Is Ayurveda Totally Vegetarian?

In recent days, Ayurveda is being associated more and more  with spirituality, hence a notion is there among people that, if you are on Ayurvedic medicines, you should follow a vegetarian diet. If one is a firm follower of practical spirituality, and if one considers Ayurveda as a serious medical system, then here is the place to explore the answer with detailed explanation to the question – Is Ayurveda vegetarian?

The concept of a vegetarian diet: In ancient Indian period, the concept of total vegetarianism was non existent. In Vedas and Puranas, there is mentioning of non vegetarian diet and its qualities etc. The famous “Vatapi Jeerno bhava”  incident in Agastya Maharishi is a classical example for prevalence of non vegetarian diet in those times.

The Hindus adopted a total vegetarian system after Buddhism spread across India. It is a classical nature of the Hindus to be flexible and to adopt any good thing from any other religion.

Is Ayurveda vegetarian ?

Ayurveda is not totally vegetarian by any stretch of imagination. Mamsarasa – meat soup is explained in all the classical texts as the best medicine for extreme emaciation. It reduces tiredness due to Pitta imbalance (for example working under the sun for long hours), ideal for those who do daily exercise, improves the strength of voice , skin quality, immunity etc. (Reference: Charaka samhita Sutra sthana 27/312-325).

Aswagandhadi leham, also known as Ajaswagandhadi lehyam conains meat as an ingredient, along with other herbs. [Some companies manufacture it without meat as an ingredient]

Variants of meat soup are explained as Vesavara in Bhavaprakasha, another classical Ayurvedic text.

Meat soup and other non vegetarian diets has been prescribed along with certain medications. For example, meat soup is a co -drink for the medicine Punarnvadyarishta.

Conclusion:
Ayurveda does not say that one should follow total vegetarianism.
A non vegetarian diet has its own medicinal significance in Ayurveda.
It does not mean that everybody should have a non vegetarian diet. One who is accustomed to it, can have it and one who is not, may not have it.
One of the reasons why a total vegetarian diet is encouraged is because non veg is claimed to increase Tamas, which, according to spirituality, is true.
Following a non vegetarian diet will not have any bad effects on herbal Ayurvedic pills that one might be taking. One can have non veg, during his Ayurvedic medication period. There is no rule that non veg should not be taken while one is on Ayurvedic medicines.

P.S: I am a total vegetarian and am not trying to advertise / promote non vegetarianism.

Question: 
The above article made an interesting reading but spiritually it is wrong. When Bernard Shaw was asked to take mutton soup to recover from illness, he replied, “I will not make my stomach a graveyard of birds and animals”. Swamy Vivekananda said, football takes you closer to God than Bhagwad Gita. By this he meant that in order to do spiritual practices, one should be physically strong e.g. to meditate for 3 hours is no joke in Kali Yuga without changing the leg and hand position. So physical health is important but not at the cost of some helpless animals life. Have you seen how a fish struggles when it is taken out of water or how painful it is when a hook is stuck to its mouth while fishing. And all these activities keep us pinned down to this Earth with no chance for Moksha which is the true aim of our life.When Buddha was asked the way to Nirvana he said that HEALTH is the pre-requisite for doing spiritual practices. He further said that one should concentrate on the breath from the nose to the diaphragm, while walking, standing, sitting and lying down. He told his students that if they practised that, then they would become very healthy. FRANKLY AND PERSONALLY I SEE NO JUSTIFICATION IN EATING BUFFALO OR ANY OTHER ANIMAL/BIRD FOR MY SURVIVAL. This is the opinion of the true masters. Lastly astrologer Linda Goodman had said that if you are eating non-vegetarian food from birth and now when you are an adult you can still wean yourself from this by staying on only mutton for five years than give it up and live only on fish. After this become a vegetarian and stay for five years and then become a vegan for five years and lastly become a fruitarian throughout your life and see the difference.

Reply:
As far as my knowledge goes, in the book – Talks With Swamy Vivekananda, Swamiji tells that, – have non veg, no problem, exercise and build a better body first, and then go for spiritual practices.
I am a vegetarian. But I do not have problem with people having non veg.
Do you know that when the vegetables and plants are plucked from the farms and gardens, they also do feel pain?
It is how the world works.

An argument – srinig467

You are just making some bogus claims.
1.If you choose to eat non veg its your karma, you will pay for it.
Your points are logical fallacies.
2.Animals are not food for humans or any other herbivore. By your logic, to a cannibal another human is food. So is it okay to eat other humans? God didn’t create human to eat meat the same way he didn’t create cows to eat meat. BTW even carnivores pay for their karma they die very bad deaths.
http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/natural.html
This link describes in detail why we are herbivores with scientific proof and observable facts like the way we chew our food.

