By Arun Kumar Shrivastav
A key feature of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent foreign trips was the vegetarian meals served in state banquets organized to mark his presence.
On June 22, the White House organized a dinner that 400 guests attended. The three-course menu was simple and vegan. The starter was a salad of seasonal veggies with marinated millets and the main course a creamy saffron-infused risotto, flankedby stuffed Portobello mushrooms – an Italian delicacy. Cardamom-infused strawberry shortcake topped with coconut whipped cream made for the dessert. All the creams and cheese were made from plant-based milk. For those who can’t resist, fish was an optional dish available on request.
The France and UAE sojourn were also strictly vegetarian. The details of menu at the French state dinner hosted at Louvre Museum in Paris were not out in the public, except that the thread used to tie it was the Indian tricolour, not the colours of the French national flag. The UAE dinner was a tameraffair, and a strictly vegetarian one. It was statedon the menu that no meat or egg substance was used to prepare the food, and the oils used were all plant derived.
In India, PM Modi’s vegan meals during his foreign visits did not make much news. But globally, he stands with influential people who’ve junked meat and animal-based foods. Former tennis star Serena Williams and climate activist Greta Thunberg are vegans. There is a long list of celebs and politicians who are vegans. For example, Amitabh Bachchan is a vegetarianwhileShahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan are vegan. ViratKohli is a vegetarian except for his weakness for eggs.
PM Modi may not speak English fluently and it’s was bluntly pointed out on social media by the zealous Indian elites. But, he has cultivated his personality carefully to stand with the international elites who shake the world in their respective fields without deriving their protein from fish or chicken.
English is a huge qualification in India. It’s the key to professional success. The better you write and speak English, the greater opportunities await youin professional and social networks. Can vegetarianism counter it?
Modi has an image of vegan foods habits, and now that India is increasingly becoming important at the global stage, his vegan credentials is sure to strike a chord in relevant circles. On the one hand, there is something common between him and superstar ShahrukhKhan.On the other hand, he may emerge as the new champion of the growing tribe of climate activists who think climate justice is just not possible until we protect animals and their rights.
In a world where Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of manipulating US Presidential elections and ensuring the victory of Donald Trump in 2016 and where Bihar election strategies are drawn based on dalit population data provided by a UK-based Research organization, can Indian elections be expected to be entirely without foreign intervention? From sabotage to interference to influencing, Indian elections are susceptible to vulnerabilities and possibilities.
International celebrities, aware of the premium vegetarianism enjoys today, are extremely careful. Many don’t publicly eat meats and animal-based milk and cheese dishes, even though they might in their homes’ privacy.Among the Indian opposition politicians, Nitish Kumar is known to be a vegetarian, while Mamta Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi, the two other formidable prime ministerial candidates, are non-vegetarians. Mamata Banerjee is, however, often seen snacking on tea and fritters like ordinary Bengalis. In contrast, Rahul Gandhi, like a typical digital nomad, can do with a butter chicken on a roadside eatery.
The followers of vegan diet list many benefits, including it being less on carbon footprint, healthier, and more ethical. Animal-based foodsare easily accessible and cheap.They are the source of high-quality protein to the masses, especially for people experiencing poverty. A country like India can only stop non-veg food by risking mass-scale malnutrition and loss of employment to millions.
Given this, vegetarianism is only an individual choice. But in the developed world, food choices are gradually shifting towards vegetarianism. It’s more because of the alarming rate at which the forests are disappearing, glaciers are melting, and animal species are endangered.
And, the issue of cruelty to animals has to be addressed, too. Viral pictures of animal sacrificesfromBangladeshare disgusting to say the least. When the UAE government can pay heed to the sentiments of vegetarians in the manner it showed during Modi’s several visits over the years, can Bangladesh citizens be more discreet, if not the champions of the new world where nature and animals are loved?
For the record, Shahrukh Khan is not only a vegan but also someone who invests in making the world a fair place for the animals. He is an investor in a startup that manufactures plant-based meat!(IPA Service)