The Hindu Dilemma

by Khushboo on December 10, 2012

**I generally avoid discussing religion on my blog.  This post is an exception as it factors into a recent dietary choice**

Every time I visit London, my list of “To Try Restaurants” keeps expanding.  This trip, my list also included something more generic: Beef.  Although beef is as common as eating chicken to most people, this was a huge deal for someone like me who has been brought up as a Hindu. Because Hinduism believes cows are sacred animals, eating any kind of cow meat is considered a sin.

Maybe I’m lacking iron, maybe I needed a serious protein fix or maybe curiosity got the best of me, but over the past few weeks the temptation to try beef kept growing. After contemplating several ethical dilemmas and going back and forth between “Should I, Shouldn’t I?” I wanted to at least try it.  I finally had my first taste of a burger last week…a Tramp Burger to be exact. As a newbie, I had no idea how I wanted it cooked but luckily I was in the company of burger connoisseurs who suggested ‘well done’.

Did I enjoy it? Although I didn’t capture a photo of the burger in all its glory, I can assure you it was good…really good. I found it a lot more filling than other kinds of meat but it sure hit the spot.  Do I dare say that chicken tastes almost passé now?

Do I think eating beef makes me a bad Hindu?  Absolutely not! While I don’t claim to be perfect, I do believe I am a good person.  More than that, I don’t think my dietary preferences define who I am or my faith in God. And finally Hinduism is filled with a plethora of traditions.  Does the mere act of eating beef cancel out all the other traditions, which I actually do follow? I think not.

Beef Tataki at Sumosan

Will I continue to eat beef? While I have no plans to eat beef on a daily basis, I am looking forward to trying out different varieties like wagyu and kobe beef.  Out of respect for my non-beef eating mom & grandmother and statues of Hindu gods at home, I would never bring beef into our home nor would I eat it on auspicious days.

Do you eat beef? If so, what do you suggest I try next?

Dietary needs aside, does anything else influence your dietary choices? 

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Vandana December 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Well, I dont eat any meat… obviously by religious reasons, I consider cow to be sacred. SO I wont have any suggestions for you… :)

Personally I believe that religious “rules”, if you can call them guidelines or traditions or customs, all of them have a solid base in science. Many of the ingredients we use or customs we follow are proven to be beneficial. But according to our beliefs (personal ones) and due to circumstances, they may or may not be followed. Its ultimately our choice… forcing anything wont have good results…

Health sure does influence my dietary choices… so I eat fresh n healthy foods.
Good luck in your quest for new foods and “b” dishes.

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Health is a big influencer for me too…although taste comes in as number one, it’s always a bonus when certain foods provide health benefits!

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Alexandra December 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm

This is a great post, it must’ve been hard to go against Hindu traditions, but I think it’s great you branched out and tried something new! :)
I eat beef on occasion, I just prefer the taste of chicken or fish. Eeeeven though I won’t pass up a delicious steak if it’s put in front of me haha ;)

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I finally get the satisfaction people get after eating a GOOD steak or burger haha!

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Parita @ myinnershakti December 10, 2012 at 6:57 pm

While I’m a vegetarian, I DO NOT believe eating any kind of meat makes anyone, including Hindus, a bad person! I decided to give up meat for completely different reasons, non of them being religious, and I don’t judge anyone for eating what they like. The way you treat others determines what kind of person you are. I’m glad you decided to post about this, K. And while you don’t have to justify your food preferences, I do think it’s interesting to read about your reasoning!

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Thanks so much for your comment, P… I really appreciate it :) !

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Alex @ therunwithin December 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I think it is tough to go against what you were grown up into but props for listening to what your body wanted.

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Thanks Alex- sometimes you just gotta make a decision on your own despite what you’ve been led to believe!

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Katie December 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Hamburgers are even better when they are medium or medium-well done! I am not the biggest fan of beef. I like burgers but not steak. But I am forcing myself to eat a lot of it lately because I just got diagnosed with iron-deficiency anemia. I am feeling horrible and I want to get better asap so I am eating a lot more meat than I used to.

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Have you noticed any improvements since you upped your meat intake?

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Katie @peacebeme December 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Yes! Also noticing a lot of improvement drinking a green smoothie every day. all those green leafy vegetables with iron. It takes 2 months or so to build your iron adores back up but I am noticing improvements each week and if I go one day not making an active effort with the meat and iron, its crazy how much it affects me.

