FOODS PROHIBITED WITHIN ISKCON AND HINDUISM IN GENERAL

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(a) ISKCON

Members are required to refrain from:

1. All meat, fish and eggs, or derivatives thereof.
2. All alcoholic products and other fermented foods, such as vinegar.
3. Onion, garlic and mushrooms.

(b) Hinduism in General

As there are many different sects within Hinduism, there is an equally diverse range of standards for eating. Basically, however, we can summarize as follows:

1. A very strict Hindu will follow the standard outlined above.
2. Most Hindus will avoid all meat, fish and eggs.
3. If Hindus do eat meat, they are required to avoid beef.

In the Vedic scriptures, avoidance of meat-eating is highly recommended, but for those who cannot avoid the habit, injunctions are given as concessionary measures only.* Such persons are recommended to eat only the flesh of lower animals such as goats, sheep, etc., which have been offered in sacrifice. At the same time, they are urged to appreciate the karmic reactions that accrue to those who cause unnecessary suffering. The ideal standard is not only strictly vegetarian, but involves the acceptance only of prashad, or pure food that has been further sanctified by offering it in devotion for the pleasure of the Lord.

*This is confirmed as follows:

“In the material world the conditioned soul is always inclined to sex, meat-eating and intoxication. Therefore, religious scriptures never actually encourage such activities. Although the scriptural injunctions provide for sex through sacred marriage, for meat-eating through sacrificial offerings and for intoxication through the acceptance of ritual cups of wine, such ceremonies are meant for the ultimate purpose of renunciation.”

(Bhagavat Purana 11.5.11)