahá'í Faith, `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, noted that a vegetarian diet consisting of fruits and grains was desirable, except for people with a weak constitution or those that are sick.[78] He stated that there are no requirements that Bahá'ís become vegetarian, but that a future society would gradually become vegetarian.[78][79][80] `Abdu'l-Bahá also stated that killing animals was somewhat contrary to compassion.[78] While Shoghi Effendi, the head of the Bahá'í Faith in the first half of the 20th century, stated that a purely vegetarian diet would be preferable since it avoided killing animals,[81] both he and the Universal House of Justice, the governing body of the Bahá'ís have stated that these teachings do not constitute a Bahá'í practice and that Bahá'ís can choose to eat whatever they wish, but to be respectful of others beliefs.[78]

Other religions


Manichaeism was a religion established by the Iranian named Mani during Sassanian empire. The religion prohibited slaughtering or eating animals [82].


Mazdakism, a sect of Zoroastrianism, explicitly promoted vegetarianism.[83] The sect was founded by Mazdak.

One of the main precepts in Zoroastrianism is respect and kindness towards all living things and condemnation of cruelty against animals

The Shahnameh states that the evil king of Iran, Zohak was first taught eating meat by the evil one who came to him in the guise of a cook. This was the start of an age of great evil for Iran. Prior to this, in the Golden age of mankind in the days of the great Aryan Kings, man did not eat meat.

The Pahlavi scriptures state that in the final stages of the world, when the final Saviour Saoshyant arrives, man will become more spiritual and gradually give up meat eating.

Vegetarianism is stated to be the future state of the world in Pahlavi scriptures - Atrupat-e Emetan in Iran in Denkard Book VI requested all Zoroastrians to be vegetarians:

"ku.san enez a-on ku urwar xwarishn bawed shmah mardoman ku derziwishn bawed, ud az tan i gospand pahrezed, ce amar was, eg Ohrmaz i xwaday hay.yarih i gospand ray urwar was dad."

Meaning: They hold this also: Be plant eaters (urwar xwarishn) (i.e. vegetarian), O you, men, so that you may live long. Keep away from the body of cattle (tan i gospand), and deeply reckon that Ohrmazd, the Lord has created plants in great number for helping cattle (and men)."

Nation of Islam

The Nation of Islam promotes vegetarianism deeming it the "most healthful and virtuous way to eat".[84]


In Chinese societies, "simple eating" (素食 Mandarin: sù shí) refers to a particular restricted diet associated with Taoist monks, and sometimes practiced by members of the general population during Taoist festivals and fasting days. It is similar to Chinese Buddhist vegetarianism. Varying levels of abstinence among Taoists and Taoist-influenced people include veganism, veganism without root vegetables, lacto-ovo vegetarianism, and pescetarianism. Taoist vegetarians also tend to abstain from alcohol and pungent vegetables such as garlic and onions during lenten days. Non-vegetarian Taoists sometimes abstain from beef and water buffalo meat for many cultural reasons.

Vegetarianism in the Taoist tradition is similar to that of Lent in the Christian tradition. While highly religious people such as monks may be vegetarian, vegan or pescetarian on a permanent basis, lay practitioners often eat vegetarian on the 1st (new moon), 8th, 14th, 18th, 23rd, 24th, 28th, 29th and 30th days of the lunar calendar. In accordance with their Buddhist peers, and because many people are both Taoist and Buddhist, they often also eat lenten on the 15th day (full moon). Taoist vegetarianism is similar to Chinese Buddhist vegetarianism, however, its roots reach to pre-Buddhist times. Believers historically abstained from animal products and alcohol before practicing Confucian, Taoist and Chinese folk religion rites.

It is referred to by the English word "vegetarian"; however, though it rejects meat, eggs, and milk, this diet may include oysters and oyster products or otherwise be pescetarian for some believers. Many lay Taoists who follow modern sects such as that of Yi Guan Dao or Master Ching Hai are vegan or strictly vegetarian.


Oahspe (Meaning Sky, Earth and Spirit) is the doctrinal book of those who follow Faithism. The precepts for behavior can be found throughout the book which include" a herbivorous diet (vegan, vegetable food only), peaceful living (no warring or violence; pacifism), living a life of virtue, service to others, angelic assistance, spiritual communion, and communal living when it is feasible to do so. Freedom and responsibility are two themes reiterated throughout the text of Oahspe.


