Enjoying a rib-eye in parts of India is now a criminal activity that could result in a $160 fine and a five-year prison sentence. On Monday, President Pranab Mukherjee approved a bill that officially makes it against the law to possess or sell beef in Maharashtra, India’s second-biggest state, and home to the national capital, Mumbai. The majority of people in the state of Maharashtra practice Hinduism, a religion that considers cows to be sacred.
This comes at a time when a growing number of people in India, a secular country, are eating beef. But it’s an issue that remains sensitive enough that Burger King brought meat-free Whoppers to India last fall.
According to Reuters, India is now one of the world’s largest beef exporters. The beef-slaughter industry in Maharashtra is mostly run by Muslims, who of course don’t want to lose their jobs. Also still up in the air is what, exactly, people are supposed to do with cows they can’t turn into meat. Some farmers worry that they’re now stuck feeding them until they die of natural causes. Expect serious backlash.