Why Do Hindus Not Eat Beef [Google Questions Answered]

Another search engine question that I found is:

Why Do Hindus Not Eat Beef?

I’ve addressed this a little bit here and there, but always as part of a larger post. Today I’m just going to talk about beef and cows…

Growing up in America, beef is every where. For some Americans, it’s part of every dinner. It is the thing our diets are most based on. Without meat, and often specifically beef, it’s not a meal.

I think to many Americans not eating cow seems arbitrary. Certainly some Hindus are fully vegetarian but many others eat some meats but not beef. How strange, the American thinks, how could it be okay to eat chicken but not cow?

For Hindus who grow up in America, not eating beef or stopping eating beef can be an enormous challenge. Beef eating is all around us and if we don’t eat it, we are viewed as extremely strange and forced to explain it every time. It can get pretty exhausting.

My understanding is (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that Hindus growing up in India have a very different perception of the cow. It is simply not a meat animal. How could that be? Well, my American peers, think about the stories of some cultures eating dogs. Is it true? I have no idea. But I know that shocking rumors go around from time to time about how in some countries you might accidentally eat dog meat.

Why are they shocking? Because to us, a dog is not a food animal. It occupies a different position in our brains than those animals we would eat. A dog is not for eating.

To Hindus, the cow is the same way. It is not an animal for eating.

There are other reasons why a Hindu might also be a vegetarian. One reason is that one of the important principles of Hinduism (and several of the other Indian religions) is ahimsa, the principle of non-harm. Hindus try to minimize the harm that they do to anyone or anything. (Did you know that in strict Jainism food cannot be plucked from trees or pulled from the ground to minimize harm to plants? Traditionally Jains do not eat root vegetables and fruits must have already fallen from the tree).

Another reason is the belief that when you take the meat into your body, that meat is infused with the emotions of the animals and that you are also taking in the pain and fear connected with how that animal died.

As you have probably heard, cows are revered in India. Some say it is because Krishna was a cow herder and so it is an animal special to him. Others will say it is because the cow is a great symbol for selfless giving. She provides us with milk, cheese, yogurt, etc.

In practice, I think cows wandering the street may be just one more pest. For some, anyway. When I was in India, I mostly saw people swatting cows away in annoyance!

During Diwali there is a day (Dhanteras) when, in some regions, cows are decorated and pujas are performed to them.

About Ambaa

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • siddharth

    COWS – SCIENCE BEYOND SCIENCE

    EVERY HUMAN MUST READ THIS :-As per ?#?Hindu? & Scientific benefits of COW . And impacts of eating Beef Amazing ?#?FACTS? & ?#?AncientIndia?

    Lets analyse what science says about Cow Protection & benefits arising thereof. As Mordern Science Says that Most of the mental retardation and depression are due to eating of beef ( Cow Meet) in the world.

    *************************************************************

    —————~> COWS – SCIENCE BEYOND SCIENCE:<~—————-

    ************************************************************

    Cows, as 'Kamdhenu' iare the fulfiller of all desires. "matrah sarva bhutanam, gavah sarv sukh prada", Meaning, the cow being mother of all living entities gives all pleasures to everyone.

    1) Cows are receiver's of the auspicious rays from all heavenly constellations. Thus she contains influences of all constellations. Wherever there is a cow, there is influence of all heavenly constellations; blessings of all gods. Cow is the only divine living being that has aSurya Ketu Nadi (vein connected to sun) passing through her backbone. Therefore the cow's milk, butter and ghee have golden hue. This is because Surya ketu Nadi, on interaction with solar rays produces gold salts in her blood. These salts are present in the cow's milk and cow's other bodily fluids which miraculously cures many diseases.

    Ancient scripture state that “Suryaketu” nerve on cow’s back absorbs harmful radiations and cleanses atmosphere. Mere presence of cows is a great contribution to environment.

    2) Cow milk is the most compatible with human mothers milk then any other species in existence. This is because the DNA of the cow was specifically constructeds to be harmonious with mammalian human DNA. So it can be clearly understood that cow DNA was designed so humans could benefit from cows products being milk, cheese, butter, cream and yoghurt.

    Charaka Samhita states,

    - “Milk is the best life strengthener.”

