Misdirected outrage over #BeefBan: Calm down, you weren't eating it anyway
Don't waste your time and energy complaining about not having cow meat on your plate in Mumbai, you weren't eating it anyway.
Are you a resident of Mumbai, non-vegetarian in your dietary preferences and spent the bulk of your day so far outraged over the ban on beef in the state? If so, we're sorry to inform you that you've wasted your time. All the time you thought you were eating beef? Most likely you weren't, unless you were buying it from a butcher directly. Restaurants haven't been serving it for years.
The few doubts that may have persisted over what exactly is served when you order a beef steak were dispelled by Riyaaz Amlani, head of the National Restaurant Association of India, who confirmed that no restaurant that he knows in Mumbai has been serving cow or bullock meat.
"We've been eating buffalo meat for a lot of time and we (restaurants) have been only serving buffalo meat," Amlani told Firstpost.
Even the import of cow meat from markets like New Zealand were stopped a couple of years ago after the law which says that even imported cow meat can't be served in restaurants.
But he is opposed to the ban. Not because he won't be able to eat cow meat, but because he feels it hits the creativity of chefs in the city. Amlani blames the ban on ingredients for Mumbai's restaurants not being able to break into the list of the world's top restaurants.
"As a restaurateur I want to get access to all ingredients and a poverty of ingredients is already affecting our chefs. From an artistic point of view we don't want this. What will be banned next, onions and garlic?" he said.
So then should you be outraged by the President signing the law and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's tweet of celebration?
Turns out you should. As per reports, the new legislation bans the slaughter of bullocks as well, including those that have a fit-for-slaughter certificate. So now if you slaughter either a cow or a bull you stand to face five years in jail and a fine of Rs 10,000.
Slaughter of buffaloes? Untouched. The supply of the beef you are used to eating in restaurants will basically continue.
But the ban on the slaughter of bulls will have other effects.
Nawab Mallik, spokesperson of the Nationalist Congress Party, said that bullock meat has been available in Maharashtra, and in Mumbai, for years and the ban on it would hit farmers, the community that slaughters it and the poor who consume it.
"Farmers could sell off unproductive bullocks for slaughter but now they will be stuck feeding them for years until they die. Or they could just leave them and let them wander, which is something that could damage other farms," Mallik said.
Bullock meat was primarily consumed by the poor and also provided an avenue of employment for the butchers, both of whom will be hit hard, he said. According to Mallik, the only way out is if the government buys unproductive bulls from farmers.
However, he hints at a more communal angle in the news being spread that cows won't be slaughtered because the slaughter of cows had been stopped as far as back as the 1970s.
"The connection that they are seeking to make is that only Muslims eat cows but that is completely untrue. Even Christians and others consume beef from bullocks," he said.
Khalid Qureshi, the head of the Mumbai unit of a body which represents the Qureshi community that deals in beef, said that the move would only render many involved in beef trade unemployed.
"The cow is sacred to the Hindu community and we have never killed cows in Maharashtra. But when the bullock is not sacred why pass a law to ban their slaughter?" he asked, adding that it would affect those who did consume the meat from such slaughter.
However, it's unlikely that the many who are upset about the ban on beef are outraged about these factors. You should be outraged for farmers who will be saddled with unproductive animals, for butchers who could face unemployment . You should be outraged because the state is infringing on the freedom of communities to consume food of their choice. And if you're an animal rights activist you should cheer and redirect your outrage towards stopping the slaughter of chicken, pigs, goats and buffaloes.
But don't waste your time and energy complaining about not having cow and bullock meat in the restaurants of Mumbai. You weren't eating it anyway.
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