Ground Report | New Delhi: Gujarat Vegetarian State; Four municipalities in Gujarat- Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara, and Bhavnagar ordered the removal of non-vegetarian food carts from their main streets claiming that meat, fish and eggs offend religious feelings and food carts cause traffic snarls.
Later, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Gujarat chief CR Paatil said he has ordered mayors in Gujarat to not take any “coercive action” against street cart vendors selling non-vegetarian food, reported the Indian Express newspaper. However, there are no official notifications for these orders but civic officials have been orally directed to ask these roadside eateries not to sell non-vegetarion and egg items.
Various surveys over the years show that the estimated percentage of the vegetarian population is anywhere between 23% and 37%. That leaves a huge percentage of the population with non-vegetarian food habits. For instance, India’s Sample Registration System Baseline Survey 2014 found that 71 percent of the population ate non-vegetarian food. Also, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, and Jharkhand are states where the proportion of non-vegetarians is more than 97 percent.
Meat consumption in India has grown with a rise in income, as has been the case elsewhere. India consumed six million tonnes of meat in 2020, according to OECD. In this scenario, talking about Gujrat, “Removing all the stalls from a lane is not the solution but poses a serious threat to people’s livelihood,” a Delhi researcher told the Asia News.
How Gujrat Being a Vegetarian State is a Myth?
In a multicultural society like India, it could be a danger to the democracy imposing one’s ideology and taking away people’s livelihood. As per the Sample Registration Survey of 2014, Gujarat has a 40 percent meat-eating population, which is even higher than in Punjab and Rajasthan. And these are not just Muslims, Christians, and Parsis, but also OBCs, Dalits, and Tribals. (Gujarat Vegetarian State)
The east of Gujrat is a mostly tribal area. There is a wide variety among the food habits of tribals, the fisherfolk along with the coastal areas, and those in central Gujarat. According to an article by India Today, “Only about 26% of Gujarat’s population is actually “pure vegetarian” — meaning they never eat eggs or meat — and most people are better classified as “frequent vegetarians” and “frequent non-vegetarians”.
And even if the non-veg food stalls are closed due to “Unhygienic, Traffic Obstruction” reasons, a proper warning should be given. Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel has, however, clarified that the BJP-ruled government in the state has no issues with the different food habits of people.