The sale of meat and eggs are illegal in the mountainous town of Palitana, India. It is the world’s first vegetarian city also known as one of the holiest places for Jains. It is believed that the religion Jainism’s first savior, Adinatha walked the hills.
The strict advocates of Jainism even go as far as clearing their path as they walk so that no harm is inflicted upon the insects.
Consumption of meat and eggs is not allowed in the religion but dairy is allowed despite the obvious harm it imposes on animals.
Around 200 Jain monks went on a hunger strike in 2014 threatening the government to declare the town a meat-free zone or else they’ll starve themselves to death.
Monks demanded the closure of more than 250 butcher shops and a complete ban on animal slaughter.
“Everyone in this world — whether animal or human being or a very small creature — has all been given the right to live by God,” said Virat Sagar Maharaj, a Jain monk.
“So who are we to take away that right from them? This has been written in the holy books of every religion, particularly in Jainism.”
Jainism is followed by a small minority of 5 million Indians out of the 1.3 billion population.
“Meat has always been easily available in this city, but it’s against the teaching of our religion,” says Sadhar Sagar, a Jain believer. “We always wanted a complete ban on non-vegetarian food in this holy site.”
The monks finally called off the strike after the government started considering their proposal, to the dismay of the Muslim population which accounted for 25% of the Palitana population.
The government wanted to hear other communities opinions before introducing the legislation as Muslims considered it a discriminatory regulation.
The government declared Palitana a meat-free town, putting an end to the slaughter of animals and the sale of meat and eggs in August 2014.
This regulation, as a result, upset Muslims who insisted that it was their right to consume meat.
“There are so many people living in this city, and the majority of them are non-vegetarian,” said Muslim scholar Jehangir Miyan.
“Stopping them from eating a non-vegetarian diet is a violation of their rights. We have been living in this city for decades. It is wrong to suddenly put a ban on the whole city now.”
People who worked in the meat industry also opposed the new regulation complaining about the financial difficulty it caused them.
“We have been stopped from selling anything in Palitana,” said fisherman Nishit Mehru.
“They shouldn’t have taken this one-sided decision. How will we survive if we are not allowed to sell fish? The government should not make decisions under pressure.”
Palitana is not the only place where meat is banned, it’s also illegal in the country of Bhutan where Buddhist monks are influential.
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