Kavita’s Korner – Why The Meat Ban Is Fishy!

I simply don’t get the bans. Maybe I am daft, but I don’t understand, just can’t, how forcing someone to not do something can be gainful in any which way. And specially if it concerns something as basic as food. Simply because, what we eat (or not) is a matter of personal choice, dictated by personal reasons (health, religion, caste…) – and should remain so.

Thankfully Supreme Court too thinks the same and the confusion that had resulted after the meat ban has sorted itself out. The ban didn’t affect me directly as I don’t live in Mumbai, and I am in any case going to begin my ‘self imposed’ embargo on non veg food really soon for the nine days of Navratris… but that’s something I do on my own accord, not because anyone tells me to. I don’t feel the need to explain my reason to do so (partly religious, partly a twice yearly detox) to naysayers and those who mock me for doing it, but I don’t expect anyone, even my closest friends to follow suit and turn vegetarian with me on these days. Because that’s simply unreasonable.

I actually fail to see why a particular community’s fast or religious beliefs should affect the choice of other people. Coz if we make this a practice, then given the diversity in our country, it’ll be a logistics disaster of a magnitude that even excel sheets made on super computers will find impossible to organize. Besides, aren’t there bigger issues facing us (like sanitation, medical facilities, law and order…) rather than micro managing what people eat.

Well, enough rhetoric already, let’s talk some science now. Personally, even as a nutritionist am a proponent of minimum non veg (please note not ‘no non veg’). Ideally all food groups should be well represented in our diet – that’s the basic rule of healthy eating. And for me non veg food is part of a balanced diet. If we follow what research tells us (and actually even common sense), then an exclusive diet, be it strict vegetarian/vegan or only non vegetarian is not such a good idea. And not just from the taste and variety perspective.

Nil vegetables might just pack up your gut because of lack of fibre and enzymes, and completely excluding non veg foods might besides lowering the protein quality of our diet (vegetarian sources tend to be incomplete proteins) also shortchange few other essential nutrients like iron, zinc, omega3, vitamin B 12, vitamin A, creatine, taurine etc, deficiencies of which in the long run may lead to serious health problems. There are ways to counter these issues of course, and people have been doing it successfully forever. But I personally like to keep 3/4th of my diet vegetarian with scope for about 30% non veg food. But this is a ratio that works for me… you can pick your own ratio: make it 50:50 or 80:20. Or choose to follow a 100 % vegetarian diet, with special emphasis on ensuring the missing nutrients.

We should look for balance in every sphere of life. Yes, even on our plates. In fact more so on our plates.

Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She will be contributing to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan
3 replies
  1. Rithika says:

    The idea that a vegetarian or vegan diet has incomplete proteins is a myth that has been busted a long time ago. We are meant to be herbivores (our digestive systems are similar to herbivores). There is no need to emphasize on proteins or “missing nutrients” if one is a vegetarian or vegan. I have been vegan for six and a half years now. I’m not missing any nutrition.

  2. Kavita Devgan says:

    That’s true! A vegan and a vegetarian can manage to get most of the nutrients and enough protein too (via smart combinations) but then they need to be aware of what which nutrients they need to put emphasis on , and also have access to enough good quality produce. Unfortunately, a lot of people are lacking on both these counts. I too know a lot of vegans and vegetarians who manage pretty well, and as I have mentioned in my post too – it is a personal choice and should stay so. But to make a general statement that we are meant to be herbivoires is wrong. That said, my next post is about and for vegans… do look it up. Thanks for reading and sharing your views!

  3. Rithika says:

    Well everything is a personal choice of course. I didn’t mean that to be a generalized statement because it has been proven. Anyway you can stick to your opinion and I will stick to mine. Haha

    Looking forward to your take on a vegan diet.


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