It is a misconception to think that India was vegetarian in ancient times. India was very much a meat eating country. It was Asoka who led the wave of vegetarianism by converting millions of people to Buddhism and in taking the position that Buddha’s compassion was all-encompassing and also extended to animals. He himself gave up the greatest sport of kings–hunting and became a vegetarian. It is curious that Buddha himself was not a doctrinaire vegetarian–he is known to have eaten meat when he received it in alms.  As India became Buddhist, more people turned to vegetarian diet.  But today, the tide seems to be turning.