Monday, December 13, 2010

Is Mushroom a vegetarian food or Non-veg?

Ever wondered? I have this Sri Lankan colleague who started arguing with others at work that Mushrooms are non-veg and that she is not going to have mushrooms because its Saturday. That got me thinking, are Mushroom's really a veg or non-veg?

Mushrooms are not conceived in a womb, Mushrooms do not feel pain when you pluck them off, so they have got to be vegetarian. Also, they dont yelp when you throw a stone at them. Even Egg's dont yelp, so can it be a vegetarian too?
The counter argument is, they are thriving fungus! So, it has to be non-veg. The argument obviously is insufficient to be able to conclude weather or not mushroom is a vegetarian or not.

I started doing a bit of research (now you know what I do on free-time at work) on this and found a link to Srimad Bhagavad Gita:
According to Krishna or Krishna consciousness, if you will, don't indulge in over/under eating.

Food is divide in to 3 types according to Gita. Now it is up to us to decide where each food falls.

Saatvik (goodness): Milk, honey, vegetables, rice, lentils etc. If you ask me, eggs are also vegetarian. They are unfertilized by sperm isn't it? Also by definition, you are not causing pain to the egg when you make an omelet (just like you don't cause pain to carrots when you dig them out of soil). No offense to anyone, this is strictly my opinion. In my definition, egg falls into Saatvik category.
You might argue that we need to classify food based on cell-structure not where it comes from. I would not agree because when Gita was being written or when Krishna was defining Saatvik food, He didnt consider cell structure. If He did, we would have found some texts suggesting the same. Anyway, back to types of food.
Does it mean that it is time to redefine what "vegetarian" is?

Rajasik (Passion): Anything which is hot (chili-hot) and spicy falls into this category. From what I understand, there is no clear definition of which foods fall under this category.

Taamsik (Ignorance): Meat and meat products fall under this category. It always surprised me that, we Hindus give so much importance to religion, peace etc, yet Bhagavad Gita (or rather Kurukshetra) itself is a justification of why war is essential at times. Of course I fully believe that it is the Holiest of text's till date, yet the irony is not lost on me.

Another thing is, how many of us realize that its not about veg or non-veg but its about not killing animals for our wants/needs? For the same reason even leather cloths should also be a strict No for a practicing vegetarian. can we live without eating meat? Yes. But do I propagate that eating vegetarian food is the way to go? No. I am not against eating meat...and I don't try to persuade those who do to consider my perspective.

Its up to you, the reader to decide where Mushroom falls. It obviously does not fall under Saatvik, but it could be either Rajasik or Taamasik.

So, it is not possible for us to arrive at a blanket conclusion that Mushroom is a veg or a non-veg item.

Disclaimer: My intention is not to offend anyone. If I come across that way, let me know and I will edit my post. These views are just my views. So, you will have to let me know if I offended anyone, since that's not my intention.


  1. I feel sad when I see the chicken cooped up outside shops waiting to be slaughtered for someone's delight. I am a vegetarian and I I strongly recommend it and yes I dont support leather jackets even and now I have stopped buying leather handbag also, when there are so many good other materials are available then why not.

  2. awesome post.If mushrooms are vegetarian,than milk has to be vegetarian too ,right?. there are lots of grey areas in this veg-non-veg argument.Infact every single second ,we kill millions of bacteria and other microscopic creatures by inhaling air.. so,i guess its all about what definitions people give to justify their eating habit ! :-) ..

  3. @Renu, yeah, we have many alternatives for leather handbags. These days I am trying to buy bags which are made of cotton etc. But i feel I am a hypocrite because I eat meat.

    @Bedazzled, Yes, we cannot arrive at a blanket conclusion. To answer your question yes, even milk can be considered non-veg in a way. I think it all depends on ones perspective.

  4. It is looks like the mushroom on the picture is thinking seriously which way to go!

  5. we shud ask the mushroom WHAT ARE YOU MATE?


  6. now you have put me in a quandary...

  7. hi guys
    i am a vegetarian & all i know is harming any creature that has emotions , feels pain and is afraid to die just like a crime. whether it is for meat or leather....specially when we have alternative vegetarian options.

    now lets leave the bhagavad gita aside cz i have never been served an egg in a langar at any temple or a i guess that answers your question whether the eggs should be considered veg or not ;)

    Regarding mushrooms......they are fungus.....and i think its ok for vegetarians to eat them.
    but recently mushroom farmers have started using fish emulsion spray derived from fishes for faster growth.
    so a non vegetarian fertilizer is being used on a vegetarian item...and that is the problem why vegetarians are not clear whether to eat mushrooms or not.

  8. i am a born non-vegetarian iam proud for it ..
    i think all the animals and the living creatures falls in a food chain accept the humans . and der are many needs of body which only eating vegetables cant fulfill
    i dnt say dat vegetables r not necessary because dey are also an imprtnt part of food chain
    but those who r vegetarian i dnt force dem too
    n according to me mushroom is totaly a nonveg product and grows on organic matter like dead bodies etc also smells like meat and tastes like meat too