Saturday, June 01, 2013

Veg and Non-Veg

There was a farewell party yesterday noon at office for a colleague of mine which I couldn’t attend due to a conflicting meeting. After the meeting was over, I was walking along the empty office corridors when I saw another colleague of mine who had also skipped the party (due to whatever personal reasons). She is also Asian but not Indian. She commented how good the party would have been considering that it was an Indian buffet, with such variety of food and how she loved Indian food and spices.

We went on talking about Indian food for about 20 minutes and during the course of the conversation, she came to know that I was a vegetarian. She asked me if I had become one, and I said I was always a vegetarian and brought up by a vegetarian family. I even went on to say that most restaurants and fast-food joints in my native city just served vegetarian food, and she - being a non-vegetarian - was shocked that such a vast majority of vegetarian people lived! (I remember a similar conversation my parents had with a bunch of Asian [non-Indian] teenage girls that they had met during a 3-day bus tour to Washington DC in 2006). My colleague being a knowledgeable person on all kinds of cuisine, spoke to me in depth on how she had cooked and tried eating many cuisine for a certain period of time, such as 3 months, to fully soak in their values.

In her opinion, being vegetarian makes you weak especially if you are used to eating non-veg. Since she runs for 2 hr stretches as part of her work out (she is a mother of two, by the way!), she can make out the difference when she is having non-veg and veg diet. She said she felt like she ran out of gas whenever she used to run for long stretches while being on the latter. However, she felt pure since she was not having meat, and this was more of a mental thing - for lack of better explanation. She even tried convincing her friend how pure she felt after eating veg for 3 months!

And since she reads so much about food, she said that eating meat might cause many diseases whereas eating veg will keep you healthy in the long run. As a parting statement, she joked that I will live 200 years since a vegetarians’ skin cells live longer and healthier life as compared to non-vegs; and I parted joking that my skin might live up to 200 years but my heart will run out of gas sooner, due to the vast variety of Indian sweets and oil-soaked snacks that I liked eating!


Today, I was chatting with a close chum of mine, whom I have known since decades and I always thought he was a vegetarian because he comes from a Brahmin family, the sect which preaches and follows vegetarianism. But to my shock he said he is secretly having non-veg food since a decade, forced into it by his peers, and fallen for the taste. For some reason, this shook my foundations and I could not chat further.

I couldn’t place what made me upset. Was it him defecting to the other camp? Was it the thought of how this news would affect his parents who had brought him up all these years as a Brahmin, and with whom he still lived. Was it because he was a non-veg since a decade and I never knew it so long? I came up with a list of questions for myself but never could figure out what made me upset.

It is not as if I am an anti-non-veg campaigner going around everywhere preaching about ill-effects and immorality of eating animals. It cannot be because what he was doing was bad, because eating meat is neither considered bad nor illegal. It is not like smoking weed or being an alcohol addict, because if it was, then I could have advised him against. I have many good friends of mine who eat non-veg, and enjoy it thoroughly too, and I have no qualms with them, nor do I advise them to be vegetarians.

In this particular case, for some reason (maybe because he was a close chum), I did feel an urgent sense of asking him not to continue his non-veg lifestyle though. But I didn’t even know whether to advise him or not. The only thing I could have advised, even if I wanted to, was not to eat meat because he was a Brahmin. I cannot ask him to think about all those animals which would be killed – because there is an argument that even plants have lives and vegetarians are killing lives, in a way, too. But to ask him to stop eating something just because of his religion didn’t hold enough steam, for I am not too much of a religious follower either. So I would have invited comments like ‘How much of a Brahmin are you, anyways?!’ So I just stayed put, didn’t comment and logged out of the chat window graciously, although my mind was in a complete state of turmoil.

The only way I could have let off steam from my fuming mind was by writing, and this blog post is the by-product.

Well, I guess, the best exit line would be: To Each His Own.


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