Consumption of non-veg food items has risen since 2015-16, points out NFHS-5 data

Consumption of non-veg food items has risen since 2015-16, points out NFHS-5 data

Share this article Share this article
published Published on Jul 12, 2022   modified Modified on Jul 19, 2022

Is India a country where most people eat vegetarian food? The answer to this question is a bit complex. The consumption of either vegetarian or non-vegetarian food depends not just on one's personal choice but also on one’s geographical location, caste and religious background, gender and marital status. There are other determining factors as well behind a person's choice of food. 

The results of the newly released data of the fifth round of National Family Health Survey (i.e., NFHS-5) discloses the food preferences of the people of India. Published in March this year, the country-level report for NFHS-5 shows that men were ahead of women (in the age group 15-49 years) in consuming non-vegetarian food during 2019-21. Data analysis by the Inclusive Media for Change team shows that a greater proportion of men as well as women consumed non-vegetarian food during 2019-21 (on daily and weekly basis) as compared to 2015-16, when the NFHS-4 was conducted.

Frequency of consumption of non-veg. food by Indians

The NFHS-5 has found that compared to women, a higher proportion of men had 'eggs' (7.1 percent of men versus 5.2 percent of women), 'fish' (6.8 percent of men versus 5.1 percent of women), 'chicken or meat' (2.4 percent of men versus 1.4 percent of women), and 'fish, chicken or meat' (8.0 percent of men versus 5.9 percent of women) on a daily basis. Please see graph-1A.

The NFHS-4 had found that as against women, a higher proportion of men had 'eggs' (4.9 percent of men versus 4.0 percent of women), and 'chicken or meat' (1.8 percent of men versus 1.1 percent of women) on a daily basis. However, a greater proportion of women had 'fish' (5.6 percent of women versus 4.8 percent of men), and 'fish, chicken or meat' (6.1 percent of women versus 5.7 percent of men) on a daily basis in 2015-16. Kindly see graph-1B.

Source: National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21), India Report, please click here to access  

National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), India Report. please click here to access 

---

A higher proportion of men in comparison to women also consumed the above-mentioned non-vegetarian food items on a weekly or occasional basis during 2019-21. As compared to men, a higher proportion of women never had 'eggs' (28.0 percent of women vis-à-vis 15.4 percent of men), 'fish' (34.4 percent of women vis-à-vis 21.4 percent of men), 'chicken or meat' (31.5 percent of women vis-à-vis 18.3 percent of men), and 'fish, chicken or meat' (29.4 percent of women vis-à-vis 16.6 percent of men). Please refer to graph-1A. 

A similar trend was exhibited by the NFHS-4 data concerning consumption of non-vegetarian food. A higher percentage of men as compared to women ate non-vegetarian food items on a weekly and occasional basis during 2015-16. As opposed to men, a higher proportion of women never had 'eggs' (29.3 percent of women vis-à-vis 19.6 percent of men), 'fish' (35.1 percent of women vis-à-vis 27.3 percent of men), 'chicken or meat' (31.8 percent of women vis-à-vis 23.0 percent of men), and 'fish, chicken or meat' (29.9 percent of women vis-à-vis 21.6 percent of men). Kindly look at graph-1B.

However, compared to 2015-16, a lower proportion of women aged 15-49 years never had 'eggs', 'fish', 'chicken or meat', and 'fish, chicken or meat' in 2019-21. A similar trend has also been observed for men in the same age group.

The data analysis done so far indicates that the onus of avoiding the consumption of non-vegetarian food is mostly on women instead of men. This happens despite the fact that in terms of various nutritional outcomes, women lag behind men. For example, the NFHS-5 data shows that the prevalence of anaemia among women (i.e., 57.0 percent) was more than double the anaemia prevalence among men (i.e., 25.0 percent). A recent press note (please click here and here) issued by Right to Food activists and nutritionists mentions that food diversity and adequate quantities of animal source foods (ASF) are an excellent way of addressing nutritional deficiencies.

