The vegan diet mainly consists of vegetables. Garlic is a plant belonging to the allium family with onions, chives, and leeks. However, some vegans do not include garlic in their diet. Why is that so?
It could be that vegans do not eat onion and garlic because of the close association of their diet with vegetarianism. After all, veganism is nothing but a strict variation of the vegetarian diet. So, vegetarian food varies depending on an individual’s interpretation.
This article explains why many people do not consider garlic vegan. It explores the religious reasons for not considering garlic vegetarian despite being a plant. Keep reading to learn more about it.
Types of Vegetarian Diets
Vegetarian diets vary from those who only avoid meat and eggs to those who eat only a select group of raw plants. Here is a description of the types of vegetarians existing today:
1. Vegetarians that Avoid Meat and Fish
This category of vegetarians has the majority of the people. It consists of those who avoid meat and fish but can eat all other foods with some variations. The following are the categories of vegetarians that completely avoid fish and meat but eat other animal products.
These take dairy products but avoid eggs. Of course, they eat onions and garlic. All other vegetables are also included in their diet.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products. They also include all plants and vegetables in their diet.
Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs but avoid dairy products. Garlic, leeks, chives, and other alliaceous plants are also part of their diet. They eat all fruits and vegetables.
2. Religious Vegetarians
Religious vegetarians are those taking plant-based foods because of their religious beliefs. The largest groups in this category belong to Hindu and Buddhist religions. Here is a description of the foods they eat and those they do not.
Some adherents of Buddhism eat eggs while others avoid them. Most of them eat dairy products. However, observers of the Buddhist diet avoid alliaceous plants like garlic, onion, leek, scallion, chive, and shallot.
The Hindu diet allows its adherents to take eggs to an extent. However, some Hindus completely avoid eggs. Most Hindus eat root vegetables from the allium family and dairy products.
3. Casual Vegetarians
Casual vegetarians may eat some meats and fish, going against the foundations of the movement. This category of vegetarians includes the following:
Pesco-vegetarians eat fish and seafood but avoid all other meats. The things you would not find in their diet include poultry and beef.
Pello-vegetarians eat poultry for its health benefits but avoid red meats like beef, pork, mutton, bacon, etc.
4. Stricter Vegetarians
Stricter vegetarians avoid all animal products, including eggs, meats, and dairy products. However, they eat all fruits and vegetables to varying degrees. Here is a description of the stricter vegetarian diets:
Adherents to the vegan diet avoid all meat, fish, and dairy products. They also do not eat insects and any products derived from them.
In the raw vegan diet, the emphasis is on fresh, uncooked fruits, seeds, nuts, and vegetables. When they cook vegetables, they do not exceed a certain temperature.
Individuals on a fruitarian diet eat only fruits, seeds, nuts, and plant matter whose gathering doesn’t harm the plant.
Why Some People Do Not Consider Garlic Vegan
Ideally, you should eat garlic as part of a vegan diet. That too applies to onions, leeks, chives, and other root vegetables in the allium family. However, those who follow the vegan diet due to religious reasons do not eat onion and garlic.
That’s because foods in the allium family are considered “hot” foods. The argument is that these foods entice their consumers into sinful physical acts. Still, others want to avoid harming the creatures that depend on root plants. Hence, they consider them to be non-vegetarian.
Here is a discussion of the restrictions on eating garlic based on religion:
Buddhists believe in maintaining respect for nature, with the focus of life being on creating a balance between yin and yang – two energy systems acting opposite each other.
According to Buddhism, humans must carefully select the foods they eat since they affect the amount of energy one has to deal with. Therefore, it would be impossible for one to rise up the spiritual ladder with some foods.
Buddhists forbid pungent roots like onions and garlic from their diet. Buddhists also don’t include other foods like chives, scallions, leeks, or asafetida.
Stricter Buddhists believe that pungent roots have negative effects on the body since they arouse sinful desires. Also, eating root vegetables harms worms, grubs, and other creatures living in the ground.
The following are some of the Buddhist beliefs that make it impossible for them to eat onion and garlic:
Increase in Anger
When eaten raw, garlic arouses emotional responses such as anger, which go against the religious tenets of calmness. Once one becomes angry, they may engage in arguments and fights, hampering their spiritual growth. Strict adherence to the Buddhist faith requires one to maintain non-violence.
Buddhists believe that eating onion and garlic increases one’s sinful desires, drawing them further away from their religious goals. That especially concerns garlic when it’s eaten cooked. In this form, garlic can arouse good spirits, rendering one excitable and likely to sin.
Increase in Libido
When eaten cooked, garlic releases hormones that affect one’s libido. The ultimate consequence of that is to drive men or women into sexual sin, which drives people away from their spiritual goals.
Garlic is also considered non-veg because of the way it alters one’s breath and general body odor. Cooked garlic has a pungent smell, which gets released when one sweats. Buddhists believe that releasing a strong body odor can interfere with an individual’s spiritual goals.
Eating garlic and the other five pungent may make one excitable and less likely to concentrate. The lack of peacefulness interferes with meditation, especially the practicing bhakti yogi. That’s something Taoists realized thousands of years ago banning garlic from their diet.
