Meat-eaters “easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes”, according to a controversial school textbook available in India.
New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India’s leading publishers.
Academics have urged the government to exercise greater control.
But the authorities say schools should monitor content as they are responsible for the choice of textbooks.
“This is poisonous for children,” Janaki Rajan of the Faculty of Education at Jamia Millia University in Delhi told the BBC.
“The government has the power to take action, but they are washing their hands of it,” she said.
It is not known which Indian schools have bought the book for their students, but correspondents say what is worrying is that such a book is available to students.
“The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables,” reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food?
The chapter details the “benefits” of a vegetarian diet and goes on to list “some of the characteristics” found among non-vegetarians.
“They easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes,” it says.
The chapter, full of factual inaccuracies, refers to Eskimos (Inuit) as “lazy, sluggish and short-lived”, because they live on “a diet largely of meat”.
It adds: “The Arabs who helped in constructing the Suez Canal lived on wheat and dates and were superior to the beef-fed Englishmen engaged in the same work.”
The publishers, S Chand, did not respond to the BBC’s requests for a comment.
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