A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

When meat becomes ‘cool’

Posted by Pepper on July 27, 2012

I was visiting Mint last weekend. It was a fun weekend on campus and I was having a great time, but anyway, that is not what this post is about. Let me get to the point. Mint and I walked to the food stalls they have on campus for a late lunch. We invariably bump into other students every time we are there, so I expected to see a bunch of his classmates there, and I was right. We greeted them, took the adjacent table and ordered our meal. Conversations were light. The service was fast, and within no time, I had my order placed in front of me. As soon as I started eating, Mint’s classmate who sat across us, peeped into my plate and asked me, “Are you a vegetarian?” The note of alarm in his voice told me where this was headed. Sigh. Yes, I told him, hoping it ended there. But of course, it didn’t. He scoffed, turned to look at his batchmate, and asked him, “Yeh vegetarian log khate kya hai? Sirf paneer? Onions and tomatoes?”. It translates to – What do these vegetarian people eat? Just paneer, onions and tomatoes?. It made me see red, but considering he was Mint’s classmate, I could not give a very knee jerk reaction to his remark. So I gritted my teeth, smiled at him and said yes, paneer, onions and tomatoes are really all that we eat, you know. I am not sure he understood sarcasm. I hope he did. Either way, I felt annoyance surging inside me.

I have been a meat eater for most of my life. I was never too fond of red meat, but chicken was a regular. So was fish. Most of my friends are meat eaters too. There were a few who ate only vegetarian meals, and we always tried to accommodate each other. But at times, the vegetarians displayed the ‘I am holier than thou’ attitude and it would get on my nerves. You’ve made a choice, I have made a choice, let’s just suit ourselves. Why exert moral superiority? In all honesty though, those instances were few and far in between. I think most of my vegetarian friends knew how to mind their own business.

And then I was put onto the other side of the fence. While walking on the street one day, I happened to see a goat being slaughtered. I froze. It was barbaric. I couldn’t get the sight out of my mind. But more than that, what I couldn’t shake out of my senses were the cries I heard. It affected me at a very deep level. I continued eating meat for a while after that, but each time I ate it, I was left feeling uneasy and uncomfortable. So I decided to quit. What is the point in eating if I no longer enjoy it?

Ever since I turned a vegetarian, I’ve been dealing with a number of inconveniences. Mint, is a hardcore meat eater, and so we can’t share meals when we go to restaurants, without either of us having to compromise. For him, a veggie meal is a compromise. For me, a compromise means sharing a non vegetarian meal with him, in which I flick of all visible pieces of meat. Yes, I am not rigid like that. Other inconveniences include scrambling for food when no vegetarian option is available. This, I must say does not happen in India. But I have dealt with such scenarios numerous time while living in the West. Anyway, all these are the consequences of the choice I have made, and of course, I can’t blame anybody else.

We move around in a circle in which almost everybody is a non-vegetarian. Each time we are a part of a group dinner, people order a variety of appetizers containing meat, and a sole vegetarian starter for me. What gets my goat is that people keep pouncing on my limited mushrooms while enjoying their chicken alongside. Heck, that leaves me with nothing to eat! Please order a veggie starter for yourself if you want one. But most people think it is a waste to order anything vegetarian, and at the same time, when it is lying in front of them, they consider it their birth right to eat it, without thinking of the sole vegetarian there.

When people ask me if I am a vegetarian, I am almost embarrassed to say ‘Yes’. I spent some time thinking about it. I never felt apologetic for eating meat. Why do I feel embarrassed for not eating it? And then I realised, it is because of remarks from people like Mint’s batch mate. They make the vegetarians seem like a bunch of boring, uninteresting people who’ve never experienced the good things in life. Also, I suppose we operate under the premise that vegetarians are conservative individuals. Oh you are bound by religious shackles that prevent you from eating meat? You are not broad minded enough to not care? That makes you uncool! The meat eaters are supposed to be large minded liberalists who get to explore contemporary culinary delights, while we are deprived of the good things. And I think it is this underlying belief that makes it hard for me to declare my vegetarian status. Perhaps subconsciously, I do not want to be disassociated from the seemingly ‘cool’ crowd. If only I, (and the rest of us) realised these are only choices, and no one choice is better than the other.

