Did Swami Vivekananda eat fish and meat before he turned a sannyasi?

Did he continue eating fish and meat after?

What were his views on consumption of vegetarian or non-vegetarian food?

PS. Please don't answer citing blogs or Wikipedia.

  • 4
    Swami Vivekananda was not a brahmin in poorvasrama. It is not surprising if he partook of meat. Unlikely that he continued after taking sanyasa. He is a highly enlightened and realised soul.
    – user1195
    Sep 25, 2016 at 3:56
  • @moonstar2001 Brahmins in bengal do eat meat ,even in those days.So that is not any issue.Swamiji was never a strict vegetarian all throughout his life.Afaik he supported meat eating moderately .
    – Rickross
    Sep 25, 2016 at 4:17
  • eating fish and fowl is common in Bengal. Vivekananda said that for a man who leads an active life, a rajasic life, some meat is needed. He said that you not need to give up meat, that meat will give up you when the time is appropriate (when a spiritual aspirant spends all their time in spiritual practices). Sep 25, 2016 at 7:40
  • 3
    Nice Q. Many years back, I had read in a book which described life events of VivekAnanda after being SannyAsi. According to that, he ate fish and consumed "hookah" as well (not regularly). When he went to Boston, US; I presume that it's more likely that he might have consumed non-vegetarian food due to its then culture. In any case, eating meat or any such so called 'bad' habits, wouldn't deviate the person like his stature. For SannyAsi like him, any such habits or practices are like "doesn't matter" things. A true sannyAsi like him won't be bothered by "eating" or "not eating" meat.
    – iammilind
    Oct 10, 2016 at 7:16
  • 1
    @SwamiVishwananda then why did not "meat gave up" on swami vivekananda after sanyasa? Mar 4, 2017 at 8:01

2 Answers 2


Before turning into a Sannyasin, there is a greater possibility that Swamiji might have taken the fish at least as it is a chief diet in Bengal.

After becoming a Sannyasin; when Swamiji was in America, some orthodox Hindus accused him of taking forbidden diet. Here is an excerpt:

To the accusation from some orthodox Hindus that the Swami was eating forbidden food at the table of infidels, he retorted: Do you mean to say I am born to live and die as one of those caste-ridden, superstitious, merciless, hypocritical, atheistic cowards that you only find among the educated Hindus?

On other similar accusation by Christian missionaries to bring infamy to him, he wrote this:

I am surprised that you take the missionaries' nonsense so seriously....If the people of India want me to keep strictly to my Hindu diet, please tell them to send me a cook and money enough to keep him....On the other hand, if the missionaries tell you that I have ever broken the two great vows of the sannyasin — chastity and poverty — tell them that they are big liars.

Therefore, it seems from this excerpt that Swamiji did take the non-veg diet when he was in the west. But, as Swamiji wrote, chastity and poverty are the ideals that a Sannyasin should never deviate from (and he upheld these ideals in their true sense), food habits are secondary.

  • 3
    As a Bengali, Swami ate fish and fowl, but like most Hindus did not eat beef. There is an old story that one day while eating in America, Swamiji was given some meat during a meal. After having a bite of it, he asked what kind of meat it was. A person answered that it was beef. Swamiji then looked a little pale, and then turning his head, vomited into his napkin. He then became composed and said to the man, please give me another piece, I must get over this prejudice. Oct 29, 2016 at 10:39

"About vegetarian diet I(Swami Vivekananda) have to say this - first, my Master(Sri Ramakrishna) was a vegetarian; but if he was given meat offered to the Goddess, he used to hold it up to his head. The taking of life is undoubtedly sinful; but so long as vegetable food is not made suitable to the human system through progress in chemistry, there is no other alternative but meat-eating. So long as man shall have to live a Rajasika (active) life under circumstances like the present, there is no other way except through meat-eating" (Complete Works, 4.486-7).


So,as one can see Swamiji is atleast in support of meat eating.But this passage does not clear our doubts regarding whether he himself took meat or not.

So,consider this as a partial answer.

  • In the book RAMKRISHNA KATHAMRITA, it stated many times that Swami Vivekananda did ate foul curry with their friends. And as he was a non-bramhin BENGALI, there is 100% chance that he ate fish daily ( and there is also statement of him regarding hilsa fish. May 31, 2017 at 11:42
  • @SantanuDebnath I know that Swami Vivekananda was a non vegetarian. But i did not have references to prove it. In Bengal its common for even Brahmins to consume fish etc . I know as i am a bengali myself.
    – Rickross
    Jun 1, 2017 at 5:43

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