The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare waded into a Twitter controversy on Monday after it shared a stock photograph that seemed to indicate that a vegetarian diet is the only way to be healthy. The image shared on the micro-blogging platform showed a curvy woman on one side and a leaner built on the other, with indications of the kind of food each consumes.

In the curvy woman’s body, sharing space with junk food like soft drinks, donuts and french fries were photographs of food items with known benefits like meat, eggs and healthy fats. The leaner body was filled with plants and vegetables. The tweet was deleted soon after, but stayed in circulation on Twitter courtesy multiple shares and comments.

A screenshot of the Ministry's now-deleted tweet.
A screenshot of the Ministry's now-deleted tweet.

The tweet attracted criticism for indicating that a non-vegetarian food is necessarily unhealthy, even though science does not suggest that. Meat politics has, in fact, been a staple for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party – its crackdown on beef has routinely extended to other meat as well, even though surveys have shown that a majority of India is non-vegetarian. In particular, Twitter users picked up on the insinuation that egg, a rich source of protein and other minerals, is unhealthy.

There was also much outrage over the Ministry’s seeming body-shaming.

Several people also pointed out that the Ministry had merely lifted a stock image from a website to promote its cause.

Some people saw the humour in the situation.