Image courtesy of KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Yesterday I was lamenting the fact that whenever I say I am a vegetarian, I always somehow end up offending someone. The responses I get range from, ‘You are missing out on so much,” and “Plants have feelings too,” (do they?) to “I hope you get a husband who eats non-veg, then you’ll have no choice but to eat it…” (seriously.) I have made my views on the ethics of meat eating plenty clear before – it’s a personal choice, we all have a limit to what we consider moral. Where we draw a line… Some people put their foot down at eating dog meat, some are vegetarian, and others go vegan.
My reason is animal rights, I make no excuses, I love animals and cannot bear the thought of eating them. I cannot look the other way when it comes to the cruelties of poultry farming and such. I see myself on an eventual path to veganism, though I am not quite ready yet. I have been a lifelong vegetarian, excepting a short trip to non-vegetarianism in my teenage years; so I do see both sides of the coin and make no claim to any moral high ground. There is no right or wrong, just what each of us is comfortable with.
That said, I do have no intention of going back to eating meat and I do enjoy the perks of being a vegetarian. There are many other reasons I continue with this lifestyle choice, aside from a less guilty conscience – which seems to be the focus and point of attack in any conversation about my dietary choices. Here are a few reasons I like being a vegetarian – some I hope more people can relate to, others might just give you an idea of how the world is on this side of the table, help answer that “but why would you give this up???” –
1. I feel less full after meals. My appetite is on the larger side. Instead of many small meals, which I suppose is the healthier option, I prefer to eat my fill when I do. Luckily for me, veggies don’t settle down in the pit of your stomach quite as much as meat. Consequence – I don’t get that bursting-at-the-seams feeling after a heavy meal and I seem to digest food quicker. It’s also been harder to gain weight, a giant plus because I don’t do what I should be doing to lose it.
2. I spend less on food. This is awesome! Vegetarian food, here in India, is considerably cheaper in restaurants than meat or fish. I don’t know if this is true for anywhere else in the world where meat is the norm. But so long as I’m here, I save more than a little on fancy lunches and dinners. Less variety for us vegetarians is also not an issue in India.
3. Healthier diet.
Now I don’t know if veggies are healthier – I have read and heard many contradictory views
on this. But there have been two big changes in my diet since my comeback to vegetarian food. A. When I was a kid, I underwent a gall-bladder-removal thing, the permanent effect of which was, simply put, that I can’t eat foods too fatty, because I have nowhere to store all the extra (an explanation I received at the age of 8, don’t ask for details.) Being a vegetarian, I am able to avoid the aforementioned overly fatty, heavy foods with very little effort. B. I eat way more fibrous food than I used to. Way more!
4. Default thumbs-up from all the aunties and grandmas –
Okay, this is a joke. I neither condone the judgments nor am I a vegetarian for religious reasons.
5. It looks prettier. Vegetarian food looks prettier and more vibrant and colourful than a giant slab of meat. It’s just a fact. Look at those tomatoes!
6. I feel in control.
This is the biggest reason! I befriended someone last year, not from India, who went vegetarian upon making a pact with themselves to give up something that meant a lot to them and learn to live without it. I thought it was the most wonderful thing, because it made me realise just how much this influenced my own dietary choice. I would be lying if I said I don’t reminisce the taste of a chicken wing every once in a while – just the taste, without the animal-cruelty-connotations associated with it. I do. But I don’t give in to the occasional craving. I don’t want to!
I had a moment a few months ago when I accidentally bit into a chicken burger, because the fools hadn’t marked it with the little red square. I knew it was chicken, even as my friend wondered, precisely because I hadn’t had it in about five years. My mouth flooded with the taste of chicken, strangely comforting in a way, yet all I wanted was to spit it out. And rinse and rinse till the flavour was gone. The craving doesn’t guide me anymore. I have reached a point where I am not a slave to my senses. Or to my peers. It’s a little weird to me how many things your friends can get away with forcing you to do. At the risk of sounding corny, when it comes to this, I like that my principle / belief wins. Of course, I desperately await a time when I feel just as “in control” in matters of pizza…