    – While Casin protein in milk helps growth of infants,

    – Calcium and sulphur strengthen our bones.

    – Milk is also rich in vitamins D and B-complex.

    - Curd arrests diarrhoea, controls fat, and resists cancer.

    - Ghee improves intelligence and beauty. It is used to treat eye diseases.

    - Distilled cow urine is effective in treatment of flu, arthritis, bacterial diseases, food poisoning, indigestion, oedema, and leprosy.

    - Panchagavya Mix : Various medical formulations like Panchagavya Ghrita, Amritasara, Ghanavati, Ksharavati, Netrasara etc. are invaluable medicines in Ayurvedic system.

    yatvagasthi gatam papam dehe tishthti mamke prasnat panchgavyasya dahasagnirivendhnam

    Meaning : From skin to bones, what ever sins (diseases) are in my body, are destroyed by panchagavya just as fire destroys fuel.

    3) In medicine: ( In Ayurveda) it is said:

    || gavyam pavitram ca rasayanam ca pathyam ca hrdyam balam buddhi syataaayuh pradam rakt vikar hari tridosh hridrog vishapaham syata || Meaning : Cow urine panchgavya is great elixir, proper diet, pleasing to heart, giver of mental and physical strength, enhances longevity. It balances bile, mucous and airs. Remover of heart diseases and effect of poison. For thousands of years, people in India have used cow urine and cow dung for different purposes in their daily and ceremonial activities. Being highly recommended by the scriptures, it is considered holy and safe to use.

    Medicinal Benefits:

    According to Ayurveda the cause of all diseases is the imbalance in three faults (tri-dosas) i.e. mucous, bile and air. Cow urine balances the tri-dosas, thus diseases are cured.

    There are some micronutrients in our body, which give life strength. These micronutrients are flushed out through urine. Therefore gradually ageing steps in our body. Cow urine has all elements, which compensate for deficiency of nutrients in our body, which are required for healthy life. Thus Cow urine stops ageing process. So it is called an elixir and also life giving.

    (Urine & Cow Dung) provide the right solutions for most of the diseases, that are considered incurable.

    Cow urine has Natural Disinfectant and Antiseptic qualities. It helps in curing Cancer, AIDS, Asthma, Diabetes, High BP, Psoriasis, Eczema, Other Skin Diseases, Heart Diseases, Hypertension, Piles, Prostate, Liver, Kidney, Urinary Diseases, Female Diseases, Hepatitis, Acidity, Fits, Ulcer, Spleen, Ear, Sexual Disorders, Nose, Eye, Cough & Cold, Migraine, Headache, Gout, Knee Joint Pains, Sodalities, Sciatica and other chronic ailments.

    Cow urine being miraculous poison destroyer, destroys the disease caused by poison (Toxin). Extremely dangerous chemicals are purified by cow urine. Cow urine provides immunity power by increasing resistance power against diseases in human body. It is anti toxin.

    Cow urine corrects functioning of liver. So, liver makes healthy pure blood. It gives disease resistance power to the body.

    Cow urine contains many minerals especially Copper, gold salts, etc. It compensates for bodily mineral deficiency. Presence of gold salts protects body against diseases.

    Mental tension hurts nervous system. Cow urine is called medhya and hradya, which means it, gives strength to brain and heart. Thus cow urine protects heart and brain from damages caused by mental tension and protects these organs from disorders and diseases.

    Excessive use of any medicine leaves some residue in our body. This residue causes diseases. Cow urine destroys the poisonous effects of residues and makes body disease free.

    Electric currents (rays) which are present in the environment keep our body healthy. These rays in form of extremely small currents enter our body through Copper in our body. We get Copper from cow urine. To attract these electric waves is quality of Copper. Thus we become healthy.

    By acting against the voice of soul (immoral & sinful action), the heart and mind become narrow minded. Due to this the functioning of body is effected and causes diseases. Cow urine provides mode of goodness. Thus helps us to perform correct activities by mind. Thus protects from diseases.

    “Sarve rogaah hi mandagnau” All diseases begin with mandagni (Low fire i.e. digestive capacity). If fire is strong, diseases won’t occur. Cow urine keeps the fire strong.

