Vegetarianism

Vegetarian

The concept of vegetarianism is prevalent only in certain parts of India only among certain castes among Hindus and all Jains, and that too, only from the fifth millennium onwards, when Shankara was reviving the sanatan dharma from the hegemony of Budhism by incorporating some of their practices. Much later, the Bhakti movement and Vaishnav saints spread it further.

Image result for images of food items

However, with India’s greater economic and cultural footprint in the world, and the spread of new age fads like vegan food, major airlines and tourist places understand vegetarian, vegan and even Jain food, and have menus accordingly, but in the far east or the more exotic locales, this is a major challenge and depend on cultural perceptions.

Image result for images of food items

The problem with vegetarians is that they tend to preach and convert everybody, which makes them as pleasant company as Jehovah’s Witnesses, born again Christians, Cyclists and Insurance salesmen. But even worse are those who treat meat eaters as untouchables, refusing to eat at the same table and often the same house as non-vegetarians, and never visiting restaurants that serve anything but pure vegetarian food. This excludes air and rail food and most restaurants, thus limiting their travel options and social life. Landlords often refuse tenants who eat meat, and I have suffered from this. Some housing societies refuse tenants who aren’t vegetarian under the plea that there is a Mata ki mandir on the premises. This prompted an irate Bengali gentleman to retort, “Aur wo jo tumhare Mata ke Sher hai, who kya alu ke paratha khata hai?”Bengalis and vegetarianism do not mix well

Image result for images of food items

 

For example, in my grandfather’s generation, Bengalis considered fish is vegetarian and even mutton from the sacrificial animals cooked without onion and garlic also vegetarian and served them to unsuspecting Brahmins from the rest of India, thus causing scandal.

Image result for images of food items

For Bengali feasts the dal, cabbage, gourd, pumpkin are all garnished by fish heads, shrimps, and other sea food thus horrifying vegetarians who thought they were safe as long as they chose only the dal and the vegies.

The same ideas are shared by people in the Far East. During a tour in Taiwan, a Tamilian colleague after explaining with great difficulty to the only waitress who followed English about his dietary choices, was served various seafood dishes to his horror with the innocent explanation ‘NO MEAT’.  He ultimately lived on fruit alone.

Image result for images of food items

While returning, he bought some namkeen mixtures confident that these would definitely be vegetarian but on opening the smell told him otherwise.  In reality, it was cooked in fish oil and had dried shrimp, squid and shellfish in it.

In some remote parts of India, like Kargil, the only food served in the eateries is sheep meat and rice, and vegetarians have a difficult time. Similarly on the Konkan coast, a fish thali means just that, rice with a variety of seafood, with no dal or vegetables for relief, and a veg thali is unheard of.

Image result for images of food items

Another interesting experience was that of a friend who was a strict vegetarian and unfortunately travelling in Afghanistan. He found out that on detailed explanation he got the most delicious biryani he had ever tasted, and stuck to this dish, till one day he noticed a piece of bone in it. On his angry protest, the apologetic restaurant owner pointed out that every day he had been scrupulously fishing out all pieces of meat from the biryani, but today somehow a piece was missed. He promptly removed the offending piece and beamingly replied “There, now its vegetarian”

Image result for images of food items

The secret of the supreme taste of the biryani was thus revealed.

 

Categories: Tags: , , , , , , ,

27 Comments

  1. I’m Vegetarian and really enjoyed the food in India when I visited Amritsar and Shimla a few years ago. And it was so refreshing to find Vegetarian food so easy to obtain.
    I think I would have been okay with the meals the meat was removed from – I had to do it a lot before I retired. . Conferences rarely catered for vegetarians in the early days so I would take the meat off a sandwich and eat the rest. But I have met people who are really precious and would be disgusted by the thought of meat touching their food. It certainly is an interesting topic…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting story
      I too find it difficult to sit along with people who eat non vegetarian food .
      It may sound offensive but just cannot help

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really had no idea that it could be so complicated to get a vegetarian meal while traveling. I do enjoy meatless meals about once or twice a week but not in a restaurant because they usually serve me a plate of overcooked vegetables that came from a can. Nice article, thanks for sharing with such detail

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have nothing against vegetarians – provided they are not like the bores and bigots you mentioned – and must confess, albeit without a trace of remorse, that several herds of cattle, flocks of sheep, shoals of fish, droves of pigs, tribes of goats and broods of chickens have disappeared from the face of the Earth on my account and also that, in most cases, they did not die in vain.
    But, vegetarian or not, life is all about small pleasures and allowing one’s palate to enjoy great food, even if at the expense of health, religious or dietary strictures is a must. This explains why I applaud and endorse not just this article but, above all, “The secret of the supreme taste of the biryani was thus revealed”. Brilliant. Well done, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice article. Yes, vegetarians have a tough time getting food when we travel. At Hong Kong Disney World, there is an outlet for food. I told them I wanted vegetarian food. A girl probably aged 18-19 asked “Do you want Indian Vegetarian?” I asked her what is Indian Vegetarian, and she told me our exact requirements. I was very happy to learn a new term and use it ever since, hoping that I may get what can be eaten by me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Vegetarianism, specially in India, is based on religion and caste. Being a vegetarian I had lot of trouble in explaining to a Chef in a rural village in East Arica, I resorted to tell him that I can eat anything which doesn’t move on its own before cooking and was proud that I have explained to him well. He brought beef and pork and told me that they did not move before cooking as they were killed. But today in a place like US vegan is well understood and respected, but it is lacking in Far East. While I am not intolerant to non- veg restaurants or eating veg food along with my friends eating non- veg, I find it difficult in Far East when Frog, and snake soups are taken as delicacy. The smell of the restaurant itself is nauseating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It”s purely a matter of choice, why a few love to remain non-veg or veggie all through their life. My problem lies with those psuedo foodies who are converted veggie, after already have eaten non-veg all through their life. Worse, they start preaching others to be a veggie.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It”s purely a matter of choice, why a few love to remain non-veg or veggie all through their life. My problem lies with those psuedo foodies who are converted veggie, after already have eaten non-veg all through their life. Worse, they start preaching others to be a veggie.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello sir ,
    Daily mach bhat is just very identificable with bengali folks and is very true too , I met madam at centenary celebrations and soon thereafter she headed the giant at Kolkata please do tell her my regards .
    Apni khub bhalo likhechen.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Amusing Article Sir,,,catchy line “ vo jo tumhari Mata ka Sher hai,,vo Aloo ke paranthe khata hai kya” super hilarious.😂😂😂😂 I am a Kashmiri pandit and we are non vegetarian ,yes we are , and it becomes a major challenge when you go out with non-Kashmiri vegetarian people, coz every time you have to explain it to them” Hum Non Veg Khate hai , balki Shivratri pe Prasad bhi Non Veg hi chadte hai”. And our In- House challenge is no less, in a family of 8, the ration to non-veg to veg is 7:1. And that one VEG person never lets you eat peacefully, so I have come up with my own defense, one is IGNOREeee 😂😂and other one is factual one “ paid paudhe bhi rote hai jub hum unhe kattey hai, bus hume sunai nahi deta” (even plants cry when they are cut, its just that we cannot hear them cryingggg). Loved reading it…👍👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

Your feedback is valuable, let me have it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s