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Sikhing Answers

Sikhs Are Allowed to Eat Beef & Pork
- But Other Animals?
Sikhing Answers - VII

 

 

 

This is the SEVENTH in our series of questions and answers where we seek your active participation.

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TODAY'S QUESTION - # 7

Muslims and Jews are prohibited from eating pork.

Hindus are prohibited from eating beef.

Sikhs are subjected to neither restriction. They can eat pork and beef if they wish.

Are any such restrictions regarding any other animals applicable to Sikhs (other than the jhatka requirements)?

[NOTE: This is not a discussion on the why's and wherefore's of jhatka, or on the merits of vegetarianism. We request readers to focus on the question posed above. Thanks.]

 

Posted on February 21, 2012

Closing Date: February 28, 2012

 

Conversation about this article

1: Manjit Kaur (Maryland, U.S.A.), February 21, 2012, 6:14 AM.

I don't think there are any other restrictions applied to Sikhs other than re jhatka. For instance, growing up in Kenya and living away from the major city, Nairobi, I ate whatever my father and I hunted and that included zebras, giraffe, antelope, wild boar, rabbit, many different types of non-domestic birds and various chocolate covered insects, not to mention snails, frogs and snake. This list should be enough to turn some stomachs ... plus I turned vegetarian for two decades and am back to 'domestic' meats now.

2: T. Sher Singh (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada), February 21, 2012, 6:31 AM.

In addition to the jhatka requirement, I have only two restrictions, both self-imposed. First, my food should be unequivocally, irreversibly and completely dead. Second: it shouldn't be staring back at me while I eat it. Other than that, I as a Sikh have no other food restrictions imposed through my beliefs. I do, however, aspire to turn more and more towards vegetarian food ... but only for health reasons.

3: Sandeep Singh (Malaysia), February 21, 2012, 6:49 AM.

Sikhs are respectful of all religions ... they have traditionally not eaten beef, but solely in deference to Hindu sentiments.

4: Roop Dhillon (Reigate, United Kingdom), February 21, 2012, 6:54 AM.

We must take what is in the Guru Granth Sahib and supplement it with the Rehat, with the latter in my view adapting the scripture to the ever changing knowledge and environment around us. That is what makes Sikhism unique. There are many myths about what we can and cannot eat. I think the given statement is correct. The only choice is: does one feel one should be a vegetarian or not? If a non-vegetarian, I think as long as the animal is not alive and in pain or has not been cooked alive, et cetra, what we eat or choose not to eat is a moot point.

5: Sukhi (Pennsylvania, U.S.A.), February 21, 2012, 6:57 AM.

Growing up in India, I was told that the Sikhs should refrain from eating beef or pork but can eat chicken or fish for whatever reasons. Those restrictions haven't stopped me from eating beef and pork. I've eaten duck, alligator, rattlesnake, frog legs. However, the granthis at the gurdwara have a different opinion and perspective about it. I do not think Sikhism dictates that any restrictions on meat per se except the 'jhatka' clause. In my opinion, a person's diet should not be restricted by religion and/or it's practices.

6: Amandeep Kaur (Delhi, India), February 21, 2012, 7:10 AM.

I don't think Sikhs are restricted from any of these ... it's quite the opposite in the Guru Granth.

7: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 21, 2012, 7:16 AM.

Some Sikhs I meet are vegetarian but some of the meat-eaters I have met tell me they don't eat beef because of "respect" for the Hindus. I come from a meat-eating family. However, I've personally chosen to be a vegetarian.

8: Sant Singh (Amritsar, Punjab), February 21, 2012, 7:28 AM.

We need to carefully study the history of this land and figure out why Hindus have been slaves for centuries to foreign, meat-eating invaders. They remain slaves today, albeit to new masters. Do we want to join their pitiful ranks? If we do, then yes, we should all turn vegetarian!

9: Kamal Kaur (Ajitgarh, Punjab), February 21, 2012, 7:32 AM.

