Sunday, January 16, 2011

How many Indians are vegetarians?

While I was studying college, most of my class-mates were vegetarians. Later, while working in Bangalore, it just turned out that the majority of my colleagues in my group were vegetarians too. Whenever we went out for a team lunch, it was common to renegate the non-veggies to one side of the table by the majority vegetarian gang. A colleague who eats non-veg often comments that vegetarians should just graze on the lawn!

I have heard many of my colleagues and friends comment that the majority of Indians are vegetarians. That opinion was understandable, considering the surrounding we were in. Most of the restaurants (self-service fast food types, a.k.a Darshinis back then) were purely vegetarian. Whenever I attended any function, the food wood be vegetarian too.

I slowly learnt that my surrounding was not a true sample of this country. Though India indeed has the highest number of vegetarians in the world, the percentage of vegetarians in India is not more than 40% and is just 20% per some sources. Further, contrary to my expectations, the southern states have smaller percentage of vegetarians than the northern states (not the north-east).

Recently, at a team lunch in office, I turned out to be the only vegetarian in a group of 10. I knew that this was closer to true percentages of vegetarians in this country. However, I felt quite strange about this change. It made me wonder whether this was just a co-incidence that I was the only vegetarian in that group or whether the demography changed significantly in the last decade.


  1. welcome back; I was thinking of emailing you to start writing again :). I was missing out on your insights and observations.

  2. I thought do not say that we need to be Vegetarians or that we should not eat Non-Veg ?, i think this got added into our culture with each generation. A census of Indian culture very often does not take into account the views and habits of people in remote areas as if they did not exist. People in Villages have their own customs and people in the mainstream don't know much about them, so i would think that the elite try to propagate that their culture is 'Indian culture', these elite Vegetarians say that Vegetarian diet is better for health but they have not scientifically proved it or have not pointed to conclusive research that has proved it. Vegetarianism is a habit/culture vegetarians like but it does not make them superior in a real sense. If Vegetarianism has anything to do with the caste system in the Vedas, then well the Vedas did not preach the caste system to become something hereditary and the concept was misused and evolved into something the Vedas never envisaged. So nothing is better and each individual should follow whatever he thinks is right or he wants to as long as he does not interfere in another person's right.

  3. Thanks for your comment Karthik. Yup, I realize that the world is what it is. I observe, but I try not to preach.

  4. Good to read this because even I am a vegetarian :)

  5. Hi Sripathi,

    Liked your blog and your views on vegetarianism. People do have personal preferences and basis that they decide what they enjoy eating.

    I personally believe it has nothing to do with religion. Also health benefits associated with being veg or non veg also have lost their significance as pure, hygienic and healthy food is scarcely available irrespective of veg or non veg.

    But I must say that the increasing numbers of non vegetarians will promote food chains like KFC n Mac D which eventually results in violating norms set for the quality of Non veg being produced, procured and offered. In a long run it will also have adverse effects on balancing the ecosystem.

    I am most surprised when I see big time animal lovers crave for nonveg. :) not sure whether this is being double standard or what? Could be a mindset that don’t allow them to eat the one they love but rest are meant for eating. again I don’t understand it. If you have love for animals how can you eat them.

    Whatever it is …. I personally feel that not killing a living being (with a mind and brain) is the best thing one can do in his lifetime. Not in order to achieve good karmas, niravana etc. but to the simple humble approach of live and let live as every living being has a right to live. As simple…

  6. Hi,

    Nice read.
    Yes, even I am observing this fact, the vegetarians seem to dwindle, just 5-10 years back in places like Blore it would be hard to find a non-veg hotel, the only few were hindu-militiary ones, but now you can find one almost everywhere, even in areas like malleshwaram.


  7. Namaste, SK

    Most Indians are actually not strict vegetarians... and, we are not designed as such, nor is it "more spiritual"...

    In Divine Grace,