how to cater to hosts who follow the hindu dietary principles

Hindu Food Etiquette: 4 Rules For Guests And Hosts​

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Who is this micro-class for

* Waiters and hospitality staff

* House-party hosts

* Guests who follow the Hindu dietary principles

What you’ll learn

* What the Hindu dietary principles are

* How to provide a safe dining experience to guests who follow the Hindu dietary principles

Resources

* Less than 8 minutes to complete

About this micro-class

Hindu food etiquette is the set of rules to appropriately plan a menu and manage the dining experience for guests who follow the Hindu dietary principles.

1. Be prepared to tend to guests who follow Hindu dietary principles

The Hindu religion does not set dietary laws. However, the principles of the Hindu faith suggest the avoidance of some foods.

The interpretation of such principles varies. A person may include or exclude some foods due to health, faith, or personal concerns. A large number of people in the Hindu faith follow a vegetarianvegan, or lacto-vegetarian diet.

2. Plan an enjoyable Hindu menu and dining experience

Avoid traces of forbidden foods and cross-contamination

Follow cooking etiquette principles to cook food safely. Designate specific utensils, cutting boards, and cooking surfaces for Hindu-friendly dishes, such as vegan or vegetarian.

Create a transparent Hindu-friendly menu

Clearly mark all the dishes or items on the menu that are Hindu-friendly, such as vegan or vegetarian. Label them with a recognized symbol or statement. Make detailed ingredient lists available to customers or guests upon request.

Serve each food on its dedicated plate

Allow your guests who follow Hindu principles to pick the foods they can eat and avoid the ones they cannot eat. 

Avoid serving multiple foods on the same plate. Instead, try to separate them. Assign a plate to each food or ingredient. Serve condiments and sauces separately from food. Present each food with its serving utensils.

Include Hindu options for your guests

Some foods present a lower risk of being inappropriate or forbidden. Plan some safe dishes that almost any guest will be able to eat. For instance, baked potatoes or salad are safe options for most guests.

Be open to accomodate the special needs of your guests

Offer ingredient substitutions whenever possible to accommodate guests who follow Hindu principles. Be transparent about potential substitutions and any extra costs involved.

Be open to customizing dishes and offering a Hindu-friendly version, such as vegan or vegetarian. Clearly communicate any limitations in customization due to the nature of the dish or kitchen processes.

Avoid foods that may be inappropriate by Hindu principles

Meat

Cows are widely seen as sacred animals. Thus, the Hindu diet commonly avoids beef.

However, many Hindus allow the meat of other animals in their diet, such as poultry, goat, or sheep. Pork meat is not popular and almost absent from Hindu diets.

A large number of people in the Hindu faith avoid meat altogether. Similar to the interpretation of the Buddhist diet, many Hindus avoid eating meat as it implies the killing and suffering of living beings.

Fish and seafood

Hindus normally can eat fish, seafood, or shellfish. However, some Hindus do not eat them to avoid eating any living beings.

 

Dairy products and cheese

Milk, dairy products, and cheese are normally included in the Hindu diet. Hindus can almost always eat dairy products, as long as their production excludes the animal rennet.

Eggs and honey

Eggs are usually excluded from a Hindu diet. Some Hindus eat eggs but the majority seem to exclude them.

Honey is widely accepted.

Vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts

In general, the Hindu diet allows all vegetables and fruits. However, some Hindus do not eat plants with a strong smell, such as onion, garlic, shallots, or leeks.

Grains

In general, Hindus can eat any type of grain, such as rice, pasta, couscous, quinoa, and amaranth. The same applies to bakery products, bread, and pizza.

Condiments and sauces

Hindus can normally consume oil, vinegar, salt, and spices. Hindus that do not consume alcohol usually do not eat wine vinegar.

Sweets and desserts

A Hindu diet can include most types of sweets or desserts.

Drinks and alcoholic beverages

A Hindu diet usually includes soft drinks, tea, and coffee.

Hindus may or may not drink alcoholic beverages. While alcohol is not expressly forbidden, some Hindu texts define alcohol as intoxicating. Thus, many Hindus do not consume alcohol.

3. Politely ask your Hindu guests about their food restrictions

At home

It is perfect etiquette to ask your Hindu guests about their dietary restrictions. The interpretation and application of the Hindu principles may differ and may include or exclude different foods.

In written formal invitations, it is sufficient to ask guests to inform the hosts about any dietary requirements. In informal invitations, a simple “Do you follow any diet or have any dietary restrictions?” works. Another option is to ask if guests avoid any food. 

Never judge or question someone’s dietary restrictions. Avoid asking additional questions, such as why someone follows a diet. Some guests may be uncomfortable sharing their food restrictions.

Hospitality

Hospitality staff should encourage guests to communicate their food allergies or intolerances when making reservations and upon arrival.

Waiters should ask about food allergies before taking orders, and convey this information to the kitchen.

4. Etiquette for guests who follow Hindu principles

Clearly communicate your food restrictions

Clearly state with your host if you have any dietary restrictions.

Do not expect a change in the menu based on your needs. As a guest, you do not want to sound entitled. Instead, you can ask if there may be some Hindu-friendly options for you, such as vegan or vegetarian. 

Do not expect the host to accommodate your requests. However, any considerate host will feel compelled to adjust the menu to your needs.

Politely refuse food that you do not eat

If the host serves a type of food that you do not eat, simply avoid it. If the host or another guest explicitly offers such food to you, politely refuse it. It is enough to say “no, thank you”. 

Provide additional details only if someone asks you. Be brief and avoid annoying others with your dietary restrictions.

Do not pressure others​

Do not expect others to adjust their menu or diet to your dietary restrictions. Similarly, at a restaurant, do not expect the other guests to change their food order.

Hindu food etiquette mistakes

The worst etiquette mistakes for a host are: 

  • Not accommodating Hindu guests’ needs that are due to their dietary restrictions.
  • Using the same kitchenware with different foods.
  • Asking personal dietary questions.

The worst etiquette mistakes for guests who follow Hindu principles are: 

  • Not communicating dietary restrictions to the host.
  • Pressuring others.
  • Sharing unsolicited details about your diet.

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