A ‘Hol­i­day’ for meat ven­dors

Business Bhutan - - Editorial - NAWANG P PHUNTSHO The writer works with READ Bhutan.

This Bhutanese month (May 16 - June 13) is ob­served as Saga-Dawa, a holy month in the coun­try. It is pop­u­larly or in­fa­mousely known as the time when the sale of meat items is banned in Bhutan. And it’s also an op­por­tu­nity for us to put a light brake on our mighty meaty ap­petites. Con­se­quently, restau­rants are en­cour­aged to serve their cus­tomers rich veg­e­tar­ian meals dur­ing the pe­riod. Sim­i­lar ban is also ob­served ev­ery first month of the Bhutanese cal­en­dar. But go­ing by what’s hap­pen­ing, the saga-dawa is a month long manda­tory and govern­ment sanc­tioned hol­i­day for the butch­ers and meat ven­dors. Be­ing holy month does not re­ally make a dif­fer­ence to the menus in the restau­rants from rest of the months in the year. Meat is avail­able in all the restau­rants and even small eater­ies en­sure that their cus­tomers are served their fa­vorite dishes. They’re only be­ing wise and prac­ti­cal be­cause if they don’t serve meat their cus­tomers would move to the res­tau­rant next-door that serves meat. As sim­ple as that. As a re­sult, there is no in­cen­tive for our menus to go veg­e­tar­ian, is there? We are bom­barded with many ques­tions. If there is a month-long ban on the same of meat items in the coun­try, from where are our hote­liers get­ting the meat? Are black markets in op­er­a­tion, away from the meat shops? Does it mean that the ho­tels il­le­gally im­port it from across the bor­der? Or more ob­vi­ously, are peo­ple hoard­ing it in large quan­tity to last a month? Meat ban in the coun­try is a failed ini­tia­tive un­less we or­ga­nize in­ten­sive and tar­geted sen­si­ti­za­tion ac­tiv­i­ties that peo­ple truly un­der­stand why they are do­ing it and is there­fore voluntary, but not re­stric­tions. Ho­tels and restau­rants are where we be­gin.

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