Meat, nutrition and the unpalatable politics of food


When the Rajkot Municipal Corporation in Gujarat decided to ban the sale of meat within 100 metres of schools, public places and temples last month, Irfan Yunus Khan (name changed) had to come to terms with a sudden loss of his livelihood. 

For nearly 20 years, Yunus Khan sold egg dishes in Rajkot, earning about Rs 2,000 per day. His shop was frequented by regular city folk, students and office goers.

After the municipal directive, he was forced to sell his handcart and take up a job at a manufacturing company as a helper. Here, he earns Rs 300 per day. 

Rajkot was the first of four municipalities in Gujarat, including Vadodra, Bhavnagar and then Ahmedabad, that issued verbal directives to remove outlets that sold meat and eggs from the public eye, in November. 

The Gujarat state BJP president C R Patil clarified, “No such decision will be implemented as municipal corporations, which have sought to ban, have been informed to avoid taking such decisions.” However, the damage was done and betrayed the governme...

For many political observers, the move isn’t surprising. In 2017, in the midst of a hectic election campaign, the then Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had proclaimed that Gujarat would be a ‘vegetarian’ state.

He made this announcement despite the fact that at least 40 per cent of the population of this coastal state, (including the politically numerous Koli community, traditionally engaged in fishing) consumes meat, according to the Sample Baseline Survey of 2014.

Soon after, the government passed the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill, which allows for life imprisonment for the transportation, sale or storage of beef — the most stringent sentence of its kind in the country.

Earlier this year, in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath banned the sale of meat in Mathura. Here, again, the ban came despite more than half of the state’s population consuming meat.


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