I believe that every June and November, every Sikh in India should eat beef ... as a mark of defiance to the beggars who have usurped our rights and freedoms. If the meat is not easily available, have your friends and relatives abroad bring to you packages of beef jerky, or the like. You'll like it, trust me. It won't solve our problems, but it will get us started on the right mindset. (Also, I believe you can buy it here in some stores in Chandigarh.]

10: Harman Singh (Bangalore, India), February 21, 2012, 7:32 AM.

Other than jhatka, I don't see any restriction on what types of meat we can eat - meat is meat. You can just differentiate between white and red meats ... for health reasons. I haven't read anywhere that, in Sikhi, we have been banned from eating any particular meat.

11: Jaap Kaur (Jaipur, Rajasthan, India), February 21, 2012, 7:42 AM.

With the utmost respect to my Hindu brothers and sisters, who have every right to believe and practice any thing and any way they please: prohibition against beef; cow worship or vegetarianism; urine-imbibing; phallus-worship; idol-worship; Ganges-dipping; etc., etc., are all Hindu practices. But if you are a Sikh - a Sardar or Sardarni - you are free from all of that. Stand tall. Stand free. And enjoy self-respect.

12: Inderjit Singh (London, United Kingdom), February 21, 2012, 7:56 AM.

I don't believe there are any restrictions for us. However, I have heard Muslims say that fish is naturally halal, so does this mean we can't eat fish?

13: Tajeshwar Singh (Dehradun, India), February 21, 2012, 8:14 AM.

I completely agree that Sikhs can eat any kind of meat. Only restriction is that it should be jhatka and not halal. And talking about the trend of nowadays, having chicken or meat of goat or sheep is that they are easily available in the market and they are raised in farms which can at least give us confidence that they are disease free. And talking about beef! The problem in India was - and is - that it's not available as jhatka in the market. But Sikhs can have any kind of meat.

14: Gaganpreet Singh  (Delhi, India), February 21, 2012, 8:21 AM.

There are no restrictions as such. I am a vegetarian since 6 years. I studied in a boarding school (Baru Sahib), they used to say Sikhs are allowed to eat non-veg stuff but only when it's necessary. Remember, Sikh soldiers used to live in jungles where there where no vegetarian gobhi aloo! I personally don't like non-vegetarian dishes.

15: G. Singh (U.S.A.), February 21, 2012, 8:58 AM.

Inderjit Singh ji: there is lot of confusion within Muslims about fish and eggs. Anyway, why should we care. In Sikhi: "khaana peena pavitar hai ... ghat ghat mein har jio bassey." Simply: whereever food is stamped that it is purified with some kind of ritual, it is forbidden for us Sikhs.

16: R. Bedi (New Delhi, India), February 21, 2012, 9:01 AM.

There are no such restrictions for Sikhs. I am a vegetarian only because I never really liked the taste of meat(s).

17: Ravinder Singh (Mumbai, India), February 21, 2012, 9:20 AM.

To my understanding our shabad Guru tells us that it is to no avail of arguing over whether to be vegetarian or otherwise. But it also does not propagate or encourage eating either kind of food. It is left to the individual Sikh to decide. As well, there is the jhatka requirement as per the rehat maryada.

18: Harinder Singh (Delhi, India), February 21, 2012, 9:51 AM.

Name of animals are just like brand names. Any decent quality or brand will do. My call would be - eat fresh, eat clean, eat less.

19: Ardaas (United Kingdom), February 21, 2012, 10:03 AM.

I have nothing against those eating meat, since there appears to be no hukam on this, so we should keep the status quo: eat what you like, within reasonable bounds.

20: Amteshwar Singh (Faridkot, Punjab), February 21, 2012, 10:05 AM.

The restriction is the senses (taste, vision, hearing, touch, smell) i.e., the mind. We are to keep them in check, in proportion. The distinction between veg and non veg is nothing to argue over, we ourselves are 'maas' (flesh), born from maas, grow by drinking milk from maas, bing another maas to marry ... What we need to think upon is gyaan and dyaan, the best way is through shabad.

21: S. Kaur (U.S.A.), February 21, 2012, 10:41 AM.

Red meats are said to be a good source of better absorbed iron - beef all the way. Personally I stay away from foie gras, and am questioning the merits of lobsters, not having the capacity to feel pain when cooked. No veal either.