Regional variation in non-veg. consumption

The states/UTs have been categorised by NFHS-5 under six regions: North India, Central India, East India, Northeast India, West India, and South India. On average, the consumption of non-vegetarian items was the highest in the southern states/UTs and lowest in the North Indian states/UTs on a weekly basis. For example, the percentages of women and men (aged 15-49 years) consuming 'fish, chicken or meat' at least once a week in Lakshadweep were 98.7 percent and 98.4 percent, respectively. Please see the chart-1.

A cursory glance at the data from the interactive chart-1 shows that among the northern states/UTs, the percentage of men and women consuming specific non-vegetarian food items was comparatively lower (than other states/UTs in the same group) in Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

Aside from the South Indian states/UTs, the consumption of non-vegetarian items (at least once a week) was relatively high in the Northeast Indian states, followed by the East Indian states, West Indian states/UTs, and Central Indian states.

Among the western states/UTs, the percentage of men and women consuming specific non-vegetarian food items (at least once a week) was low in Gujarat in comparison to Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Goa, and Maharashtra. 

On average, West Bengal became the leader in the consumption of non-vegetarian items (at least once a week) among the eastern states.

Consumption of non-vegetarian items by religious background

The NFHS (in 2019-21 as well as 2015-16) has also provided information on the weekly consumption of non-vegetarian food by religion. For example, in 2019-21, at least once a week 'egg' consumption was the highest among Christian women (70.9 percent), followed by Muslim women (65.6 percent), Buddhist/ Neo-Buddhist women (59.6 percent), Hindu women (41.5 percent), Sikh women (13.4 percent) and Jain women (6.7 percent). On the contrary, at least once a week 'egg' consumption was the highest among Buddhist/ Neo-Buddhist men (73.6 percent), followed by Muslim men (73.2 percent), Christian men (72.7 percent), Hindu men (54.5 percent), Sikh men (29.7 percent) and Jain men (11.0 percent). Please see graph-2A.

In 2015-16, at least once a week 'egg' consumption was the highest among Christian women (64.7 percent), followed by Muslim women (59.7 percent), Buddhist/ Neo-Buddhist women (55.8 percent), Hindu women (38.0 percent), Jain women (9.7 percent) and Sikh women (9.0 percent). As against that, at least once a week 'egg' consumption was the highest among Christian men (71.5 percent), followed by Muslim men (66.5 percent), Buddhist/ Neo-Buddhist men (63.5 percent), Hindu men (46.7 percent), Sikh men (19.3 percent) and Jain men (4.4 percent). Kindly take a look at graph-2B.

 

Source: National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21), India Report, please click here to access  

National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), India Report. please click here to access 

---

Please consult the graphs-2A & 2B to get information on the weekly consumption of other non-vegetarian items by religion i.e., 'fish', 'chicken or meat', and 'fish, chicken or meat'.

Consumption of non-vegetarian items by caste background

A person’s caste background too determines his/her food habits. This has been confirmed by the two successive rounds of the NFHS. For example, the NFHS-5 shows that at least once a week 'egg' consumption was the highest among 'Scheduled Caste' (SC) women (48.4 percent), followed by 'Scheduled Tribe' (ST) women (46.4 percent), 'forward or other caste' women (45.7 percent), and 'Other Backward Class' (OBC) women (42.7 percent). At least once a week 'egg' consumption was the highest among SC men (60.8 percent), followed by 'forward or other caste' men (58.6 percent), ST men (57.1 percent), and OBC men (55.6 percent). Please consult graph-3A.

During 2015-16, at least once a week 'egg' consumption was the highest among SC women (44.5 percent), followed by 'forward or other caste' women (43.4 percent), ST women (42.4 percent), and OBC women (38.3 percent). At least once a week 'egg' consumption was the highest among SC men (52.6 percent), followed by 'forward or other caste' men (50.7 percent), ST men (50.6 percent), and OBC men (47.4 percent). Kindly take a look at graph-3B.

