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<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/29/business/worldbusiness/29FAST.html?8hpib" target="_blank">NY Times article on vegetarian fast food in India (including McDonalds)</a><br><br><br><br>
Separate vegetarian kitchen in McDonalds!<br><br><br><br>
All non-veg cooks in McDonalds forbidden to enter veg kitchen without showering!<br><br><br><br>
A paradise for vegs.<br><br><br><br>
Full article:<br><br>
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Tastes of India in U.S. Wrappers<br><br>
By SARITHA RAI<br><br><br><br>
OMBAY In Lokhandwala, a prosperous Bombay suburb, Ashok Narayanan and his wife, Rathi, like to step out in the evening for a "slice of America."<br><br><br><br>
Their first stop is the brightly lighted McDonald's, where their two children Karan, 9, and Kavya, 7 jostle with other youngsters at the counters as uniformed employees serve up burgers and fries from an open kitchen.<br><br><br><br>
Then, with their sated kids in tow, Ashok, a commodity broker, and Rathi, a feng-shui practitioner, walk around the corner to a Subway outlet and order salads and footlong sandwiches for themselves.<br><br><br><br>
American fast food chains are all but reinventing themselves for India, hoping to escape being tarred as unhealthy and uncool, as they have been elsewhere. Fast food is growing rapidly in and around India's major cities, and the two best-known American chains here, McDonald's and Subway, are bidding to dominate the Indian market by tailoring their menus to local tastes. Their offerings here, liberally flavored with Indian spices, bear little resemblance to the American originals, and their networks are poised for rapid expansion in India despite the war in Iraq and the slump in the global economy.<br><br><br><br>
The battle is particularly interesting in and around Bombay, India's financial capital and its largest fast food market, where competing outlets are often a few feet apart.<br><br><br><br>
Here McDonald's, the world's biggest purveyor of beef, does not sell its iconic Big Mac or any other beef hamburger. Subway's roster of made-to-order sandwiches here features subs like the Paneer Tikka (spicy cottage cheese), the Seekh Kebab (lamb) and the Chicken Tikka (spiced chicken).<br><br><br><br>
Like American fast food in the 1950's, the Indian industry is fragmented, with a few sizable national chains, hundreds of small regional players and thousands of mom-and-pop operations. The part of the industry that is measurable by market research consultants the big players is growing by 40 percent a year and is expected to reach $1.27 billion in sales by 2005, according to KSA Technopak, the Indian unit of Kurt Salmon Associates, an American retail consulting firm.<br><br><br><br>
The arithmetic is cheering for the fast food companies. "With the number of working households growing, and income levels increasing, a fast food revolution is around the corner," said Manpreet Gulri, the owner of the first Indian Subway franchise, in New Delhi. All Subway outlets in the country are owned by franchisees.<br><br><br><br>
McDonald's was one of the first foreign chains into the country, opening a store in 1996 in the Victoria Terminus, an immense 1880's railway terminal in Bombay. At first, the store had lines up to a mile long, with hundreds of people elbowing each other to order a burger and fries. Additional outlets did well, too. But the crowds evaporated two years later when right-wing Hindu groups attacked one McDonald's store over accusations that, while there was no beef in its burgers, beef tallow had been used in cooking. McDonald's responded with signs outside all its Indian outlets saying "No beef or beef products sold here," but the public relations injury has taken a while to heal.<br><br><br><br>
McDonald's has made itself extra-sensitive in the Indian market since then, and the results are beginning to show. Its mayonnaise is made without eggs. All stores maintain two separate burger-cooking lines, one vegetarian and one not. Workers in the vegetarian section wear green aprons, and workers from the nonvegetarian section are forbidden to cross over without showering first.<br><br><br><br>
McDonald's has created a whole new vegetarian repertory for India: Pizza McPuff; McAloo Tikki (a spiced-potato burger); Paneer Salsa McWrap; and even a Crispy Chinese burger, capitalizing on the great popularity of Chinese food in India.<br><br><br><br>
Some of the new recipes developed in McDonald's Indian kitchens are even being used abroad. "We are exporting our Indian product lines like McWrap and McPuff to Europe and the United States," said Amit Jatia, chief executive of one of McDonald's two joint ventures here. Mr. Jatia, whose company owns and operated outlets in western India, including Bombay, is himself a committed vegetarian, as are many Indian Hindus, though their religion does not forbid consumption of all meats.<br><br><br><br>
McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is planning to expand rapidly in Bombay and other Indian cities, adding 32 stores in 2003 to its existing 48. While that is not much by the company's global standards it has more than 31,000 restaurants around the world India is one of its most promising new markets.<br><br><br><br>
Subway, which recently replaced McDonald's as the chain with the most outlets in the United States, came to India only in 2001, but it is already challenging McDonald's for dominance. The company, based in Wilton, Conn., expects India to be its largest and fastest-growing market outside North America.<br><br><br><br>
"For Subway, the sky is the limit in India," said Mr. Gulri, the New Delhi franchisee, who is a graduate of the London School of Economics.<br><br><br><br>
The company has six outlets open in Delhi and two in Bombay, including the Lokhandwala store favored by the Narayanans, and franchise agreements for 23 more; it hopes for 200 stores in India by 2007.<br><br><br><br>
One important difference between the American and Indian fast food markets is demographic. Even though the chains' prices here are much lower than in developed countries, American fast food, or for that matter almost any restaurant meal, is a luxury that only an affluent minority of India's one billion people can afford.<br><br><br><br>
"In Jakarta, the frequency of eating out is three or four times a month, compared with Bombay, where it is once a month," said Mr. Jatia, who earned a master's degree in business in the United States.<br><br><br><br>
Even so, the American fast food chains have managed to open a difficult marketing door. Western food companies have often been stymied by Indians' preference for spicy fare; Kellogg's, for example, has struggled to make corn flakes appeal to middle-class Indians who were brought up eating parathas (Indian bread with spicy filling) or masala dosas (crepes with spicy accompaniments) for breakfast. But Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Domino's Pizza have followed McDonald's and Subway here, and are working to standardize quality and spice up their menus to suit Indian tastes.<br><br><br><br>
Both McDonald's and Subway are betting that at least at the top of the disposable-income pyramid, India is moving their way. "The tastes of the urban, upwardly mobile Indian is evolving," said Sapna Nayak, food analyst at Rabobank India, "and more Indians are looking to eat out and experiment."<br><br><br><br>
With affluent families turning to a meal out as an alternative to in-home socializing, Ms. Nayak said that even a small niche in such a big country can be very attractive. "The potential Indian customer base for a McDonald's or a Subway is larger than the size of entire developed countries," she said.<br><br><br><br>
Because the target market here includes many of India's most sophisticated consumers, the healthy-eating marketing war that Subway and McDonald's have waged in the West has appeared here, too. Subway says it is winning the argument: "The gap between us and our competitors in the Western informal eating-out segment is vast," said Rajan Nanda, who owns the Subway store in Lokhandwala.<br><br><br><br>
For its part, McDonald's says that Indians are voting for the Golden Arches with their feet. More than two million people are served in its 16 outlets in Bombay every month, the company says. "Most new shopping malls clamor to have us," Mr. Jatia said.<br><br><br><br>
Much of McDonald's effort has been devoted to building a local supply chain to support its stores here, including measures to keep produce fresh given India's tropical heat and sometimes-iffy electric power supply. Some 95 percent of its ingredients are now bought locally. With new stores to come in high-traffic locations like train stations and highway rest areas, McDonald's hopes its Indian operations will reach breakeven in 2004.<br><br><br><br>
"There is excitement and optimism in the Indian fast food market," said Dipankar Halder, associate director of KSA Technopak. "Indians' adoption rate to new products and services, whether cellphones or burgers, is phenomenal."<br><br><br><br>
That is an attractive feature in a market that may have as many as 100 million potential fast-food customers, according to some studies. "As the saying goes, if you are not manufacturing in China or selling in India, you are as good as finished," Mr. Halder said.<br><br><br><br>
The evidence is everywhere in cities like Bombay, where fashionable young adults throng the malls, and the fast food outlets offer a bit of variety, luxury and fun for adventurous Indians like the Narayanans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It is a veg paradise compared to the USA, at least.<br><br><br><br>
Not fully veg but extremely veg friendly.
 

