South Leads The Pack In Non-Veg
A recent survey by The Hindu and CNN-IBN on the food habits of Indians has revealed that only 40% of the population are vegetarians (for the purpose of convenience, I have clubbed the eggeterian population with the vegetarian figure). The survey goes on to say that coastal states have a significantly higher percentage of non-vegetarians. Since the four southern states happen to be coastal states, the percentage of meat eaters in these states are among the highest in India. The survey also gives numbers under two units - families and individuals.
The survey confirms the widespread impression that the popular image of a vegetarian India is off the mark. The late Professor Kumar Suresh Singh analysed the data of the People of India project to show that a majority of our communities are non-vegetarians. The present survey fixes figures not only for communities but also for individuals and families.
The findings show that only 31 per cent of Indians are vegetarians. The figure is 21 per cent for families (with all vegetarian members). Another nine per cent of the population is `eggetarian,' or vegetarians who eat eggs.
Vegetarianism has a predictable pattern: women are more likely to be vegetarian than men and so are those above the age of 55. But there is no broad correspondence between age and vegetarianism. Among the young, the figure is only slightly below the national average.
The findings show that vegetarianism is a function of inherited cultural practice rather than individual belief. Religion and community matter: as many as 55 per cent of Brahmins are vegetarians. The corresponding figure for Adivasis is 12 per cent. Hindus who worship every day are more likely to be vegetarian, but the majority of all Hindus are non-vegetarian. Interestingly, eight per cent of Christians are also
Some more stats could have thrown some light on the trend in the eating patterns. Some data on the percentage of first generation non-vegetarians (converts from veg to non-veg in the last few years) would have been interesting. They could have also presented the data on the converts from non-veg to veg in the recent past. There are a bunch of people who don't get to eat non-veg at home as family norms don't permit non-veg to be cooked in their homes. These people end up eating non-veg either at a friend's place or in some restaurant. The frequency of their meat intake would help us in classifying the non-veg category so that we can get some insight about the 60%.
Finally, if the above figures are true, I would be curious to know if someone has tracked The Hindu rental classifieds over the years and whether owners are more willing to rent their place to non-vegetarians given the changing trend in food habits.