The History of Indian Vegetarianism By The Mughal Dynasty

May 20, 2022

To celebrate Vegetarian Week and our love of fresh food and vegetables we are writing about the history of vegetarianism in India.

It seems common knowledge that India is a vegetarian country so it may surprise some to learn that this is not necessarily the case. While it is true that much of the population are practicing vegetarians, recent surveys have estimated that they number around 26% of the population; some studies suggesting that this number is closer to 20% while others claim it to be nearer 40%. There is a lot of difference between each of the states as well and if you look at West Bengal (on the east coast) you would find that only a minority are vegetarian while a clear majority are in Gujarat (on the west coast).

There is also some debate over what is considered vegetarian. This is a topic that concerned Gandhi a great deal and he allowed both eggs and milk into his diet (he was divided over the later, even calling his inability to give up milk ‘the tragedy of my life’).

Historical records also show that inhabitants of the continent were not strict vegetarians, likely due to necessity; we all need to eat a balanced diet after all and, in times of famine, it is better to eat something than nothing at all. Some exceptions can be found in early Janis writings which allowed people to eat animals killed by wild beasts and even the Buddha would eat meat from animals killed by accident. Even beef was not totally prohibited and there is evidence that people would sacrifice barren cattle. Barren is a key word here as cows were not only sacred creatures but also very useful as pack animals, for ploughing and sowing and for milk. Simply put, they were much more useful alive than dead.

Come and enjoy a vegetarian meal with us at the Mughal Dynasty Fine Dining Indian Restaurant, Leigh on sea


Note: If comment section is not showing please log in to Facebook in another browser tab and refresh.