22: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 21, 2012, 11:37 AM.

Any animal can be eaten by a human and a Sikh.

23: Mohan Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 21, 2012, 2:29 PM.

Guru Nanak: "Fools argue about flesh and meat, but they know nothing about meditation and spiritual wisdom. What is called meat, and what is called green vegetables? What leads to sin? It was the habit of the gods to kill the rhinoceros, and make a feast of the burnt offering. Those who renounce meat, and hold their noses when sitting near it, devour men at night. They practice hypocrisy, and make a show before other people, but they do not understand anything about meditation or spiritual wisdom. O Nanak, what can be said to these blind people? They cannot answer, or even understand what is said. They alone are blind, who act blindly. They have no eyes in their hearts. They are produced from the blood of their mothers and fathers, but they do not eat fish or meat. But when men and women meet in the night, they come together in the flesh. In the flesh we are conceived, and in the flesh we are born; we are vessels of flesh. You know nothing of spiritual wisdom and meditation, even though you call yourself clever, O religious scholar. O master, you believe that flesh on the outside is bad, but the flesh of those in your own home is good. All beings and creatures are flesh; the soul has taken up its home in the flesh. They eat the uneatable; they reject and abandon what they could eat. They have a teacher who is blind. In the flesh we are conceived, and in the flesh we are born; we are vessels of flesh. You know nothing of spiritual wisdom and meditation, even though you call yourself clever, O religious scholar. Meat is allowed in the Puraans, meat is allowed in the Bible and the Koran. Throughout the four ages, meat has been used. It is featured in sacred feasts and marriage festivities; meat is used in them. Women, men, kings and emperors originate from meat. If you see them going to hell, then do not accept charitable gifts from them. The giver goes to hell, while the receiver goes to heaven - look at this injustice. You do not understand your own self, but you preach to other people. O pandit, you are very wise indeed. O pandit, you do not know where meat originated. Corn, sugar cane and cotton are produced from water. The three worlds came from water. Water says, "I am good in many ways." But water takes many forms. Forsaking these delicacies, one becomes a true sanyaasi, a detached hermit. Nanak reflects and speaks ... [GGS:1289-90]

24: Nav (Nairobi, Kenya), February 21, 2012, 3:02 PM.

I personally feel a lot healthier when I eat less meat and eat more vegies and fruits.

25: Stig (Amritsar, Punjab), February 21, 2012, 4:29 PM.

No quibbles about what to and what not to eat. If you eat meat, enjoy the variety. If you are vegetarian, enjoy the variety too. End of issue ... if I hear our Gurus right!

26: Zuber Singh (India), February 21, 2012, 5:53 PM.

Historically speaking, there have been several occasions that Sikhs have eaten beef and pork, but these appear to be in the most direst of situations. In the siege of Lohgrah, Sikhs resorted to eating their oxen and also, historically, Qazi Nur Mohammed refers to Sikhs as 'Pig Eaters'. Nevertheless, at certain period, the panth probably refrained from eating beef and pork in respect for their neighbors. They did however carry on a fondness for wild boar hunting. Cow slaughter was absent solely because the Hindus were in majority and it was in respect for their sentiments.

27: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, U.S.A..), February 21, 2012, 7:06 PM.

Our Gurus recognized the fact that some people stay away from eating beef (Hindus) and some stay away from pork (Muslims). So they did not allow/promote meat-eating in langars (community kitchens in gurdwaras) to ensure that no one felt excluded. The purpose of the langar was to share with others and promote classlessness. Our Gurus chose the latter concept as a priority ... it is an important element of Sikhism.

28: R. Singh (Canada), February 21, 2012, 8:33 PM.

I see no reason for restrictions. Jhatka is too broad a definition for meat culling. If we take it at face value, then would it be fine to eat meat ritually slaughtered in yagans and Hindu temples? If one saw the inhumane mass slaughter and injured animals in Nepal and the hills, one would think twice about it. On the other hand, I think Kuttha has been narrowly attributed to halal, instead of any kind of ritual slaughter. Would it be humane to eat the jhatka, by hanging the petrified animal from a tree, performed by nihangs in gurdwaras where blood is used to annoint swords in Nanded?

