Why do some cultures hate onion and garlic - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-13-2016, 04:58 PM
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Why do some cultures hate onion and garlic

I've noticed that several cultures seem to avoid using onion and garlic at all costs, even less potent ingredients in the onion family, like leeks. This is something I've seen mostly at Chinese restaurants.

In fact several vegetarian-Chinese restaurants I've been to even list on the menu that no garlic and onion is used, and just before I was looking on the website for one and saw this.



I find this extremely confusing, as there seems to be no scientific backing that says onion is used as a "cleansing" food for meat eaters, or that it causes stomach upsets in vegetarians or vegans.

I did some googling and could only find old religious reasons for it, which is fine, but if the reason is religious aka, not scientific at all, then why would restaurants put this false "meat cleansing" stuff on their websites.
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#2 Old 02-13-2016, 05:06 PM
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it's a shame as garlic and onion are such wonderful foods.

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#3 Old 02-13-2016, 06:59 PM
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Lots of people, including vegetarians and vegans, love pseudoscience. Unfortunate, but true.
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#4 Old 02-13-2016, 09:11 PM
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There is a very specific, and rather amusing, reason some chinese avoid allium vegetables.
2600 years ago, in the time of the buddha, the buddha saw one unhappy monk sitting apart from his friends. He saw something was up, so he went to the monk and was like 'dude, why arent you sitting with your friends?' The monk said a lay person presented him with a whole bowl full of raw garlic and he took it... and ate the whole bowl, raw, and now his friends said he stinks and they wont sit with him today. The buddha sort of nodded and said 'if you like sitting with your friends then in the future dont eat whole bowls of raw garlic'.
The moral was very obvious in the sutta, if you want to get along with people some times you need to make trivial harmless compromises.
The chinese took the story wildly out of context, ignored 80% of it, and just say "buddha says dont eat garlic"
The chinese really like allium vegetables, really.

A wonderful example of why, if your going to follow a religion, you should actually learn what the religion really says!
Nearly all cultures use alliums in some way, even northern european cultures that say they hate garlic rub salad bowls with it so the salad smells garlicy.
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#5 Old 02-14-2016, 07:12 AM
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Don't Jains refrain from eating root vegetables because harvesting them kills the plant? I could be misremembering this.
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#6 Old 02-14-2016, 07:28 AM
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are garlic and onions root vegetables?

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#7 Old 02-14-2016, 07:31 AM
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Yes - onions and garlics are roots or bulbs to be exact. If you eat the bulb or root of a plant you inevitably kill it.
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#8 Old 02-14-2016, 08:27 AM
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if someone eats grain, then they end a life form....as well....you can only really eat fruit, and things that were evolved to be eaten..*shrug*

I do believe that plants might have some sort of consciousness....but you godda eat.

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#9 Old 02-14-2016, 10:37 AM
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if someone eats grain, then they end a life form....as well....you can only really eat fruit, and things that were evolved to be eaten..*shrug*
Not really - grains are harvested after the plants have already died by themselves and have dried up. The same goes for legumes.
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#10 Old 02-14-2016, 10:45 AM
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if someone eats grain, then they end a life form....as well....you can only really eat fruit, and things that were evolved to be eaten..*shrug*

I do believe that plants might have some sort of consciousness....but you godda eat.
If it's any consolation, I'm fairly certain that consciousness is a function of the brain.
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#11 Old 02-14-2016, 10:57 AM
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Yeah, the more serious jains avoid things like carrots, potatoes, and onions. Chives would be ok, as would garlic leaves [people may complain that they are 'too course' but I eat them just fine... but then I'd eat pine cones if I saw the point to it ]
A few groups of hindus avoid alliums as well, calling them a 'fetid vegetable' thinking it smells too strong and is too stimulating to be spiritually pure and as such shouldnt be offered to gods or eaten by themselves. Some even say garlic makes people into sex maniacs. But most hindus love alliums so much that they once had an onion shortage that was officially classified by them as a famine even tho everyone still had enough food to eat, lol.
Other people do interesting things on the other end of the spectrum too. One religious group makes a potent hallucinogen out of a garlic-like bush, Petiveria alliacea, which lets them communicate with the spirits and initiate healing.

