Why Dont Indians Eat Pork? What You Need To Know

India is a land of diverse cultures and religions, each with its own set of traditions and beliefs.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Indian cuisine is the absence of pork in most menus. While some regions do consume pork, it is generally not a popular meat choice.

So, why don’t Indians eat pork? Is it due to religious beliefs or cultural practices?

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this dietary preference and delve into the various religious and cultural factors that influence Indian cuisine.

Join us on this fascinating journey as we uncover the mystery behind the absence of pork in Indian cuisine.

Why Dont Indians Eat Pork?

There are several reasons why pork is not a popular meat choice in India. One of the main reasons is due to religious beliefs.

Hinduism, which is the dominant religion in India, has a strong tradition of vegetarianism. Many Hindus believe in the concept of ahimsa, which means non-violence towards all living beings. As a result, they avoid eating meat, including pork.

In addition, cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, and therefore beef is also not consumed by many Hindus. This has led to a cultural aversion to meat in general, including pork.

Islam, which is the second-largest religion in India, also prohibits the consumption of pork. This has further contributed to the absence of pork in Indian cuisine.

Another reason why pork is not popular in India is due to health concerns. Pigs are known to carry diseases and parasites that can be harmful to humans if not cooked properly. This has led to a general aversion to pork as a meat choice.

Religious Beliefs And The Taboo Around Pork

Pork is considered a taboo food in many religions, including Hinduism and Islam. In Hinduism, the concept of ahimsa, or non-violence towards all living beings, has led to a tradition of vegetarianism. As a result, meat, including pork, is not consumed by many Hindus. Additionally, cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, and beef is also avoided by many Hindus.

Islam also prohibits the consumption of pork, which has further contributed to the absence of pork in Indian cuisine. The Quran explicitly states that pork is haram, or forbidden, for Muslims to eat. This has led to a cultural aversion to pork among Indian Muslims as well.

The religious taboo around pork is not limited to India. Many other cultures and religions also prohibit or discourage the consumption of pork. For example, Jews and Seventh-day Adventists consider pork to be a forbidden food according to their dietary laws. The Rastafarian faith also has strict dietary laws that prohibit the consumption of pork.

In addition to religious reasons, there are health concerns associated with consuming pork. Pigs are known to carry diseases and parasites that can be harmful to humans if not cooked properly. This has led to a general aversion to pork as a meat choice in many cultures and societies around the world.

Cultural Practices And Dietary Preferences

Cultural practices and dietary preferences play a significant role in the food choices of Indians. Religion, tradition, and social norms all influence what people eat and how they eat it.

Hinduism, as mentioned earlier, has a strong tradition of vegetarianism. While not all Hindus are vegetarians, many follow a diet that excludes meat, including pork. This is due to the belief in ahimsa, or non-violence towards all living beings. In addition, cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, which has led to a cultural aversion to beef and meat in general.

Islam also prohibits the consumption of pork, which has further contributed to its absence in Indian cuisine. Many Muslims in India follow a halal diet, which includes specific guidelines for the preparation and consumption of meat.

Jainism takes the concept of non-violence even further by practicing strict vegetarianism and avoiding root vegetables. Fasting is also an important part of Jainism, with certain holy days calling for the elimination of green and raw vegetables.

While vegetarianism is more prevalent among Hindus and Jains, other religious groups also have dietary restrictions. Christians and Muslims may avoid certain meats or follow a halal or kosher diet respectively.

Historical And Geographical Factors Influencing Indian Cuisine

The cuisine of India is a result of extensive immigration and intermingling of cultures through many millennia, which has introduced many dietary and cultural influences. The diverse climate of India, ranging from deep tropical to alpine, has made a broad range of ingredients readily available to its many schools of cookery. The longstanding vegetarianism within sections of India’s Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities has exerted a strong influence over Indian cuisine. People who follow a strict vegetarian diet make up 20–42 percent of the population in India, while less than 30 percent are regular meat-eaters.

The ancient Hindu concept of ahimsa, a rule of conduct that prohibits the killing or injuring of living beings because violence entails negative karmic consequences, led some segments of the population to embrace vegetarianism. This practice gained more popularity following the advent of Buddhism in a cooperative climate where a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains could easily be grown throughout the year. A food classification system that categorized every item as saatvic (pure), raajsic (active and passionate) or taamsic (heavy, dull, slow, gluttonous) developed in Ayurveda; each was deemed to have a powerful effect on the body and the mind.

Later invasions from Central Asia, Arabia, the Mughal empire, and Persia had a fundamental effect on Indian cooking. The Islamic conquest of medieval India introduced such fruits as apricots, melons, peaches, and plums and rich gravies, pilafs and non-vegetarian fare such as kebabs, giving rise to Mughlai cuisine (Mughal in origin). The Mughals were great patrons of cooking; lavish dishes were prepared during the reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan. A blending of Mughlai and Telangana cuisines took place in the kitchens of the Nizams, historic rulers of Hyderabad state, resulting in the creation of Hyderabadi biryani.

The British introduced European recipes and cooking techniques like baking. Western Indian cuisine is distinguished by the geographic and historical particulars of its three main regions: Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Goa. Maharashtra’s coastal location is responsible for its fish and coconut milk-dominant cuisine. Gujarati cuisine is mostly vegetarian and has an underlying sweetness to many of its dishes due to Chinese influence. Goa acted as a major trade port and colony for Portugal, resulting in a distinctive and unique blend of Indian and Portuguese culinary elements. Goan cuisine uses pork and beef with greater frequency than other regional cuisines in India.

The Popularity Of Alternative Meat Options In India

Despite the cultural aversion to meat in India, there has been a recent surge in the popularity of alternative meat options, particularly plant-based meat products. With an average age of 29, India’s 1.3 billion population has been steadily increasing its meat consumption, and the pandemic has turned Indian consumers more health-conscious, providing a boost to plant-based meat alternatives.

According to the Good Food Institute, about 63% of Indians are likely to purchase alternative meat regularly. Plant-based meat in India is an emerging trend predominantly in full-service restaurants (FSR). At present, the market size of meat based on plants in India is very small, but in urban cities it is increasing at a faster pace. Many start-ups have entered the plant-based meat market in the past few years, selling through food service channels and online retail in India.

Jackfruits, peas, soybean and mushrooms have emerged as the favourites for the highest level of similarity with meat, in terms of taste and textures. Natural fruits, pulses and vegetables are preferred by those who understand that the closest a food can come to tasting like meat without additives and preservatives. Chefs and home cooks are looking for plant-based alternatives that are healthier and minimally-processed.

Mock meat has been gaining popularity in India with tempeh (made of fermented soya), seitan (made from wheat gluten) and soya chunks being popular meat substitutes. Raw jackfruit is also gaining popularity as its neutral flavour and stringy consistency enables cooks to create plant-based versions of shredded chicken, pulled pork and even jackfruit. However, as jackfruit is seasonal, an alternative like Veat (meat analogues out of Japanese shiitake mushroom and soy proteins) is useful in a professional kitchen.

As more people look for alternatives to meat, plant-based protein foods have been creating news with companies such as Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat hitting the headlines with their faux meat patties. These products are meant to taste like meat, be marketed to meat-eating customers, and replace some of those customers’ meat purchases.