Does any shloka of Gita say anything about what a person should eat. I am mainly concerned with whether it say anything about Vegetarian or Non Vegetarian diet.

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    @UdayKrishna Please have a look at Chapter 15 Shloka 8 I think it says that at the time of death the consciousness created by living being carries him to the next body. So does it imply that if a person eats non veg he is bound to take form of the animal he is eating. I am reading Srimad Bhagvad Gita for first time. Please forgive my ignorance Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 12:25
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    @UdayKrishna I just quoted what was written in "Bhagvad Gita as it is " by Mr A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhpada. I usually read from this book. I would be grateful if you can suggest me some books. I have original Bhagavad Gita but that is too hard to read as I do not know sanskrit. I am looking for some good translations which are unbiased and leave reader to have his own conclusions. Thanks a lot Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 12:34
  • @StammeringMathematician I use the Winthrop Sargeant version which is wonderful for beginners. As you start to understand key Sanskrit terms, though, there will be better translations which keep those terms in tact. This is useful because they can have different meanings depending on the context. But, often we are meant to see the multiple meanings or plays on words. I'll quote my version, then give my understanding of it below. "BG 15.8. When the Lord acquires a body, and also when He departs from it, He goes, taking them along, like the wind blowing perfumes from their source." Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 13:30
  • So, when a baby is born, Brahman inhabits that person as their ātmán (True Self). When they die, Brahman, as their ātmán, departs the body. The shloka explains that this is not by our action, but by His. I don't think it has anything to do with the things we eat. Unless it is still alive, the ātmán is gone. Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 13:35
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    @StammeringMathematician Another version I just found yesterday is highly searchable: bhagavadgita.io I haven't read through it entirely, but it seems very good so far. Of course, self-translation will become the most helpful in future. Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 13:37

5 Answers 5


Here's the most specific dietary "guidelines" I could find in Śrīmad Bhagavad Gītā,

BG 17.8: Those foods which promote longevity, strength, health, happiness, and satisfaction;
Which are juicy, oleaginous, nourishing, and pleasing to the stomach, are dear to those flourishing in sāttva (bright righteousness).
BG 17.9 Those foods which are bitter, sour, salty, very hot, pungent, dry, and overly-piquant;
Which produce pain, grief, and sickness, are dear to those caught in rajas (passion).
BG 17.10 Those foods which are stale, bland, putrid, and toxic;
Which is ort or unfit for sacrifice, are dear do those drowning in tamas (dark destruction).

So, we can dissect this to get a little more clarity on specific foods.

  • tamas foods: Foods unfit for sacrifice include donkeys and camels as well as anything which is expiring. Ort are the scraps left over from preparing the meal: the chopped-off ends of vegetables, certain peels & skins, etc. Toxic foods are anything that harm the body. As for stale and bland foods, I believe this includes many meats because we don't like to eat them without first spicing them up.
  • rajas foods: I think these are pretty clear. You can tell if something is too bitter, too sour, too salty, too hot in temperature, too pungent, dry-tasting, or too piquant ("spicy" like chilies). If you end up on the toilet after a meal, something was rajas. Personally, I consider pork to be rajas because, if I eat it after a prolonged absence from eating it, I feel very nauseated.
  • sāttva foods: Juicy foods include most fresh fruits and many fresh vegetables. Oleaginous foods are often pressed for their oils. This includes most nuts & seeds as well as some other things like olives.

Of course this is no definitive list, but it's hard to be very precise without delving into interpretation. Other than the above, the only other mention of foods in the Bhagavad Gītā is in reference to ceremonial sacrifice or the below quotes.

BG 6.16: Yoga is not eating too much, nor is it not eating at all;
neither is it sleeping too much, nor not sleeping enough, Arjuna.

BG 3.13: The saintly, who eat what remains of the sacrifice, are released from erring;
but the erring, who cook only for their own sake, consume their own impurity.

BG 9.27: Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you sacrifice, whatever you gift to others;
and whatever austerities you undertake, Son of Kunti, all that you offer to Me.

So, keeping in mind BG 17.8~10, I think you can discover for yourself which things are fit for eating, and which aren't. Just don't forget BG 9.27 & 3.13; when you eat, remind yourself that it is a sacrifice to God within you. And also per BG 6.16, eat in moderation.

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    Also, when in doubt, it is safer to not eat something questionable than to eat it, isn't it? So, while vegetarianism or veganism may not be proscribed, such diets aren't going to increase your māyā or sense of suffering. Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 13:44
  • Religious wisdom is distilled pratical wisdom by seers looking far into the past and future. Since you are interested in history the iron sword inventing Hittite (Suppilliliuma etc )civilisation which overpowered Babylon( Nabu- kudiri-usur etc) bronze age, itself was possibly destroyed by an infection from infected animal. Maybe that caused the late bronze age collapse. Also the Assyrian attack on the first temple of Jerusalem, was destroyed by dead infected animal projectiles by catapult.
    – ajitdas
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 4:32

As per Bhagavad-gītā, food is of three kinds: Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. This classification is defined in 17.7 to 17.10.


