Only 20% of Indians are vegetarian, says study

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Much of the world believes that India is largely a vegetarian country where meat eaters are more the exception to the rule, but recent research shows that this is simply the biggest myth ever.

Believe it or not Punjab is not the “chicken loving” state, and the reality is that 75% of its residents are vegetarian.

While Chennai which is known as the hub of India’s “south Indian vegetarian meal”, it is actually a meat loving state where just 6% of the city’s residents are vegetarian.

If you go by three large-scale government surveys, 23% to 37% of Indians are estimated to be vegetarian, but a more realistic figure could be as low as 20% according to new research by US-based anthropologist Balmurli Natrajan and India-based economist Suraj Jacob.

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Many meat eaters hide the fact from their families or researchers because of “cultural and political pressures”. Hindus, who make up 80% of the Indian population, are major meat-eaters. Even only a third of the privileged, upper-caste Indians are vegetarian.

Higher income earners tend to be vegetarian as opposed to lower castes. Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) and tribes-people are mainly meat eaters.

Dr. Natrajan and Dr. Jacob found the extent of beef eating is much higher than claims and stereotypes suggest.

At least 7% of Indians eat beef, according to government surveys.

Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist BJP promotes vegetarianism and believes that the cow should be protected, because the country’s majority Hindu population considers them holy. More than a dozen states have already banned the slaughter of cattle.

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However, millions of Indians prefer beef over goat meat, especially in Kerala.

Dr. Natrajan and Dr. Jacob concluded that, closer to 15% of Indians – or about 180 million people – eat beef.

Delhi’s reputation for being India’s butter chicken capital is very well-deserved. It is mostly politics that is giving the world an impression of India being a vegetarian country and that meat eaters are an aberration. -CINEWS

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