29: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), February 21, 2012, 9:48 PM.

We eat lots of pork in my immediate family. However, we do not eat beef. Not because we're against the consumption of cows ... we just don't like the taste. I remember meeting a girl in Punjab a few years ago who was absolutely disgusted that we ate pork and had consumed beef. I found it just as disgusting that she was unconsciously following the dietary traditions of two completely different faiths which had nothing to do with Sikhi!

30: Ravinder Singh (Mumbai, India), February 22, 2012, 3:03 AM.

During Ranjit Singh's rule, was cow-slaughter banned? [EDITOR: Ranjit Singh treated all of his subjects - Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs - equally and respectfully. Hence the edict. In current India, it's all one-way - Hindu practices, no matter how bizarre, are valued, and the others - no matter how valued - are discouraged. Ranjit Singh was known as an exemplary ruler. Today's India is an example too too - but at the other end of the pendulum!]

31: Amandeep Singh (United Kingdom), February 22, 2012, 4:09 AM.

Wow - all these replies are news to me. It's been my understanding that we are not allowed to eat any meat (not just beef), unless under certain extreme scenarios to maintain our health.

32: Dr. Birinder Singh Ahluwalia (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 22, 2012, 5:51 AM.

I respectfully disagree with the comment, "I am turning vegetarian for health reasons" - eating meat in moderation is very healthy and hearty. Secondly, is Hinduism synonymous with vegetarianism? Is it a religious requirement of Hinduism to be vegetarian? Avoidance of beef in Hinduism out of respect for this animal, I can understand. What about other animals? - am I right in saying that these myths may have the same foundation as the propaganda that yoga is a product of Hinduism! I have read and heard myriad answers to my questions over time - now I am interested to know the thoughts of the sikhchic.com reeadership. I have many wonderful Hindu friends and they have already provided me answers to some of the queries as per their interpretation of Hindu tradition and type of religion they practice.

33: Param Kaur (New Delhi, India), February 22, 2012, 8:55 AM.

Further to the point raised by Birinder Singh ji: Hindu religious leaders maintain that being Hindu requires being vegetarian, as well observing a number of other things. Many Hindus eat meat, but secretly, while claiming they don't, publically. How do I know this? ... More than half of my Hindu friends do so. A majority of Hindus do not observe even the basic tenets of Hinduism. But that's none of our business. There are some Hindus, however, who suggest that we should not tarnish all Hindus with the same brush. Good point. Do they mean: we shouldn't do what they do, and that is, kill tens of thousands of innocent Sikhs merely because two of Indira Gandhi's own body-guards (who happened to be Sikhs) executed her for her crimes? Now, someone might pipe up and say: "Two wrongs don't make a right!" What wrong? Is it a wrong to tarnish an entire community with a broad brush? Never heard a single Hindu say that, AND do something meaningful to correct it! I would like to hear from the Hindus that such a practice is indeed wrong! In the meantime, they shouldn't bristle when we point out that our detractors are actually a bunch of buffoons ... based on the very solid facts of their own practices. Unlike their allegations against us which, even in their own admissions, are fabrications and nothing but propaganda.

34: Amardeep  (U.S.A.), February 22, 2012, 11:21 AM.

How about eating meat at restaurants in western countries? Do you check whether it is halal or not? should we check? Which restaurants should we avoid ... mid-eastern, mexican, italian, thai and so on?

35: R. Singh (Canada), February 22, 2012, 12:16 PM.

Hindus are not a homogenous community. This term was not used to address a 'religion' as such but a wide set of religious beliefs and cultures of the subcontinent until recent times. This is when it came into fashionable to claim "ahimsa"/non-violence to be "hindu" and being 'vaishnu/vaishnav' meant every one being vegetarian. In the vedas, animal sacrifices were an integral part of worship and consuming veal was common amongst the brahmins. Therefore, as Guru Nanak commented in Asa di Vaar: "The goat is brutally killed, cooked and eaten, then every initiate (Hindu) is asked that the sacred thread be put on." This was in reference to the culling of the goat for the hindu janeu, which does not seem to be simple jhatka or halal (which has taken the brunt of the kuttha debate). Obviously there were other cruel methods of culling in those days, like cutting off the ears and letting the animal bleed to death, that seems to have escaped being classifed as cruel and inhumane. This makes one wonder if we are on the right track when we narrowly interpret without taking into consideration the 'ritual' aspect of slaughter. I would presume a Sikh would look into every aspect before letting himself be put into a compartment or disregarding the logic and common sense promoted by our Guru.