    Irregular bowel movements cause diseases. Cow urine regulates bowel movements. Weakening of immunity system also causes disease. Cow urine is elixir. Gavyam tu samprotkam, jivaniya rasayanam meaning cow urine gives life and is elixir.

    Bull’s urine is stronger. But its medical value is no less as species is same. Just by smelling bull’s urine, infertile woman can conceive child

    In scriptures some diseases are said to be due to sinful actions performed in previous lives which we have to bear. Ganga resides in cow urine. Ganga is destroyer of sins, thus cow urine destroys such previous sins and so diseases are cured.

    4) Organic colostrum benefits and rebuilds the human body at a deep foundational level. Asides from containing the building blocks (all the parent essential fatty acids, all the essential amino acids, etc for every nutrient needed by the body, the health benefits of colostrum milk can be attributed to these key compounds:

    Naturally occurring lGF-1 (which stands for insulin-like growth factor 1) could be considered the crown jewel as to why cow colostrum benefits human longevity potential so well. According to wikipedia, "IGF-1 is one of the most potent natural activators of the AKT signaling pathway, a stimulator of cell growth and proliferation, and a potent inhibitor of programmed cell death" (this helps combat the metabolic effects of aging). IGF-1 is one of the many growth factors found in bovine colostrum that helps create a state of anabolism in the body which can lead to increased lean muscle mass, bone density and tissue regeneration. The oligosaccharides that are present in colostrum benefits the healing of the skin externally in the form of reversing wrinkles and internally in the form of healing the lining of the digestive tract. These long chain sugars also serve as a prebiotic and feed good bacteria in the intestine (including acidophilus) and aid in the maintenance of peak health for the digestive system.

    Lactoperoxidase is an enzyme that acts as an anti-microbial agent. It is found naturally in milk and colostrum to prevent the proliferation of bad bacteria. These beneficial properties are then transferred over to those who consume it. Colostrum benefits your oral health if you let is dissolve in your mouth around your gums. This can prevent or even treat gingivitis and may be able to help re-grow a receding gum-line. Lactoperoxidase has also been shown to stimulate macrophages (white blood cells) to gobble up cancer cells present in the body.

    The lactobacillus acidophilus in raw colostrum is a strain of healthy bacteria that is an important part of the human immune system. Many people develop an imbalance of not only their intestinal flora (healthy bacteria) but also the flora on their skin and other bodily orifices (ears, nose throat, mouth etc) over time due to poor diets and the use of medication and specifically antibiotics. Acidophilus taken orally in organic colostrum benefits the flora of the entire body by populating first the gut and then it eventually "overflows" into all other areas of the body. As previously mentioned, there are naturally occurring prebiotics in organic colostrum that feed acidophilus as well as any strains of good bacteria already present in your body.

    Lactoferrin and hemopexin may be two key nutrients in "leveling the playing field" in terms of the difference of lifespan between men and women. One suspected cause for men living shorter live than women on average throughout the world is that they don't regularly shed their blood the way women do once a month. Iron is a pro-oxidant and the theory is that "rusty" old iron that is floating around the body for too long causes damage that builds up over time. Lactoferrin and hemopexin are known to bind to excess iron and remove it from the body safely.

    Nucleosides found in dairy products and specifically in higher amounts in cow colostrum, have a number of beneficial functions for the body. Dietary nucleotides support immune modulation, meaning that they intelligently alter the immune system to become more effective, as opposed to just blatantly boosting it which may exacerbate underlying autoimmune conditions. These nutrients also enhance iron absorption in the digestive tract as well as help in the desaturation of fats, making them easier to digest!

    Proline rich peptides (PRP's) act as hormones that regulate the thymus gland and help modulate the immune system (much in the same way as the nutrients mentioned above). Specifically, PRP's promote better functioning of T-lymphocytes, they help produce cytokines, they stimulate the activity of natural killer cells (NK cells) and they stimulate and modulate many other immunological functions. What makes cow colostrum one of the best antiaging foods is that PRP's increase the permeability of blood vessels in the skin, resulting in the improved uptake of nutrients into the skin which results in a healthier and more youthful complexion!

    5) Cow dung has antiseptic, anti radioactive and anti thermal properties. When we coat the walls and clean the floors of house with cow dung, it protects the dwellers. In 1984, gas leak in Bhopal killed more than 20,000 people. Those living in houses with cow dung coated walls were not affected. Atomic power centres in India and Russia even today use cow dung to shield radiation.

