Being Flexible and Discretionary with Non-Vegetarians


Is it okay to offer our guests non-vegetarian feasts? Do we gain bad karma by offering them such dishes? What can we do when they are very particular about having non-vegetarian dishes?

—anitha , India


Dear Anitha,

Your question is a common one here in America, where vegetarianism is still rare in some parts of the country.

If you respect others’ dietary preferences they are more likely to respect yours. You can always offer both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and let your guests choose. Sometimes they will be willing to try the vegetarian options and find that they like them. (Some of my non-vegetarian relatives now ask me to make vegetarian food for them!)

Paramhansa Yogananda occasionally recommended a small amount of meat in the diet for those who had not yet become accustomed to a completely vegetarian diet.

I think it is more important to be considerate of your guests’ wishes than it is to try to convert them to your kind of diet. If you have established a friendly relationship with them they will be more accepting of differences. Bad karma results more from having a poor attitude, such as being judgemental. There are times when we can’t avoid making mistakes and just have to do what we think is best. Having an attitude of service will help you make the right decisions.

What happens when you are the guest and are served non-vegetarian food? Keeping in mind the principle of being considerate, it is probably better to eat what is served until you have established that friendly relationship. Later, you may have the opportunity to invite them to your home and to serve them some vegetarian dishes.

Much joy to you,
Nayaswami Sadhana Devi