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98 Responses to “When meat becomes ‘cool’”

  1. Visha said

    Even I hate being looked upon as a vegetarian. There are so many dishes and tastes to savour actually. But we are generally looked down as the paneer eating lot. To the non-vegetarians, when I ask back what do you actually have apart from fish, chicken and mutton, they really do not have an answer :mrgreen: All I see them having is a biryani or a fry made from these three.

    And during office team outings, it feels worse when you find everyone taking your share of gobi manchurian 😦 So what do I do? I order one for myself and one for the rest 😆

    • Pepper said

      Lol. I will admit, I do think you have a lot more variety to eat when you eat meat. A lot that goes beyond biryani. Ask Mint that question and he will give you a long list 😀

      Hah, smart girl. But do you order for them despite them telling you they dont want it?

      • Visha said

        Maybe, but of what I have seen, they dont really go beyond the biryani and fry 🙂

        Thats never the case. They always want a bit of everything on the table 😀

        • Pepper said

          Lol. They do? Perhaps the people I hang out with are too stingy 😛 We go to a lot of places that sell over priced food in small portions. Nobody has the heart to order a vegetarian item. They consider it to be a waste of money, and that is fine. As long as they stay away from it when it arrives.

  2. R's Mom said

    Ah! the veg-non-veg fight…I had written something similar some days earlier on my blog…My Appa taught me a simple philosophy in life – you eat what you want, let them eat what they want, you dont comment on their food, they should not comment on your food…It usually works for me..

    Errr..next time se, order TWO veg starters and say you are VERY hungry wokie??

    hugs rey 🙂

    • Pepper said

      No RM, this isn’t the veg-non-veg fight. This is trying to put an end to the veg-non-veg fight. What your appa said is something that I considered obvious. We needn’t be told that. We should realise it on our own and stick to it right? Unfortunately, not. I am sick of being asked “So what do you eat?” and “Where do you get your protein from?” when people find out I don’t eat meat. A lot of times, the tones are condescending. It gets beyond annoying, I had to rant.

      Obviously the philosophy would work for you. It is the simplest, and the best. It was the whole point of my post. 🙂 And regarding the veg starters, I have tried offering to order two, but most times, people assure me they will not eat veg, and yet stuff themselves with it when it arrives. I just want people to be more considerate, but maybe that is asking too much 😐

  3. chandni said

    Interesting post pepper! I’ve been a non veg most of my life and recently turned vegetarian. I might still eat meat selectively, but I have a feeling very soon that will be history.
    In my meat eating days I had the opposite story to tell. The vegetarians made us feel like we were sinners! I am not joking. Perhaps it was my office environment with a lot of tam brahmins, but they used to turn up their noses on the table and say “uff their food smells so bad”. It was humiliating! I had a group of friends where only one guy was veg. And we would always order stuff for him separately, and he would tease us like you said above “Arre don’t eat the paneer you guys! Ek aur plate mangva lo, main kya khaoonnga!” All for laughs…..was a wonderful time!

    • Pepper said

      Oh you turned vegetarian? I am surprised. 🙂
      I know Chandu, I have seen the veggies act all snooty in front of people who eat meat. It’s so annoying! I can’t imagine people turning up their noses while somebody else is eating. We really lack sensitivity.
      Lol. Wonderful time indeed!

  4. Sunitha said

    I am also a vegetarian by choice. I was a meet eater during my childhood and this goat slaughtering event made me and my brother a vegetarian for the rest of our lives! i have faced similar situation as yours many times during office parties,friends get together etc.. so many occasions i had to share my veggie dishes with others and stayed half filled!

    • Pepper said

      Oh you witnessed the same thing? Looks like that is a common reason that turns people vegetarian.
      Sigh. I have had to remain hungry at such times too. Now I plan to put my foot down and keep the plate to myself, even if people think I am an ill mannered nut.

