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A Survey of Nonviolence, Food, and Animals in Hindu Literature


Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 150 words)

While many notable scholars have rightly indicated that South Asian ideas of nonviolence (ahiṃsā), cow-protection, and vegetarianism are not necessarily related, we can nonetheless see a recurring motif of respect for animals related to issues of nonviolence (ahiṃsā) and protection of cows and other animals across a wide span of Hindu sacred texts—especially in the overt injunctions against killing animals or eating meat. An overview of canonical Hindu literature reveals an overarching spirit of valuation of animals, and the eventual accretion of animal-related ideas towards a decidedly animal-affirming spirit of compassion, respect, and intrinsic worth. This provides ample recourse for those in the Hindu tradition who would use their abilities as constructive theologians and as effective allies in the global shift towards a stronger valuation of nature and non-human animals particularly in the global vegetarian, vegan, and animal protection movements.