The builder points out that intrigue about who they will be sharing the building with, is on top of most potential buyers’ minds.
When Meghamrita Chakraborty first came to Mumbai from Kolkata, she was in for a rude shock. Her vegetarian roommates barred her from eating her favourite meal of fish curry and rice, even in the confines of her own room. “Not only could I not cook any non-vegetarian food, I couldn’t even bring home any leftovers if I went out to dine,” says the research scholar with TISS. “The one time I did, they wouldn’t let me even wash my utensils with the kitchen soap,” she continues.
Meghamrita’s problem is shared by many meat eaters in Mumbai. Often finding a house that not only has a landlord who approves of their dietary habits, but also has understanding neighbours, is a tall order. Indeed, dietary preferences have become the new caste and class barrier, with news about flat owners refusing to sell or lease their apartments to meat eaters cropping up regularly.
A Mumbai resident on the condition of anonymity reveals that neighbours too can turn up their noses at you, if you consume non-vegetarian food. “I live in a predominantly Jain society in Borivili, and have often been made to feel very conscious of my eating preferences. This even means shutting all the windows and switching on the exhaust fans before cooking a non-veg meal, so the smell won’t waft into their houses. Those who know about our food preference, however, are even averse to eating in our house — including times like Diwali, when it’s polite to nibble on an offering.”
Arif Chunawala of Fairmont Group defends vegetarians-only buildings and apartments as the need of the hour, despite admitting that he himself is a non-vegetarian. “One must respect the sentiments of the people. It always takes two to tango and as a non-veg eating Muslim I want to set an example as well as make a good selling of my product,” he says. “The locality where my vegetarians-only building will be built has a Jain derasar, and as a businessman I’ll do things that will enhance my sale and bring me better rates.”
The builder points out that intrigue about who they will be sharing the building with, is on top of most potential buyers’ minds. “When a person buys a flat, they often ask ‘Who is my neighbour?’ When I’d put a teaser about my building in the papers last year, the maximum number of responses came from vegetarians, who prefer not having the smell of meat around the place where they have their place of worship. And I know these flats will sell faster, specifically because we’re catering to the niche of vegetarian buyers,” he shrugs.
Are you a meat-consuming vegetarian too?
Nutritionists believe that even if it’s just inadvertent, animal byproducts seep into regular vegetarians’ lives. “Often supplements and capsules have certain elements of animal byproducts in them,” reveals Tripti Gupta, lifestyle and nutrition consultant. “Even if someone is prescribed a vegetarian Omega 3 capsule, the outer mask or shell is made of gelatin, which is obtained from animal sources. Consumers often do not realise that Protein supplements they eat may also have animal sources. High protein supplements contain casein, which is vegetarian and albumin, which is again produced from eggs casein often has to be fortified with albumin to get a complete high protein supplement, these details are generally not mentioned in depth on the labels and people often unknowingly consume these products.”
Adds dietician and nutritionist Kanchan Patwardhan, “Jellies that children love consuming could contain gelatin too, which is made up of collagen. Many chocolates contain eggs, as do cakes and ice cream. These are added specially to make the product look fluffy. Many a times, people tend to consume the likes of ice creams while fasting, only because it’s made of milk, without realising it contains animal byproducts. Sometimes certain products come unmarked — no red or green dots — that tends to confuse people. It’s easy to adulterate in these situations.
Besides your regular supplements and usual suspects like cakes, Tripti says that seasoning too can be put under the scanner. “Sauces, dressings, preservatives and flavour enhancing agents, food colours have many hidden non-vegetarian elements like fish egg powder, and egg yolk. The colours used in ice creams for instance also contain elements that are not completely vegetarian.”
Besides food, Kanchan warns that these elements can be present in your cosmetic kits as well. “Sometimes creams and other body care products make use of animal fat to make skin supple and smooth. However, these are clearly mentioned as ingredients, and one needs to keep an eye out on the contents written on the bottle.”
“Right from cosmetics, shampoos, soaps and even supplements like calcium — which uses shell of fish — in many ways we are having animal product in our diets. Even butter contains animal fat. Even pastries and cakes made in certain shops uses animal lard and the fat as well. There are traces of animals that get into everyone, even if they’re vegetarians,” warns integrative and lifestyle medicine expert, Luke Coutinho.
However, he goes on to add that if one has indeed made up their mind to kick animal byproducts out of their diet, it’s an achievable target. “Say when it comes to Omega 3, instead of fish oil, you could substitute it with flax seeds and flax seed oil instead. You don’t necessarily need to get your protein from animal, as plant-based product can give you enough protein too. Seeds like sunflower, watermelon, pumpkin sesame seeds can be used. Normal plants like cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage are great sources of amino acids. There are lentils like channa and rajma that can help you get more than sufficient protein supplements, as will nuts.”
Luke works on the mantra that it’s not how much protein that gets into your body, but the quality of it that goes in. “Plant products are very powerful that way. Besides this, there are plenty vegetarian and organic cosmetics, soaps and shampoos that are available in the market. There are also many that are not tested on animals. One need merely look for them,” he concludes.
Things that contain animal byproduct
1. Omega 3 capsule
3. Sauces, food colour, preservatives
4. Body care products
With inputs from Nishtha Kanal