Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics

Living Edition
| Editors: David M. Kaplan

Hinduism and Food

  • Colleen Taylor Sen
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6167-4_286-2


The concepts of ahimsa, noninjury to all forms of life, and the associated practice of vegetarianism were born on the Indian subcontinent in the sixth century BCE. Initially adopted by the upper castes of society, they became more widespread with the spread of devotional movements starting in the sixth century CE. In the twentieth century, vegetarianism was one of the core teachings of the great political and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi. While today a minority of Indians are strict vegetarians, vegetarianism remains an ideal of society.

Definition of Hinduism

Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion (after Christianity and Islam), with an estimated 950 million adherents in India and the diaspora. Although some beliefs and practices are thousands of years old, the term “Hinduism” is relatively new. It was first used in the ninth century CE by Central Asians and Persians for the inhabitants of the subcontinent. (The word comes from the Persian Sindh, meaning the...


Meat Consumption Vegetarian Diet Goat Milk Eating Meat Hatha Yoga 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent Scholar and AuthorChicagoUSA