|If you are in India, the beef is on the hoof and not on the plate. The author first went to India in 1970 and since 1992 has had a business relationship there with more than 100 visits to most parts of India. During that span of time, there has not been one incident of any digestive issue by this avid Indian food consumer.
Once, while in a buffet queue in Jaipur, a Scottish fellow and corporate board member asked why I was never ill on our frequent trips to India together. I looked at his plate which was piled high with prawns and observed we were some 1,000 miles from the ocean in the middle of the desert with very little refrigeration in between. He looked at my plate which was totally vegetarian and remarked that it looked boring. The next morning my friend was doubled over. Therefore, being a vegetarian in India was initially for health reasons and has since evolved to an easy lifestyle choice if you have mountains of chili peppers to add a bit of zest.
What is it about beef in India? In Hinduism, the cow is deeply respected and thought to be sacred. In the majority of Indian states, it is illegal to eat or possess cow meat. Moreover, it is not uncommon to see cows walking the streets with or without a friendly handler.
Others are given care and nurture by a Hindu religious person.
Many ancient and medieval Hindu texts debate the rationale for a voluntary cessation of cow slaughter and the pursuit of vegetarianism as a part of a general abstention from violence against others and killing of animals. This Hindu concept is not unlike Buddha's first precept in the pursuit of enlightenment. Therefore, historically the Hindu cow veneration became common some 2,000 years ago and 1,000 years later vegetarianism coupled with a taboo against beef became an accepted mainstream Hindu tradition. Incidentally, Buddha's first precept preceded Hinduism by 500 years. Most religions have borrowed quite a few concepts from Buddhism which is kind of a "friendly neighbor" policy.
Nonetheless, the author has traveled frequently outside of India with Hindu Indians who seek out the first steak house they can find. In actual fact, the reaction of Hindus to a juicy steak is not unlike that of many Muslims to a large glass of scotch when removed from the religious police of their home countries. By the way, alcohol consumption was another one of the five bad things in Buddha's path to enlightenment.
What has happened in India over the past several years to stamp out a voluntary abstinence of beef consumption to a total elimination of it? The ascendancy of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJP) party which was founded in 1980 began to crystallize differences between the Hindus and beef-eating Muslims in India leading to the 2002 Gujarat riots which resulted in a significant loss of both Muslim and Hindu lives. You should note that the BJP logo incorporates the lotus flower which is a cornerstone of Buddhism imagery.
The Chief Minister of Gujarat at that time, Narendra Modi, was condemned by some U.S. officials for being complicit in the riots. The current U.S. administration has backed away from this position. In fact, Modi, a Hindu and leader of the BJP, has become the Prime Minister of India.
The majority of the author's friends in India clearly support Prime Minister Modi and his brave economic development plans. On the other hand, a startling development in India's most populist state of Uttar Pradesh has occurred as a Hindu warrior-priest was chosen to be Chief Minister there by Prime Minister Modi. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is allegedly so ascetic and incorruptible that he does not use air-conditioners, sleeps on a hard mattress on the floor and only eats a piece of fruit for dinner.
Prime Minister Modi came to office three years ago seeking to create a new age of development and economic growth by minimizing any extreme Hindu agenda. However, a strong Hindu power drive by Yogi Adityanath has caused a departure from the harmony agenda which might have a profound adverse impact on India's 170 million Muslims.
In fact, Chief Minister Yogi has inspired a large group of Hindu vigilantes that seem to act with impunity to administer their own brand of violence and death to Muslims.
Yogi, who is twenty years younger than Modi, may create further division between Hindus and Muslims in this congested country.
Once again, very subtle religious differences are selected to inspire passions and instill hatred so as to differentiate people in order to galvanize sentiment for the benefit of their leaders. In the words of a famous yogi in the U.S., "When will they ever learn?"