Source: National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21), India Report, please click here to access  

National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), India Report. please click here to access 

---

It has not always been the case that ‘forward or other caste’ women (or men) lagged behind SC or ST women (or men) when it came to the consumption of non-vegetarian items. For example, in 2019-21, at least once a week 'fish' consumption was the highest among 'forward or other caste' women (39.6 percent), followed by SC women (37.4 percent), ST women (36.0 percent), and OBC women (32.4 percent). At least once a week 'fish' consumption was the highest among 'forward or other caste' men (49.7 percent), followed by SC men (48.3 percent), ST men (45.6 percent), and OBC men (41.8 percent).

During 2015-16, at least once a week 'fish' consumption was the highest among 'forward or other caste' women (38.4 percent), followed by SC women (35.8 percent), ST women (34.3 percent), and OBC women (30.3 percent). Contrary to that, at least once a week 'fish' consumption was the highest among SC men (40.4 percent), followed by ST men (40.0 percent), 'forward or other caste' men (39.6 percent), and OBC men (36.7 percent).

Kindly consult the graphs-3A & 3B to get information on the weekly consumption of other non-vegetarian items by caste i.e., 'chicken or meat', and 'fish, chicken or meat'.

Food consumption by marital status

NFHS data shows that one’s marital status impacts the weekly consumption of non-vegetarian food items. For example, during 2019-21, at least once a week 'chicken or meat' consumption was the highest among 'never married' men (47.4 percent), followed by ‘currently married’ men (46.6 percent), ‘divorced/separated/deserted’ men (40.6 percent) and ‘widowed’ men (40.3 percent). At least once a week 'chicken or meat' consumption was the highest among ‘divorced/separated/deserted’ women (40.5 percent), followed by ‘currently married’ women (36.7 percent), ‘widowed’ women (36.2 percent), and ‘never married’ women (33.3 percent). Please see graph-4A.

During 2015-16, at least once a week 'chicken or meat' consumption was the highest among ‘never married’ men (41.2 percent), followed by ‘currently married’ men (40.3 percent), ‘divorced/separated/deserted’ men (38.1 percent), and ‘widowed’ men (33.8 percent). At least once a week 'chicken or meat' consumption was the highest among ‘divorced/separated/deserted’ women (35.1 percent), followed by ‘currently married’ women (33.0 percent), ‘never married’ women (31.3 percent), and ‘widowed’ women (31.2 percent). Kindly consult graph-4B.

Source: National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21), India Report, please click here to access  

National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), India Report. please click here to access 

---

Kindly consult the graphs-4A & 4B to get information on the weekly consumption of other non-vegetarian items by marital status i.e., 'egg', 'fish', and 'fish, chicken or meat'.

References

National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21), India Report, released in March 2022, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), please click here to access

National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16), India Report, released in December, 2017, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), please click here to access 

India Fact Sheet NFHS-5, IIPS, MoHFW, please click here to access

Report: The Politics of Protein: Examining claims about livestock, fish, ‘alternative proteins’ and sustainability, prepared by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), published in April 2022, please click here to access

Executive Summary: The Politics of Protein: Examining claims about livestock, fish, ‘alternative proteins’ and sustainability, prepared by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food), published in April 2022, please click here to access 

Infosheet: The Politics of Protein - Fake Meat in the Spotlight, published in April 2022, please click here to access 

Food fascism violates our right to food and nutrition, state eminent citizens, Statement issued by Concerned Citizens, Doctors, Nutritionists, Parents, Advocates and Researchers dated 5th May, 2022, please click here to read

NFHS Data Shows More men Eating Non-veg Than Before, Newsclick.in, 17 May, 2022, please click here to read more

 

Image Courtesy: Shutterstock.com



Related Articles

 

Write Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Video Archives

Archives

share on Facebook
Twitter
RSS
Feedback
Read Later

Contact Form

Please enter security code
      Close