It is a highly controversial subject among the Sikhs. The opinions vary from one extreme to another. Some believe that eating any kind of no vegetarian food, e.g. fish, egg, meat is strictly prohibited for a Sikh while others sires that unless one eats meat, he is not a good Sikh. The latter persons argue that Sikhs have to be brave fighters and they can become strong and fearless only if they practice hunting games and eat meat as the Gurus did, particularly the 6th and 10th Guru. They believe that is why, it has been made obligatory by the 10th Guru for a Sikh to always carry Kirpan (sword) on his person.

‘The people in the former category say that all stories regarding Gurus eating meat have been “Manufactured” by those who eat meat and want to justify it. They plead that if one is to practice meditation, as a Sikh is supposed to do, he must not eat meat for any other high protein food. Neither he should make his food very much spicy, They classify meat, spices and even milk (in liberal quantities)as” Tamsak “ food, which excite mind, awakens and intensifies the desire for sex and other worldly pleasures. Every person who wishes to meditate and realize God should eat only simple vegetarian diet to keep his body and mind in peace for attaining concentration.

There have been about a dozen Sikh saints well respected by the community, because of their spiritual achievements. All of them were Vegetarians and many of them advised their followers to be vegetarians as far as possible In a couple of groups, to be a vegetarian, is considered a religious injunction and anyone who eats meat becomes a “Patit”(apostate), He must retake Amnit otherwise the “kurahit” (Cardinal Sin) committed by him will stand.

Killing is Sin: The indigenous culture which preached “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma” responsible for this idea among the Sikhs . Eating meat involves killing of life and that is a sin for a man. Those who eat meat, therefore ,are considered guilty of Sin, Because of this feeling of guilt and sin involved in killing lower life, Bodhis and Jamis strictly avoid it The Janis keep a small piece of cloth on their mouth so that they can keep off any small insect being inhaled along with their breath. They move in a row, one behind the other, to avoid crushing under their feet, any living creature crawling on the ground, They walk barefooted and the man in the front holds a special “broom” in his hand to ‘move away the insects which happen to come in their path.

Gurbani ridicules such practices of over worrying about saving lower insect life, It tells that man cannot live without destroying such life, For that matter, a grain also has life, it can grow and make a plant. Water is the first cause of life which keeps all plants green and growing. How can a person live without water, grain etc. Lots of micro life maybe destroyed when they are inhaled by us while breathing. Actually life depends upon life, Small fish eats another fish and itself is eaten by a bigger fish in the sea.

Gurbani simultaneously warns that it is sin to be cruel or merciless. Unless one is a kind hearted man, he cannot be a religious person, ‘There is, however, no reason, to develop an unnecessary guilt of sin while eating food vegetarian or no vegetarian, all have life in them.

Beef: Because of the above thinking majority of the Sikhs eat meat but they strictly avoid beef. This again is a Hindu influence, According to Puranic mythology the earth is supported on the horse of the Bull. Earthquake takes place when the bull shifts the earth from one horn to another. Cow is a sacred animal because it produces milk and gives birth to bulls, Bulls are used to grow food for human beings. Further after death, a person has to swim through a very dreadful river of blood and pus. ‘One can do so only with the help of a cow who swims across it easily ‘and carries the people to the other end. Cows are given in offering to the Brahmanshere in this world for easy crossing of the turbulent river in the next world. Cow, the most sacred animal has therefore to be help in their next life.

Sikhs do not believe in the above philosophy. For them eating beef, pork or another meat are equally permissible, there is no religious injunction against any ‘meat, It should depend upon the suitability of the meat and the need of the person.

If killing of cows is not allowed, as a national policy for economic reasons. It is because of the utility of the animal or for. some other purpose. It should not be mixed up ‘with the religious philosophy.

Some Sikhs mistakenly cons (Cantona DasalieGnitenn ider that eating meat is a necessary Act for Sikhs. Hunting wild animals, as a sport, of course is allowed for Sikhs but it is wrong to ‘conclude that unless one hunts and eats meat, one cannot become ‘brave and fearless. The character Of fearlessness and bravery is dative from ones high moral and spiritual strength.


Panthic decision; When the Sikhs took over gurdwara management in 1925, a big question was of ‘Screening Sikh practices from nonesuch rituals introduced in the gudwaras by the Mahanas to attract Hindu visitors and increase their income from offerings. Many Mahants had also adopted Hindu rituals. Over a period of time involving more than half a dozen generations, they were mistakenly accepted as Sikh practices.

The committee appointed for deciding Sikh Rehit Maryada (Code of Conduct) invited people of different views. Considering the material provided to them in favor of and against meat catting and going through history and philosophy of Sikhs they decided, “Eating Kuttha is prohibited for Sikhs.” This implies that Sikhs can eat any meat except the one prepared through a slow process of killing called Halal.

To conclude, eating meat does not involve any religious philosophy of the Sikhs. Neither a Sikhs is required to cat meat nor he is prohibited to eat it, eating of meat (any kind egg or fish or cow) should depend upon one’s personal need and liking. Where preparation of meat involves any religious ceremony of any faith, then, it is strictly prohibited for a Sikh.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 3, 1986