  5. ashreyamom said

    hmmm.. i have also seen this.. but my case it is veg ppl trying to say they are holier.. so i end up answering i am the one creating ecological balance, or else you wont have vegetarian food for urself..

    better put the starters straight on to ur plate and say sorry, “veg food prefers to stay on my plate or non-veg is waiting for u”. :)..

    • ashreyamom said

      got reminded of cheenikum movie gass-puss dialogue..

    • Pepper said

      Oh it’s really sad that you are made to answer. Honestly, I find these things a little silly. Time and again I see posters on FB that say things like “Chicken never gave shade. Chicken never gave oxygen. So go green. Save trees and eat chicken”, or something on those lines. I just roll my eyes. And then I see the vegetarians counter attacking. These campaigns are ridiculous. Next time, I think you should tell them that you don’t owe them any answers.

  6. couldn’t have put it better and I can so relate to what you say. I have been a vegetarian all my life and have heard such uncouth remarks as u a vegetarian (smirk); However , there are times when I grin and bear it. But like you say what one eats is their personal choice and we are no one to judge by what goes in to anyone’s tummy. If only people can understand that sigh !

  7. anjeneyan said

    I am a veg and my preference is known to all my office colleagues in the several organisations I have worked in. In Mumbai , where I live, the choice of veg or non veg is treated as a matter personal choice – mostly by birth- and I have not heard any one telling me that Non veg food has much wider varieties and veg. food chaps are starved of choices.

    In canteen when all employees eat together, some colleagues used to ask whether I had any objections. I had none as this is a matter of personal choice and there is no reason any one should look down on the other’s choice.

    A visit to vegetable market will indicate the wide choice available in it and all those are being sold to make dishes. Hence Vegetarian food also offers wide choice- especially in Inda as most Indian’s base is a grain to which other items are added. I think abroad, the main dish is the non- vegetarian item and hence their view would be different.

    I have travelled abroad, in US and Europe where the choice of veg food could at times compel fasting. But even in such places, the hosts have tried to be helpful (with limited success as I found in IMD Lausanne, Switzerland) and never looked down on our choice.

    To each his own.

    • Pepper said

      If you’ve never had anybody look down at your choice, I’ll just say you’ve been lucky so far. I keep encountering people who comment on other people’s food. Go through this comment section and you’ll know how common this behaviour is. To each his own is a concept we haven’t yet learnt to appreciate, unfortunately.

  8. Pepper what if, when people ask you if you are a vegetarian, you reply “yes, by choice”? Do you think that could be a solution? Or do you think they would still try to show you down?

    I have never been in this veg-non veg debate as far as I can remember. It does sound silly. While the Indian vegetarians tend to think they are pure, the Indian non vegetarians tend to think they are cool. The reason is that in 90% of the cases, the kind of food you eat is not a lifestyle choice you make considering your own health and likes and dislikes, but it is a religious choice somebody else made for you to hold up a tradition. Hence the self-righteousness attached to it.

    Maybe by saying that you are a vegetarian by choice shows your choice in a different light?

    • Pepper said

      Oh yes, I should probably add the ‘by choice’ to my response next time. When people find out I used to eat meat and I quit, some of them seem relieved to note I am not as weird as they thought I was 😐 I have actually been told that. It’s almost like they regain their respect for me.
      The thing is, I can surely tell them I chose to be a vegetarian. But even if I had been forced to remain a vegetarian cos of relgious bindings, I would have still expected people to respect my decision. Ultimately, choosing to follow that is a choice too right?

  9. metherebel said

    The veg or non veg! This is a never ending debate! There are vegetarians who look down upon non vegetarians and then there are non vegetarians who look down upon the vegetarians too! The key is to co exist without commenting on each others food habits!

    Well I have been wanting to write a similar post! I will write it this weekend. My blog is crying for my attention 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Why is this a debate? It isn’t. And it shouldn’t be. I hope people stop thinking of it as one..
      Please write. Waiting to read! 🙂

  10. RK said

    Oh! I was nodding my head while reading the entire post. I am a vegetarian by birth and proud to be one! I have heard worse comments “ghas-phus kanewale log” grrrr….I keep my head high and say “yes I am a proud vegetarian”
    “dont argue with fools, they drag you down and beat u with their experience” !!

