When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE, our very own desi chef Sanjeev Kapoor cooked up an authentic Gujarati shudh vegetarian meal for him. The Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Vikas Swarup, who seems to be on Twitter for the better part of the Prime Minister's state visits, tweeted, “Star chef @SanjeevKapoor was flown in by UAE hosts for a special vegetarian menu in honour of PM @narendramodi”.
More recently, when the Prime Minster was on a visit to Mexico, President Enrique Pena Nieto personally drove him to a local restaurant for a Mexican vegetarian dinner. “Bonding over bean tacos! President @EPN and PM@narendramodi share a meal,” Swarup tweeted, along with photos showing the two leaders chatting away while sitting at a table in the restaurant.
The world believes that India is a predominantly vegetarian country and this belief would have only been strengthened by our Prime Minister, who seems to make sure that his frequent foreign jaunts do not in any way disturb his vegetarian food regimen. Nope, no sign of non-vegetarian food when the PM is around.
Vegetarianism, it is often assumed is the norm in India, encouraged or imposed by ideologies of religion and caste.
However, a nationwide survey, conducted by the Office of Registrar General & Census Commissioner, reveals otherwise.
According to the sample registration system (SRS) baseline survey 2014 released by the registrar general of India, 71 percent of Indians over the age of 15 are non-vegetarian. The percentage of non-vegetarians across the country however has dropped from 75 percent in 2004.
The data shows that Telangana has the highest number of non-vegetarians with 98.8 percent men and 98.6 percent women enjoying their meat, fowl and fish.
Among the other states with a high non-vegetarian population are, West Bengal (98.55%) Andhra Pradesh (98.25%), Odisha (97.35%) and Kerala (97%).
Rajasthan has the highest number of vegetarians: 73.2 percent men and 76.6 percent women. Haryana follows next with 68.5 percent men and 70 percent women on a vegetarian diet. And in Punjab, 65.5 percent of the male population and 68 percent of the female population eat vegetarian food.
Here's a look at India's map showing dietary preferences across the country: