In the most recent election in India, the Hindu Nationalist Party (BJP) won. In the state of Maharashtra, the new government has banned the possession and sale of beef. Since it is against their religion to consume beef, the government has now forced religious dietary restrictions onto followers of Hinduism and non-Hindus. Violators of the new law can face up to five years in prison; a steep price to pay for a product that was recently legal. While buffalo meat is still available, producers are currently on strike to protest the legislation.
The law does not bode well for minorities, who have had a source of food taken away in addition to the effect the law with have on mostly Muslim meat sellers and cattle traders. To some, it appears to be a direct attack on the livelihood and rights of a minority religious group and others not ascribed to Hinduism. Additionally, animals at zoos who used to be fed beef are now being fed with chicken; some are concerned this will result in a decline in animal health. It seems extreme to impose religious dietary restrictions on animals, as well as invasive to restrict the diets of others based on a majority religion.
Should governments be allowed to pass religious-based legislation that restricts diets? Is it ethical to include animals in those restrictions? Can a source of livelihood for a religious minority be taken away by a majority government?