When people do odd things always put religion on the list of suspects
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#12 Old 02-14-2016, 02:34 PM
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Okay so this pisses me off a bit. All I can find, and all the people here are saying is that some people don't like harvesting root vegetables, and the other reason is 100% religious. So the fact that the restaurant put that bull**** up about "onions and garlic cleansing the body of a meat-eater" and "being unhealthy for full-time vegetarians" has got me really angry. I was considering going to that restaurant, but now I'm going to avoid ever going there. If you're not eating it for religious reasons then fine, state that it's for religious reasons, don't spout out this crap that has no scientific basis at all and is complete rubbish. Vegetarians and vegans don't need anything else to makes people laugh at us, but reading stuff like that on a restaurant website is laughable and stupid and not good for our image.
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#13 Old 02-14-2016, 04:19 PM
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Never heard of Chinese folks avoiding onions and garlic, but some Indian vegetarians definitely do. Lord Krishna's Cuisine by Yamuna Devi was the first Indian cookbook I purchased, and it follows the no-allium philosophy. The reasoning is that as strong tasting foods, they 'enflame the passions'. Some Western vegetarians have advocated avoiding those foods for the same reason.

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#14 Old 02-14-2016, 04:40 PM
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Never heard of Chinese folks avoiding onions and garlic, but some Indian vegetarians definitely do. Lord Krishna's Cuisine by Yamuna Devi was the first Indian cookbook I purchased, and it follows the no-allium philosophy. The reasoning is that as strong tasting foods, they 'enflame the passions'. Some Western vegetarians have advocated avoiding those foods for the same reason.
It's so stupid though, there's literally no backing behind any of these claims. As far as science goes, you can write a huge long list of the health benefits of allium foods, but where's any proof that it "enflames passions" or is bad for "full time vegetarians". I don't know why this is making me so mad, I think I just hate it when people lie in the way that this restaurant did.
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#15 Old 02-14-2016, 04:47 PM
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maybe you could write a letter, or email them about this...maybe that will stop you being angry....I feel better after a good email, sometimes.

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#16 Old 02-14-2016, 04:55 PM
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Most people never really question what theyre taught by their grandmothers, school teachers, priests, etc. I doubt they were intentionally lying, more likely they just never critically examined their education. What does seem clear is they are trying to accomodate the most hardcore segment of vegetarians in their community, that at least would make it less likely that theyd make the usual foolish western mistakes of using chicken stock in a 'vegetarian' soup or frying tofu in bacon grease.

As for 'inflames passions', these are cultures that can put a lot of effort into subduing the senses. After lots of meditation and mild foods my usual spicy food is over stimulating even for me. Once I went a year without any music whatsoever and after that even Beethoven tore at my ears like bad hip hop music.
I've also noticed that after lots of garlic orgasm tends to be more intense. I've never seen a clinical study on that, perhaps a project for someone in a medical college

I'd say dont go too hard on them.
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#17 Old 02-14-2016, 05:46 PM
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It's not the inflamed passions or any of that which bothers me, it's the incorrect and untrue crap about alliums being harmful to vegetarians organs and being used to somehow cleanse the body of a meat eater. Those statements are just so ridiculous that they bother me. I think I'm just going to not visit there, and always take my money to other restaurants instead. That will at least ease my mind a bit. Ironically, I'm about to cook a meal full of onion and garlic, just how I like it.
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#18 Old 02-14-2016, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
find this extremely confusing, as there seems to be no scientific backing that says onion is used as a "cleansing" food for meat eaters, or that it causes stomach upsets in vegetarians or vegans.
When I googled 'onion blood cleanser' I got a ton of links both making and debunking claims similar to what you read. Given that you're reading a Chinese restaurant menu, it's a safe bet the claim is from the POV of traditional Chinese medicine.

I'm not sure the menu text qualifies as a 'health claim' per FDA regulation. Caveat emptor.

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#19 Old 02-14-2016, 05:59 PM
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I have done some looking into it myself, and while I've found that onions do have cleansing benefits, I've nowhere found anywhere that says they only cleanse the body of meat-eaters but are harmful to vegetarians which is what I have a problem with. Non-Chinese people could go in there and read that and think it's true, then avoid foods that are good for them for no reason at all.
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#20 Old 02-14-2016, 06:17 PM
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Oh great! So *NOW* I find out that two of my favorite vegetables are bad for me! What on earth will I do?!

I know: KEEP EATING THEM, in copious amounts, as always. (Luckily, I'm science-based, not silly proverbs or old wives' tales based.)
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#21 Old 02-14-2016, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by VeggieSince88 View Post
Oh great! So *NOW* I find out that two of my favorite vegetables are bad for me! What on earth will I do?!

I know: KEEP EATING THEM, in copious amounts, as always. (Luckily, I'm science-based, not silly proverbs or old wives' tales based.)
Haha, this is my favourite answer so far. This is my reaction to it as well, I want to eat more alliums than ever.
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#22 Old 02-15-2016, 03:30 AM
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I wouldn't rule out traditional Chinese medicine at all. There may be few western scientific studies on its practices, but things like acupuncture, which used to be ridiculed by western medicine, is something covered by insurance now in the US.

It may very well be that alliums in some way help to balance out the flesh that omnis eat.
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#23 Old 02-15-2016, 03:38 AM
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the restaurant makes it seem like if you want to eat onions and garlic, then you have to eat meat.
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#24 Old 02-15-2016, 03:55 AM
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I wouldn't rule out traditional Chinese medicine at all. There may be few western scientific studies on its practices, but things like acupuncture, which used to be ridiculed by western medicine, is something covered by insurance now in the US.

It may very well be that alliums in some way help to balance out the flesh that omnis eat.
But what about where they state that garlic and onions are unhealthy for vegetarians, even though there's so many countless scientific studies that say otherwise, as they actually have great health benefits. I personally don't trust traditional Chinese medicines, the herbal stuff is okay I guess but so much extreme animal cruelty in China is for the sake of their traditional medicines. Things like bear bile farming among many others. Seeing the extreme measures they take for the sake of "traditional" medicine makes me not really trust any of it.
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#25 Old 02-15-2016, 03:56 AM
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I wouldn't rule out traditional Chinese medicine at all. There may be few western scientific studies on its practices, but things like acupuncture, which used to be ridiculed by western medicine, is something covered by insurance now in the US.

It may very well be that alliums in some way help to balance out the flesh that omnis eat.
I'm sorry, but acupuncture has as much merit as astrology. It's pseudoscience.
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#26 Old 02-15-2016, 04:13 AM
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acupuncture could at least have a placebo effect, which can be powerful.

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#27 Old 02-15-2016, 04:33 AM
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acupuncture could at least have a placebo effect, which can be powerful.
Oh, I'm certain it does. It's just that so does an empty capsule.
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#28 Old 02-15-2016, 04:43 AM
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Oh, I'm certain it does. It's just that so does an empty capsule.
partly what makes a placebo work, is the belief behind it...if a practitioner of a type of medicine(like traditional medicine) really believes it works, and there is a sort of theory behind it, then the receiver might believe it could work. That might not be the case with a chalk pill.

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#29 Old 02-15-2016, 05:00 AM
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partly what makes a placebo work, is the belief behind it...if a practitioner of a type of medicine(like traditional medicine) really believes it works, and there is a sort of theory behind it, then the receiver might believe it could work. That might not be the case with a chalk pill.
Valid point
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#30 Old 02-15-2016, 05:21 AM
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But what about where they state that garlic and onions are unhealthy for vegetarians, even though there's so many countless scientific studies that say otherwise, as they actually have great health benefits. I personally don't trust traditional Chinese medicines, the herbal stuff is okay I guess but so much extreme animal cruelty in China is for the sake of their traditional medicines. Things like bear bile farming among many others. Seeing the extreme measures they take for the sake of "traditional" medicine makes me not really trust any of it.
I don't think western medicine is very nice to animals, either. And I'm a nurse.
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