    • Pepper said

      But, but, why are you proud to be a vegetarian? I do not understand why people are proud to be non vegetarians either. These are just choices right. Pride is usually associated with superiority. And like I said, no one choice is more superior than the other. So I don’t relate to the pride here.. 🙂

      • RK said

        So when did being proud of oneself turn into being superior? I meant being happy and satiesfied of being a vegetarian!

        • Pepper said

          Okay, that’s true. But perhaps it’s just me. I have always associated pride with negativity and boastfulness. It never sounded like a favourable emotion to harbour. I get a tad annoyed even when I hear the meat eaters saying they are proud to be non vegetarians. I keep asking them, what have they done to be proud? It’s just a simple choice. And if both choices are equal, why should there be any pride involved. For that matter, I don’t even understand people saying they are ‘proud to be Indians’. So yes, maybe it’s just me.

  11. nisha said

    I’m a non-vegetarian who prefers veg food! This trait shocks people. They say you can either hate or love meat. For me it’s convenience. It’s easier to order just one dish even though i separate the rice/gravy from the meat. It makes me not go cheeee when my husband is relishing a meal. It makes me cook non veg at home easily. It helps me stay sane when im cleaning the meat!!
    And yes, I hate people who look down upon vegetarians who relish ‘ghaas phooos’ . Really, it’s a choice, let them be!!

  12. bjigya said

    exactly what I face .. in the west automatic conclusion is you’re a religious nut Or hippie greenpeace activist or something. In India.. its the same ghaas phoos comments. I also never want to say I’m a vegetarian. You have a gift of writing Pepper, you’ve told the non-combative, ‘miding my own business’ veggie’s story so well!

  13. Kavs said

    Hi Pepper!
    I was born into a vegetarian family so have been a vegetarian all my life. When I was a child, it was more because of my family, as I grew up it was my choice – essentially because of animal rights. Gradually, I gave up using leather and natural wool and have just a handful of silk sarees for their sentimental value.

    At restaurants, cafes, especially in the US, I need to give clear instructions that vegetarian doesnt mean you take out the fish from the soup and it becomes a veggie soup. And when I’m buying food I spend extra time in the aisle reading all the ingredients in fine print. But all this has become second nature and I can be sure of what I’m eating. Though many of my friends were meat eaters, eating out was never a problem during college days.
    However at my work place it was another story. Some people had such bad table manners that they thought nothing about grabbing food from your plate with their soiled hands or dirty spoons. From hygiene point of view, I just cant stand it – even with family all my food sharing is done with clean hands or clean spoons. I soon realized that some of my collegues did this on purpose to mix non-veg food items with the veg food i was eating so they could tease me “dharma bhrastha ho gaya”. I was shocked to hear that my so-called highly educated colleagues could make such crazy silly comments even in jest.

    At every team lunch or dinner, I and few other vegetarians had to justify our eating habits whereas meat-eaters smirked at us as if to say “pata nahi kahan kahan se aa jate hain” while pouncing on the tiny single portion of veg manchurians!

    Needless to say, because of my “ghas-phoos” eating and no-drinking, I was easily branded the uncool chick in town. 😀 Funnily, my namesake in the team, a hard-core meat eater who also enjoyed her drink, took the Miss fun-loving and cool trophy.

    I’m not making any point in my long-drawn comment, just wanted to join in the rant while it’s cool. 😉

  14. pixie said

    Ah! The usual debate! I am tired of explaining to people that even though I’m vegetarian, I don’t mind my friends being non-veg or that sharing a meal with them is not a crime!!
    And explaining to people from where I get my protiens from is a conversation I am tired of having…

  15. R said

    You know, Pepper, the opposite has happened to me. Way too often. The subtle undertones that being vegetarian makes you somehow, nicer/ better/ holier cos’ you know, you’re not killing and eating animals! I used to vociferously defend my cause but now, I barely care. Like you say, what I eat is no one’s business just as much as it is none of my business to scoff at what others eat, be they vegetarian/ vegan/ whatever else. But sadly, that hasn’t been the case. I’ve been the non- veg eating majority as well as the minority and I have some observations, but I will leave them for when I chat with you online. I am not sure I want to state them here. 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Actually, I think it just depends on what constitutes the majority. The minority always has to defend their case. It’s stupid.
      Let’s talk soon! It’s been a while..