3.Non veg is tamasic. You have no knowledge of tridosha. Non veg has nothing to do with Tridosha. Tri Dosha is Pitta vata kapha…You seem to be confusing it with “guna” sattvic rajasic and tamasic SO PLEASE DON’T ARGUE FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUING> This proves you are just making ridiculous arguments. Just putting them in Bullet points don’t make them strong arguments. Either you are confused or you are just arguing to convince your own self cause you seem to be a meat eater disturbed by the facts I presented in my comment.

4. Again a logical fallacy. Citing an extreme case (even though normal) is not a sound argument. There is a reason why they say meat eating is one step away from cannibalism because all the justifications for meat eating can be used to justify cannibalism too. Many cannibals were living in remote areas and turned to cannibalism cause they ate up the animals in that place(tamasic guna which makes you only become worse)
Second Tawang Monastory through which Dalia Lama escaped is one of the coldest and highest places in the world. The Monks there are vegetarian they consume carbs. Carbs are considered the best food for cold regions. Especially in form of hot soups.
Even warming vegetables are there. There are many vegetarian communities like Brokpa and Bon pas living in cold regions.
Even the west used to not eat as much meat they started eating after meat industry evolved and created factory farms and then they had to brainwash people to eat more meat to make profits.

5. WOW this is ridiculous. Ghee is Not Sattvic Its rajasic Its a myth its sattvic neither is sakkar sugar is a refined food not even natural. YOU THINK YOU ARE TOO SMART right hahaha no you sound stupid making such claims. Sattvic is eating whole food plants based diet lots of fruits and vegetables and healthy grains.
How can eating that destroy life Are you stupid or you think we are stupid?
I think I should stop here because you have been exposed as just lying through your teeth or you just extremely stupid. I cant decide. You have basically lost all credibility with this ridiculous lies you are purporting. But I will continue for readers.

6.non veg rots in the system for upto 72 hours. Its a known fact that no veg is not digested well. In fact Muslims have told me they stop eating non veg when they fall sick as its difficult to recover eating non vegan.

7. OMG who said in Asthma you have to eat non-veg there is one treatment where the medicine is given inside a fish. And when that person was interviewed he said it was just for sensationalism the fish has no medicinal value. And digestion really non veg. Wow even non-vegetarians will not agree with you. Hard core non vegetarians also know they have to stop eating meat if they have digestion problems and they turn to soups without meat but maybe be animal fat in it because Meat eggs are all hard to digest.
You are just lying through your nose Or maybe eating so much non veg and reduced your IQ

8. Again another logical fallacy. Sorry Balance doesn’t mean you have to balance good with evil. I hope you don’t apply this ridiculous definition of “balance” in other aspect of your life that is when loving your girlfriend/Wife or parents. What do you do? treat them nicely and then punch them from time to time to create balance??
Hahaha I guess not. Balance means to get all foods. IN food at least.
Never in any aspect does balance mean to balance good with bad.
To have a balanced diet doesn’t mean to include Junk food. It means you balance the Macro Nutrients That is carbs fats and protein and you don’t need meat to do it.

9. You are wrong All traditional grantha puranas forbid non veg
Watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecCPLt5rE58&t=311s
This is all result of Colonial scholars who wanted to introduce Slaughter houses into India.
10. What is this incoherent banter. What has that got to do with Nonveg
yes the world is progressing and look even the western culture you took refuge into make fallible arguments are now changing. They are going vegan(no dairy even) See the US govt Recommendation for physicians they are recommending Physicians to tell their patients to follow a plant based diet. Now what more do you want?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/

only people who eat meat will make such ridiculous arguments I have observed.
People like you only do this to deal with your own dissonance.

Zorba –

@srinig467, as the person who replied to your laughable comment says, you yourself have clearly demonstrated that being vegan does not necessarily equal peace, serenity, and clear headed thinking. It is clear through looking at your comment. I was literally chuckling reading your comment before I even saw any reply to it. Also it’s clear that meat eating doesn’t equal an angry, negative disposition. It can be quite the contrary.

Now, for the readers, and especially for you srinig467, I’ll share my experience. I hope it brings some understanding to your enlightened, “peaceful” mind. I am what in ayurveda is known as a predominantly Vata person. Naturally thin, and physically (and mentally to an extent) not robust. Until about I was 22 yo, I was a vegetarian. I don’t remember ever feeling strong, clear headed, and just alive in general. I then started eating eggs and eventually meat (meat infrequently and in small quantity) with weight training. There was a difference of day and night in how I felt! Eating protein made me feel strong, more mentally focused, and it curbed my anxiety. It just made me feel way more grounded than I had ever felt on a solely lacto vegetarian diet! Another change I introduced not too long ago was of having substantial quantity of oil and fats.

