Vegetarianism is India's curse, it must be ditched

Societally enforced vegetarianism is neither good for India's people, nor her cattle

Share
Related Topics

A well-known publisher of school textbooks in India recently released an edition that called all meat eaters lying, cheating sex-criminals. The book - aimed at 11 to 12-year-olds - has reignited one of the more controversial debates in Indian society.

In the 1890s, Mahatma Gandhi was convinced that the British were able to rule India because they were meat eaters, while the locals were vegetarian.

During the famine of 1914-17 drought stalked the villages in India. Brahmist farmers were forced to grow sugarcane and indigo even as their bellies rang hollow and the skin stretched on bare bones from hunger.

Brahmanism, a caste badge of pride, meant that they couldn’t think of the plentiful cattle as food. In a religion without strict dictates, the only commonality is an adherence to the belief that a cow is a symbolic mother not to be harmed.

So, children fell to anemia, malnutrition, miasma and marasmus. Bones turned brittle, chests caved in, nursing breasts dried. 

Hunger

And yet edible wildlife went about unmolested.  The only meat eaters in the village were the Dom folk; untouchables and outcastes. They wove baskets, cleared excrement and made leather goods.

As the upper castes shrivelled and shrunk and fell in heaps of rags and bones, the Dom thrived. 

India has the largest number of cattle in the world. All over India, the roads are infested with cows. The nation's constitution forces states to take measures to prevent the killing of cows and calves, while many have banned beef-selling in public - and in Delhi, teams of surveyors check supermarkets to make sure there's no cow meat surreptitiously on sale.

But India's cows aren’t the happy ones of myth; for the most part, they are undernourished and maltreated: bellies are bloated with plastic bags in the digestive tract while pitiful ribs stick out like a xylophone under a stretched tarp.

Those that have outlived their purpose are surreptitiously shipped out to Bangladesh on a week-long trip in trucks and trains for slaughter. The raw hide is then shipped back to India to be tanned and made into handbags and boots to be sold on high streets from Delhi to Dallas. Most shocking of all, this year, India will overtake the United States as the third largest exporter of beef.

A useless taboo

But times are changing. They must change. This year, Dalits and Muslims led a protein riot in which around 1,500 Dalits were fed beef Biryani at the event in Hyderabad. It might have been provocative, but it sent a message: we will no longer submit to archaic taboos.  

The world must move on from meaningless badges of honour. India’s professed love for the bovine might fool a few soppy westerners, but the truth is that it is nothing more than an outdated sentimental balderdash. The country's vegetarianism is a bane for both her people and her cattle.

Selective vegetarianism in the West is fashionable. It is sanctimonious. It is holier-than-thou. It is yoga for dogs and granola bars. It is a choice. On the other hand, societally enforced vegetarianism, like in India, is a curse.

And it is about time India got rid of her great taboo.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the strange case of the errant royal pronoun

Guy Keleny
Flowers and candles are placed at the site where a refrigerated truck with decomposing bodies was found by an Austrian motorway  

EU migrant crisis: The 71 people found dead in a lorry should have reached sanctuary

Charlotte Mcdonald-Gibson
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future