There is no set teaching on vegetarianism within the diverse neopagan communities, however many do follow a vegetarian diet often connected to ecological concerns as well as the welfare and rights of animals. Vegetarian practitioners of Wicca will often see their standpoint as a natural extension of the Wiccan Rede. Organizations like SERV refer to the historic figures of Porphyry, Pythagoras and Iamblichus as sources for the Pagan view of vegetarianism.[85] During the 1970s the publication Earth Religion News, focused on articles related to neopaganism and vegetarianism, it was edited by the author Herman Slater.[86]

Meher Baba's teachings

The spiritual teacher Meher Baba recommended a vegetarian diet for his followers[87] because he held that it helps one to avoid certain impurities: "Killing an animal for sport, pleasure or food means catching all its bad impressions, since the motive is selfish....Impressions are contagious. Eating meat is prohibited in many spiritual disciplines because therein the person catches the impressions of the animal, thus rendering himself more susceptible to lust and anger."[88]

Creativity movement

The Creativity religion promotes[89][90][91][92] a form of raw veganism in its "Salubrious Living" doctrine named after the third text of the faith written by Ben Klassen, which encourages the consumption of only raw foods in their "natural state, basically fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts,"[93] getting plenty of physical exercise as well as abstinence from alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, preservatives, insecticides, narcotics and other drugs whether prescription or non-prescription.[94] Salubrious Living is considered mandatory to "fully practice" Creativity and a lawsuit is currently in place against the Bureau of Prisons to get it recognized as a religious dietary preference [95] for incarcerated adherents of the religious movement.

See also


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Further reading

  • Religious Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama (2001) edited by: Kerry Walters; Lisa Portmess
  • Lisa Kemmerer, Animals and World Religions (2012) ISBN 978-0199790685
  • Phelps, Norm (2004). The Great Compassion: Buddhism & Animal Rights. New York: Lantern Books. ISBN 978-1590560693.
  • Roberta Kalechofsky, Rabbis and Vegetarianism: An Evolving Tradition. (Micah Publications. Massachusetts, 1995. ISBN 0-916288-42-0.)
  • Richard H. Schwartz, Judaism and Vegetarianism. (Lantern Books. New York, 2001. ISBN 1-930051-24-7.)
  • Richard Alan Young, Is God a Vegetarian? (Carus Publishing Company. Chicago, 1999. ISBN 0-8126-9393-0.)
  • Rynn Berry, Food for the Gods: Vegetarianism & the World's Religions (Pythagorean Publishers. May 1998. 978-096261692.1)
  • Steven J. Rosen, Diet for Transcendence (formerly published as Food for the Spirit): Vegetarianism and the World Religions, foreword by Isaac Bashevis Singer (Badger, California: Torchlight Books, 1997)
  • Steven J. Rosen, Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights (New York: Lantern Books, 2004)

External links

A Sacred Duty

A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish values to help heal the world, is a 2007 60-minute documentary from Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), written and produced by Lionel Friedberg. The film focuses on Jewish teachings about caring for the earth, treatment of animals, and the environment, with a focus on vegetarianism. Interviews with rabbis, activists, and scholars are interspersed with footage and stills illustrating the points being discussed.


Ahimsa (Ahinsa) (Sanskrit: अहिंसा IAST: ahiṃsā, Pāli: avihiṃsā) means 'not to injure' and 'compassion' and refers to a key virtue in Hinduism and Jainism. The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs – to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, a-hiṃsā is the opposite of this, i.e. cause no injury, do no harm. Ahimsa is also referred to as nonviolence, and it applies to all living beings—including all animals—in ancient Indian religions.Ahimsa is one of the cardinal virtues and an important tenet of Jainism and Hinduism, and in Buddhism where it is the first of the five precepts. Ahimsa is a multidimensional concept, inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself. Ahimsa has also been related to the notion that any violence has karmic consequences. While ancient scholars of Hinduism pioneered and over time perfected the principles of Ahimsa, the concept reached an extraordinary status in the ethical philosophy of Jainism. Most popularly, Mahatma Gandhi strongly believed in the principle of ahimsa.Ahimsa's precept of 'cause no injury' includes one's deeds, words, and thoughts. Classical literature of Hinduism such as Mahabharata and Ramayana, as well as modern scholars debate principles of Ahimsa when one is faced with war and situations requiring self-defence. The historic literature from India and modern discussions have contributed to theories of Just War, and theories of appropriate self-defence.