  16. kb said

    I have been looked down for being a vegetarian my whole life.Things and arguments went to the extent of one guy asking me ‘What do you feed any relative or friend who comes to your place for food?’ It was such a naive and ugly question that I stopped hanging out with people for some time.On thinking clearly what do non-vegeterians have to eat? Its just chicken and lamb in india and many more parts of the animals if u r in the west.

  17. Swaram said

    Very well said Pepper. It’s about the choices we make and that’s where it ends – it just has to! We are both veg and ppl sometimes ask us why are we so rigid, conservative, religious, spiritual (yup all those terms and much more) .t’s just that we don’t feel like eating or that we are missing something because we don’t!

    • Pepper said

      So true. I say that too. I don’t eat meat because I don’t feel like eating it, nor do I think I am missing out on something. 🙂

  18. I feel you.

    One of the senior directors in our office is a desi..and a non-vegetarian. If he enters the lunch break room when the rest of us are eating, he makes it point to glance at the vegetarians plate and comment – ” kya Ghaas poos layeho. How can you eat just this all the time?”

    EVERY. SINGLE. TIME

    Many of us have retorted with remarks..but nothing seems to worked for him.

    Goes to show how ignorant, dumb and stupid some people can be..whatever their profile is.

    Argh!

  19. Jazz said

    Hmm.. You can try telling them upfront or ordering an extra one when their hand is approaching your plate ?

  20. Devyani said

    Hey Ms. Pepper, chanced upon your blog, and must say I am having a great time going through all your posts.
    I am also in the same situation as you. My husband is a carnivore, and I am a vegetarian, who did eat chicken once in a while but now just stopped. And now that we moved to the U.S. a few months back, I find it difficult to find veg food that I like, but I manage.
    And what is with these non-vegetarians wanting to taste what we order for us!!!

  21. I’ve been reading your blog avidly, Pepper, and I’m glad to see that you are settled well in India, and that you and Mint are finding time for each other despite the busyness of life. As for them vegetarian haters, haters be hating. There will always be people who have something distasteful to say about every single decision that we make, and letting them be is probably the best thing we can do, for ourselves, as well as for them.

    Love, Miffalicious. [www.miffalicious.com]

  22. Ashwathy said

    To each his own. Why can’t people just let themselves be? 🙄

  23. If I had to roll my eyes everytime somebody asks me that, my eyes would be rotating like the earth…. 😉
    Most people ask me the reason for being a veggie( I turned veggie in my 9th std, like 11 yrs back), and I proudly say cuz I LOVE animals…. I usually have to hear things like We love them so much more that we keep them in stomach and near the heart… Or sick jokes like, you guys dont even give a fighting chance to the plants, we atleast give a chance to the chicken to run away…. Gets me real worked up…. I completely agree with the title of your post… I have noticed that tendency in people when they go on and on about omg, what are vegetarians missing out on! **Rolls eyes**

  24. Smita said

    I understand where you are coming from. Being a Vegetarian or a Non Vegetarian is a personal choice and shud remain so. People who are so concerned about the well being of others as in how will you get your nutrients from do not think twice even before attacking on the food ordered by you.

    I guess it is basic ettiquettes that is missing in here. People forget that we can question their choice also but by not doing so we are not only showing grace but giving respect to what you are and what you eat. A little reciporaction would never hurt. But then we wouldn’t be Indians no, we excel in the art of poking our nose where it isn’t needed ever.

