Beef & India

Most people outside of India know India as a nation that does not eat beef. Or that all Hindus do not eat beef. Right? Wrong! It’s not their fault. A lot of Indians themselves seem oblivious to the fact that some Indians do eat beef and that some Hindus eat beef as well. Truth is that there are Indians who eat beef and there are Indian Hindus who eat beef as well. While a vast majority of Hindus do not. While I don’t expect most foreigners to know this, it’s really a shame that Indians and non-residential Indians do not know this.

Cattle slaughter in India is a taboo subject because of the cow’s status as a sacred animal in Hinduism, the largest religion in the country. As of August 2013, 24 states/UTs have strict laws that either prohibit the slaughter of cows completely or ban killing cattle under a certain age, which make it difficult for restaurants to source, store or serve beef legally. That’s 24 states. Some States allow the slaughter of cattle with restrictions like a “fit-for-slaughter” certificate which may be issued depending on factors like age and gender of cattle, continued economic viability etc. Others completely ban cattle slaughter, while there is no restriction in a few states, most notably Kerala. I live in Kerala. Now, Many illegal slaughterhouses operate in large cities such as Chennai and Mumbai. While there are approximately 3,600 slaughterhouses operating legally in India, there are estimated to be over 30,000 illegal slaughterhouses. So even in some of the states where eating beef is banned (as well as killing cattle) there are still people eating beef. In 2013, Andhra Pradesh estimated that there were 3,100 illegal and 6 licensed slaughterhouses in the State. An investigation by a newspaper found that tens of thousands of cattle are sold annually for slaughter from a market in just one of that State’s 23 districts.

As far as I know Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim & Tripura are the 7 states where the consumption of beef has no restrictions. In some of the other states it is either prohibited completely or prohibited with some exceptions given for olde cows and producing a certificate states that the cattle is “fit for slaughter”. There are fines and even jail sentences for violating the laws. Ironically India produced 3.643 million metric tons of beef in 2012, of which 1.963 million metric tons was consumed domestically and 1.680 million metric tons was exported. India ranks 5th in the world in beef production, 7th in domestic consumption and 1st in exporting (majority of which is buffalo).So – the rest of India read that and digest the information, while I eat my beef steak!

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