HYDERABAD: Telangana has the highest proportion of meat-eaters in the country with almost 99% of its residents being non-vegetarians, a Registrar General of India survey of people aged 15 years and above has revealed. An almost equal percentage of men (98.8) and women (98.6) are non-vegetarians in the state.
West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Kerala follow Telangana among the states with the highest nonvegetarian population. Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana top the list of states with the highest vegetarian population. Overall, the percentage of non-vegetarians across the country has dropped from 75% in 2004 to 71% in 2014.
Experts say meat consumption in Telangana reflects traditional eating habits of the state’s people. “People in Telangana consume a lot of lamb and chicken even for breakfast,” said food blogger Sabyasachi Raychaudhuri. “…different body parts of animals such as gurda (kidney), bheja (brain), paya (trotters) among others are consumed. Many people also consume rabbits, emu and quail.” Experts say changing lifestyles could have contributed to the increase in meat consumption in the state besides religion. They add most of those surveyed could be from Hyderabad which has a high percentage of meat-eaters. Vegetarians could probably be in equal numbers in other Telangana districts.
Abundance of livestock in Telangana too contributes to higher consumption of meat in the state. The state has the second highest number of sheep, and the fourth highest poultry count in the country. Telangana produced 505 lakh metric tonnes of meat and 1,061crore eggs in 2014-15. Till November 2015, the state had produced 560 crore eggs and 264 lakh metric tonnes of meat -lamb, goat, chicken, beef and pork.
Chicken and fish are healthier with higher protein levels, but red meat is blamed for several health problems.”Red and lean meat are high on saturated fats resulting in increase in cholesterol level among people. People should have more of tandoor and grilled forms of meat,” said Hyderabad’s Continental Hospital dietician Zeenath Fathima.