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Is egg vegeterain and can devout hindus eat eggs
Posted By Sarin on Nov 22, 2014     RSS Feeds     Latest Hinduism news

What is vegetarianism? Very easy question, isn’t it. A typical answer would be “Anyone who doesn't eat meat is a vegetarian”. Though the answer seems right, if we think about this a little, we will find the answer as imperfect or imprecise. If not eating meat is vegetarianism, then are fish-eaters or egg-eaters also vegetarian? Is Egg a veg food? Are dairy products also veg? There are several other similar questions that baffle us in deciding on what exactly constitute a vegetarian diet. To answer such questions, I will explain in this article on how egg can be grouped under vegetarian foods. In upcoming articles, I will extend this theory to group dairy products and honey under vegetarian foods.

Exact definition of vegetarianism
In India and especially in Hinduism, vegetarianism is not limited to eating only vegetables. In Hinduism, eating habits are categorized as shakahari(Non-meat) and mansahari(Meat). Now since there is no English word for Sanskrit word ‘shakahari’, vegetarianism is often used to connote ‘shakahari’ but in reality, the whole idea of following a vegetarian life is to adapt a lifestyle that avoids harming the animal for sensual pleasures. Therefore, vegetarianism in Hinduism is not limited to eating only fruits and vegetables but encompasses the whole range of foods that are obtained without causing any suffering to animal. So, egg and dairy products are often included in a vegetarian diet as there is a practical way of obtaining these products without harming any animal. For Ex, Leftover milk is extracted from cow after she has satisfied her calf. Also, if extracted properly, milking process do not cause any pain to cow.
“You must not use your God-given body for killing God's creatures, whether they are human, animal or Whatever.” (Yajur Veda 12.32)
“By not killing any living being, one becomes fit for Salvations.” (Manusmriti 6.60)
Is Egg non-veg?
As per the above definition, egg should be a non-veg food as it contains life and if nurtured properly, egg would possibly hatch out as a chicken. Though this perception is correct, this is not necessarily true. How? Read below
Egg, though an animal product, is not animal flesh. Egg is a special case where if eaten, there is no killing of life.
Is egg vegeterain and can devout hindus eat eggs
Here, I am considering only eggs derived from hens and not eggs from animal like caviar, where the egg is obtained by tearing the stomach of fish.
Why market eggs can be termed vegetarian?
Eggs that comes to market via poultry forms are considered vegetarian because they do not have the power of reproduction. i.e eggs from poultry form is not obtained after mating of birds and therefore, is lifeless. Even for the whole lifetime if the hen sits on such eggs, no chicken is going to hatch out of it. If not eaten, such eggs are useless and would be thrown away. So, I don’t see any reason on why one should refrain from eating such eggs.

What is special about eggs laid by hens?
Now you may ask, what is so special about hens that no chicken is going to hatch out of it. Well, hens are few of the existing species that lays both fertilized and unfertilized eggs. In industrialized egg farming, hens are kept 24*7 away from rooster. So, it eliminates the possibility of hens to lay fertilized eggs. Hence, all the eggs that comes to market are unfertilized eggs and therefore, grouped as vegetarian. But there is a catch here. This is not the case with local and small-scale poultry farm owners because they do not restrict themselves in keeping the hens away from rooster. Hence, it is quite possible that eggs in local markets of remote areas have fertilized eggs. This can also be a case with large scale commercial farming where the rooster may have succeeded in breaking barriers and mated with hens while the farmer was too lazy in sleeping in his bedroom. Also, a noticeable fact is that after mating, semen of the rooster can remain in hen body for as long as six months and so, it is quite possible that the hen lays a fertilized egg after six months of mating.
In such cases, eating egg is equivalent to killing an animal and therefore following a non-vegetarian diet. If you are really serious about not eating fertilized eggs than you should use the following technique to identify eating unfertilized eggs
Is egg vegeterain and can devout hindus eat eggs
Or check below video

How to be sure of eating unfertilized lifeless eggs?
If you are very serious of following a vegetarian diet due to religious reasons or moral grounds, then you should completely avoid eating eggs. If you want to eat eggs due to health issues and also don’t want to bear the burden of killing lives, then better open a poultry form and make sure the rooster are kept miles away from hens.  

