Gujarat’s cuisine has undoubtedly been affected by its geographical location. Gujarat has a 1,250-kilometer-long coastline and a long history of trading with the rest of the globe.
In the debate over non-vegetarian food stalls in the state, the truth is that tribals, fisherman from the coastal districts, and people from central Gujarat have a wide range of eating patterns. Similarly, the fertile south of Gujarat has radically different eating habits than the barren and arid north.
Several tiny princely states and territories dominated by Mughals ruled the state prior to the arrival of the British. Kolis, Bhil tribesmen, and other inhabited areas were cut off.
The numerous regimes that ran the state, on the other hand, were not all alike; they mostly focused on collecting taxes and left the people to their own devices. Gujarat, thus, was a multicultural society till the early nineteenth century.
More than 20% of Gujarati terms contain Persian and Arabic roots, for example. Gujarat no history was written in Parsi and was the state’s first chronicle.
When you ask a Gujarati what society is now, he will always refer to his caste. That is why organisations such as Patidar Samaj, Kshatriya Samaj, and others exist. Similarly, when we discuss Gujarati culinary habits or occupations, we are constantly discussing the perspectives of the upper class, primarily Brahmins and Banias, and, more lately, Patidars.
However, there are distinctions between them, such as between the Nagar Brahmins, who served as writer-advisors in the courts, and the Anavil Brahmins of South Gujarat, who were widespread tillers and were called “Khato-Pito Brahmins” because of their food and drink.
According to anthropologist KS Singh’s research, only 26% of Gujarat’s population are “pure vegetarians” – meaning they never eat eggs or meat – and the majority of people are “always” or “often” vegetarian. There’s also the reality that, although being categorised as non-vegetarians, several Gujarati populations, especially Muslims and tribals, are unable to consume meat on a regular basis.
When we talk about Gujarat and vegetarianism, we’re actually talking about a very small segment of the population whose worldview gets transferred and imposed, then spreads.
Gujarat has been influenced by both the egalitarian Bhakti and Sufi movements. Later movements such as the Swaminarayan cult, on the other hand, were Brahmanical and affected eating patterns. The Banias, or Vaishnavas, were his earliest followers. Even Mahatma Gandhi endorsed a movement that referred to the Panchmahal Bhil tribes as “backward Hindus” rather than tribals. Fishermen, for example, have been taught to feel guilty for their traditional dietary habits as a result of co-option.
Others who eat non-vegetarian cuisine see it as having a moral value, such as abstaining from meat or alcohol on “auspicious” days.
Surprisingly, a 2016 poll indicated that the number of persons in Gujarat who identified as non-vegetarian was higher than in Punjab and Haryana, both of which do not claim to be vegetarian states. Narendra Modi did not venture into this field as chief minister (in fact, he comes from a country where non-vegetarian food is not prohibited), and it is possible that this is why BJP chief CR Patil and CM Bhupendra Patel have called for action against non-vegetarian stalls along major roads in cities.