Maacher Jhol!


Think Indians Are Mostly Non-Vegetarian, Or Only ‘Upper Castes’ Are Otherwise? This Menu Smriti Will Change Your Views:

In fact, if we discount the smaller states (Northeast excluding Assam and Goa) and consider the rest, we are left with only three provinces across the country where the meat-eating percentage on a weekly basis is in excess of 80 per cent – West Bengal, Assam and Kerala.

It seems possible that the higher fraction of meat-eaters in UP vs. the other major northwestern states is probably largely the function of the higher fraction of Muslims.

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12 Replies to “Maacher Jhol!”

  1. “we are left with only three provinces across the country where the meat-eating percentage on a weekly basis is in excess of 80 per cent – West Bengal, Assam and Kerala.”

    I think it gets Orissa wrong. According to this image , Orissa is like 97 percent not 70 percent. And Orissa is bigger than Assam , equivalent to Kerala. Felt 70 percent is too low for such a tribal populated state.

    https://twitter.com/MrinalPande1/status/1189880064306900993

    Growing up i had so many stereotype, used to equate meat=martial-ness (Bengalis didnt count since fish is not meat) . Then found out Punjabi sikhs(the most martial) were the most vegetarian. I think diaspora Sikhs perhaps compensate for that 😛

    Also had this view that S-Indians were THE most vegetarian folks, considering their mostly lanky physique (impression gained from watching S-Indians cricketers) .

    Also whats up with total invisibility of Bengali actress in Bollywood recently. I can’t think of any decade without a bengali star , apart from the current decade. .

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  2. I think it gets Orissa wrong. According to this image , Orissa is like 97 percent not 70 percent. And Orissa is bigger than Assam , equivalent to Kerala. Felt 70 percent is too low for such a tribal populated state.

    did you read the piece? he is responding to that chart. basically it depends on if you count someone who has eaten meat in their life at all as nonveg. the above analysis focuses on people who eat meat at least once a week.

    but yeah, the number for orissa seemed off to me. otoh, it’s the most hindu of the major states….

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  3. Feel like the author is engaging in a bit of sophistry here by reframing vegetarianism as understood culturally as a kind of chastity to vegetarianism as a general pattern of consumption. The scheduled caste family that largely subsists on pulses and grains, but after a community sacrifice of a buffalo is happy to enjoy a spare shred of it, is considered a vegetarian for his purposes. Its disingenuous for him to suggest that the conversation around dietary habits was ever about quantity and frequency. As if anyone in these drawing room conversations ever thought that the common meat-eating man was sitting down to a feast of megafauna like you’d see in an asterix comic. Its about who’s clean and who isn’t.

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    1. But quantity and frequency are important. There is a world of difference between an Indian occasional-meat-eater and an White/Hispanic meat aficionado, who does indeed match the parody in the Asterix comic. The latter have constructed an entire cultural superstructure on top of their aggressive meat consumption as well.

      If all you look at is “what % of people ever consume meat,” you will miss major cultural differences.

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      1. I agree that there is difference, but at least in India who’s a vegetarian and who’s not ,is quite clear cut. I dont think even 5 percent of people in India would fall in the “aggressive meat consumption” category that way, considering the economic conditions. . So to add the superstructure of frequency on top of Indian non veg folks , will be misleading.

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  4. yeah i think this is an india vs. nonindian thing and i agree that there was an element of special pleading. BUT this analysis does highlight/bring to fore an important dynamic. nonveg lifestyle in india is qualitatively different than in the west (or even east asia).

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  5. Agree with the overall findings. India is a uniquely, predominantly vegetarian country and that cuts across region, caste and religion.

    However, they may have run into sample size issues with some of the smaller cuts. For example, the survey indicates 6.1% of Jains consume meat or fish once a week. This seems too high to me, although not impossible, but puts this number in question is the Jain-Male (3.5%) vs. Jain-Female (8.6%) stat. There is just no way that Jain females are 2.5x more non-vegetarian than Jain males. If anything I would expect it to be the other way around (for any caste or religion in India)..
    So directionally this is solid, but in terms of particular stats take them with a bit of common sense and salt.

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  6. I will posit that not just Indians, but desi people in general are a predominatly vegetarian people. If you look at the per capita meat consumption of pak or b’desh, it is almost an order of magnitude less than that of north americans or australians. (some of these numbers found on Internet may not be very accurate, but they do give a good general idea).

