Coronavirus has now seen more than five dozen cases in India. The government is running a full-fledged public health awareness campaign to dispel popular rumours and myths surrounding the epidemic. One such rumour is whether eating meat should be avoided to prevent Coronavirus from spreading. Although it is a myth and there is no such risk of eating meat during these days, the sales of mutton and chicken have rapidly declined. The meat-eaters are searching for a viable alternative - which they have found in kathal (or jackfruit).
Kathal prices have skyrocketed, thanks to the Coronavirus scare in various parts of the country. According to an IANS report, the vegetable is now selling at Rs. 120 per kg, which is an increase of over 120% over the regular price of Rs. 50 per kg. Chicken prices, in fact, have slumped to just Rs. 80 per kg due to decreased demand.
Biryani, which is usually a meat-based rice dish, is now being prepared with kathal rather than chicken or mutton. Purnima Srivastava is one such non-vegetarian who agrees that eating kathal is a better option given the current health conditions in the country. "It is better having a 'kathal' biryani instead of a mutton biryani. It tastes reasonably good. The only problem is that 'kathal' has been sold out in the vegetable market and is difficult to find," Srivastava said to IANS.
Not one to give in to this, the meat market is striking back in its own way. The Poultry Farm Association recently organised a Chicken Mela in Gorakhpur to wrong the myth that meat can cause Coronavirus. "In fact, we gave away plateful of chicken dishes for Rs. 30 to encourage people to savour the delicacies. We cooked one thousand kilograms of chicken for the Mela and the entire stock was sold out," said Vineet Singh, head of the Poultry Farm Association.
The Mela, however, did not do much to dispel the fears about chicken, mutton or fish consumption amid the virus outbreak. Although doctors and nutritionists are repeatedly suggesting that eating meat is perfectly safe, such myths still continue to thrive on public fear of Coronavirus. It is still acceptable to look for substitutes such as kathal in place of chicken or mutton, but to cause market fluctuations on the basis of the same may not be sustainable in the long run.
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