Sikhism is a religious identity that originated in the Punjab area of India, yet has practicing members of the faith worldwide, including The United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe.
But, like other religions in India, are they vegetarians?
Sikhs who have taken Amrit, which is a Sikhs form of baptism, are generally vegetarians and may refrain from eating meat, fish, and any animal-derived products, including animal fats. However, they are not bound by religious law to be meat-free.
This article will discuss whether or not Sikhs are vegetarians. So keep reading!
We have everything you need to know about whether or not Sikhs are vegetarians and what their diet entails.
Do Sikhs Only Eat a Vegetarian Diet?
Sikhism is a distinct religious group that originated in the Punjabi region of India during the 15th century.
Their followers are known as Sikhs, and they call their faith Gurmat, meaning the way of the Guru.
They believe that the purpose of humans is to achieve a state of blissfulness and to be in harmony with the earth and all of God’s creation.
This spills over into many facets of their belief systems, including their diet, of which many are practicing vegetarians. However, two major groups within Sikhism determine whether or not they are strict regarding eating meat.
The two main views this matter relate to are centered on Amritdhari Sikhs or those who have been initiated into the religious practice, much like how Christians are baptized.
Amritdhari Sikhs use guidelines set out in the Rehat Maryada, or the Sikhs code of conduct. They can eat meat if they choose to do so, just as long as it’s not ritually killed.
On the other hand, Amritdhari Sikhs who belong to certain sects, such as the Kirtani Akhand Jatha, Namdhari, and Damdami Taksal, are strictly against any eating meat of any kind and even eggs.
A Sikh temple is known as a Gurdwara; in these particular settings, only Lacto-vegetarian food is served.
This doesn’t relate to any belief as to whether or not Sikhs should eat meat, as the general consensus is that Sikhs are free to choose whether or not they want to consume meat-based products.
The Simple Diet Of The Sikhs
So, while most Sikhs generally follow a vegetarian diet, especially when eating in the Gurdwara, they are not obliged to refrain from eating meat unless they are part of a particular sect.
Most Sikhs follow the idea of working in harmony with the earth and not draining its resources.
This includes reducing farm fishing, factory farming of animals such as cows and pigs, and not indulging in what we don’t need.
One of the major Gurus within Sikhism, Guru Nanak is quoted in the teachings as stating that when we overconsume certain kinds of foods this leads to ‘lobh’ or greed and drains the world of its resources and thus, its life.
So, Sikhs tend to use this as a basis for their diet instead of worrying about what to eat and what not to eat.
The Sikhs holy book, known as The Guru Granth Sahib, states that fools are the only ones who argue about wheter or not to eat meat.
One of the wisest Sikh gurus, Gobind Singh, suggested that his followers and thus the followers of Sikhism should refrain from consuming any kind of Kutha or ritually slaughtered meat, as this was shameful in the eyes of God.
Disagreements Within The Sikh Religion
While most Sikhs eat a vegetable-based diet, they are not restricted from eating meat-based products or fatty animal products such as cheese.
However, several of the religious sects of Sikhism strongly disagree with the consumption of animal-based products.
Sects such as the Damdami Taksal, Namdharis, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, and Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha believe the diet of the Sikhs should not include meat, nor any kind of fatty animal products.
The reasoning behind this belief stems from a large amount of Vaishnav converts who joined the Sikh religion, bringing with them strong moral beliefs with prohibited them from eating meat.
So while numerous sects within the Sikh religion abstain from eating meat, eggs, fish, and most animal fat products, this is not the general consensus for the whole faith.
These particular groups were heavily influenced by older religions in India, such as Hinduism, where vegetarianism is highly practiced.
Upon their conversion, they brought aspects of their beliefs with them.
So, to answer the question, are Sikhs vegetarian?
The short answer is no. While most Sikhs are happy to follow a vegetarian diet, and only Lacto-vegetarian food is served within their temples, they are not obliged to be meat-free.
However, certain sects of Sikhs will follow a purely vegetarian diet.