India’s richest businessman, Mukesh Ambani, has shut a chain of meat-selling stores after a backlash from shareholders and consumers.
The 100 Reliance Delight outlets, whose product range included fish and frozen chicken, were closed down in response to complaints that the sale of meat went against the non-violence ethos of Hinduism.
Many in India’s majority Hindu population do not eat meat as it is considered a sin.
Vegetarian billionaire Ambani’s association with meat was proving off-putting to consumers who were steering clear of not only Reliance Delight but also other Reliance Retail stores.
“Despite this sensitive balance of availability and convenience, it was felt that certain sections of customers were still hesitant to shop at our other stores,” a company statement outlined. “Reliance Retail has therefore decided to focus on vegetarian offerings only, within its retail portfolio.”
A former Reliance executive added that “the Gujarati community, which is predominantly vegetarian, and to whom the Ambani Family belong, was also critical of the sale of non-veg items.”
PETA welcomed the “compassionate decision to stick with animal-, health- and Earth-friendly vegetarian foods” and has awarded Reliance Industries a Courage in Commerce Award.
PETA India CEO Poorva Joshipura stated: “Millions of Indians are proud of our cultural tradition of nonviolence, and its truest test is when it’s applied to the most defenseless beings on the planet, and that includes animals.”
“Eating animals can also be deadly to humans,” she added. “Consuming meat and other animal products has been conclusively linked to heart disease, diabetes and obesity – all prevalent health problems in India.”
In 2013, Mukesh Ambani was ranked at number 37 in the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People.
He is India’s richest man and the 22nd richest in the world with an estimated personal wealth of $21.5 billion.
Originally published in Vegan Future newspaper. The newspaper is now available to read online