Non-vegetarians are those who choose from a varying platter of eggs, chicken, fish, lamb, goat, cow, pork, turkey, etc. I’m one of them. In India, they are primarily of two kinds – the non-beef eaters and the non-pork eaters, depending on their religion. The vegetarians are those who refrain from consuming animal proteins, except milk and milk products. The “vegans” won’t even have that, which means all vegans are vegetarians, but all vegetarians are not vegans.
Now, the vegetarians are of multiple categories too – those who will eat vegetables except onions, or garlic or potato or ginger or mushrooms. Let’s look at some of the other subtler divisions – those who will eat eggs but not meat, those who will not eat meat or eggs but will feed eggs to their children, those who will eat non-veg but without the knowledge of their family, those who will eat non-veg but will never cook it at home and those who cannot bear the sight of a non-vegetarian. Oh yes, that last one exists! Believe me, I had the fortune of meeting with some of them, and the next part of this article is meant only for them.
As the twenty-first century progressed, people started talking about discrimination, equality in terms of gender, pay, caste, creed, religion, sexuality, the color of skin. But they forgot to include “feeding habits” in their list. Which is why, when I moved to a different part of my country, someone asked me, “Do you eat non-veg?” When I said ‘yes,’ the one who had asked me the question, did not like my answer. But I ignored it. Then the questions kept coming. Till one day, someone asked me with a lot of disgust, “Kaise kha lete ho jaanwaron ko?” (How do you manage to eat the animals?) And I replied, “paka ke” (I cook them).
It was beyond me why someone would feel disgusted by my choice of food when I was not disgusted by theirs. I was not forcing them to convert. I was not begging for their certificate of approval. I was not even eating the red panda and leading to its extinction. Nor was I eating dogs or cats because it is illegal in many countries, including India (Section 429, IPC). I was only eating animals that are being reared in farms or poultry to be eaten someday by someone. But they refused to share a table with the likes of me. I was ok with that, but unfortunately, the “disgust,” the “judgment”, the “horror” and the “criticism” carried well beyond the table like an “apartheid” of the present times.
I decided to brush up my biology to find an answer. I have incisors like the herbivores so that I can bite off plants, fruits, vegetables like the cows, goats, and sheep do. I have molars so I can grind my food well, like the tigers, cows, monkeys, practically everyone in the animal kingdom. I checked and cross-checked in front of the mirror. Eureka! I found them! I have canines like the lions, the cheetah, the cats, and all other carnivores to tear flesh. Those with both incisors and canines can eat vegetables as well as meat, and they are called the omnivores, like the apes, bears, etc. So biologically, I’m not doing anything wrong, nor am I nature’s freak.
Then what is “wrong” with me? I checked the historical data of humankind and his origin. Apparently, “we” have descended from the apes (who are omnivores), so fruits and flesh were both eaten by us. In fact, men (read humans) learned hunting before they started doing agriculture. So what is wrong with me? I asked this question to many, and some of them said, “According to God, eating other animals is a sin.”
So I assumed this might have had happened. There came someone named “God” who decided to meet only a particular category of people whom He thought were “holy” and told them to keep away from eating flesh and from men who eat meat. God must have said, “I love only you. You should be the keepers of my word. The others are sinners (read – non-vegetarians) like the tigers, leopards, bears, dogs, lions whom I have created myself, for what purpose, I do not know!” Then He vanished.
This “God” must have come only to India and had told His followers to stay away from “only the Indian non-vegetarians”. Because the people who thought it was “disgusting” to share a table with me and some others like me, had no problem eating with visitors from other countries who loved the Indian kebab-s and tikka-s and felt no remorse for ordering “sinful” food.
Then I watched a video, and some God-sent “holy man” was explaining how the negative energy from animals gets into our body if we consume them. “Animals are living things,” he said, “don’t kill them!” Indeed, this man is very learned because Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose must have been wrong to prove that “plants are living too!” Scientist Olivier Van Aken from the University of Western Australia has proved that plants can feel too. But he must be wrong. Some scientists have shown how plants exposed to soft instrumental music have grown better than those exposed to acid rock, how plants communicate with one another, how plants respond to touch. But those scientists must be wrong too.
But who can argue on the “negative energy” part because that is an invisible electromagnetic wave which radiates and enters only into humans (no other species)? And these “waves” are released only when you harm an animal and not a plant. So let us forget that milk is produced by animals, not for the dairy farm, but to feed their babies. Because when you deprive a newborn calf to suckle from its mother, undoubtedly no “negative energies” emanate, and even if they do, they get absorbed by the deities who are bathed in liters of cow milk.
So do these vegetarians feel “disgust” for me out of their “love for animals?” But I saw them flaunting leather bags, belts, and boots. May I ask, when the leather was extracted, did the animals survive? I hope not. Not having any other “valid” arguments left, they resorted to a logic that cannot fail. “Non-vegetarian” food makes you “fat.” Leaving aside the fact that my BMI is so far well within the “normal” range, I am not a person to be body-shamed for my food habits. And why would I? What about the elephant, the buffalo, the rhino – have you tried telling them they are “fat”? They don’t even eat “non-veg”! And look at the leopards, cheetahs, panthers, cats!
So here’s what I want to tell those who still “cannot bear the sight of a non-vegetarian”:
“Please don’t try to “justify” your disgust using the logic that doesn’t stand a chance. If doing good is the intent, then how about “behaving” well with others? Recycle, don’t waste food, don’t kill animals or trees for pleasure, and above all, be a good Samaritan. I have every intention never to judge your food habits, your cuisine, and to be a perfect guest when you host a dinner, but if I’m paying for mine, then I might as well eat what I want to. Look at it this way, whether I’m hosting or you are hosting, will I ever force you to eat what I do? Then why must you?
By the way, the Venus fly trap pitcher plant, butterwort are all examples of some carnivorous plants that exist in nature. Will you be happy to know that they will all be going to hell with me for their share of sin?”
Featured Image Credits: Wikimedia