    And yes I agree with Visha, order double and be clear “this one is only for me and if you feel I eat too much then that is your problem. As is I need to eat more to get your kind of nutrients” 😉

    • Pepper said

      We totally do excel in the art of poking our nose where it isn’t needed.
      Read my response to Visha. The food is pricey. And most people really refuse to eat veg in the beginning. So I don’t feel like ordering two, when they say they wont eat. Cos if they really don’t, it would be a big waste!

  25. I totally agree that vegetarians or non vegetarians make their own choice and shud not be judgemental about other people’s choices.I love eating chicken and have been a non veg eater all throughout my life (though red meat is strictly no no for me) .But I prefer to think that the chicken I eat comes in packets ( Real good or venky’s chicken)like biscuits rather than face the thought of a live chicken being slaughtered.The day I see the barbaric act I know for sure I will turn into a vegetarian…

  26. Rahmath said

    Hi pepper,

    I have faced lots of discrimination because i was a meat eater because apparently I am inherently cruel when i do that accordingly to many vegetarians i know. But that kind of holier than thou attitude actually made me a greater meat eater. So, I was quite surprised to know that vegetarians also face discrimination based on what they eat.

    When we go out with our vegetarian friends we do take a taste too though normally we order quite a big helping of veg food as everyone definitely tastes some. I will be extra careful from now on.:) Thank you for this perspective.

    • Pepper said

      Very sweet of you to keep this in mind Rahmath. From the sound of it, you already sound careful and considerate. I wish others would give this some thought though..

  27. used to get a lot of attitude from senior staff where I studied for being a meat eater while they were all vegetarians.. never really understood why they were so hung up about it. Its a choice.. there are so many better things to discuss or insult about. Why get all moral about it ?

    • Pepper said

      Yes. Why? I doubt there are any logical answers to such questions. Humans just like to establish their choice as the best one. So they indulge in these petty things.

  28. aquaboyin said

    Most here have trouble just being a vegetarian.. in my case I am treated like an alien. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Not only am I a vegetarian and a teetotaller but I don’t eat products with eggs, gelatin and etc… and don’t even drink coffee, tea or any of the soft-drinks 🙂

    When I go to others houses its funny how they keep asking me in the order: Coffee, tea, cool drink? and finally say.. at-least Milk? 😛

    The most trouble I have is when arrogant ppl ask me the following questions to test how vegge I am:
    1) Do you eat cake/cookies?
    2) Milk is Non Vegg, do you know that?
    3) Even plants have life so you are killing them as well?
    4) You have leather products, so you support killing animals.

    And my favourite one “Eggs are vegetarian, the eggs sold for consumption cant hatch”. 🙂

    My standard answer (that makes most ppl angry): My needs are limited. I don’t have to kill, starve or harm animals to feed myself a decent breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do not need coffee/tea to keep myself focused/awake/treat a headache.

    I can understand anyone other than an Indian asking the question about the lack of protein in food (Western cooking has food items equating to balanced nutrition and they have limited food items produced locally). But an Indian being ignorant about our vast food diversity is just plain stupidity.

    • Pepper said

      Tell me about it. People really do like to test how staunch a follower you are of vegetarianism. 🙂

      Just one thing though, perhaps you can skip talking about how you do not want to kill, starve or harm animals. Those sound like indirect accusations to somebody who does eat meat, and people are bound to get defensive.

      Yes, totally agree. India has vast diversity, when it comes to food! People not realising that is surprising.

      • aquaboyin said

        hehe….. its more fun to see them defensive instead of trying to prove me wrong.

        ppl go nuts defending their food choice the moment you use animals & harm inthe same line 🙂

        i found this the best way to getback at them.. 😛

  29. I so hear you. K likes his chicken and fish and I am happy with veggies and paneer (that can be combined in innumerable ways for n permutations and combinations). I agree that eating meat will obviously give you more choices and is sometimes more convenient. But but, that does not still erase the basic and the most obvious fact – people choose their food like how they choose their clothes and books and blah and bleh. It seems ridiculous when some of them consider that they were put on earth to make the vegetarians realize what they are missing out on when they forego the chicken tikka. Boss, you like your chicken tikka, I have my paneer counterpart. This however happens with very few friends.
    However, we have a global group of friends who are amazingly understanding and they just go all out in ordering 2-3 vegetarian dishes and share a bit with me for courtesy and all.That’s just too sweet of them.

