Hate Buster: Meat, meets fact checks India is not a ‘pure vegetarian’ nation, a fact that Hindutva goons find hard to digest

19, May 2022 | CJP Team

Claim: India is a vegetarian country

Busted: India is not a vegetarian country, it is omnivorous. India has diverse cuisine that varies from region to region, influenced by topography, caste, economic status, religion, and even gender.

According to the latest National Health and Family Survey (NFHS-5) there has been an INCREASE in the number of Indians who eat non-vegetarian food. This is likely to give indigestion to the many communal right-wing goons, who impose, often violently, their idea of a ‘pure vegetarian’ Hindutva approved diet. Certain meats are banned in various parts of India due to religious reasons as well as conservation reasons.

Despite this, new laws, such as those prohibiting beef, are used as a shield by Hindutva groups to target Muslims, Christians and Adivasis/Tribals, who are often accused of possessing, trading in and consuming banned meat… usually little evidence is offered while making the accusation.

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According to the NFHS-5, over two-third Indians (15-49 years of age) “eat non-vegetarian food daily, weekly or occasionally”.  Now, many more eat meat at least once a week across India, when compared to the data of NFHS-5 in 2015-16. As reported by Indian Express the number of Indians now eating eggs has also gone up appreciably.”

However, there is a gender tilt that is worrisome. According to this survey, there are more men eating non-vegetarian food now and fewer women. This in itself is a matter of shame as the nutritional needs of women, who have the additional biological responsibility of bearing, and breastfeeding children, seem compromised here. An “overwhelming 83.4 percent of men and 70.6 percent of women in the 15-49 age group eat non-vegetarian food daily, weekly or occasionally. That figure stood at 78.4 per cent for men and 70 per cent for women in NHFS-4,” reported Indian Express. The NFHS-5, was conducted in 2019-21, at a time when the Hindutva backed ‘India is vegetarian’ propaganda has also gathered speed.

According to Pew Research Centre, “Most Indians are not vegetarians, but majorities do follow at least some restrictions on meat in their diet.” Its 2021 report emphasises that “the majority of Indians do not describe themselves as vegetarians: When asked if they are vegetarian, 61% of Indians say “no.” (While there are many ways to define “vegetarian” in India, the survey left the definition of vegetarian up to the respondent.)”

Only 39% or four-in-ten adults in India, responded that they follow a vegetarian diet. These included “44% of Hindus. Most Sikhs (59%) identify as vegetarians, as do an overwhelming majority of Jains (92%). Muslims (8%), Christians (10%) and Buddhists (25%) are less likely to say they are vegetarians.” Even amongst those who eat non vegetarian food, many abstain on certain days, or only eat certain meats, fish or eggs.

The Pew research also revealed that eating habits differ by region and, “A majority of Hindus in the Western (57%), Central (61%) and Northern (71%) regions say they are vegetarians, but far fewer in the East (18%), Northeast (19%) and South (30%) follow a vegetarian diet. And vegetarian Hindus in the South are more likely to say they would eat in the home of a non-vegetarian neighbour or friend (67%) than are vegetarian Hindus nationally (39%).”

Image Courtesy: financialexpress.com


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