//House for sale – only strict vegetarians need apply

House for sale – only strict vegetarians need apply

Randeep Ramesh in New Delhi, Friday May 26, 2006,The Guardian

Meat eaters are being excluded from housing estates in Mumbai, long considered India's most liberal city, because of their diets. Middle-class Indians from neighbouring Gujarat and Rajasthan, strongly vegetarian states, have been attracted to Mumbai's booming economy and set up housing associations which proscribe those who succumb to the temptations of steaks, chops, sausages and kebabs.

Estate agents report that even when higher offers are made by carnivorous clients they are rejected in favour of those who do not eat meat.

Mumbai's living costs make it the most expensive city in India, with three-bedroom apartments in the suburbs costing more than £250,000.

Rejected house buyers have tried taking the housing societies that discriminate on grounds of diet to court but judges have not ruled in their favour.

In India, there is no bar to forming an association and making an apartment block, for example, exclusively Catholic or Hindu. Vegetarians say they too need segregation.

"I live in a cosmopolitan society," Jayantilal Jain, trustee of a charity group told agencies.

"But vegetarians should be given the right to admit who they want."

India has some 220 million vegetarians, the highest number in any country, and it is a deeply entrenched custom among some Hindus and strict Jains.

As a result fast food outlets such as McDonald's do not serve beef or pork in India and Kentucky Fried Chicken faced protests when it opened its newest store in Mumbai.