Travellers flying domestic economy with Air India may find meat off the menu, following a decision by the struggling carrier.

The airline recently announced that it was eliminating meat from the in-flight meals served in economy class on the shortest of its domestic flights, citing the need to cut costs and reduce waste, the New York Times reported.

The decision was met by criticism that touched on some of India’s cultural fault-lines: the majority Hindu population is vegetarian, but India’s sizable Muslim population eats meat.

Some suggested that the changes were discriminatory, seeing the announcement as an extension of the policies of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist political party.

About 70 per cent of Air India’s flights are domestic, not international, CNN reported. India has the largest population of vegetarians in the world.

International services, and domestic flights of more than 90 minutes in duration will continue to serve non-vegetarian  meals.

Air India’s financial struggles are well-documented. The airline required a $4.2 billion government bailout in 2012, and the airline is currently in $8 billion of debt, a figure which has complicated efforts by the Indian government to sell its stake in the airline.