ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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'Will Eat Anything That Moves'

Meat Cultures in Globalising India

The singular focus on cultural aspects of food habits in India--meat eating and its associated sociocultural meanings--has rendered the debate on animal vulnerability invisible. While many countries are now seeking a way out of large-scale livestock farming and animal foods due to ecological concerns as well as animal rights, India perversely is doing the opposite.

The authors would like to thank Vijay K Nagaraj who first brought the political character of meat consumption to their notice and who also taught them the importance of attending to the political. 

In this commentary, we examine the cultural politics of meat in India. The key aim is to understand how debates around the sociocultural aspects of meat consumption have the effect of rendering invisible animal vulnerability. To the uncritical eye, India is the land of vegetarianism and sacred cows and therefore a land characterised by compassion for non-human animals. Recent headlines about India’s soaring beef exports have helped to partly problematise this impression albeit only in relation to the bovine family (Gopal 2015; Narayanan 2015; Kasturirangan, Srinivasan and Rao 2014).

This article, spurred by ongoing debates around beef, dairy and eggs, reflects on the place of animal foods and livestock animals in Indian political imaginaries (Punwani 2015; Joshi 2015; EPW 2015). In doing this, it takes these debates forward by investigating the complex character of Indian vegetarianism and unpacking its implications for animal well-being.

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