36: Sharandeep Singh (United Kingdom), February 22, 2012, 3:29 PM.

Has this question not jumped a step - into whether or the eating of meat is sanctioned for a Sikh? Which is redundant, given the question.

37: T.J. Singh (Gurgaon, India), February 23, 2012, 12:36 AM.

"Only fools argue whether to eat meat or not. They don't understand truth nor do they meditate on it. Who can define what is meat and what is plant? Who knows where the sin lies, being a vegetarian or a non vegetarian?" (Guru Nanak). So there are NO restrictions for Sikhs to eat any kind of meat or animals or plants, as long as taste buds and health permit!

38: R. Singh (Canada), February 23, 2012, 6:12 AM.

T.J. Singh has hit the nail on the head. Eat what is needed, avoid wastage and gluttony, stop killing animals to appease deities or annointing weaponry. Use the very emphasized "vivek" in gurbani in making informed decisions.

39: Balbir Singh (Germany), February 23, 2012, 12:10 PM.

Many argue whether or not eating meat is an acceptable etiquette in the Sikh religion. Our Gurus have called them moorakh (idiots).

40: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, U.S.A..), February 24, 2012, 8:13 AM.

So long it is jhatka, it is acceptable to eat meat as part of your nutrition.

41: Gurbux Singh (Chatsworth, Calfifornia, U.S.A.), February 24, 2012, 10:59 AM.

My understanding is that jhatka is recommended so that the animal is killed with one stroke and it is not subjected to a religious ritual and/or made to bleed to death. It is more humane as I see it. Animals and vegetables are all living things and created for food. Having grown up in Burma, I have eaten just about everything and had no qualms as long as it is sustenance.

42: Ranjeet (Southampton, United Kingdom), February 24, 2012, 4:20 PM.

Is fish is forbidden, if we are to read Bhagat Kabir's words at GGS:1377 ?

43: Gurpreet Singh (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), February 24, 2012, 6:41 PM.

Meat is meat, does it matter if it's a pig, cow, chicken, etc.? If you eat meat or don't, eat out of choice and taste; don't make lame excuses about days and kind. Don't bring religion into the conversation.

44: Taranjit Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), February 27, 2012, 5:46 AM.

There are no restrictions applied to Sikhs other than the jhatka stricture. But eating beef in India would invite trouble because the Punjab government has banned it and punishment is 10 years in jail.

45: Baljit Singh Pelia (Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), February 28, 2012, 5:59 PM.

If it tastes good, I will eat it. Even the snake poison gland in China.

46: Kiranjeet Kaur Dhillon (Shah Alam, Malaysia), February 28, 2012, 9:14 PM.

I've enjoyed reading all the comments made on this issue and have learnt a great deal about this topic. However, since I live in Malaysia (a Muslim country), is eating chicken and beef cut the halal way prohibited for a Sikh? As all the available meat (chicken & beef) in the supermarkets here are cut the halal way, we really don't have much of a choice but eat halal food.

47: Kelly (London, United Kingdom), March 08, 2013, 10:40 AM.

How can you get jhatka pork from Tesco or any of the butchers in the UK?

48: Kumar Mainaly (New York, USA), May 17, 2013, 9:59 AM.

In Nepal Hindu brahmins are required to make animal sacrifices once a year and they then consume the meat openly. Meat is necessary for one's well-being.

49: Abbonumata (India), February 26, 2014, 1:17 AM.

Hindu scriptures speaks of beef eating and animal sacrifice abundantly ... Only in the last few hundred years they have avoided beef. The Kerala Hindus still eat beef; they don't consider it a taboo. But fish and boar (wild pig) are the two avatars of Vishnu among the dashavatars; they don't have problem in eating it ... but they avoid beef! Even Vivekananda said: In ancient India, no Hindu was a good Hindu unless he ate beef. Meat is rich and an abundant source of protein and minerals.

50: Vaibhav Bhatt (India ), March 20, 2014, 10:13 PM.

It is in reply to Param Kaur on the 84 pogroms. I am a Hindu and yes, the 84 massacres were criminally wrong. We used to have long discussions on these mass-murders by Hindus when I first came to know about them in 2006 (when I was studying in 12th standard). Sikhs have been the saviour of humanity for centuries. We as the young generation should try to make sure that the victims get justice when all the criminals like Jagdish Tytler and his brothers are given the death sentence.

51: Jasmeet Kaur (India), December 24, 2014, 5:07 AM.

I want to know: is fish halal or jhatka? [EDITOR: It's jhatka.]

52: Navdeep Singh (Melaka, Malaysia), January 05, 2015, 10:06 AM.

Wow! I had accidently eaten pork and beef now I am relieved to know that we are allowed to eat them. Also, it's very difficult to resist eating halal here in Malaysia (as it is a Muslim country). I try to eat only vegetarian diet, but it's difficult as I live alone. Any comments on this.

53: Sandeep Singh Gill (Chicago, Illinois, USA), May 11, 2015, 3:18 PM.

My understanding is that it is a personal choice. I eat beef, pork, chicken, goat, veal, etc. My wife is vegetarian, again by choice. Regarding commercially available Kosher in the US: I worked at a meat processing facility. Most of the meat is processed the same way and in the same facility. The food company usually pays a rabbi to visit the warehouse just to declare it as Kosher and rubber-stamp it as such. There is no difference in the processing. I am not sure about the Muslim countries or Halal meat.

54: Ashish Raturi (Hardwar, India), October 05, 2015, 6:53 PM.

Dear Param Kaur ji, I know it means nothing but I apologize to you on behalf of the whole Hindu community for what had been done to Sikhs after the death of Indira Gandhi.

55: Puninder Singh (Delhi, India), November 03, 2015, 5:19 AM.

"Baba hor khaana khushi khuaar / Jit khaadae tan peedhiyae munn mein chalaeh vikaar" [GGS:16]. Eat what suits your body and mind, is the message of gurbani. One must not immerse in gluttony as it is bad for our body. Food is for one's body and simran is for one's mind. We don't need to unnecessarily mix them up and make our living a confusion. I am non-vegetarian and since I have started naam-simran I have stopped fussing over food, now for me both vegetarian/non-vegetarian dishes taste good and give my body enough strength to perform naam-simran on a daily basis. Yes, I eat beef ... but Buffalo meat here, as beef is banned in Delhi by the Hindu fundamentalists in our government.

56: Gurpreet Singh (Bahrain), December 06, 2015, 5:36 AM.

I strongly feel that the term 'halal' currently being used by the Sikh community promotes anti-Muslim sentiments. If our eating habits promote such sentiments, than it defeats the purpose of religion, which should unite entire humanity. We should try to see ideology behind 'halal.' 'Halal' meat is the one which is cut by uttering the name of God (bismillah), and is treated as we do qurbani. Whereas Gurmat differs, as God is in no need of qurbani. If meat eating is required by humans, then let it be, but eating any fruit / vegetable / meat in the name of God is not gurmat. Hence 'halal' is prohibited in Sikhism. But then 'bali' is also the same, and a rogue group of Sikhs is doing this brahminical practice in Hazur Sahib, which should also be prohibited. At the same time, processed halal meat available in the market should not be a taboo for sikhs. Since there 'halal' merely means just a slaughtering method. This demands debate, why only jhatka? How does halal phobia make us better Sikhs? Because 'halal' in the Islamic world means 'permissible / allowed.' You can find 'halal' stamp even on other items also like - coffee, cosmetics, etc. So I guess 'halal' only as a religious ritual should be treated as prohibited.

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- But Other Animals?
Sikhing Answers - VII "









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