    It makes sense in the light of the fact that meat is usually eaten as a curry in desi meals, along side bread and rice. (as opposed to say american meal, where an entire dinner may consist of just steak).

    I guess millennia old tradition of growing grains have become ingrained in our genes. We are a predominantly carbs people.

    same goes with alcohol consumption. desi per-capita alcohol consumption doesn’t even come anywhere close to russians.

    We are a people of moderation guys . It is our buddhist roots talking, even though we may have converted to other religions. 🙂

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  7. If you look at the per capita meat consumption of pak or b’desh, it is almost an order of magnitude less than that of north americans or australians. (some of these numbers found on Internet may not be very accurate, but they do give a good general idea).

    yeah but once ppl get $ they eat meat in bangladesh and pakistan i bet. only a minority of dinner-times at my family’s house were vegetarian even when cooking traditional bengali food, though fish/seafood was more common than beef and chicken.

    i would say the breakdown of was 25% veg, 20% beef, 10% chicken and 45% seafood

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  8. UP vs. the other major northwestern states is probably largely the function of the higher fraction of Muslims.

    My opinion is meat eating increases with higher AASI and closer to the older culture.

    Muslim probably just stick to goat and beef.

    Sri Lankan villagers (80% of the country) Buddhists, Christians, Hindus also pretty much eat anything. Beef, Pork, Chicken. Though against law Wild Boar, Peacock, Turtles, Deer, Land monitor lizard (Iguana).

    Then you get stuff that does not make sense, some Hindus around the area I live dont eat Beef or Chicken, but have no issue with deer or monitor lizards. Many suburban Buddhists dont bring Beef or Pork to the house but will eat outside. When urban and suburban Buddhist go on pilgrimage to temples out of the western province (high pop density), they look around for wild boar and deer meat.

    We as in my family both Tamil and Sinhalese sides eat beef and pork. So do most of our family friends and associates, all heavily Anglicized over at least a generatiopn before my parents*. If you attended a Anglican boarding school, either eat beef or just eat rice and veggies.

    *Has changed somewhat, during the last few year among friends. age and becoming conservative ?.

    Back to eating beef as child and young adult. Beef was cheaper than chicken, before the advent of chicken factory farms. Chicken was for special occasions. Beef curry was what is called a rice puller. Helps you eat more rice.

    Now: Beef just what they give you LKR 1,000/per kg (USD 6/kg). Special cuts. 2-3 times the price and only in big urban centers.

    Typical meals
    Lunch: 500gm beef curry (2 adults and 3 kids), red rice, 1-2 veggies and greens (called mallun in SL). No choice eat every thing on the plate.
    Special lunches: Once in two months, or special visitors. Egg noodles, with veggies and chicken (or beef curry) and my mother chillie sauce. My mother did not like cooking but when needed she would do some great food.

    Dinner:
    Definetely not standard Sri Lankan. My mother did not like cooking, and she did not have “help” and didnt want help. I suspect these were her mothers* recipies and also adapted using the Daily News cookery book.
    Anyone needs the recipies will send.

    a) Stew: 2-3 little ittsy pieces of beef, potatoes, carrots cabbage. Eaten with toasted bread and butter.

    b) Soup: Veggies and lentils with beef bones. My sisters use chicken now, does not cut it for flavor, They do take half, veggies and blend. Eaten with butter* (later with margarine), toasted bread.

    c) Milk and bread. Not just milk. Powdered milk, eggs, sugar, cardamons and cloves. Dip toasted bread with butter in milk concoction.

    d) Chocolate Pudding. Yeah chocolate jello of the US, we had that for dinner. Basically powdered milk, (I think eggs) sugar, corn flour, and cocoa powder. We would get a soup plate full.

    d) Bread Pudding, All the left over bread ( 2 loaves twice a day) my mother would dry in the sun. Then one fine day it would become bread pudding for dinner. Milk, Eggs, Lemon rind chopped fine, Cloves, Cardamom, boiled and then the dried bread added and steamed.

    *There was no limit to the amount of butter (imported) we could eat at home pre mid 1970’s. We did not have a fridge. Later when the economy collapsed it wasargine and tasted bad, The in fridge was the Sisil Glacio that ran on a kerosene lamp. one of my aunts (Dulcie) had one,

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