    • Pepper said

      Your friends are awesome! My friends are assholes. I am forever abusing them 😛 And I guard my vegetarian food like my life depends on it. I swat away any finger that touches my plate. Lol! We laugh it off. Lol. But that is something that can only be done with close friends. When are meeting new people over formal dinners, I just mutter under my breath.

  30. Scribby said

    I’m a converted vegetarian..and I won’t call it as compromise or something..and I’m converted for no religious reasons…cause according to that toh I should have never tasted meat ever,we being Maharashtrian Brahmins., but the only reason I quit meat for the feeling I developed that : I can’t kill someone to satiate my taste buds!

    …having said that I don’t treat meat eaters as inhumans and such…it’s their life…they are free to eat what they wish! Like you,I believe that’s a choice I made for myself and I’m happy about it…When with meat eaters I don’t stop myself from stating that I’m a veggie…cause I’m proud of my eating choices 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Yes, I usually hesitate when it comes to announcing my vegetarian status, maybe because I am not so proud. Like I said in an earlier comment, I don’t relate to the concept of pride when it comes to personal choices.
      A lot of us seem to have quit meat for the same reason 🙂

  31. You know, even I stopped eating meat because I had accompanied my dad to a meat shop in india and saw a goat being slaughtered there. But irrespective of the reasons for my being a vegeterian I have not once regretted it, or felt as if I was missing out on anything in the culinary area because of it. S is a bengali, and meat has been a staple in his diet. But more than us, it is people who get surprised at the fact that I am a vegeterian and S is not. How do you guys manage, is what we get asked sometimes! But my parents, in-laws, most friends all are meat eaters. It only becomes an issue if one makes it an issue,by asking weird questions and making comments like vegeterians eat ghaas phoos.

    • Pepper said

      I do remember getting surprised when you told me you were a vegetarian and S wasn’t. Mainly because, I am used to people being surprised when they find out about Mint and I. So the reaction kind of passed on. And those words, “It only becomes an issue if one makes it an issue”, can’t be more true!

  32. MoRS said

    Alright I confess. I have a number of vegetarian friends, collegues and even relatives and we do make fun of them sometimes when we are having a meal together. From my side, it’s just light hearted teasing. I am not looking down at them, nor do I think they are uncool. And I am definately not being judgemental. When I say “you guys just eat ghaas-phoos”, I am just pulling their leg. Now, with your post I am wondering if they think otherwise and if I end up hurting their sentiments with this light hearted banter? I wonder if the said comment from that classmate was meant to take seriously. I don’t mean to challenge you on your blog, I am just looking at this situation from his angle 🙂 Giving you a different prespective, perhaps?

    • Pepper said

      Hey MoRS, firstly, I appreciate the honesty. I also know the comment made my Mint’s classmate was not meant to be taken seriously. However, it does get to me when people comment on such personal choices and then call it a ‘joke’. When everybody ‘jokes’ about such things, it stops being humorous. I guess this is a sensitive issue. People are usually touchy about it. So they are quick to take offence. And after all, every thought is formulated by an underlying belief. If you can joke about it and wonder what the vegetarians eat, then the thought has occurred to you (and the rest) at some point. That is the way our brains work. It is human psychology.

      You also need to keep in mind that you are not the only one teasing them. We are made to hear the ‘ghaas poos’ comment from a hundred other people. It can get very annoying. One of my close friends is a hard core meat eater and she moves around in a circle that is completely vegetarians. She is constantly called a ‘murderer’, and people tell her they are just kidding. Trust me, she doesn’t find it funny at all. Especially when she has to keep hearing it. I think we should refrain from commenting/teasing/joking about sensitive subjects like these, where people are quick to guard and defend their choices.. 🙂

  33. DI said

    I am a vegetarian, turned non veg recently. Pretty much opposite to all the others here 🙂 And it is a personal choice. However, when I was a pure vegetarian, thanks to my roots, I would never comment, roll eyes, look away, or make faces at non-veg food. Becos, it is pretty much uncouth in my definition. Rude. And now that I eat it, I hate it when others make a face or comment even today, and I have seen otherwise super-polite people do it.