Amirim (Hebrew: אֲמִירִים, lit. Treetops) is a moshav in northern Israel. Located 650 metres above sea level on a hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee, it was established by vegetarians. In 2017 it had a population of 813.

Andrew Linzey

Andrew Linzey (born 2 February 1952) is an English Anglican priest, theologian, and prominent figure in Christian vegetarianism. He is a member of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oxford, and held the world's first academic post in Ethics, Theology and Animal Welfare, the Bede Jarret Senior Research Fellowship at Blackfriars Hall.

Linzey is the founder and director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, an independent academic centre opened in November 2006 to promote the study and discussion of animal ethics. He is the author of a number of books on animal rights, including Animal Rights: A Christian Perspective (1976), Christianity and the Rights of Animals (1987), Animal Theology (1994), and Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics (2009). He is also the editor of an academic journal, the Journal of Animal Ethics, which is published jointly by the Oxford Centre and the University of Illinois, and a series editor, with Priscilla Cohn, of the Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series.


Aquafaba () is the viscous water in which legume seeds such as chickpeas have been cooked.

Due to its ability to mimic functional properties of egg whites in cooking, aquafaba can be used as a direct replacement for them in some cases, including meringues and marshmallows. Its composition makes it especially suitable for use by people with dietary, ethical, environmental or religious reasons to avoid eggs, such as vegans.

Buddhist cuisine

Buddhist cuisine is an East Asian cuisine that is followed by monks and many believers from areas historically influenced by Chinese Buddhism. It is vegetarian or vegan, and it is based on the Dharmic concept of ahimsa (non-violence). Vegetarianism is common in other Dharmic faiths such as Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism, as well as East Asian religions like Taoism. While monks and a minority of believers are vegetarian year-round, many believers follow the Buddhist vegetarian diet for celebrations.

Vegetarian cuisine is known as sùshí (素食) ("vegetarian food"), chúnsù (纯素) ("pure vegetarian"), zhāicài (斋菜) ("lent / fasting food") in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan; đồ chay in Vietnam; shōjin ryōri (精進料理, devotion cuisine) in Japan; sachal eumsik (사찰음식, "temple food") in Korea; jay (เจ) in Thailand and by other names in many countries. The dishes that comprise Buddhist cuisine in any given place will be influenced by the general local cuisine.

The origin of "Buddhist food" as a distinct sub-style of cuisine is tied to monasteries, where one member of the community would have the duty of being the head cook and supplying meals that paid respect to the strictures of Buddhist precepts. Temples that were open to visitors from the general public might also serve meals to them and a few temples effectively run functioning restaurants on the premises. In Japan, this practice is generally known as shōjin ryōri (精進料理, devotion cuisine), and served at many temples, especially in Kyoto. A more recent version, more Chinese in style, is prepared by the Ōbaku school of zen, and known as fucha ryōri (普茶料理); this is served at the head temple of Manpuku-ji, as well as various subtemples. In modern times, commercial restaurants have also latched on to the style, catering both to practicing and non-practicing lay people.

Buddhist vegetarianism

Buddhist vegetarianism is the belief that following a vegetarian diet is implied in the Buddha's teaching. In Buddhism, however, the views on vegetarianism vary between different schools of thought. According to Theravada, the Buddha allowed his monks to eat pork, chicken and fish if the monk was aware that the animal was not killed on their behalf. The Mahayana schools generally recommend a vegetarian diet; according to some sutras the Buddha himself insisted that his followers should not eat the flesh of any sentient being. Monks of the Mahayana traditions that follow the Brahma Net Sutra are forbidden by their vows from eating flesh of any kind.

Chinese religions of fasting

The Chinese religions of fasting (simplified Chinese: 斋教; traditional Chinese: 齋教; pinyin: zhāijiāo; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: chai-kàu) are a subgroup of the Chinese salvationist religions. Their name refers to the strict vegetarian fasting diet that believers follow. This subgroup originated as the Lǎoguān zhāijiào (老官齋教 "Venerable Officials' teaching of fasting") sect that departed from the eastern "Great Vehicle" proliferation of Luoism in the 16th century and adopted features of the White Lotus tradition.The Chinese religions of fasting are the following three:

the Longhua sect (龙花教 "Dragon Flower");

the Jintong sect (金幢教 "Golden Flag"); and

the Xiantiandao (先天道 "Way of Former Heaven") tradition.In the 1890s, a zhaijiao group assumed the functions of government in Gutian County, leading to the Kucheng Massacre.

