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Posted at: Aug 2, 2017, 12:59 AM; last updated: Aug 2, 2017, 12:59 AM (IST)WEIGHT WATCH

In pursuit of logic behind traditions

Ever thought why non-vegetarian food is a taboo in the month of Shravan?
In pursuit of logic behind traditions

Dt.ruchi goyal

The month of Shravan is here, and I would not be surprised if your parents or elders have advised you to avoid consuming non-vegetarian food during this month. My parents too, have always done the same with me. What is it that makes eating non-vegetarian food a taboo during the month of Shravan? My queries to understand the logic behind this practice have always been brushed aside as frivolous. The only reason one gets to hear is that Shravan is a holy month, dedicated to Lord Shiva, and so it is blasphemous to eat meat during this month. Somehow, I have never been satisfied with that answer and wanted to unravel the mystery. 

 It is a blind superstition or is there a scientific reason why non-vegetarian food should be avoided during this period? 

Astronomically speaking, Shravan is the month of Dakshinayanam, meaning the sun rises in the south-east during this month. Therefore, the rays of the sun are not so strong. Also, the weather is mostly wet and cool. The environment is thus conducive to the growth of microorganisms like bacteria, virus and fungus.

It is not just that the number of microorganisms increases, but also their enzymatic activity on food increases. Muscle foods like non-vegetarian are rich sources of protein but low on carbohydrates. The heavier proteins in non-vegetarian food tend to degrade faster, as the PH values and nutrient composition of these foods support the growth of microorganisms (refer to figures in the table). This coupled with the fact that our body’s immunity tends to be lower during monsoons, makes us easily susceptible to infections from food, specially the non-vegetarian forms.

The digestive system of our body also becomes sluggish during the monsoons, hitting rock bottom during Shravan. 

Shravan is also the breeding season for fish. So, the logic is that by consuming fish during Shravan, we interfere with the birth of millions of more fish. This, in turn, is expected to lead to future scarcity. So the ancient wisdom is not just for the good of mankind but even the planet. Thus, food traditions are here to ensure that we stay in harmony with our environment, adapt better to changes and stay healthy in the process. Avoiding non-vegetarian food in Shravan is also an extension of the same philosophy. 

 (Dt. Goyal is a Chandigarh-based clinical nutritionist and dietician) 

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