Hindus also want worldwide religious certification like Jewish Kosher and Muslim Halal foods, referring to food and drinks fit for consumption by Hindus.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Hindus took their diets very seriously and food played a major role in Hinduism. Hindus had their own religious dietary laws like other faiths and it was about time that the world recognized and respected their needs.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism (USOH), stressed that the Hindu consumer was maturing and asking questions and there were one billion Hindu consumers spread worldwide. There was no provision for the protection of the Hindu consumers.
Rajan Zed stated that foods permissible to all Hindus could be termed as “shuddh” (pure) and could be depicted by capital “S” with a circle around it. “Shuddh” food should not contain any meat, fish, eggs, alcohol and intoxicants and these should also not be used in the processing of “shuddh” food. Machinery and equipment used to process “shuddh” food should be properly cleaned and purified before its processing.
Zed said that besides manufacturers and retailers; food offered to Hindu consumers in airlines, defense forces, cruises, prisons, dorms, etc.; should also carry the “shuddh” symbol.
A worldwide Hindu body could be created to certify products, manufacturers and restaurants as “shuddh”, using the “S” symbol to show their backing. Until such a body was formed, food producers could contact Hindu scholars for help. USOH would offer its services in the formation of such body and helping the producers, Rajan Zed indicated.
Zed noted that consuming beef was considered sacrilegious among Hindus. Most Hindus had adopted vegetarianism and stayed away from meat, intoxicants and alcoholic beverages. Most Hindus were primarily concerned with animals, birds, fish, egg and their products; which they did not want in their food.
Rajan Zed further said that Hindus believed that ingestion of pure foods lead to mental purity and liberation, while improper foods could be spiritually harmful. There was a whole theology behind food; categorizing the food after gunas—sattvik, rajasik, and tamasik. Some of the staple items in the diet of Hindus had remained virtually unchanged since pre-historic times.
Zed argued that many Hindus considered vegetarianism as a mark of purity. There was stress on sattvic diet; which included grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, etc. Ahimsa (non-harming) was an ethical value in Hinduism.
Rajan Zed pointed out that since Vedic period food had been central in both the daily life as well as rituals of Hindus. Food was extensively and exhaustively treated in some of its ancient texts. Taittiriya Upanishad says: Food is the most important of all things. Chandogya Upanishad tells us: Worship food.
Zed urged food manufacturers to exhibit transparency and clearly mention all the ingredients on the labels of their products, including the ones used in the processing, thus helping the Hindu consumer make conscious decisions. Not being open about the usage of prohibited foods in their products hurt the feelings of the devotees, Zed added.