Vegetarianism vs Meat Eating – Indians Must Develop Food Tolerances

by Ella

In India, a country renowned for its diverse culinary traditions, the debate between vegetarianism and meat-eating has been a longstanding one. Recent events, such as the designation of specific tables for vegetarian diners at IIT-Bombay’s common canteen, have ignited discussions around food choices and inclusivity.

According to the 2014 Sample Registration System Baseline Survey, approximately 71% of Indians follow a non-vegetarian diet, while 30% adhere to a strict vegetarian diet. This data underscores the reality that a significant portion of the Indian population consumes meat.


In the case of IIT-Bombay, the decision to allocate tables for vegetarian diners sparked controversy due to concerns over health and potential discomfort among students who encounter non-vegetarian food. This move reflects a broader trend in India, where some people use separate cooking utensils and cutlery for vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals, and others meticulously curate guest lists to ensure compatibility with their dietary choices.


Food preferences are deeply intertwined with cultural, geographical, and environmental factors. Different regions and climates have historically shaped the dietary habits of populations. For instance, in regions with harsh conditions like Iceland, meat becomes a dietary necessity due to the limited availability of crops. In contrast, areas with abundant fruit and vegetable growth, such as India, offer a wide array of food choices.


Cultural and individual preferences for vegetarian or non-vegetarian diets are deeply ingrained. While vegetarians derive their protein from plant-based sources, omnivores often rely on meat for their protein intake. Abruptly changing one’s dietary habits can lead to physical discomfort and health issues, as the body needs time to adapt to different protein levels.


The debate between vegetarianism and meat-eating should not lead to cultural intolerance or segregation. Instances of segregating eating areas or imposing dietary restrictions can create divisions within society. For example, municipal authorities in some Indian cities have issued orders to remove non-vegetarian food carts from public view, citing religious sentiments and traffic concerns. Such regulations promote an atmosphere of intolerance.

In a global context, Indian leaders frequently engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds, including those with different dietary preferences. The ability to dine harmoniously with people of varied food choices is essential for fostering diplomatic relationships and collaboration. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has demonstrated this openness by comfortably sharing meals with world leaders, regardless of their dietary habits.

As Indians interact with the international community, adapting to non-vegetarian dining situations becomes necessary. Requesting separate tables or dividing participants based on dietary choices can hinder interactions and collaboration. An open and inclusive approach is essential for embracing diversity and enriching collective experiences.

In conclusion, India’s rich culinary diversity should be celebrated, and individuals should be free to choose their dietary preferences without judgment or mockery. In an inclusive society, respecting different food choices is paramount, fostering unity, and promoting acceptance among all citizens.



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