    Similarly, when I was a vegetarian, and people made the ‘paneer’ comment, I would never retaliate with ‘I can’t kill to eat’ etc, becos it is plain silly to offer any explanation. But it never bothered me either. I would just smile and talk about the same old cliched ‘personal taste’.

    Both ways, I have always loved stating what I was (Vegetarian, then eggetarian, then non-vegetarian, and now seafood eater ;)) to all and sundry!

    • Pepper said

      You are awesome DI. Usually, one person comments and the other person retaliates with a counter attack. It never ends. Even when I am made to hear the ‘you only eat paneer’ remark, I never retaliate with the ‘ I don’t believe in killing animals’ argument. It is rude and insensitive. I do not see any need to criticize your choice, just to glorify mine.

  34. Hey Pepper! I totally agree with ‘being looked down’ upon as a vegetarian. Ofcourse in the initial years it was because of the religion and how we were told not to eat meat, but as we grew up and moved places, parents always told us that our health is important and if we did need to eat meat for survival-go ahead and do it. So now everytime someone asks us (Brother and me) we say that we are vegetarian-by choice! And proudly at that…

    • Pepper said

      Sometimes, you end up in places that force you to eat meat. It does make sense to have a practical approach and eat meat if the situation demands it. Your parents sound awesome.. 🙂

  35. kofykat said

    Well I’m a vegetarian and the biggest problem I face is people tying to trick me into eating meat. Why can’t they understand that this is my principle. And I don’t want to kill an animal. I don’t use leather either. Why is it so difficult for these narrow minded meat eaters to understand.

    • R said

      Erm, aren’t you sort of negating the point of your comment by calling them ‘narrow minded meat eaters’?

    • Pepper said

      I will have to agree with R. You do dilute the credibility of your argument by calling the meat eaters ‘narrow minded’. Other than that, I also dislike the way most vegetarians bring up the ‘I don’t want to kill an animal’ line. Yes, that might be true, but I think those things are best left unsaid. They don’t sound pleasant to somebody who does eat meat. Just like I tell the meat eaters to not pick or comment on the choices the vegetarians make. We can all do with a little sensitivity..

      • kofykat said

        Lol, not to offend any meat eaters but sneakily sliding meat into my plate and waiting to see if I eat it isn’t sensitivity is it. Narrow minded because they can’t seem to accept my choice or digest the fact that I can do without something that they calm not to be able to do without.

        • Pepper said

          Sneakily sliding meat into your plate is JUST NOT DONE. It is sick and insensitive. I am totally with you there. Have you asked them what they are trying to prove, or see or test? Like seriously, what is it that they achieve by making you ingest a piece of meat?

          • kofykat said

            Don’t know. I walked out of the restaurant. And haven’t spoken to them since……. It was uncouth and just not civil…. it wasn’t the ingesting meat that got to me more than the disrespect.

            • Pepper said

              It is highly disrespectful and I am sorry you had to go through that. I’d have probably slapped them. I am glad you don’t talk to them anymore.

  36. zarinem said

    There would be no fighting on this issue if everyone just eats what they’ve ordered instead of wanting the other persons food!

    • Pepper said

      I think it is natural to want to have a taste of what people around you are eating. I don’t think it is wrong either. As long as we are considerate …

  37. Aparna said

    oh i know some folks who go other extreme and like make a fuss abt even egg in cakes. 😛 cant blame them though. am not too fond of the smell myself.

    p.s. if you dont mind me asking, is you husband tamil brahmin by any chance..?

  38. haddock54 said

    Not being a “strict” vegetarian and avoiding meat is a good option to stay healthy.

  39. Agnelli said

    Only thing unacceptable is someone lecturing us on compassion after a sumptuous whopper

  40. […] back, Pepper had written a post on ‘meat being cool’ – I’ve been wanting to put some of my thoughts here ever since I read that and here it […]

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