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Many young people in India pretend to be vegetarian

 We asked young Indians why they lied to be vegetarians? Last year, when the Indian Burger King’s new menu quickly became popular because it offered burgers with a unit price of about 50 to 70 rupees, Shiluti found that she was also eager to enjoy a chicken burger that met her budget and taste. "When I was in graduate school a year ago, I didn't have any hesitation before ordering burgers or fried chicken nuggets," she said. She asked not to reveal her last name because she did not want her peers to discover the moral dilemma she faced with food.


Before people are vegetarian, eat meat secretly


Recently, this 22-year-old from the outskirts of Mathura, a city in northern India, came to the metropolis of Mumbai to work in fashion design. "But nowadays, whenever I interact with my peers, I worry that I will be rejected (because of eating meat), because they all seem to lead a very ecologically conscious life," Shiluti said: "But by socializing By showing my vegan diet in the media, I not only found a social foothold in the company, but also felt that this lifestyle has made me recognized and appreciated, which I have never experienced before."


"However, after spending nearly half a year with friends in my new social circle, I realized that many people are pretending to be a vegetarian lifestyle. I know interns and artists who pretend to be (vegetarian) every day. I have met A health columnist, she writes about her vegetarian lifestyle for a famous magazine, but she often eats meat in reality." Nowadays, Shiluti avoids ordering meat when dining with friends or colleagues, "but on weekends. When I was alone in the apartment, a large portion of grilled chicken and curry fried shrimp were my favorites."


Pretending to be a vegetarian has been around for a long time


The global enthusiasm for plant-based diets and more and more studies emphasizing the benefits of vegetarianism on human health and animal welfare have largely promoted the vegetarian revolution in big cities in India. India is often hailed as the vegetarian capital of the world, but contrary to this popular belief, social and psychological complexity points to the other side.


“Only about 20% of Indians are vegetarians, which is far below the percentage implied by common sayings or stereotypes,” an anthropologist Natrayan and economist Jacobs published in 2018 widely spread. Wrote in his research paper. They said: "Although it is no longer so popular in Indian cities to view this from a holy perspective, the act of eating chicken (or any other kind of meat) highlights the long-standing struggle between secular and religious: this can clearly become An action to resist religious conservatism and weaken the rule of the caste system."



 

The study also shows that the custom of pretending to be vegetarian can be traced back to previous generations; the paper records that “people try to say less about the fact that they eat meat, especially beef, and exaggerate their vegetarian behavior”, and “more Many men do not eat at home, and they are less likely to be morally condemned than women.” The author urged people to participate in investigations on whether they lied about food options on social networking sites, and explain the reasons behind the lies. Thirty-one people answered anonymously, saying that they did so to avoid conflicts in the value system, to maintain their status in society, or to avoid being expelled from their religious groups.


"Green Guilt" and Free Choice


Such hypocritical routines can also be observed in the United Kingdom and other countries. A survey found that more than 6 million British people admitted to pretending to be vegetarians. At the same time, India is entering an era of "performance environmentalism" in which social and cultural trends draw people's attention to issues such as climate change and force them to consider the impact of their actions. This allows more people to use white lies to deal with their inner "green guilt" instead of participating in a greater movement aimed at bringing real change.


"We live in a world where words such as'global warming,' carbon footprint,'pollution and' extinction can be seen everywhere," said Bavan, who has 36,000 followers on Youtube and calls himself a "vegetarian traveler": "I lie Call it a vegan because people definitely want to see more content with vegetarianism as the core from me, which is very attractive on social media."



 

However, in addition to social recognition and "green guilt" in India, there are some social and psychological forces that seem to drive people to be dishonest, and these forces are playing a greater role. The dietary norms contained in Indian religious culture have given birth to a new generation of "fake vegetarians"-when they are with their family and even friends, they indulge in vegetarianism or vegetarianism prescribed by their religion, but When they are alone, they are addicted to meat eating again.



Abinaf, 23, grew up in a conservative Hindu family in Mumbai. He and his sister have been told since childhood that cruelty to animals is an unholy cruel act driven by consumerism. This way of life is instilled in them, not out of their own choice. Soon after he started working out in college, he didn't want to live a vegetarian life anymore. "I started eating chicken rolls when I was 20, and I was convinced that I needed animal protein to maintain my hard training," he said. "Then I expanded to milk, eggs and occasionally eat sausages on pizza." He has been to his parents for many years. Lie: "I don't think there is any problem with this. I want to experience everything I want, and then adapt to a culture that makes me feel truly in line with my values."


Kumari, a behavioral and cognitive psychologist at the Institute of Human Behavior and Joint Science in India, believes that the rise of pretending to be vegetarian is a rebellion against Indian conservatism. “Young people connect with a vast world of ideas and experiences through social media. Opening up and exploring different cultures is the key to developing a secular personality,” she said. “At the same time, speak up for individuals and stand up for things that are contrary to religious beliefs. It is regarded as disrespect and ridicule of the social system. This is the primary reason why many people decide to hide their choice or lie to their families."

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