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Katie @peacebeme December 11, 2012 at 8:52 pm

°stores

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Khushboo December 12, 2012 at 3:43 am

I’m glad the combo of green smoothies & meat has been successful for you, Katie :)

Allie December 11, 2012 at 12:07 am

I don’t eat beef (or, well, any meat!), and dietary reasons are only a small part of it. My reasons for vegetarianism include my belief in being environmentally responsible and ethically responsible for the treatment of animals. There’s so much that goes into making dietary decisions, so it’s important to explore your beliefs, try new foods, and make your own choices and opinions!

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Love that you brought up the point about exploring your beliefs/foods…it’s not set in stone that once we eat something, we have to continue to do so! Sometimes just trying can be all we need to make up our own decision!

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Allie December 12, 2012 at 2:10 am

It’s the same with fitness, you’ve gotta try it all and see what you like, what you can stick with, what works. Eating one thing doesn’t mean you have to keep eating it, and not eating one thing doesn’t mean you can never change your mind and have it again later.

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Khushboo December 12, 2012 at 3:45 am

True story about fitness…as much as I’ve started to enjoy lifting weights, I can understand why other people choose not too. Despite the numerous health benefits, you have to enjoy the exercise you’re doing!

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Amanda @ .running with spoons. December 11, 2012 at 1:01 am

Eee this is such a touchy subject. I don’t like criticizing any religious practices, but at the same time I don’t believe that eating/not-eating any particular food makes a person good or bad… It’s how we treat others that determines that. I think that judging someone based on their dietary choices is wrong because a lot of people have to make their choice purely for health reasons. Like, I’m not the biggest fan of meat, but I definitely notice myself feeling a lot better when I’m eating it. That being said, I would never look at someone who eats burgers night and day and consider them a bad person.

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Exactly- although eating red meat might be considered “bad” to some, others have no choice but to eat it for the sake of their health (e.g. anemics)! I tried to be very conscious about my word choice to avoid offending anyone with this post ha!

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Brittany December 11, 2012 at 9:26 am

I am so proud of you for eating that burger!! Beef is DELICIOUS and while I don’t eat it anymore because I am just a huggee animal wuss, I can still appreciate it’s taste! My dietary preference is based off of my own ethical beliefs, and what makes my body feels it’s best!! Eat whatever you choose! Just be careful with all that crazy stuff like dead duck eggs and shit..that gets sketchy. HA!

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

THanks Britt! Dead duck eggs sounds kinda creepy…I think I’ll stick with my free range organic eggs for now!

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JoJo December 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I definitely don’t think eating anything makes a person “bad”. Well.. excluding extreme circumstances that I’m not going into detail about right now..
Food is such a big part of one’s culture, religion, and more.. Everybody has a different guideline and belief system, do some people judge others based on that? Yes, sometimes, but I strongly believe that everyone is entitled to make their own choice (like food choice) without judgmental stars from other people!

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Khushboo December 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Agreed! There’s more to life than judging people on what they eat/don’t eat!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table December 12, 2012 at 2:04 am

I think you have to give your body what it wants! Nothing wrong with that including beef. Everything in moderation. :)

Try a burger medium – well-done cooks out a lot of flavor. Also, beef carpaccio – with truffles if you can find it. :)

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Khushboo December 12, 2012 at 3:43 am

Definitely going to look out for beef carpaccio with truffles….truffle anything is always a good idea ;) !

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Kiran@Masalachica December 12, 2012 at 3:28 am

I am so glad I stumbled across this blog from Ameena’s site. I was raised Hindu, but my parents pretty much gave me allowance to eat what I wanted. As a kid, there was no beef in the house, but if I wanted a burger at a friend’s birthday, I was allowed.

Over the years, I have really grown to love steak. My advice is eat it rarely, try it less well done and start going for fine cuts that can be eaten on the rarer side (I like mine practically still mooing. I think that DOES make me feel like a bad Hindu though).

Kiran

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Khushboo December 12, 2012 at 3:46 am

Thanks for sharing, Kiran! Steak is next on my list so will definitely be taking your suggestions on board :)

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Dixya @ Food, Pleasure and Health December 13, 2012 at 3:12 am

I have been into this dilemma before and being a Hindu cow is sacred to me as well but out of curiosity and wanting to taste- i have tried beef kabob before and actually like hot dogs occasionally. Like many of the readers mentioned, I do not think eating one thing or the other defines who we are. Although cows are viewed sacredly in Hindu religion, all animals are same in my opinion- they all are living beings with soul just like cows. I think dietary practice is matter of personal preference and health concerns.

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Khushboo December 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I completely agree- if I’m eating chicken or wearing leather, how does not eating beef make any difference!

