Vegetarianism a growing trend: 7 kinds of vegetarians you may encounter at a restaurant – The Economic Times

By Anoothi Vishal, Posted 15 March 2015

You don’t have to brandish French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste to know that tastes in food are not just indicators of class but are, in fact, one of the ways in which social positioning is specifically contrived. We have enough examples of that all around us.

A filet mignon may have been utterly fashionable till yesterday. But today, not only is it illegal — its consumption or possession is punishable by the same jail term that Oscar Pistorius got for killing his girlfriend — in Maharashtra, but it may seem a little infra dig, too. Amaranth, quinoa, sattu and beetroot, on the other hand, are no longer the poor cousins and if you have not had even one plush dish fashioned out of these, you must be seriously deprived. The poor man’s legacy is trending, the rich man’s fashion statement may yet become the poor’s illicit/illegal protein passion. If that isn’t social churn enough, what is?

Vegetarians in restaurant-going India may have always felt somewhat ostracised for eating ‘ghaasphoos’, marginalised by menus dishing out only paneer and aloo in ten avatars each, but they now seem to be having the last laugh. The shoe is well and truly on the other food, oops, foot — and not just on the sets of Masterchef India, where they can roll out khandvi roulades with ghee and glee!

Minority in Focus

Vegetarianism is a growing trend, even in India. Despite the perception that meat-eating is an anomaly, religiously “impure” and that vegetarianism is intrinsic to our culture, fact is that 80% of the country is non-vegetarian, according to the Anthropological Survey of India. In that sense, vegetarians have always been a minority in the country. And that is quite evidently reflected in our restaurant culture too — even though, of course, different regions have fairly distinct tastes and markets. (Mumbai for instance, has a bigger veg veto than other metros)

“Almost 70-80% of our customers are non-vegetarians; this is pretty much in keeping with the national statistical average,” says chef Manu Chandra of Olive Beach, Bengaluru, Monkey Bar and The Fatty Bao.

Chef Mickey Bhoite, formerly at Le Cirque, Delhi, makes an interesting observation: “In Delhi, we had a predominantly non-vegetarian crowd, and patrons came for our high quality meats and big wines. We would sell 5-6 kg of foie gras a week (before the ban on it) and there were people coming all the way from Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chandigarh for our steak and meats! You can’t drink a Petrus, or a Romanee-Conti or a Harlan Estate with a vegetable flan or grilled-sauteed vegetables. You need good meat to enjoy these wines.”

Attention Seekers

But if the big, lifestyle restaurants have always drawn a predominantly non-vegetarian audience, things are in the process of changing. The attention today is equally on the vegetarians — with more of them splurging on eating out and perhaps more taking up the greens, in sync with global fads.

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