Christian vegetarianism

Christian vegetarianism is the practice of keeping to a vegetarian lifestyle for reasons connected to or derived from the Christian faith. The three primary reasons are spiritual, nutritional, and ethical. The ethical reasons may include a concern for God's creation in general - especially given climate change - or a concern for animal welfare (or both). Likewise, Christian veganism is the abstaining from the use of all animal products for reasons connected to or derived from the Christian faith.

Vegetarianism was widespread in the early Church, among both the clergy and laity.Some religious orders of various Christian Churches practice strict Christian vegetarianism, including the Franciscans, Trappists, Trappistines, Carthusians and Cistercians. Various Church leaders have recommended vegetarianism, including John Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church), William and Catherine Booth (founders of The Salvation Army), William Cowherd from the Bible Christian Church and Ellen G. White from the Seventh-day Adventists. Cowherd, who founded the Bible Christian Church in 1809, helped to establish the world's first Vegetarian Society in 1847.Organizations such as the Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA) actively work to promote the concept.Additionally, many Christians may choose to practice vegetarianism as their Lenten sacrifice during the penetential season of Lent.

Diet in Hinduism

Diet in Hinduism varies with its diverse traditions. The ancient and medieval Hindu texts strongly prohibit eating meat, they do strongly recommend ahimsa—non-violence against all life forms including animals because they believe that it minimizes animal deaths. Many Hindus prefer a vegetarian or lacto-vegetarian lifestyle, and methods of food production that are in sync with nature, compassionate, and respectful of other life forms as well as nature.The diet of many Hindus includes eggs, fish or meat. For slaughtering animals and birds for food, meat-eating Hindus often favor jhatka (quick death) style preparation of meat since Hindus believe that this method minimizes trauma and suffering to the animal. Ancient Hindu texts describe the whole of creation as a vast food chain, and the cosmos as a giant food cycle.Hindu mendicants (sannyasin) avoid preparing their own food, relying either on begging for leftovers or harvesting seeds and fruits from forests, as this minimizes the likely harm to other life forms and nature.

Food for Life Global

Food for Life Global is a non-profit vegan food relief organization founded in 1995 to serve as the headquarters for Food for Life projects. Although Food for Life Global has roots in ISKCON, it is a completely independent non-profit organization that supports the work of Food for Life projects under the management of ISKCON as well as many other non-profits that are not. Its network of 211 affiliates span the globe, with projects occupying over 60 countries. Volunteers provide up to 2,000,000 free meals daily. Food For Life engages in various sorts of hunger relief, including outreach to the homeless, provision for disadvantaged children throughout India, and provision for victims of natural disasters around the world.With roots in India, the Food for Life project views itself as being a modern-day revival of the ancient Vedic culture of hospitality and service to those in need. It was conceived of and began in 1974 as local food relief in Mayapur, India as part of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. In 1995, the headquarters was established in Maryland, USA to help support the expansion of the project.

Francis Xavier Clooney

Francis Xavier Clooney is an American Jesuit Roman Catholic priest and scholar in the teachings of Hinduism. He is currently a professor at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has been nominated as the winner of the John Courtney Murray Award in 2017 for his distinguished theological achievement.