Can’t open a poultry farm and still want to eat eggs without bearing the burden of killing animal? Well, then you need to broaden your definition of vegetarianism.  
Pay heed to the below section

All eggs sold in market are lifeless and vegetarian
In the above case of hens laying fertilized eggs, there is a very remote chance of egg hatching into a chicken. Why? Because, Eggs are typically collected and refrigerated by farmers as soon as it is laid by hen. Refrigeration completely stops the development of fertilized egg as eggs require very specific conditions to start developing into a chicken. So, before such fertilized eggs comes to market, they have already became lifeless as there is almost no possibility of it turning into a chicken. So, according to me, poultry farms eggs is a purely vegetarian product but this consideration varies from person to person as each one of us have their own way of thinking and defining the limits of vegetarianism
This is perhaps the reason why world wrestling champion, who calls himself a devout vegetarian, eat eggs.
Is egg vegeterain and can devout hindus eat eggs  
National Egg Co-ordination Committee, an association of Indian chicken farm owners founded in the early eighties, aims to increase national annual per capita consumption to about 200 by the end of the 21st century.

But eggs having living cell and so, is non-veg  
Eggs are menstrual fluid of hens and have living cells. Egg therefore, should not be considered vegetarian?
You may hear such questions but the fact is grossly misinterpreted. Well, vegetarianism in Hinduism broadly is about not killing or harming an animal. Consumption of menstrual fluid does not fall into this definition as no animal is harmed or killed in the process. Living cells are meaningless unless it produces life. Also, white portion of egg is just a protein fluid and does not contain any animal cell.
Hens eat non-veg food and so, egg is non-vegetarian
One of the arguments I heard that egg is non-vegetarian because hens eat non-vegetarian food. In the below video, you can see a calf eating a chicken. Will you call this calf a carnivore and non-vegetarian?
Frustration and hunger often forces animal including humans to do things which are not natural to us. Extending this argument further, a new born baby sulking milk of a non-vegetarian mother, should be termed as non-vegetarian by birth?  How insane does the argument that “egg is non-vegetarian because hens eat non-vegetarian food” sounds?  However, there are few takers who take this argument seriously. Some farming companies’ claims that their hens are fed only soya powder or natural grains and not chicken fishmeal and so, their eggs are 100% vegetarian. Advertisement of these companies can be easily seen on many online food or groceries websites. I don’t know how consumers get trapped in such foolish marketing gimmick?
Is egg vegeterain and can devout hindus eat eggs
How fertilized eggs becomes a chicken
What about torture and pain of chickens strayed in farming companies?
In industrialized farming, chickens are kept in small dirty cages and are treated like egg-producing machines. Naturally, hens lays egg only once every 24 to 48 hours but in industrialized farming, Chickens are forced to produce 5+ eggs daily by injecting hormones or antibiotics which is not possible otherwise. Chicken suffers immense pain and are unable to sleep due to the side effects of these hormones. In the process, many chickens die out of paralysis, hunger and hormonal side effects.  

