Vegetarianism In India

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Ever wonder why so many people of Indian descent abstain from eating meat? In a recent study, it was discovered that 40% of the Indian population prefer a vegetarian diet to one with beef or other meats.

They’re so adamant about this that the McDonald’s restaurants in India feature only chicken and fish on their menu. McDonald’s, by the way, serves more than 3/4 of the population across the globe!

So why do people in India focus on vegetarian diets?  Is it a religious preference? Or a certain health value in removing meat from one’s diet? It turns out that there are many factors contributing to the overwhelming prevalence of vegetarianism in India.  Here are some insights about vegetarianism, and why so many Indians prefer this type of diet:

Influences On Indian Vegetarianism

Religion

The primary influence of Indians choosing a predominantly vegetarian diet is based in their religious background and influence. Specifically, the tenets found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, which Indian people embrace, advises against the use of pork or beef in the diet.

Economics

Another big reason Indian people prefer to abstain from meat is the fact that it is more economical to eat vegetables and fruits than to purchase meat products.

Social Pressure

Believe it or not, it is fashionable for people of Indian descent to say they are vegetarians. It gives them a sense of being in the “modern culture” or the group of people who pay special attention to their health and overall well-being. For many, it becomes a way of life, and one in which they take great pride.

Political Lobbyists

The Animal Rights movement in India is very popular now and PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in India is vocal in their stance of fair treatment of animals in many circles, including the food industry. This active lobbyist group helps shape the culture and way of life of Indian people and creates a sense of morality against the eating of beef and pork.

Corporations

In addition to the other factors, Indians prefer non-meat meals because vegetable products are valuable sources of new product ideas, such as toothpaste, ice cream, skin care products, and soap, to name a few. Even big brands have joined this idea. An example is Colgate Corporation, which now carries the logo in India: “always 100% vegetarian.”

History

Finally, some of the motivation for Indian people being of “the vegetarian persuasion” is their history going back to 300 B.C., which featured an edict from Article 51A of the Indian Constitution in which it demanded that citizens of India respected all living creatures and did not kill anything for the purpose of eating or pleasure.

Climate Change

A rare fact to add to this is that there is some evidence that an increase in vegetarian-based diets has a positive influence on climate change. Through increased use of plants over animals, there is more a tendency for farmers to grow more produce, resulting in an overall healthier soil, atmosphere and climate in the long run.

Steeped in tradition, religion, and corporate pressure from several sides, the Indian people choose to be vegetarians for a number of reasons, most originating from a deep-seated desire to follow the cultural mores set forth by their forefathers of long ago, and to honor their religious beliefs and traditions. There is also pressure from corporations for the reasons explained above. In addition to all of these reasons though, Indian people eat primarily vegetarian meals because research has shown it to be healthier than traditional meals composed of fat, high carbohydrate intake, and red meat. While most medical professionals would agree that some meat is healthy, providing valuable iron and protein, there is also evidence to conclude that a steady diet of fat, cholesterol, carbs, and sugars will only result in decreased health and increased risk to your overall being.