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Jul 10, 2008 04:44 PM

Are eggs considered non-vegetarian in India?

I think they are. Reason I ask is because I grew up eating egg products and we considered ourselves vegetarian. My parents are from Kerala (Tamil Iyers). I grew up in the US.
I recall reading something about how some religious figure Tamil Iyers follow permitted eggs or something along those lines.

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  1. Eggs are animal products, just like milk

    3 Replies
    1. re: JiyoHappy

      so they are considered veg in India? I'm not asking if it's veg or not I'm asking what does Indian society consider it

      1. re: vivinator

        Our Telugu speaking Hindu friends eat eggs and milk, along with rice, dahl etc, but no meat or fish.

        Vegetarian as a concept in English may or may not have an equivalent in Telugu or other Indian languages.

        1. re: vivinator

          Not trying to be gross, IMO the difference is if the product comes from a dead or from a living animal.
          Milk and ghee are essential for puja.
          As for eggs, it is a conundrum..

      2. I agree with the person who posted that "vegetarian" is not the same objective concept in India but rather is more fluid. I'm sure if you ask 5 different people from there, even 5 different people from Brahmin backgrounds, you will get 5 different answers as to what is considered "vegetarian." The textbook definition may be no meat, but when you mix that with religion and family tradition, the terms "vegetarian" and "non-vegetarian" differ widely in context. Some vegetarians will not eat egg products, though some do. Other vegetarians will avoid even garlic and onions. Some non-vegetarians only eat poultry and seafood, others embrace lamb and mutton, some Brahmin families I know even participated in hunting and ate game (venison, rabbit), but not beef. Some non-vegetarians go vegetarian on certain days of the week, not eating meat products, perhaps eating eggs, perhaps not. It really depends, and contrary to popular belief there is no hard-and-fast rule about this in Hinduism.

        3 Replies
        1. re: fallingup

          "Other vegetarians will avoid even garlic and onions."
          this isn't really a vegetarian issue, though. hare krishna don't eat onions & garlic [or certain other foods] because they're believed to have aphrodisiac qualities & increase sexual desire.

          personally i don't really find garlic or onion breath to be a turn-on, but hey, to each his own ;)

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            It comes from medical beliefs based on the four humours and onion and garlic both being "hot." Anything that was either categorized as "hot" or "wet" was deemed an aphrodisiac. If you had too much of a "hot and wet" humour, the prescription was cold and dry. Spices were considered "hot" and were also to be avoided.

            1. re: TampaAurora

              thanks for the history on that.

              [btw, i hope you know i was kidding about the breath - i didn't really think that was the aphrodisiac quality...]

        2. Those who say that there is no one consistent definition of 'vegetarian' in India, or its many religions like Hinduism, Jainism, etc, are right. That said, most varieties of vegetarian practice in India will include milk products, but not eggs (this probably harks from the days when you could not guarantee unfertilized eggs). So, many Indian vegetarians avoid eggs, though many will also eat them. You're best off asking whomever you are trying to feed. (And, as you already know, Hindu NE vegetarian).

          1. My husband was raised in Gujarat by a vegetarian Hindu family. They ate dairy products but not eggs...However, he can remember his father sneaking him a couple of boiled eggs once or twice a week and telling him to eat them quick "and don't tell your mother!" Apparently his dad was concerned that he wasn't getting enough protein......

            1. grrr i just posted and my answer got eaten. different castes and communities interpret what is considered as pure veg. differently. Like Gujarati Hindus and Jains and so forth who follow strict religious constrictions don't eat eggs, but other communities who consider themselves veg do eat eggs, and I know some "veg." hotels/restaurants serve eggs. You won't get a definitive answer for the whole of Hindu India, but you could try to ask an Iyer religious leader from your parents' community to see what the rules are for strict people of your background.