As soon as bird flu cases were reported in the city, ducks at Sanjay Lake Park and other parks were inspected/culled by health workers. (Photo: ANI)
As soon as bird flu cases were reported in the city, ducks at Sanjay Lake Park and other parks were inspected/culled by health workers. (Photo: ANI)

Bird flu scare and non veg cravings? Wary Delhiites look for safe food options

Amid Covid-19 and now Bird Flu scare, Delhiites are turning to vegetarian options to fulfil their protein requirements while ensuring they stay safe.
By Mallika Bhagat
PUBLISHED ON JAN 14, 2021 05:36 PM IST

As soon as the bird flu scare reached Delhi, the government decided to ban sale of processed and packaged chicken brought from outside the city as a precautionary measure. The poultry market in Ghazipur has been temporarily shut down, and Delhiites have of late started showing reluctance towards consuming non veg especially poultry. Although it’s reported that it’s safe to eat non vegetarian food which is cooked well, but denizens are preferring to incorporate protein in their diet, from other sources than the usual ones such as chicken and eggs.

Fitness freaks switch to soy, quinoa

“I’m aware that it’s okay to have poultry, but I’m avoiding it simply out of precaution,” says Aaditya Munjal, a Delhi-based fitness enthusiast, adding, “Since I’m bulking up these days, using winter months to gain the most of my fitness goals, I’ve moved to soy products, quinoa and amaranth. I also supplement my protein needs through chickpeas, cottage cheese, broccoli, beans, nuts and whole grains. Being a Punjabi, I love masala, so instead of non vegetarian items or eggs, I have moved to spicy fried idlis as my go-to breakfast! In fact I’ve added more dal to my lunch intake. If I can avoid chicken and eggs then I will because I don’t want bird flu to impact my immunity and make me vulnerable to coronavirus!”

Tandoori gets a veg tweak

Many Delhiites have become wary of consuming meat of late, and restaurants in Delhi-NCR have also reported a decline in their sale of their non vegetarian offerings. Delhi-based chef Nishant Choubey, suggests that one can easily indulge their craving for tandoori foods in winters with some appetising plant-based protein.

“Chicken and meat is a protein and we have some amazing vegetarian or plant based proteins which will ensure that one’s craving isn’t restricted! Soya meats have variants like soya chicken or fish or duck. It’s also being marketed as mock meat. One can cook tandoori dishes or Chinese or even Continental cuisine using these fuss-free foods. Some of the variants on offer are mock chicken wings, so even lollipops can be enjoyed in winter without compromising with your health. Even mushrooms are amazing; be it Gucchi or shiitake, the textures are meaty and very nutritious!”

Veganism is in, so is the food

Vegan diet, which has already seen a rise in the last few years, seems to have become another favourite of denizens in the absence of poultry. “I recently turned vegan, and have been receiving non-stop messages from my friends who are looking for vegan alternatives to chicken and eggs. To those who gym regularly, I’ve been suggesting healthy sources of protein such as tofu; perhaps the most well-known chicken substitute in the world,” says Shikha Gupta, a Delhi-based chartered accountant, adding, “Tofu can be used in place of almost any meat. Another incredible alternate is Seitan — this wheat meat actually mimics the look and texture of meat. Many people stay clear of potatoes, but chilli potatoes can also be an amazing option to chilli chicken.”

Don’t chicken out! Cook hygienically

Health experts confirm that the chances of getting bird flue from chicken gets eliminated if it’s cooked well. Sandhya Pandey, a Gurugram-based nutritionist, recommends mandatory hand washing before and after handling raw meat. She adds, “Ensure the chicken is cooked at a high temperature of 70 degree or above, as the virus is sensitive to heat. When you are handling raw poultry, wash it thoroughly in running water. Avoid consuming cold cuts and processed chicken like in kebabs, sausages or ready to fry chicken. Store the poultry in a clean space and separate from vegetables, to avoid any cross contamination. And chop the poultry using a separate chopping board and knife.”

Author tweets @bhagat_mallika

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