So the point is that it’s not that eggs or meat take you out of balance and bring all the bad things, make you angry and blah blah blah. It’s about who you are, what your constitution is. I felt more angsty and irritated on a vegetarian diet than a diet including eggs and meat. Hardly something I would call peaceful and sattvic. On the other hand, including eggs in my diet has helped me become much calmer.

So people, stop putting dogmas out there and pigeonholing Ayurveda. Before I even knew about Ayurveda I experienced profound changes by adding eggs and to a limited extent, meat to my diet. So what’s right? My experience of how I felt and changed my life…or wrongly perceived teachings of Ayurveda that vegan diet is the best and it brings peace, strength, and health?

Another small point. I have lived in western countries. They eat a lot of meat. More than needed but that’s a different discussion. I do not see any undue levels of aggression in their behaviour. In fact they’re as nice as any other nice person on the planet. Nice, intelligent, rational, and clear minded. Just like you’d find someone in India or anywhere in the world. Think about that.

Cheers,
Zorba

Shalini –
@srinig467; first of all good on you that you are a vegan….. first and foremost thing about spirituality is taking care of your body that your spirit lives in……. And Ayurveda gives u guidelines about the lifestyle u can opt and the doctor here he is explaining that beautifully……sattva is one guna( which u need more of) and rajas and tamas are equally important for life to function…..even earth wont rotate if there was sattva…!! If ghee and milk isnt sattvic then i dont knw what is…..i guess you were formula fed.

@srinig467 – Sir, at least you just confirmed something with a clear demonstration here.
A vegan diet does not bring by itself the inner peace and spirituality attitude one might be seeking for by only applying restrictions to one’s diet. And anger in one’s heart is not an exclusive byproduct of meat consumption.
Thank you for the information. I hope we do all find peace in the end.

Samuel

Sir, this is a very important point that you made here, thank you. As I often like to think, Ayurveda is not a freedom restrictive medicine as if freedom restriction was necessary to find inner peace, it is more a balance finding medicine and in that particular way it helps me.

I have been eating meat since my early childhood and while on a ten years quest for inner peace, doing all that was recommended and BELIEVED to be the truth by so many ayurvedic practitioners and pseudo-masters over the internet, I stopped eating nearly everything that I liked and that kept me in balance at first.

And that drove me right into sickness.

Meat is helping me keep balance and when eaten consciously and rightfully, it helps me find inner peace.

I wish I would have found this article and some more moderation over the internet regarding the Ayurveda sooner .. but certainly wouldn’t I have learned so much about the complex being I am..

Thank you again Sir.

Sunny 

1. You have everything to choose for eating according to your situation, age, sex, disease, health, emergency etc. Its your own mind & heart to choose according to. If you choose not to eat non veg, its your destiny.
2. All foods in universe created by God, and he will not hurt anyone except if any do wrong things like eating more or less etc.
3. Only you have to balance tridosha. If environment is hot then dont eat hot food etc.
4. In some countries or locations, environments are not same, some are hot or some are cold. Like India is hot and have variations of food according to. Western countries have to remain active by eating non veg & exercises.
5. Like more tamas food destroy life, same that more satvik food too destroy life. You cant eat always ghee, shakar, atta and contrary to it you too can not eat non veg continuously.
6. practically old age people eating veg only are in worse condition to live compared to old age people eating non veg.
7. Sometime you caught by asthma, poor digestion, you have to take non veg.
8. Always balance. Life is balance, universe is balance, country is balanced, govt is balanced so are food.
9. All purana, granthas, vedas, samhitas not exclude non veg.
10. Today life is very challenging than previous one. Progress is not going in linear way but in multi way. You should have more power and strength to absorb these progression. In last you read single subject but today you have to study lots like self motivation, business, money, relations, academic, new technologies even after you age.

I think, these 10 reasons are enough to describe you. I do not intend to hurt you but try to lighten the subject.

At last 2 more things…human can never decide, what is wrong or right. Only God decide it. If he not like then He balance wrong thing with good one.

Life is given for living with full forms. But he should have right vision.

29 thoughts on “Is Ayurveda Totally Vegetarian?”

  1. Hello doctor.
    It was an interesting read. This would clarify peoples doubt of whether ayurveda is vegetarien.
    I would like to write few things , which I think is amiss here.
    First of all the diet during intake of medicine is not with regard to the medicine but with respect to the disease. So if the disease condition aggravates with non veg intake then it has to be avoided and there are many diseases which worsens with it.
    Secondly some medicines like gugguluthiktakam is usually advised with purely veg diet.
    These are only my views on this matter… I understand , this article is about clarifying whether ayurveda is vegetarian or not.

