NFHS Data Shows More men Eating Non-veg Than Before
More people, especially men, are eating non-vegetarian food in India amid the ongoing debate over the consumption of non-vegetarian food. An analysis of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data by The Indian Express shows that the proportion of Indian men who consume non-vegetarian food has gone up sharply in the six years between 2015-16 and 2019-21
According to NFHS-5, which was conducted in 2019-21, the proportion of men aged 15-49 years who have never consumed non-vegetarian food, defined as ‘fish, chicken or meat’ in the survey, stood at 16.6% in 2019-21. It shows a decrease of five percentage-point from the 21.6% of men of the same age group who never ate non-vegetarian food during NFHS-4 (2015-16).
However, the data also reveals a skew based on gender as the proportion of women in the same age group (15-49 years) who never consumed ‘fish, chicken or meat’ was 29.4% in 2019-21. This is a marginal dip from the 29.9% figure from 2015-16, the report said.
Moreover, the proportion of women who consumed non-vegetarian food on a weekly basis went up from 36.6% in 2015-16 to 39.3% 2019-2021, whereas, for men, it went up from 43.2% to 49.3% over the same period.
In total, an overwhelming 83.4% of men and 70.6% of women in the 15-49 years age group have non-vegetarian food daily, weekly, or occasionally, The Indian Express reported. Compared to this, during NHFS-4, 78.4% of men and 70% of women in the same age group consumed non-vegetarian food, the report said.
In the six-year period between 2015-16 and 2019-21, Sikkim saw the highest rise in the proportion of men who consumed fish, chicken or meat at least once a week, from 49.1% to 76.8%. The figure declined the most in Tripura, going from 94.8% to 76.1%, the report showed. Both are states belonging to North-East India.
Among religious groups, Christians accounted for the highest consumption of non-vegetarian food at least once a week, comprising 80% of men and 78% of women in the 15-49 age group. Christian men and women are followed by Muslim men and women of the same age group; 79.5% of Muslim men and 70.2% of women ate non-vegetarian food at least once a week. As per the report, the respective numbers for other religions are: Hindu men: 52.5%, women: 40.7%; Sikh men: 19.5%, women: 7.9%; Buddhist/Neo-Buddhist men: 74.1%, women: 62.2%; and Jain men 14.9%, women: 4.3%.
Further, according to the news report, the NFHS-5 shows that more people consume eggs than ‘fish, chicken or meat’ amid non-vegetarian food. While 84.7% of men reported consuming eggs daily, weekly, or occasionally during 2019-21, compared to 80.3% in 2015-16; the corresponding number stood at 72% for women, which rose from 70.8% in 2015-16.
The revelation comes amid ongoing controversy over inclusion of non-vegetarian food in mid-day meal schemes for government schools in Karnataka and Lakshadweep. Recently, civic bodies had also imposed bans on sale of meat during Ram Navami to protect 'Hindu sentiments' in Bengaluru and parts of Delhi.
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