    6) When we burn cow dung, it balances atmospheric temperature and kills germs in the air. We can also reduce acid content in water by treating it with cow dung.

    7) When we offer ghee in fire as part of ritualistic sacrifices, it strengthens the ozone layer and shields the earth from harmful radiations from Sun.

    Manures from cow urine & dung, makes the soil fertile, for yielding more nutrient fruits & Vegetables for healthy life. Helps in overcoming the negatives of Chemical fertilizers. 99% of the insects in nature are beneficial to the system. Insecticides prepared from cow urine or well fermented butter milk do not affect these helpful insects. Dung from one cow is adequate to fertilise 5 acres of land and its urine is can protect 10 acres of crop from insects. African deserts were made fertile using cow dung.

    9) 70% of our people depend on agriculture. 98% of them depend on cattle based agriculture.

    9) India has approximately 30 crore cattle. Using their dung to produce bio gas, we can save 6.0 crore ton of firewood every year. This would arrest deforestation to that extent.

    10) Boasting of the largest rail road network of the world, Indian Railways transported 55.7 crore tons of goods in 2004-05. In the same year, the humble ox carts transported 278.5 crore tons! In that year, trains moved 511.2 crore passengers while ox carts had 2044.8 crore customers! Oxen have carried up to 14 ton goods non-stop 24 hours, without water and food. Most importantly, the carts do not produce air or sound pollution. Goods carried by ox carts is 4 to 5 times as much as by trains. This saves considerable foreign exchange. E.g., Transportation worth Rs. 50,000 crore was done by ox carts in 2005. By expanding cow based industry, cow would have a defining stature in our economy.

    Sadly its already important position is not accepted by our people.

    Important links:

    1) Research : http://eng.gougram.org/cow-urine-medicine/research/

    2) http://www.gomataseva.org/faq/

    3) http://www.iscowp.org/practical-benefits.html

    **** Most of the mental retardation and depression are due to eating of beef ( Cow Meet) in the world. THEREFORE ABSTAIN FROM BEEF EATING & PROMULGATE THE MISSION OF COW PROTECTION.

  • J N

    Meat eating is not part of culture in bharat until muslims n christians invaded n forcefully introduced meat eating. there were historic records mentioning until 16th century Vijaynagara empire fall,, it was last vedic empire,, later British forced to eat meat on their employees,, etc etc situations changed dramatically later on,, but still ppl keep their faith.
    Abrahamic cults like church, islam, etc, they believe animals dont have souls, so they can eat them, as they are meant for human food, its totally different way of philosophy in vedic culture,, as they do believe animals too have souls.

    • Ayan

      Vegetarianism Did not exist in Bharat before 1500 BC , when the influence of jainism & buddhism forced hindus to become vegetarians..During vedic era yagna & animal sacrifice was important part of vedic culture..

      • Ambaa

        I’ve often wondered about balancing believing in the Vedas with their frequent mentions of animal sacrifice. Something for me to explore in a post sometime!

        • Ayan

          I have seen this peculiar phenomenon among western hindus & buddhists, they always mix vegetarianism with religion. whereas in reality vegetarianism is a cultural issue not religious. In asia by far majority of hindus & buddhists eat nonveg food..And don’t think these people as non religious. These are millions of religious hindus & buddhists who do not consider dietary laws as part of there religion.

          • Ambaa

            There are certainly religious Hindus and Buddhists who don’t consider dietary “laws” as part of religion. But there are also those who do consider not eating meat to be an expression of their religion.

            Vegetarianism doesn’t have to be a religious choice and religious people don’t have to choose vegetarianism. But at the same time, some people do choose vegetarianism because of religious concerns.

          • Ayan

            Ambaa, i will tell you why this issue is personal to me.i I am not against vegetarianism, but i am against this ‘ Meat is bad but Milk is sacred ‘ attitude. I have severe lactose intolerance & in india if somebody gives you vegetarian food you can be 99% sure that every item contains some form of dairy product. Whenever i say that i don’t eat any milk or dairy product people look at me as if i am some kind of crazy person. And the prasad offered after puja will always contain dairy. If i refuse to eat it, people think i am a rude atheist. My mother told me that i must have been a sinner in my previous life, so god has forbidden me from eating his prasad. I was shocked, especially since i was born in a brahmin family & was very religious from an early age. Being a bengali, fish was essential part of our diet & vegan diet is not practicable in india. I am a non lacto non vegetarian so i get pissed when some people say hindus have to be lacto vegetarian..

          • HARRY

            ” I am not against vegetarianism, but i am against this ‘ Meat is bad but Milk is sacred ‘ attitude. ” Well the difference is very simple, one is given as a gift without killing a host and the other you have to kill the host for it. Because you suffer from lactose intolerance doesn’t mean that what you say makes it true because it suits you.

            You being a brahmin and making this bold assumption doesn’t make it right. And if this is your attitude then you are only a brahmin by birth not by karma. This is not a topic that you can vent your anger at due to fault with your body. My own father once tried to justify his drinking habits and said to me that pandava and kavrav drank and nobody said anything so it must be ok to do and I just gave him a look and didn’t have to say anything but he knows where I stand with it.

          • Ambaa

            I think it’s really unfair to compare an allergy with a drinking problem.

            Let’s avoid attacking other people’s practice and focus on living our own life in the way that we believe is most dharmic.

          • HARRY

            I’m not being unfair with him but I’m pointing that even adults uses the excuse to justify in what they do. This is not an attack on Ayan and he know that being an Indian and a Brahmin in what I am saying. But you are right in what you said in last paragraph. The problem I find with this is that I can’t deviate from what I believe in because once you know this you can’t use an excuse. I do try to look for an excuse but I just can’t find any even tho I want to.

          • Sabina

            I can sympathize… I think it’d be much easier to avoid dairy in the US than in India. Several fellow Indian-Americans whom I know have recently gone vegan, and it’s hard for them to find anything to eat at Indian functions because basically all of the food has milk products (even if it’s vegetarian). Of course, they manage because they can eat before or after, and can usually find something in most restaurants- but I imagine that in India, every day is like that because there’s milk in everything, vegetarian and non-veg both. And that’s awful that your mom told you that… =(

            I’m curious- if you told people that you were vegan, would they understand? Not that you should have to lie to avoid their judgment, but I’m just curious if veganism by choice is more understood/accepted in India than lactose intolerance. (I’m sure attitudes vary in different parts of India too.) I’ve found that in the US, it’s sometimes simpler to tell people that I’m allergic to something, to make sure they don’t give me food with that ingredient- and everybody accepts that and no one thinks less of me (though sometimes they’ll say “Oh, you poor thing, you don’t know what you’re missing” etc).

            EDIT: To clarify, I mean that generally people are okay about it when I tell them about my different diet (I’m vegetarian), but there are places and times when people are not, and specific people who are hostile to vegetarianism as a choice. In these cases, people are more receptive if I say that I’m allergic to meat. I find it strange that people should react badly to someone being allergic, which is not their choice or their “fault.”

          • Ayan

            Thanks Sabina, the problem here is milk is considered sacred. Veganism is unheard of , people have no idea about it.

          • Ambaa

            Wow! I can see why this issue is important to you. I’m really sorry that you’ve been faced with such rudness about it.

            I personally don’t think you have to be vegetarian to be Hindu. I think what’s in our hearts and our minds is more important.

          • Ayan

            Thanks Ambaa, this means a lot to me.

        • http://amarchotoprithibi.blogspot.com/ Andrea

          They still do animal sacrifice at Kalighat in Kolkata and other Kali temples … I don’t know much about it except it exists. In Nepal goats are sacrificed at Dashain (Dussehra). Where my husband is from, hardly anyone is vegetarian except people on fasting days, and widows all the time. I do not think anyone would say they are not Hindu, though.

      • HARRY

        I like your theories, but I’ve never read this anywhere that says that Bharat before 1500BC was non vegetarian state. Being vegetarian is about choice, and it’s a personal choice and I agree with that, but you saying that it was forced by jainism & buddhism is amusing.

