one man's meat is indeed another man's poison
By Amelia Gentleman
Published: September 21, 2007
MUMBAI: Cooking chicken has become a high-security, covert operation for Shailaja Hazare, an undercover meat eater who has spent the last decade pretending to be vegetarian
so she can keep her apartment in one of Mumbai's strictly vegetarian-only residential complexes.
Her preparations are meticulous. She travels to a butcher a few kilometers from her home to avoid running into a neighbor and makes sure her purchases are disguised in layers of plastic bags and paper. She lights sandalwood, rose and jasmine incense on her doorstep to mask the smell of frying meat.
If the doorbell rings while she is eating, she clears the surfaces, retreats to her bedroom with her food and lets her vegetarian daughter open the door.
Such divisions have long been a feature of life in Mumbai, where around a third of the city is estimated to be vegetarian - because they are Jain by religion, members of the Hindu Marwari business community, or Hindus originally from northern state of Gujurat, all groups that renounce meat, fish and eggs.
"There is a lot of false publicity coming on television, saying that non-veg food is better than veg," said Mahendra Jain, a lawyer and vegetarian activist. "It's part of the process of Westernization. There are advertisements for McDonalds everywhere.
"It's like drug addiction," he continued. "You taste it, once or twice, and then you get an idea that you must have it.
"We have to fight this."
International Herald Tribune