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

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A Carnivorous Species

This is with reference to the commentary “‘Will Eat Anything That Moves’: Meat Cultures in Globalising India” by Krithika Srinivasan and Smitha Rao (EPW, 26 September 2015). The common perception about India as a vegetarian nation is indeed highly exaggerated. It has been aptly pointed out that the animal becomes a pawn in cultural and religious politics. Historically, society’s love–hate relationship with animals has been predominantly determined by economic compulsions, ecological imperatives and health aspects. To lend some sort of credibility to the tenets of such relationships religious beliefs are often roped in.

Human societies have moved through three major historical eras: hunter–gatherer, peasant–agricultural, and industrialised societies. Each transition entailed profound changes in diet habits. The diet of hunter–gatherer societies was basically based on animal protein available in meat and milk. In fact, this has been the human pattern of diet for at least as long as we have been on this earth. Hence, we are a passionately carnivorous species. Subsequently, expansion of agriculture resulted in shifting of food habits towards a carbohydrate-rich diet, in spite of a strong preference for meat. But consumption of more carbohydrates relative to animal protein, having high biological value, is causing accumulation of body fat leading to obesity, accelerating puberty in women and reducing the infertile period during lactation. Still, votaries of vegetarianism, motivated by toxic religious fundamentalism and ideology, are propagating against consumption of animal proteins, especially meat and red meat in particular.

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