        If you are saying that during vedic era yagna & animal sacrifice was important part of vedic culture, Then I have no Idea which part of veds you are referring to, and that you have read and it says it, but I have not come across this yet, and to my knowledge it may have existed in certain modified text by certain sects of people but this does not exist in the main veds or purans otherwise Amhinsa is per Dharmum would be invalid as important code of conduct.

        I like okra but if I said that everybody likes eating okra then that statement is wrong. Nowhere there is exemption for eating flesh in any puran or vedic text if you are a Hindu who follows a true Sanatan path and it’s text of Amhinsa is a per Dharmum that I have read so far, but if I to do it, it’s a choice. If you do do other then this doesn’t make you a bad Hindu but only a selective one.

        • Ayan

          Reference of animal sacrifice is given in the Rig Veda which is the most ancient of all hindu texts.Animals were sacrificed during yagna to appease various vedic gods. I agree that hinduism teaches ahimsa, but Ahimsa in hinduism means controlling your anger & hatred for others, it has nothing to do with vegetarianism. If you are a vegetarian & hate fellow human beings for eating meat then for not following the path of ahimsa. Read the Gita more carefully. A tribal who lives in the forest & hunts for a living can also be a pious hindu.

          • HARRY

            Ayan, I know what you are saying and you are right at some extent, where people in the past have deviated from true Sanatan Dharam and have done this, but that doesn’t make this right. If you look at the definition of word Hinsa in Hindi dictionary you will realise it’s about taking a life of anything without it’s untimely death. Hinsa=Kill no matter what ever the reason is. If you are not vegetarian then you do have to participate in this act to feed your self. I’m not disputing your claims but rather not agreeing to them in your justification. Like I said it’s all about individual choice but to bring in Hinduism to justify it is WRONG.

          • Ayan

            Listen harry you don’t have to agree with me, that’s the beauty of hinduism, we don’t have a fixed set of rules like islam or christianity. A hindu can be a vegetarian or non vegetarian, a idol worshiper or he may be against idol worship( like vedantist, arya samaj & many others). Shiva puran says Shiva is the ultimate god, visnu puran says it is visnu. So you follow dharma in your own ways but don’t think your path is the only path.

          • Ambaa

            And there’s no need for any of us to get worked up or upset because we will all grow towards Moksha at our own pace. Karma’s justice is perfect, so if I or someone else is wrong, we will be corrected over time.

        • Ambaa

          I am referring to, for one example. the Rig Veda: “Indra says, “They cook for me 15 plus 20 oxen.”” Yajnas of animals are mentioned often. Whether to interpret that literally or metaphorically (the animals representing aspects of human behavior) depends on the guru and the tradition.

          http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=5262

          • HARRY

            Yes, I know the one that you are referring to and telling me about. when Rig veda is talking about this, it is about your internal animals ie your inner dosa, which it is telling you to sacrifice which is more of metaphoric. The Hindu tradition that still allows this is not based on the religion, but rather it’s based on the tradition of the area. Therefore this is not part of our religion.

            Indra and Agni are not gods according to Hindu tradition. They are Devs, I’ve said this before when you wrote an article on Indra. They do not have temples dedicated to them and they are not worshiped. you will never find their murti in any of normal Hindu puja.

            When you look at all the four parts of Hinduism and if truly read it’s purans they are clear on what I said, and those who deviate from it are more interested in creating their own kind of religion, which is NOT Hinduism, it may resemble like it, but it’s NOT Hinduism.

            Other thing, when you do a Yagna and the ingredients used in them like wheat and juv has to be older then 5 to 7 years. The reason for this is because so it has no potential life to regrow. Therefore you are not even allowed to use any thing in Havan ( Fire Pit ) that could potentially has life, for Yagna to be satvic and religious. If this is true then how is it possible to use a live animal and how is this satvic.

            The type of Hinduism you are talking about is based on superstitions, which is deviated from it’s true sanatan tradition to please those who think religion should suit their chosen life style.

            You may not like my answer because it’s not politically correct or suit others and their life style. As diabetic I’ve been told that I can’t have sugar and there are times I want to go and do it but you and I both know that’s not the way. Hinduism is about finding a cure for moksa not about suiting our chosen life style.

  • Sabina

    I had never thought about it that way before: that to Indian Hindus, eating a cow is like how Americans perceive eating a dog! That’s what I’m going to say next time someone asks me.


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