Idli, Rajma & Dal Among Top 25 Dishes Causing Most Damage To Biodiversity

New Delhi: India’s idli, rajma, chicken jalfrezi, dal and chana masala are among the top 25 dishes in the world with most significant “biodiversity footprints”.


According to a study by scientists of National university of Singapore, published on Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, vegetarian dishes from highly biodiverse and under strong human pressure countries like India, can be very detrimental for biodiversity. This is in addition to the large footprint of beef and lamb dishes from countries containing biodiversity hotspots.

Following their calculations for 151 popular dishes from across the world, idli was ranked six followed by rajma (kidney beans curry) at seven, chicken jalfrezi 19, dal 20, and chana masala 22. “The large impacts of legumes and rice in India was a surprise, but when you think about it, it makes sense,” associate professor of biological sciences at the varsity, Luis Roman Carrasco, told The Telegraph.

The biodiversity footprint of each dish’s ingredient was calculated by looking at the richness, conservation status, and range of wild mammals, birds, and amphibians within the agricultural land used for the specific product, and added each ingredient’s footprint together to generate an overall biodiversity footprint for every dish. Footprint scores shifted depending on whether the ingredient was locally or globally sourced, and industrially or small-scale farmed.

For vegan and vegetarian dishes of the Indian subcontinent, rice and legumes grown industrially especially had high impacts on threatened species and range biodiversity indicators, they opined.

The study further said that the land conversation to agriculture had led to loss of subalpine forests, including the Indian Himalayas Region, which is a significant global biodiversity hotspot.

Several Brazilian meat dishes, a Korean meat and vegetable stew, meat and pork dishes from Mexico are also among the top 25 dishes. India’s aloo paratha was ranked 96, dosa 103, and the bonda — a fried dish of mashed potato coated with chickpea paste — was ranked 109. French fries with 151 ranking has the lowest biodiversity footprint, according to the study.

Carrasco, however, said that India’s large proportion of vegetarians is good for biodiversity conservation. “If Indians were to shift to more meat consumption and production the impact on biodiversity would be much higher,” he said.


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