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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
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There’s No Meat To The Vegetarianism Myth

A majority of Indians are non-vegetarians. It’s always been so.

There’s No Meat To The Vegetarianism Myth
J.S. Adhikari
There’s No Meat To The Vegetarianism Myth
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

There was a time when a red rag would enrage bulls. How the times have changed! Now, the carcass of a bull—or merely the rumour thereof—is enough to infuriate a mob to murderous frenzy and let loose communal lynching. The recent eruption in Dadri, near the capital, has forced us to rethink much that we have grown up with. Is such blinding passion engendered by religious fervour alone or is it the result of opportunistic manipulation by ruthless politicians? What is it that makes vegetarians pick up meat cleavers to terminate, with extreme prejudice, fellow human beings whose dietary preferences are different? Is India really a nation of meat-haters?

Data collected by research organisations—both governmental and voluntary—has exploded the myth that most Indians are vegetarians. A lot of people who eschew meat seem to do so chiefly because they can’t afford it. Most youngsters in cities and villages have no inhibitions about consuming mutton, fish or fowl. What can’t be denied though is that age-old “upper caste” prejudices continue to dominate popular perception. It is taken for granted that most Brahmins and Vaishyas abhor meat and stay away from it. Nothing could be more misleading. The works of Charaka and other scholars, as well as Ayurvedic texts like Bhavaprakash Nighantu, provide elaborate information about different varieties of meat. There is no dearth of references to mouth-watering meat delicacies in classical Indian literature.

A large section of the Indian population comprises non-Hindus. Muslims, Christians, Jews and Parsis are all meat-eaters. In the same category should be placed the tribal people, who are substantial, if not a majority, in many states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and in the northeastern region. Add to this the Dalits, who are conveniently,...

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