Many have expressed surprise at an earlier tweet of mine on Indian Punjab's vegetarianism

This made me realize - there is a great deal of misconception about Indian food habits

Hence a thread on Indian eating habits based on National Family Health survey 2015-2016
Many half truths and misconceptions about Indian food habits galore

a) Misconception 1 : 7 in 10 indians are non-vegetarian
b) Misconception 2 : It is only the upper castes who abstain from meat
c) Misconception 3 : Gujarat/Rajasthan are the only states where majority of people are vegetarian

d) Misconception 4 - Southern India is entirely into meat except for brahmins
Sometimes there is a political agenda to push certain misconceptions

E.g. Many on the cultural Left want to push Misconception 1 aggressively through media. While it is technically true, it ignores the low frequency of meat eating and low Per-capita consumption
There are many Indians who eat meat occasionally and whose diet is vegetarian 90% of the time by choice

Often it is claimed that the vegetarian diet is an outcome of economic hardship. That's just a load of Bulll. It is an outcome of culture, religion and is a conscious choice
So let's dig into the data

Given that large parts of the so-called meat eating population in India barely eats meat often enough, let's track a different metric -

% of population that eats fish / chicken / other meat at least once a week
Here's the all India average -

55% of Indians based on this sample eat meat fewer than once a week!
Here's how this varies by Religion -

Clearly the % is markedly different by religion. The average for Hindus+Jains+SIkhs is about 40% or a tad lower

Notice the % for Sikhs! Will surprise many
Now let's turn to caste. How does this vary by varNa so to speak

The "Forward caste" number below is not accurate as the "Other" category combines FCs and Muslims / Christians.

But nevertheless the point is - over a majority of SCs/STs/OBCs do not eat meat every week!
How does it vary by "Wealth Index" (I haven't looked into how wealth is measured)

Again - this clearly disproves the view that vegetarianism is linked somehow to poverty

In fact we see an inverted U shape - with the richest and poorest ranking low in terms of meat eating
Next let's turn to the most interesting part
Variation of meat eating by major states

First let's start with the North. Clearly we see that North India is a vegetarian land. The dominant culture is one of vegetarianism

Notice Punjab. Fewer than 1 in 10 eat meat every week
Next let's look at the West

The % of population abstaining from meat for the most part is over 80% in Gujarat and over 50% in Maharashtra
Next let's move to the South

This is the region that is characterized as "everyone except brahmins" eat meat
Far from it

Even in a state like TN, over 25% of population does not eat meat every week. That's over 10 times the brahmin pop % in the state

Kerala stands out
Now the East -

this is easily the most non-veg friendly of all parts of the country. The North East has low rates of vegetarianism

But let's look at the three large states - WB and Orissa and Assam

Here again in Orissa over 30% pop does not eat meat every week
So among the 19-20 large states we looked at - there are only 3 "large" states that have "regular non veg habits" in excess of 80% - that is West Bengal, Kerala and Assam

Just three

If your threshold is >60%, the # states goes up to 6.
So this is for the most part a vegetarian country. And hardly any other country on earth comes anywhere close

I am not passing value judgments on that. This is just a litany of facts.

Anyone who claims to the contrary is spinning the numbers to suit a certain narrative
Post-script : This thread is based on the NFHS survey of 2015-16

The survey was restricted to people aged between 15 and 49
Many have asked the question -

How will these numbers change if we restrict to "Chicken / other meat" and exclude Fish.

Then the all India % for - # Indians who eat meat at least once a week drops from

45% to 36%!

For Hindus, it drops from 41% to 32.8%
The numbers for North India remain about the same, given the low fish consumption in North

But for other parts of India, the figures change massively

Let's look one region at a time
East :
Notice the sharp drop in numbers. For West Bengal in particular
Here are the numbers for the Southern states

Notice how Kerala now bottoms the list, after having topped the meat consumption when we included fish
For the West, we don't see figures dropping much
In the North, figures were low to start with, and they do not decline by much given the low fish consumption in northern states

But the decline is significant in Delhi, Bihar and Jharkhand
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