Many of our readers are habituated to eating and onions and garlic and do not understand why devotees of Lord Krishna strictly avoid eating them. I have been asked this question so many times that I decided to devote an article to it.
Our reason for not taking onions and garlic is very simple. It is not at all complicated. According to the instructions very clearly given in the Bhagavad-gita, devotees of Lord Krishna are meant to eat only the remnants of food offered with love and devotion to Lord Sri Krishna.
bhuñjate te tv aghaḿ pāpā
ye pacanty ātma-kāraṇāt
“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.”
And since great acharyas such as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada have confirmed that Lord Krishna does not accept offerings containing onions and garlic, the obvious conclusion is that devotees cannot take garlic and onions because Krishna says that partaking of foods that are not acceptable is eating only sin.
The above reason is sufficient to convince the devotees to strictly avoid onions and garlic. The non-acceptability of onions and garlic is also confirmed as follows in the Manusmriti 5.5:
laśunaṁ caiva palāṇḍu abhaḳṣyāṇi
laśunam—garlic; ca—also; eva—certainly; palāṇḍu—onion; abhaḳṣyāṇi—are not eatable.
Garlic and onions are unworthy of eating.
Also in the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna advises against pungent foods such as onions and garlic:
“Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry and burning are dear to those in the mode of passion. Such foods cause distress, misery and disease.”
Further confirmation that onions and garlic are not offerable to Krishna is how bad they smell. A simple stroll through the produce section of a grocery store also can help us understand why we should not offer them to Krishna. As soon as one gets near the onions and garlic one can easily detect a strong foul aroma.
If the person who is cooking is accustomed to giving food an extra zing by adding onions and garlic, they can use hing (asafoetida) instead.
The final conclusion is that when we satisfy Krishna by offering Him foods according to His satisfaction and take as our only eatables those offered foods, we will be fully satisfied in our eating and will advance very nicely towards spiritual perfection by such sacrificial eating.