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Sara @ Nourish and Flourish December 13, 2012 at 10:48 am

You did a great job approaching this touchy topic with empathy, all while expressing your reservations about being bound by cultural practices, customs and religious beliefs. I *personally* believe that all food is more or less the same: if it can be consumed and digested, there’s no “right” or “wrong.” Those descriptions are far too black and white. There is, however, PREFERENCE, which can be shaped by ethics, morals, experiences, social norms etc. etc. A person can choose to eat a certain way because for a number of reasons, but that choice in no way determines who they are at their core.

I’m excited that you gave yourself permission to explore a bit! I enjoy beef, but only in moderation. I’m very selective about where it comes from and how it’s raised, and I’m sensitive to the fact that beef production is, as a whole, not great for the environment. However, because I enjoy a good burger or steak, I allow myself to indulge once in awhile. My favorite way to eat beef? A medium rare filet mignon! :D

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Khushboo December 13, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Thanks Sara for your well-phrased comment, Sara :) ! Although I don’t plan to eat beef as often as I do chicken, I am going to be selective about my source- my hormones are so out of whack as it is, I don’t need those of cows’ to play even more havoc to them ;) !

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Sig @ Melbourne Maharani December 19, 2012 at 8:44 am

totally get this and more so that I’ve married a non-hindu (and person who literally would eat anything that moves!!). Growing up, we never ate beef at home, occasionally some meat and that dropped off as we got older. Funnily enough, my parents never objected to us having burgers at friend’s places (or those McDonalds birthday parties!!).

For some reason, part of that mentality has still stayed – I wouldn’t typically order beef or a steak when I’m out, but, if it’s there I’ll eat it (especially when Evs makes his spaghetti bolognese (which we tried with lamb once and no…beef is better :P ) and pho!!). Evs has steak once in a while at home and I never restrict him from eating it, given we have different religious backgrounds.

I don;t think it makes you a ‘bad’ person at all – I think your intentions and actions as a whole more determine that rather than our food choices.

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Khushboo December 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Really great comment, Sig and I love that you respect the religious differences between yours and Evs’ upbringings!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets April 16, 2013 at 3:07 am

I think at the end of the day, you have to do you. I personally struggle with understanding how eating meat (Catholics are guilty of this as well) can be associated with being a good person or not. I think how you treat others is so much more important than grabbing a burger. To each their own though.
I’m glad you enjoyed your burger. :)

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Khushboo April 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

One of my favorite quotes relating to this issue is “Don’t judge others who sin differently than you”…we just have to pick our battles!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets April 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Now that is a great quote.

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sahil February 18, 2014 at 3:21 am

I have tried eating beef but reverent to all animals since I am a brahmin.When you actually see a cow slaughter video you would know how much the animal suffers when killing it.

I think the reason for not eating beef is not of any religion or sect but because of the pain that the animal undergoes.I would rather kill a small animal and eat it since it requires less suffering on the animals part.

Also eating red meat is sometimes not good and you never know what kind of meat you are eating as recently mixing horse meat with beef made some headlines last year.
Animals such as cow,buffalos are raised with lot of hormones injected on regular basis to make them fat,beefy in the process of altering their genes leaving the animal to their fate in return for good money.These commercial companies want to maximize profits and dont care for consumers like us.

When flesh is consumed by human we get in touch with the animals blood and alters our good genes since we come in contact with the animal hormones.Over long time consumption it leads to diseases like Obesity ,high blood pressure
and heart diseases not to mention carcinogens entering the human blood stream because red meat is processed with lot of salt and refrigerants.

I would rather eat vegetables and white meat than killing a huge animal giving it lot of pain not to mention slowly exposing my body to gene alterations.

Choice is yours!

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Khushboo February 19, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Hi Sahil. Thanks for your comment, I appreciate your viewpoints. However if the issue against eating beef is animal slaughter, then I believe eating white meat is equally bad. I certainly agree about being careful when selecting various cuts of meat. While meat (poultry included) in general tends to be injected with hormones, antibiotics and various others additives, it’s down to us consumers to take precaution i.e. avoid buying factory-farmed meat and instead opt for grass-fed, organic sources of meat. Like any kind of food, be it vegetables or meat, product quality makes all the difference on how certain foods affect our bodies. I respect people’s decisions for avoiding meat but I definitely think red meat is a healthy addition to one’s diet in moderation. Between its vitamin B content, protein, iron and various other nutrients, red meat can actually boost one’s health.

Like you said, choice is yours.

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