    Reply
  2. hello doctor. i bought ajaaswagandhadi leham a few days back, and then it struck me ‘aja’ and checked ingredients to see ajamamsam. i felt very bad as i am a vegetarian for ethical/moral reasons.

    i would like to ask you whether aswagandhaadi leham is as effective as the non veg version. what are the drawbacks of aswagandhaadi leham compared to ajaaswagandhaadi.

    also are there other ayurvedic medicines that are nonveg in nature? if so, could you kindly list them so that the patient knows beforehand what he is getting into.

    thank you

    Reply
    • Hello Vin, Aja ashwagandhadi lehyam is a big embarrassment to many vegetarians.
      Please note that some manufacturers label it as ashwagandhadi lehyam, and yet, it contains aja mamsam or chaga mamsam as an ingredient.
      So, it is very important to read the ingredients, rather than go with the name of the product.
      For easy understanding, let us assume that Aswagandhadi lehyam = veg version
      and Aja ashwagandhadi lehyam = non veg version.

      both the variants are targetted towards
      1. To improve strength of the muscles,
      2. To relieve mental fatigue,
      3. As a medicine for treating unreasonable tiredness
      4. To restore strength of people who have been medicated or who have been ill for quite a long period
      5. To improve digestive power.

      So, Aja ashwagandhadi lehyam (non veg) has more effect on point number 1, than plain ashwagandhadi lehyam.

      From point 2 to point 5, both are equally capable. I would even say that plain version is better in improving digestive power than the non veg version.

      I will make a list of non veg Ayurveda medicines and will publish it soon. Thanks for the valuable advice.

      Reply
  3. Dear Doctor,

    I have just started taking medications for Sinusitis after consulting a doctor. I have not used Ayurvedic medicine for a long time although I know the benefits. I checked out the various medicines on the net. I was prescribed eosinophal, 2+2+2 where as I saw the recommended dose everywhere as 1 – 0 – 1. I am not trying to check out on my doctor but just addressing my concerns.
    Thanks
    JV

    Reply
    • Dear JV,
      In Ayurvedic medicines, the recommended dosage displayed on the label is just for information. It is the doctor who would decide the dose, his patient needs. So, your doctor is right in fixing the dose by himself. That does not mean that for everyone, dosage of Eosinophal is 2-2-2. It depends on various parameters like age of the patient, seriousness of the disease, season, Dosha imbalance, etc.

      Reply
      • Thank you Doctor for the prompt response, much appreciated. So it is safe for me to take the 2-2-2 for Eosino phal right? Sorry for my allopathic reasoning.

        Thanks & regards

        JV

        Reply
  4. There is no need to avoid non veg while you take the above medicines.
    Shikakai is better than himalaya shampoo. But you can use the shampoo also, no issues

    Reply
  5. Dear sir
    Iam taking ayurvedic medicine like manjishthadi,saribadyasavam,psorakot,aragwadhadi kwatham for psoriasis. pls let me know sir does it affect spearm count or any fertility……

    Best Regards
    God Bless

    neji

    Reply
  6. Doctor,

    I have recently been prescribed madhusnuhi rasayanam and thrivril Lehyam. I have been taking 3 other lehyams for a long time now – agasthya rasayanam, dasamoola rasayanam, vyoshadi vatakam. Please let me know if any of these 5 medicines are non vegetarian.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  7. Hello Doctor, my father has been prescribed Maharajaprasarini gel capsules. After reading your article, I have learnt that it may contain ‘chagamamsa’ as an ingredient. Unfortunately the ingredients are not listed on the package and my Doctor informs me that it is completely herbal. Is it possible that they don’t manufacture it using that ingredient any more?

    Reply
    • Chances are there that the manufacturer might have skipped the non veg ingredient. You can confirm it by calling the customer care number on the label. Only the manufacturer can confirm if it is purely veg or not.

      Reply
  8. Dear doctor,

    i am 100% vegetarian. But my health is not fine, it is difficult to find a indian doctor in hk. Do you have sources for this ? Please let your advice.

    TKS!

    Canis

    Reply
  9. Dear doctor,
    I’m having epididymis cyst(right), a small one. And i m now having ayurvedic medicine, “kashayam” and some other mixtures. Should I avoid non-veg foods? What would you recommend?

    Reply
  10. I think, you need to check your references before posting on ayurveda. Non-veg was never part of human culture. It is important to check things before communicating to the masses.

    Reply
      • Sir..is jeevamrutham (maa)non vegetarian ..and is it really good product for baldness..and what are the other benefits of jeevamrutham? ?plz reply me ..waiting for your response..thank you

        Reply
  11. ye sab galat tathya rakhe jaa rahe hain aayurved mein aur vedon mein non veg kisi bhi condition mein allowed nahi hain balki non veg ko tamsi aur rakshshi bhojan bataya gaya hai

    ye sab sajis hai hinduon ka dhar, bhrast karne ki.

    ghatiya log har cheej ko galat disha mein le jaate hain

    Reply
  12. Hello doctor I have eczema and gastric problem I heard that triphala is good for both how should I use it ?

    Reply

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