Friday, April 12, 2013


Who ever has ever imagined that the transnational companies like Pizza Hut and others will ever identify themselves with the vegetarian eating culture so predominant in India! McDonald is a company with a reputation of slaughtering 67000 cows every day of the year to satisfy the insatiable palates of American consumers for Beef! Yet these food peddlers are vying with each other to set up exclusive vegetarian vending outlets in some parts of the country, especially in the land of Mahatma Gandhi, Gujarat. It is another matter that they might not even know who Gandhi was and might not care also since their focus is improve their business at any cost. They know many Indian vegetarians are cash rich and they will not brook even preparing and serving meat based food preparations in the same place. Here is a report about this new emerging trend which provides interesting reading.

In Gujarat, global restaurant chains like Subway, KFC and McDonalds are not just experimenting with vegetarian food but also offering Jain food. In a first, American restaurant franchise Subway has opened a Jain counter at its first all-veg outlet in Ahmedabad at a location with a high density of Jain population. "We carried out a survey in Gujarat and sent a proposal to the US HQ to open an all-veg outlet with a pure Jain counter in Ahmedabad. We will now add more vegetarian items on the menu in Gujarat, which is the only state that contributes 60% of the total sales from vegetarian food," said Durlabh Singh, Subway's development agent for Gujarat and Daman-Diu. The company's first all vegetarian counter was opened at a private university in Punjab recently, after which the restaurant chain decided to experiment with the Jain cuisine for Gujarat. "We plan to open similar outlets in Vadodara, Surat, Rajkot, Anand, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar soon," said Singh. McDonalds too is working out the logistics of setting up all-vegetarian outlets in the state in a few years. When KFC entered Gujarat in November 2011 with its first restaurant, it changed its menu to include vegetarian cuisine as well. KFC plans to add five more stores in the state this year with increased vegetarian options. Pizza Hut made its Gujarat foray with its first vegetarian restaurant in the world in Ahmedabad, offering Jain food. Pizza outlet Domino's Pizza also has four restaurants in Gujarat, which offer completely vegetarian menu.

Another way of looking at this new trend is that world over there is a definite shift among consumers to go for non-meat foods on which there is a trust deficit, all making of the meat industry itself there. Repeated food contamination episodes, frequent hospitalization, periodic mortality and decreasing antibiotic sensitivity among the population do play a role in such change in consumer preference. The new development in India is indeed a welcome one and millions of vegetarians in India will look forward to taste some of the reputed products from the stables of these MNCs though questions will still remain how healthy are these products steeped in salt, sugar and saturated fat! On any given day the Udupi restaurants and Dhabhas offer more healthy and tasty alternatives to Indians. Occasional eating at these MNC joints, however will do no harm and even such irregular visits can spell significant business to the new avatars of fast foods. 

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