Jain vegetarianism

Jain vegetarianism is practiced by the followers of Jain culture and philosophy. It is one of the most rigorous forms of spiritually motivated diet on the Indian subcontinent and beyond. The Jain cuisine is completely vegetarian and also excludes underground vegetables such as garlic, etc, to prevent injuring small insects and microorganisms; and also to prevent the entire plant getting uprooted and killed. It is practised by Jain ascetics and lay Jains.Jain objections to the eating of meat, fish and eggs are based on the principle of non-violence (ahimsa, figuratively "non-injuring"). Every act by which a person directly or indirectly supports killing or injury is seen as act of violence (himsa), which creates harmful reaction karma. The aim of ahimsa is to prevent the accumulation of such karma. The extent to which this intention is put into effect varies greatly among Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Jains believe nonviolence is the most essential religious duty for everyone (ahinsā paramo dharmaḥ, a statement often inscribed on Jain temples). It is an indispensable condition for liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, which is the ultimate goal of all Jain activities. Jains share this goal with Hindus and Buddhists, but their approach is particularly rigorous and comprehensive. Their scrupulous and thorough way of applying nonviolence to everyday activities, and especially to food, shapes their entire lives and is the most significant hallmark of Jain identity. A side effect of this strict discipline is the exercise of asceticism, which is strongly encouraged in Jainism for lay people as well as for monks and nuns. Out of the five types of living beings, a householder is forbidden to kill, or destroy, intentionally, all except the lowest (the one sensed, such as vegetables, herbs, cereals, etc., which are endowed with only the sense of touch).

Jewish Veg

Jewish Veg is a Baltimore, Maryland based 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to encourage and help Jews to embrace plant-based diets as an expression of the Jewish values of compassion for animals, concern for health, and care for the environment. Jewish Veg was formerly called Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA).The current executive director of Jewish Veg is Jeffrey Cohan, who has served since 2013. Under Cohan’s leadership, the organization has added professional staff, built a Board of Directors, and assembled Rabbinic and Advisory councils.Jewish Veg’s Website is the most visited Website on the intersection of Judaism and veganism. It features plant-based versions of such traditional Jewish foods as challah, matzah ball soup and kugel. They publish a monthly e-newsletter that can be subscribed to on their Website. In 2015, Jewish Veg created a Veg Pledge campaign to help people adopt plant-based diets. Pledge-takers have the option to be connected with a vegan mentor if they so choose.

Jewish Veg has forged partnerships with prominent Jewish organizations, including Hazon and Hillel International. Their highly esteemed speakers bureau gives numerous presentations in Jewish venues around the country. One of their most prominent speakers is Dr. Alex Hershaft who is a holocaust survivor and the founder of the animal advocacy organization Farm Animal Rights Movement (FARM).Jewish Veg produced their first speaking tour with Israeli vegan leader Ori Shavit in the Fall of 2015. Shavit visited 10 college campuses across the country to speak to Jewish students. In partnership with Hillel International, Jewish Veg will host another tour in the Spring of 2016.Jewish Veg currently has local chapters in Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. They are all-volunteer groups which are supported by staff at the national organization. The chapters serve to educate the local Jewish population about veganism and provide community for Jewish vegans.

The organization was originally called The Jewish Vegetarian Society of America and was founded in 1975 by Jonathan Wolf after a World Vegetarian Conference was held at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine. It was affiliated with the Jewish Vegetarians of England. Wolf stated in 1980: "In a real sense, vegetarianism is the highest form of Judaism... Intrinsic values in Judaism -- compassion for animals, concern about world hunger and ecology -- are exemplified by vegetarianism." Wolf became the organization's first president. For many years, Rabbi Noach Valley was president. Richard H. Schwartz became president in 2003. He is currently president emeritus and serves on the organization’s Board of Directors. Schwartz's book, "Judaism and Vegetarianism," was published in 1982. He argues that Jewish mandates to protect human health, treat animals with compassion, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, help hungry people, and pursue peace point to vegetarianism as the ideal diet for Jews today.

A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World, is Jewish Veg’s 2007 documentary on Judaism, vegetarianism, and the environment. It was directed by Lionel Friedberg. The film received numerous favorable reviews. Jewish Veg has made the entire film freely available on YouTube.In 2017, Jewish Veg published a statement by 75 rabbis encouraging Jews to move towards a vegan diet. Notable rabbis who signed the statement included Jonathan Wittenberg, Daniel Sperber, David Wolpe, Nathan Lopes Cardozo, Kerry Olitzky, Shmuly Yanklowitz, Aryeh Cohen, Geoffrey Claussen, Rami M. Shapiro, David Rosen, Raysh Weiss, Elyse Goldstein, Shefa Gold, and Yonassan Gershom.

Jewish vegetarianism

Jewish vegetarianism is a commitment to vegetarianism that is connected to Judaism, Jewish ethics or Jewish identity. Jewish vegetarians often cite Jewish principles regarding animal welfare, environmental ethics, moral character, and health as reasons for adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.