Buddhism prohibits alcohol and other intoxicants besides the five pungent roots. According to Buddhism, intoxicating chemicals alter an individual’s behavior and may lead them to commit all sorts of sins and misdeeds.
According to the Hindu faith, four natural elements – earth, water, air, and fire – make up the human body. Therefore, one retains a healthy state by creating a balance in all four elements of life.
Hindus believe that humans should have compassion for all creatures. Therefore, having compassion and providing care for all animate things is a must. Since it’s an Eastern culture, Hinduism is mostly practiced in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
The religion prohibits adherents from including onions and garlic in their diet. This is because they consider vegetables in the allium family to be impure since their production is in impure regions. A vegan diet based on Hinduism also excludes mushrooms for the same reasons.
Besides, Hindus believe that garlic and onions alter an individual’s behavior leading them into sinfulness rather than seeking spiritual goals. Besides, pungent roots are potential aphrodisiacs that cause an increase in libido.
Ayurveda is a traditional medical practice that recognizes all foods as potential medicines. Thus, what one eats can either lead to good or poor health. In Ayurveda, foods like garlic are recognized to have medicinal value.
Practitioners of Ayurveda categorize foods as rajasic, sattvic, and tamasic. While one can consume foods from any of the categories, sattvic foods are the most beneficial to the body. Here is an overview of the food categories according to Ayurveda:
This category eats raw, lightly cooked, ripe, or fresh foods. The purpose of this diet is to create balance in the four elements of life. The foods include fresh fruit, whole grains, legumes, cheese, seeds, nuts, honey, ghee, and herbal teas.
Even though fresh, this food is heavy. All non-vegetarian foods, including meat, fish, chicken, eggs, pepper, and chilies, fall in this category. Ayurveda discourages people from eating Rajasic foods since they may increase aggressive behavior.
Any food that isn’t fresh or is overcooked, processed, and stale falls in this category. Examples include fried foods, fermented foods like pickles, ice creams, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, soft drinks, pastries, pizzas, etc.
Another religion with a basis of respect for living creatures, Jainism promotes peaceful coexistence with all living things. According to the pacifist religion, all is interconnected, and hurting one is hurting everything.
Therefore, Jains base their diet on the practice of non-violence towards all, including all living creatures. One should avoid causing verbal, mental, and physical harm to all creatures. That’s man’s ultimate purpose.
Jain vegetarians avoid consuming all root vegetables, including beets, potatoes, carrots, rutabagas, yams, ginger, onions, and leeks. Turnips, radishes, scallions, ginger, and garlic. Since these foods grow in the ground, harvesting them disrupts the habitat for worms and other creatures.
Jains also advocate for the elimination of green vegetables in certain instances. They also avoid eating decaying foods and consume very little water. Other foods they exclude from their diet include honey, eggs, mushrooms, seafood, and meat.
Why Is Garlic Not Vegan?
The short answer is that garlic is not vegan due to the beliefs of traditional Hindu, Buddhist, and Ayurveda practices. For example, according to Ayurveda, garlic and other alliaceous plants are rajasic or tamasic and may have negative effects.
Hindu adherents of lord Vishnu consider garlic non-vegetarian and consume only those in the sattvic category. So, they are more likely to consume legumes, grains, dairy products, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Rajasic and tamasic foods do not consist of worthy offerings to the gods and should not be consumed by humans either.
Also, tamasic and rajasic foods may interfere with one’s life meditation and dedication to spiritual life. Onion and garlic make one less conscious of their spiritual self when consumed. They excite the nervous and increase libido, exposing one to the likelihood of breaking vows of celibacy.
Garlic is an aphrodisiac and helps restore sexual power. It increases libido in people suffering from impotence, sexual debility, nervous exhaustion, or having too much sex. Older men with increased nervous tension and reduced libido find it especially useful.
Another reason for garlic being non-vegan is its negative effects on organs such as the heart, kidneys, lungs, spleen, and liver, according to Taoist literature. Here is a summary of the effects of the five pungent roots:
- Garlic – harmful to the heart
- Onions – harmful to the lungs
- Leeks – harmful to the spleen
- Spring Onions – harmful to the kidneys
- Chives – harmful to the liver
According to ancient Taoist literature, the five pungent roots contain enzymes that result in foul breath, disturbed bowel movements, and extra-fouls odor. They also lead to lewd indulgences, increase aggressiveness and anxiety, and enhance agitation.
Recent research seems to corroborate these views with the findings that the sulfone hydroxyl ions in garlic can poison brain cells. Hence consuming it may slow down the brain than if you weren’t using it.
Garlic has antibacterial properties, which is one of the reasons it is medicinally beneficial. However, that trait may also make destroy good bacteria in the stomach, causing all sorts of digestive issues. Garlic and onions also get removed from the body as fast as alcohol, pharmaceutical medications, and tobacco. So, it must be harmful if the body ejects garlic as fast as that.
The Bottom Line
While garlic is a plant, it is non-vegetarian. Therefore, many do not include it in the vegan diet. So are other plants in the allium family, including onions, leeks, chives, and scallions. Reasons for considering it non-vegan are mainly due to adherence to religious beliefs.
Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism require adherents to avoid onion and garlic diets due to their negative effects on the body. Eating these vegetables can excite the body and drive one to commit sin. Therefore, they draw one from attaining the highest levels of spirituality.