Finding Vegetarianism in Indian culture

The “Vegetarian” v/s “Non-vegetarian” debate has been on for centuries in India. The debate comes  with mockery, disgust, guilt, doubt and confusion. I happen to be a classic specimen of a confused vegetarian (or not) Indian .

Let me give a little background, I was born and raised in a North Indian Orthodox Hindu (Sanatan Dharma) environment, which in general, prescribes a Vegetarian life as the right way-of-life (Dharma). I accepted this as truth, and remained a strong promoter of vegetarianism for very many years without question. Very few people around me ate meat, which was obviously aDharma (sin).

The first seeds of doubt came during my under-Grad days, where out of my gang of 12 friends, only 2 of us were vegetarian and we were the butt of many jokes due to this. Using quick Math, only 17% of my group of friends was vegetarian, then 83% were serious sinners. Extrapolating the numbers to the world (assuming everyone outside India ate meat), only about 3-5% people on earth seemed to be vegetarian from that angle (there was no Google back then to confirm this). I used to wonder – with so many people eating non-vegetarian food, Hell (Narka) would be very a very busy place.

Well, I had the doubts but I stuck to my strict vegetarian regime. A few years later, I was reading about how all religions tie together and came across a clear reference in the Book of Genesis that eating meat was allowed by God !!! My image of “Dharma” started to shake… Religious differences apart, God is undoubtedly One… How could different people have different Dharma for something as fundamental as food, based on the religion they were born in??? There had to be a prescription that works for all because God created everyone alike. Politicians carved out religions. (We all get to use Azithromicin during strep-throat infections).

When staged with such fear and doubt about one’s belief system,a person has 2 choices:

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