A new survey released by the Registrar General of India has busted the myth that the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha is predominantly vegetarian. The Sample Registration Baseline Survey reveals that as of January 2014, 71 per cent of Indians are non-vegetarians. But the number of Indians choosing a non-vegetarian diet has dropped from 75 per cent in 2004, reported Times of India.
Telangana has the highest number of non-vegetarians in the country, with 98.7 per cent of the population choosing meat and fish in their daily diet. “People in Telangana consume a lot of lamb and chicken for breakfast,” said food blogger Sabyasachi Raychaudhari to TOI.
Neighbouring Andhra Pradesh comes a close second with 98.25 per cent non-vegetarians. Together, the two states are the largest producers of egg and meat, reported Deccan Chronicle. While Andhra Pradesh produces over 1309 crore eggs and 5.27 lakh metric tonnes of meat, Telangana produces 1006 crore eggs and 4.46 lakh metric tonnes of meat. Consumption, therefore, is reflective of supply.
The data showed that 97.65 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 97 per cent in Kerala are non-vegetarians. Amongst the southern states, Karnataka had the lowest percentage of non-vegetarians with 78.9 per cent. Karnataka’s dietary preference is in line with a 2009-10 survey by the National Sample Survey’s Office which revealed that the average monthly per capita expenditure on milk and dairy products was higher than its expenditure on egg, fish and meat. It is also the only southern state that has been reluctant to include eggs in the midday meal scheme for schools, despite expert reports suggesting that eggs are of “critical importance” in states with high child malnutrition.
Significantly, the survey also reveals that across the southern states more men are non-vegetarians than women, although the difference is marginal.