Madhya Pradesh, which has seen the BJP rule since 2003, has not been able to beat neighbouring BJP-ruled states like Gujarat and Rajasthan when it comes to ‘vegetarianism’.
There are 50.6 % people who eat vegetarian food in MP, compared to 60.9 % in Gujarat and 74.9 % in Rajasthan, according to the sample registration system (SRS) baseline survey 2014 released recently by the registrar general of India.
However, MP fared better when compared to other neighbouring BJP-ruled states. In Maharashtra, the percentage of people eating vegetarian food is 40.2 % while in Chhattisgarh their percentage is mere 17.9 %. In Uttar Pradesh, 47.1 % people eat vegetarian food.
According to the SRS survey on ‘prevalence of vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism among the population aged 15 years and above’, there are 50.6 % people who eat vegetarian food in MP, compared to 49.4 % who eat non-vegetarian food.
The data also show more women eat vegetarian food compared to men. While the percentage of women who are vegetarian is 52.3, it is 48.9 in case of men. As far as non-vegetarians are concerned, it is the men who are leading marginally. Over 51 % men eat non-vegetarian food compared to 47.7 % women.
‘Number of people eating non-vegetarian food has increased’
Nutrition experts say over the years, the number of people eating non-vegetarian food has increased. “I have been studying nutrition and dietary habits of people since 1980s. Three decades back, just 3 out of 10 people would turn out to be non-vegetarians on an average. But now it is almost the reverse. The number of people eating non-vegetarian food has increased. And I know this from my experience of dealing with food habits of people for the last over 30 years,” said Dr Amita Singh, consultant nutritionist and dietician. When asked why the number of non-vegetarians is increasing, Dr Singh said it was primarily because of the fact that more Hindus have started consuming meat.
Food security analyst Sachin Jain has a different take on the data. “It is for the first time that such data have been released by a government institution. The national and state-level data remove many notions, especially the thinking that the Sanskritisation trend might have increased the number of vegetarians in Hindu-majority India or even Hindu-majority MP.”
“The data show there is no direct correlation between non-vegetarianism and religious composition. The data from different states show it could be local cultural and geographic influences, which decide food habits,” he added.