India, a famously vegetarian nation, is abandoning vegetarianism. This appear to be against the trend in many other countries, where people are turning away from meat.
According to a report on cnn.com, India is now one of the world’s fastest growing markets for chicken. Appetite for chicken, says India’s National Sample Survey Office, is growing at around 12% a year. This is faster than for any other meat type.
This is viewed as a big deal, given that India has one of the world’s lowest rates of meat consumption.
“They aren’t just eating it, they are also talking a lot more about it,” says Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal, a popular Indian food writer and consultant. “It’s cooler to talk about being a meat lover than a vegetable lover!”
She says Indians are developing new tastes because their incomes have grown. India’s economy is slowly heading in the right direction again; people are earning more, they are traveling more and are being exposed to new, international cuisines.
“There’s also a lot more food available in India these days. When I was growing up in Kolkata, food options were limited to chicken, goat meat and whatever fish was available in the Hooghly River that ran through the city. Today, I have a food delivery service that will drop off everything from tuna and salmon to sea bass. Local grocery stores stock premium quality ham and meats. And chicken — there are multiple companies selling chicken in all forms and cuts: chicken sausages, chicken nuggets, chicken salami,” she adds.
This has resulted in a big boom in business. “Business has boomed, we are growing larger and larger as the day comes,” says Perizaad Zorabian, marketing head of Zorabian chicken, a premium niche poultry business. It’s become so busy that Zorabian has put her Bollywood acting career on hold to focus on the family business.
There are many reasons Indians are turning to chicken. Top of the list is the perception that it’s healthy. People are generally more conscious about eating right and eating healthy foods – especially the younger generation, Zorabian says. Given that 100 grams of chicken gives you more protein than 100 grams of cooked lentils, many people are turning to the white meat.