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That's pretty interesting.<br><br><br><br>
says a lot about the restaurant industry and what they're willing to do
 

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I'm not sure that it is even a comparatively veg paradise. I can find acceptable vegan food in almost any city or town in the U.S. (definitely more difficult in some regions, admittedly) while I found almost none in India.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Vegan food? It is difficult to escape milk-based foods in India since almost all of the foods have various amount of ghee (clarified butter). The only good place to find vegan food is in South India where there are plenty of rice-based dishes without ghee available.<br><br><br><br>
I agree that the USA is a great place for vegan food. For lacto-vegetarian food, no other place comes close to India.<br><br><br><br>
Let me put it this way. Every time I travel to India, I stop worrying about getting vegetarian food. EVERYWHERE I go, I am surrounded by vegs and I know that the variety of veg foods FAR exceeds the variety of non-veg foods. Do you have any idea what that feels like? It's so liberating.
 

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it would be nice to go to india just to get away from all those racists and bigots in the US that correlate vegetarianism with wild-eyed lunatics simply because most of the world's vegetarians are brown-skinned and black-haired "savages" from the indian subcontinent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by stonecrest</i><br><br><b>it would be nice to go to india just to get away from all those racists and bigots in the US that correlate vegetarianism with wild-eyed lunatics simply because most of the world's vegetarians are brown-skinned and black-haired "savages" from the indian subcontinent.</b></div>
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Yep that's another good reason, too. Thanks for seeing it that way, stonecrest.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Rushabh</i><br><br><b>Yep that's another good reason, too. Thanks for seeing it that way, stonecrest.</b></div>
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<br><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":rolleyes:">
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by stonecrest</i><br><br><b><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":rolleyes:"></b></div>
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Why are you rolling your eyes at my sarcasm? What, you have trouble detecting sarcasm?<br><br><br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/rolleyes.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":rolleyes:">
 

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I'm guessing that Hindu Indians wouldn't be dragging the calves away from the mother and stuffing them into veal pens, so I doubt I'd have a problem with local dairy products in India... as long as I know they are definitely from Hindu sources...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by shewolf</i><br><br><b>I'm guessing that Hindu Indians wouldn't be dragging the calves away from the mother and stuffing them into veal pens, so I doubt I'd have a problem with local dairy products in India... as long as I know they are definitely from Hindu sources...</b></div>
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Unfortunately, it is not true anymore. Factory milk production arrived in India a while back and most cities now receive milk from mlik factories. From what I hear, the conditions there are only marginally better than the conditions in the US milk factories, due to the enormous demand from the growing urban centers. A significant percentage of India's milk production is handled by AMUL, a milk cooperative located in Gujarat state. I once read an article in a Jain newsletter describing the bad conditions in the Amul milk factories. I'll try to find the article link and post it here.<br><br><br><br>
Anyway, what you described is now found mostly in rural areas where most people milk their own cows. Fortunately, 70% of the Indian population is rural so I imagine that the rural cows are treated just fine.<br><br><br><br>
If people in the cities knew the conditions under which their milk were produced, there would be a huge uproar. I would imagine that this would be an opportunity for PETA to publicize the conditions in Indian milk factories and actually make a difference since the urban Indian population would care about the condition of the cows. Many urban people are under the impression that their milk is still delivered or produced by village people who own their cows. This couldn't be further from the truth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Rushabh: I was just wondering, what part of India you were in? And if you knew of any online gudies about sites and general travel in India?<br><br><br><br>
I would like to go to India when I get older, but I don't think I could actually find anyone to go with. But, I can look into traveling to India and dream. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/sad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":(">
 