Also, Chickens are sold to butcher once they stop laying eggs. So, though egg can be considered as a vegetarian product, it can still be grouped under the non-vegetarian category as the process involved in producing eggs is very cruel and involves killing of animals. To encounter this unethical issue of animal brutality, many farming companies came forward with the claim of their egg being natural and cruel-free. In India, skylark Hatcheries is one of such egg farming companies. Nitin Goel, marketing manager for skylark Hatcheries, in a press release said “the trend is away from outdated battery cage systems and toward a more humane and sustainable approach to producing eggs.”
How valid their claim is, only the workers employed there can say but what I can say is that this argument is not enough to group egg as non-vegetarian food as the egg can be obtained naturally without causing pain to hens. A veg person, on an average, don’t eat more than three eggs per week which is the normal ovulating period of hens. Hence, a veg person consuming egg is not encouraging torture of chickens and desires the hens to be ovulated naturally.
Is egg vegeterain and can devout hindus eat eggs
I am not a follower of Hinduism and I want to be vegetarian. Can I eat egg?
Technically, egg can be both vegetarian and non-vegetarian according to your beliefs and perception. Mostly, definition of vegetarianism is tied to religious beliefs and varies from people to people or culture to culture. To be a vegetarian, you need to identify under which category of vegetarianism do you fall? Broadly, below are some of the variations in categories of vegetarianism  
  1)    In some cultures, diet which does not include red meat or animal flesh is a vegetarian diet. So, Fish, egg, honey, dairy products are a part of vegetarian diet while chicken, pig, lamb, goat are all non-vegetarian foods for them.
2)    For some, any product that is obtained without killing of animal is a vegetarian food. For them, Egg and dairy products are vegetarian food while fish or any form of meat are non-vegetarian foods. As a thumb rule, if an animal has to die while producing an item, then the food is of the menu for such vegetarians.  
3)    For some, Diet which does not include animal flesh as well as any item that are derived from animal kingdom is a vegetarian diet. For Ex, Egg, honey, dairy products, all of which are derived from animals, are non-vegetarian foods.
  4)    In India, there is a sect called Jainism that not only categorize killing of animals as non-vegetarian source of food but also killing of plants as non-vegetarian source of food. Jains abstains from eating plants that needs to be removed from their roots. For Ex: garlic, onions, spinach etc
5)    Then comes the most insane group of vegetarians. In India, there are many ashrams and religious institutions where the religious head dictates on what vegetarian food is and what is non-vegetarians food. Followers and disciples of these ashrams blindly follow on what their guru tells them. So, if their guru says “Egg is vegetarian”, then they will blindly believe egg as vegetarian without asking the question how? Can’t write more on this as the beliefs of such followers changes very spontaneously.
6)    For some, any food that is obtained by killing of animal or by giving immense pain to animal is non-vegetarian source of food. This category is very close to what devout Hindus follows.  
    Is egg vegeterain and can devout hindus eat eggs
Why everyone should eat egg consciously?
Though egg is a healthy food, over consumption of egg can be disastrous to health. Over consumption increases the chances of cancer and cardiovascular diseases. A single egg has 213 mg of cholesterol while our body daily requirement is only 300 mg. Egg is a good source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, selenium, choline etc and so, eating one egg per day should be ideally good for health. However, it should be balanced by a healthy and nutritionally adequate vegetarian diet. Note that eating raw egg is not recommended as there is a chance of food poisoning because uncooked eggs have loads of bacteria
Why devout Hindus should not eat eggs?
Hindus believe the food they eat contribute immensely to spiritual purity and nourishes the entire mental, physical and emotional characteristics of a human being. This is why only sweet items as distributed as prasadam and spicy pungent foods are never offered as prasadam in temples.
Devout Hindus should avoid eating eggs as eggs are Rajasic in nature. Rajasic means food that are believed to result in unfit state of mind by stimulating strong emotions like passions, pleasures and restlessness.
Why most Hindus follow a vegetarian diet?
Whole article was on vegetarianism and so, this article would be incomplete without giving the reason behind the following of vegetarian diet by Hindus.
Devout Hindus follow the tenets of ahimsa (Non-violence) and therefore avoid eating items that is produced by violence, harm and suffering of animals. Following the ideology of non-violence, father of our nation, Mohandas Gandhi, became a vegetarian by ethical choice. He ate dairy products and called himself a devout vegetarian.  
Is egg vegeterain and can devout hindus eat eggs
Gandhi wanted to promote vegetarianism through his ideology of non-violence but during his era of independence movement, he was able to use non-violence only for freedom struggle and passed away before promoting it as the way of living life.
“Ahimsa is the highest Dharma, ahimsa is the best Tapas,
Ahimsa is the highest self-control, ahimsa is the highest sacrifice.
Ahimsa is the highest power, ahimsa is the highest friend.
Ahimsa is the highest truth, ahimsa is the highest teaching.”
(Mahabharata 18.116.37-41)
So, I conclude by saying that egg can be both veg as well as non-veg depending upon your chosen definition of vegetarianism. If your health demands eating of eggs then you should not hesitate eating eggs just because you have been told that egg is a non-vegetarian food. If one ask for my personal opinion, then everyone should eat eggs during the initial stages of development and then, should gradually do away from eating eggs during the later stages of life, when the time (50+ age) is perfect to advance towards the goal of self-realization.

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