List of diets

An individual's diet is the sum of food and drink that he or she habitually consumes. Dieting is the practice of attempting to achieve or maintain a certain weight through diet. People's dietary choices are often affected by a variety of factors, including ethical and religious beliefs, clinical need, or a desire to control weight.

Not all diets are considered healthy. Some people follow unhealthy diets through habit, rather than through a conscious choice to eat unhealthily. Terms applied to such eating habits include "junk food diet" and "Western diet". Many diets are considered by clinicians to pose significant health risks and minimal long-term benefit. This is particularly true of "crash" or "fad" diets–short-term, weight-loss plans that involve drastic changes to a person's normal eating habits.

Only diets covered on Wikipedia are listed.


Eduardo Humberto del Río García (June 20, 1934 – August 8, 2017), better known by his pen name Rius, was a Mexican intellectual, political cartoonist and writer born in Zamora, Michoacán.

One of the most popular Mexican cartoonists, Rius has written over a hundred books that remain widely popular, especially amongst his Mexican readers. Rius was a fierce political activist, and his progressive and left-wing point of view is often present in his writings, accompanied by a strong criticism about neoliberal Mexican doctrines, US Government policies, and the Catholic Church. He used to be an open advocate of the Cuban revolution as in Cuba for Beginners and a strong Soviet bloc sympathizer until the end of the Cold War.

In the 1960s he began cartooning in magazines and newspapers, sometimes regarding political themes. He made two famous comics, Los Supermachos and Los agachados, which were a humorous criticism of the Mexican government. After his successes with these, he made many books, all illustrated and written by hand by him and covering a range of topics on politics, vegetarianism, and religion. His books have become popular mainly because of their humour, which attempts to reach the general reader, as well as for their simplicity and intellectual acuteness. They give an overview of their theme without becoming difficult.

In 1970, the first English edition of Rius's book Cuba para principiantes, a humorous comic strip presentation of Cuban history and revolution, was published in the United States as Cuba for Beginners. The book made no particularly great impact, but the 1976 English language publication of Marx for Beginners, a translation of his Marx para principiantes (1972), a comic strip representation of the life and ideas of Karl Marx, became an international bestseller and kicked off the For Beginners series of books from Writers and Readers and later Icon Books.In the 1990s, he participated in two political humour magazines: El Chahuistle and El Chamuco (named after an insect plague and the devil, respectively, because they were harsh on politicians and religious leaders).

His success and long career have made him a reference point to the newer generations of political cartoonists in México. Mexican director Alfonso Arau made Calzonzin Inspector, a live action film based on characters appearing in Los Supermachos that was released in 1974.

He died on August 8, 2017 at the age of 83.


Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat (red meat, poultry, seafood, and the flesh of any other animal), and may also include abstention from by-products of animals processed for food.Vegetarianism may be adopted for various reasons. Many people object to eating meat out of respect for sentient life. Such ethical motivations have been codified under various religious beliefs, as well as animal rights advocacy. Other motivations for vegetarianism are health-related, political, environmental, cultural, aesthetic, economic, or personal preference. There are variations of the diet as well: an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet includes both eggs and dairy products, an ovo-vegetarian diet includes eggs but not dairy products, and a lacto-vegetarian diet includes dairy products but not eggs. A strict vegetarian diet – referred to as vegan – excludes all animal products, including eggs and dairy. Avoidance of animal products may require dietary supplements to prevent deficiencies such as vitamin B12 deficiency, which leads to pernicious anemia.Packaged and processed foods, such as cakes, cookies, candies, chocolate, yogurt, and marshmallows, often contain unfamiliar animal ingredients, and so may be a special concern for vegetarians due to the likelihood of such additives. Feelings among vegetarians may vary concerning these ingredients. Some vegetarians scrutinize product labels for animal-derived ingredients while others do not object to consuming cheese made with animal-derived rennet. Some vegetarians are unaware of animal-derived rennet being used in the production of cheese.Semi-vegetarian diets consist largely of vegetarian foods but may include fish or poultry, or sometimes other meats, on an infrequent basis. Those with diets containing fish or poultry may define meat only as mammalian flesh and may identify with vegetarianism. A pescetarian diet has been described as "fish but no other meat". The common-use association between such diets and vegetarianism has led vegetarian groups such as the Vegetarian Society to state that diets containing these ingredients are not vegetarian, because fish and birds are also animals.

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