Answer by Raakhee V. Menon;
Owing to the fact that Sanatana Dharma has no diktats when it comes to food, I think this is largely a matter of personal preference. It may be different for different people.
I, for instance, do consume non-vegetarian food in very small quantities. The quantity doesn’t matter really. What matters is the fact that I consume it. After I have eaten non-vegetarian food, I don’t chant prayers or visit the temple. I might go to the temple or chant prayers the day after, and most definitely after a bath. But not otherwise. But that’s just me.
There are people who say that devotion should be from the heart and that there are certain communities that offer meat and alcohol to the deity. That could be there. But that doesn’t mean that I need to do it too. Sanatana Dharma gives each individual the freedom to practice it the way he/she deems to be right.
There are some aspects of Sanatana Dharma that require people to have dietary restrictions… like wearing the rudraksha on your person. One needs to maintain very high levels of physical and mental purity while wearing it. Although not prohibited, it is often advised that the wearer would benefit more if they do not wear the rudraksha while consuming alcohol and non-vegetarian food. There are deep writings on all this with regard to the kundalini and chakras and all that. There are some more like this… and most of it is related to something external. An adornment. Or a change in the way of life. And so on.
But chanting prayers is something that comes from within you. As a woman, there are days when I don’t go near the prayer room or to the temple. But that does not mean I don’t pray on those days. I offer my prayers silently. I may not chant the Sahasranaama or the Ashttotharas, but I do pray. I believe that prayers are just a means to establish a connection with the Divine. And once you make that connection, all you need to do is to have a talk with that Power. That Power is the ONLY one who knows you exactly for what you are. You have nothing to hide from It. Open up your heart and soul. And just talk.
Like I said, if you don’t eat non-vegetarian food but have an unclean mind, I believe that your prayers would be much lesser heard than those chanted by a person who does eat non-vegetarian food and has a mind as pure as water 🙂 It all lies in how ‘pure’ or ‘impure’ you think yourself to be.