रस्याः स्निग्धाः स्थिरा हृद्या आहाराः सात्त्विकप्रियाः।।17.8।।


आहारा राजसस्येष्टा दुःखशोकामयप्रदाः।।17.9।।

यातयामं गतरसं पूति पर्युषितं च यत्।

उच्छिष्टमपि चामेध्यं भोजनं तामसप्रियम्।।17.10।।

17.8 Foods that augment life, firmless of mind, strength, health, happiness and delight, and which are succulent(juicy), oleaginous, substantial and agreeable, are dear to one endowed with sattva.

17.9 Foods that are bitter, sour, salty, very hot, pungent, dry and burning, and which production pain, sorrow and disease, are dear to one having rajas.

17.10 Food which is not properly cooked, lacking in essence, putrid(emitting a bad smell) and stale, and even ort and that which is unfit for sacrifice, is dear to one possessed of tamas.

~ English Translation By Swami Gambirananda

As per the properties defined in above verses, Non Vegetarian food falls under Tamasic category. And by this narration, it's clear that the food people eat influences their guna (nature) and vice versa. So, it is advised to eat sāttvic food (as much as possible) as other food causes rajo or tamo guna.


What are Tamasic, Rajasic and Sattvic foods?

Is consuming non vegetarian food allowed in case of survival?

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    "As per the properties defined in above verses, Non Vegetarian food falls under Tamasic category." I think that's going a step too far. Many meats fall into that category, but not all. What about deer & antelope, for example. They are not bland, are fit for sacrifice, and furthermore, were eaten by the heroes of our epics. Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 13:41
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    @RubelliteYakṣī IMHO, still they are not Sattvic food..leave about meats, many vegetarian foods such as garlic and onion are also not considered Sattvic...
    – YDS
    Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 14:58
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    Okay. I understood your claim. But, what is its basis? Commented Oct 14, 2018 at 16:24

The only occasion where Lord Krishna gives specific and explicit food recommendation is Bhagavad-gita 9.26:

If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water, I will accept it.

Those are, obviously, vegetarian foodstuff because Lord Krishna does not accept non-veg food.

Those who aspire to become devoted souls surrendered and dedicated to Lord Krishna will offer him only that kind of food which is recommended to his devotees (his bhaktas) to offer him. As far as I know Hindu scripture recommends bhaktas of Lord Krishna/Vishnu to offer him only vegetarian food. There is no recommendation to offer him meat, eggs and fish. If we browse scriptures for examples of food which is accepted by Lord Krishna from his devotees (bhaktas) we can find only examples of veg food such as those in the Bhagavad-gita verse I mentioned, or such as those like we read in the Bhagavatam 10.13.11:

Kṛṣṇa is yajña-bhuk — that is, He eats only offerings of yajña — but to exhibit His childhood pastimes, He now sat with His flute tucked between His waist and His tight cloth on His right side and with His horn bugle and cow-driving stick on His left. Holding in His hand a very nice preparation of yogurt and rice, with pieces of suitable fruit between His fingers, He sat like the whorl of a lotus flower, looking forward toward all His friends, personally joking with them and creating jubilant laughter among them as He ate. At that time, the denizens of heaven were watching, struck with wonder at how the Personality of Godhead, who eats only in yajña, was now eating with His friends in the forest.

To my knowledge there is no mention anywhere in Hindu scripture that Lord Krishna is offered roast chicken, pork, bacon, fish and eggs, or similar like non-veg food.

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    @Uday Yeah, thanks for that, the translation for that Bhagavatam verse 10.81.4 is available at vedabase.com/en/sb/10/81 In Hindu scripture we don't find recommendation of a non-veg food to offer to Lord Krishna or Vishnu. Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 16:33
  • Krishna never said I don't accept non-veg from my devotees. He never gave forbidden list of food that we can't offer to him. So, IMHO Krishna will accept anything that being offer with love.
    – Vishvam
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 3:53

bhagavad gItA indirectly points to vegetarianism:

In BG 6.46, kruShNa advices arjuna to become a yogI:

tapasvibhyo ’dhiko yogī jñānibhyo ’pi mato ’dhikaḥ karmibhyaśh chādhiko yogī tasmād yogī bhavārjuna

A yogi is superior to the tapasvī (ascetic), superior to the jñānī (a person of learning), and even superior to the karmī (ritualistic performer). Therefore, O Arjun, strive to be a yogI.

Now all throughout shAntI parva and anushAsana parva, only vegetarian items are mentioned as diet of yogI, eg: in shAnti parva SECTION CCXV, bhIShma in presence of kruShNa describes yogI's food:

Indeed, one engaged in the practice of yogA rules should do all those acts by which one's conduct and disposition may become pure. one should rather live upon broken grains of corn, ripe beans, dry cakes of seeds from which the oil has been pressed out, pot-herbs, half-ripe barley, flour of fried pulses, fruits, and roots


Simple logic, Lord rama and krishna are non vegetarians by themselves. So non veg is allowed to eat. But certain animals meat is not good for health so v have to avoid it.

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    – Shashaank
    Commented Dec 9, 2022 at 15:44
  • Anyone who reads valmiki ramayanam can understand that Rama is non vegetarian ..there are slokas expaling where Sita processing meat for food...and non veg is prohibited for Brahmins as they have to chnat mantras and their tounge becomes thick if they eat nonveg... Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 16:11
  • These are only misunderstood meaning for the Sanskrit words Check duplicate questions on the topic.
    – Shashaank
    Commented Dec 10, 2022 at 18:49

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