While the implementation of the amended Maharashtra Animal Preservation Act (MAPA) has raised the hackles of meat lovers, it’s the restaurateurs that fear the repercussions the most.
“Mumbai has a big beef market and there are many people who love red meat. It is a setback for many restaurants that stand to lose their market share after this ban comes into effect, because the menu gets limited,” says head chef Rohan D’Souza of Silver Beach Café, which has outlets in Juhu and Fort.
Churchgate eatery Café Sundance, a popular destination for foodies looking for tenderloin dishes and beef burgers, imports around 100 kg of beef every month. “Red meat has the highest consumption among other meats on our menu. Even if slaughtering buffaloes is banned in Maharashtra, we are a safe bet because we import ours from an animal farm down south. The authorities need to offer more clarity on the ban,” says Sumit Nankani, who took over Café Sundance in 2012 as an owner.
Mumbai also has several communities that use beef to make some of their traditional dishes. “Minority communities including Parsis and Muslims, who buy red meat from local butchers, will find it difficult to make do without it. On the other hand, high-end restaurants who import beef from abroad will be most affected,” says Pankil Shah, co-owner of Woodside Inn, which has outlets in Colaba and Oshiwara.
Some news reports have revealed that while the slaughter of cows, bullocks and buffaloes will be banned in the state, consumption of water buffaloes’ meat (called carabeef) will be allowed, with the permission of authorities. However, some restaurateurs are unsure whether imported beef from other states will be legal.
“Buffalo slaughter, unlike cow slaughter, doesn’t hurt religious sentiments. However, if this decision holds true, it’s going to be a great challenge for chefs to retain their customer base,” said chef Viren Shah of Café Sundance.