AbstractThis study brings together scholarship in economics, sociology, and anthropology to explore the connections between dietary preferences, socio-economic class, cultural beliefs, and social ethics. We analyze household-level panel data to identify the socio-economic covariates of households that are vegetarian, meat-eaters, or that have shifted from vegetarianism to meat-eating, or vice versa. We also consider the role of social movements, political discourse, and state regulations that affect dietary preferences. We argue that vegetarianism in modern India is radically different from vegetarianism in the West. In India, vegetarianism is associated with social conservatism and is used as a mechanism to perpetuate patriarchy, caste-based discrimination, as well as religious intolerance. We support this argument by demonstrating linkages between vegetarian dietary preferences and conservative social beliefs and practices at the household level.