New Delhi, Mar 20 (EFE).- Indian food delivery giant Zomato on Wednesday rolled back its new green uniform policy for partners delivering vegetarian food amid privacy and discrimination concerns.

"We now realize that even some of our customers could get into trouble with their landlords, and that would not be a nice thing if that happened because of us," Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal said on social media platform X.

"All our riders - both our regular fleet, and our fleet for vegetarians, will wear the color red. This means that the fleet meant for vegetarian orders will not be identifiable on the ground (but will show on the app that your veg orders will be served by the veg only fleet)," he added, admitting that the segregation of the fleet could have led to "unintended consequence."

Food choices in India go beyond animal welfare, health reasons, and environmental concerns and are also driven by caste and notions of purity associated with Hinduism.

Critics of the new policy said conservative neighborhoods could oppose the entry of delivery partners in red uniforms, which also reveals the food choices of each family, a sensitive issue in India where some housing blocks declare themselves exclusively vegetarian.

"Your red-shirted delivery riders are gonna get hassled and discriminated against due to this policy," an X user, Priyank Gupta, posted in response to Zomato's "Pure Veg fleet" launched Tuesday.

Rolling back the color-coded uniform policy, Goyal said the move is to ensure "that our red uniform delivery partners are not incorrectly associated with non-veg food and blocked by any (resident welfare associations) RWAs or societies during any special days... Our riders' physical safety is of paramount importance to us."

Restaurants in India use a green mark to identify vegetarian dishes and a red mark for non-vegetarian dishes.

Zomato's "Pure Veg fleet," launched to cater for customers with "100 percent vegetarian dietary preference," would continue to operate, Goyal said, although without any change in the uniforms of the delivery partners.

"India has the largest percentage of vegetarians in the world, and (...) they are very particular about how their food is cooked and how their food is handled," the founder said on Tuesday while announcing the new policy on X.

Studies show that 30 percent of India's 1.4 billion population are vegetarians, many of whom prefer to eat in restaurants that do not serve meat dishes. EFE

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