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I think some people posting here have the misconception that Hindus are necessarily vegetarian. That is very much not true. Not only did many, many of the Hindus I met eat meat of some variety, but many of them even eat beef!<br><br><br><br>
It's true, though, that as a country, the people are very accepting of vegetarians and it is very easy to get a wide variety of vegetarian choices.<br><br><br><br>
I think that some people also have the misconception that India is a great place for animals to live. This is also not true. The animals I witnessed were treated like crap. I did not notice any reverence for animals while I was there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by veganinohio</i><br><br><b>I think some people posting here have the misconception that Hindus are necessarily vegetarian. That is very much not true. Not only did many, many of the Hindus I met eat meat of some variety, but many of them even eat beef!</b></div>
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Not to put a too fine point on it but I assume that you met these Hindus in the USA. If so, then the maxim holds true: "When in Rome. . . . "<br><br><br><br>
Just because Hindus in the USA are not vegs does not necessarily mean that most Hindus in India are non-vegs. It depends on the environment that they live in.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
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I think that some people also have the misconception that India is a great place for animals to live. This is also not true. The animals I witnessed were treated like crap. I did not notice any reverence for animals while I was there.</b></div>
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I would hardly generalize this to the entire Indian subcontinent although I agree it does occur in some parts of the country. There are plenty of places where animals are revered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by Apple</i><br><br><b>Rushabh: I was just wondering, what part of India you were in? And if you knew of any online gudies about sites and general travel in India?</b></div>
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I was born in Gujarat which is a pretty hard-core veg state (some Muslim communities are vegs!).<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
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I would like to go to India when I get older, but I don't think I could actually find anyone to go with. But, I can look into traveling to India and dream. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/sad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":("></b></div>
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Rather than depending on guides, etc, why not become friends with a person of Indian origin? I'm sure he/she will be more than happy to give you pointers or even invite you to join him/her on a trip to the country. I would highly recommend you join the <a href="http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jainlist" target="_blank">Jainlist Yahoo Group</a>. You'll find plenty of like-minded individuals on that list and perhaps become friends with them.
 

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No, I'm talking about Hindus in India. I'll say it again. A large number of Hindus in India eat meat. Many even eat beef.<br><br><br><br>
In my experience there (and I admit that I did not have time to explore the entire country), there are some (not enough to meet my criteria for "plenty") specially designated areas where animals are revered. Certain places with particular religious significance are designated as "no-meat eating" areas. That does not necessarily mean that the people who live or visit there are vegetarians. Many of them told me that they eat meat when they leave those particular places. My general impression of the country is that animals are not revered in India.<br><br><br><br>
I'm not trying to knock the country. These things were surprises to me when I visited. I really enjoyed my visit. I plan on returning. I'm just saying that it's nowhere near the vegetarian paradise that Westerners might believe it to be.
 

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Also, as far as dairy goes, in the places I visited, its use was widespread. I'm not just talking about ghee here (which I understood to be a given before my visit). Cheese, milk, and cream was everywhere.<br><br><br><br>
That said, I highly recommend travelling to India, for vegetarians and vegans who don't mind putting that principle on hold.<br><br><br><br>
Rushabh, you are clearly knowledgeable on this topic, but your responses seem so different from my experiences that I can't help but question your objectivity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><i>Originally posted by veganinohio</i><br><br><b>Rushabh, you are clearly knowledgeable on this topic, but your responses seem so different from my experiences that I can't help but question your objectivity.</b></div>
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I am not questioning your experiences. I'm sure your experiences must be true as mine have been. I guess the fact that I travel only to the western part of India (Mumbai city and Gujarat state) may have colored my perception since these places are pretty hard-core veg. I am curious to know where you traveled in India. I know that eastern Indian (Bengal) is mostly non-veg while South India can be hard-core in many places. What was your itinerary when you traveled to the subcontinent?
 

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It does sound like our differing experiences likely were regional. I did a loop through northern India and did not get very far south.<br><br><br><br>
Interesting.
 
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