Thursday, September 08, 2005

FAQs for a vegetarian

got the idea for this post's topic from some very interesting musings by a fellow blogger-cum-aspiring vegetarian that i encountered recently (http://randomsampling.blogdrive.com). i haven't eaten meat from any land-based animal for the past five years or so. but i do eat eggs, drink milk and consume other dairy products (like yoghurt, butter, etc.). apart from these, my only other sources of protein have been legumes and fish. i also consume a lot of other seafood. still, i can't be considered a strict vegetarian. i take bites from food that have been cooked with meat or with animal oil. so if it's a ham and cheese pizza, i just take out the ham before i eat the pizza. and if i've mistakenly put something in my mouth supposedly made entirely of shrimp, but which turned out to have pork, i ingest everything and refuse the next servings.

it's interesting how people react when they find out that you have this peculiar eating habit. the two most common attitudes are: 1) consider you as some kind of "spiritual" person that attained a "higher consciousness" and state of being for doing something that can't be easily imitated by the ordinary lot; and, 2) pity you for being confined to limited gastronomic options in a predominantly meat-eating world. the three most common questions i've encountered so far are: 1) what made you decide not to eat meat anymore?; 2) do you still consume chicken, eggs, milk?; and, 3) are there any other members of your household who don't eat meat?

the first question of course is a basic one and answers could take on a very philosophical tone. i've given a lot of reasons and told a lot of stories through the years (including that one about this crazy "vow" that I and my colleagues in my former NGO have made a few years ago, but would have to be retold later). now that i've finally come to reflect on it, i have two answers: 1) i believe people should learn to eat lower in the food chain as the earth's ecosystems wouldn't be able to sustain so many beings taking on a predatorial existence (got that idea from my environmental science class); and, 2) in gandhi's words, "i want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings called human, but i want to realize identity with all life, even with such things as crawl upon earth". number 2 is more of an aspiration rather than an allusion to my existence at the moment.

the second question i believe is meant to gauge how serious one's claim to vegetarianism is. sometimes, this comes in a skeptical mode, as if the inquirer would really want to say "now that is an awfully hard thing to do mate, and i find it difficult to believe that you're really able to do it all the time". so, my usual answer is meant to convey this idea: i'm not a strict vegetarian, but i'm hoping that someday i will be one. that seems to take away the person's uneasiness as you now appear to be just an ordinary guy after all, struggling with the meatless path.

the third question is really the clincher as you are now asked to describe how you go about practicing your claimed vegetarianism. sometimes the questioner would be a one-time or an aspiring vegetarian who seems to be expecting some "inspiring" words from you that could probably rekindle the urge to resume or take on the practice. and my answer has been the same during the past five years: i'm the only person at home with such eating preferences, i don't attempt to convince anybody to eat the same way i do (but they are welcome to take a bite from whatever i'm having), and i buy my own food or eat whatever non-meat food there is on the table. any other question?

3 comments:

Daisy said...

Hi Randee,

I myuself is an aspiring vegetarian. I haven't eaten red meat (pork and beef since 1997. And i have a long story about questions I encounter along the way. It is so true the expression you get esp here in our country when it is so difficult to be a strict vegan.

I will write my own insights to this topic in my own blog--limited space here. I will just link your entry to mine if that is Ok mate?

btw, CONGRATULATIONs for being one of the top 4 students to graduate in MENRM!

dAY

the martian said...

hi day:

congratulations for making such a noble and enlightened decision. as i've said, i've never tried to convince anyone on this. i believe that like spiritual matters, this decision to drop meat from one's diet has to grow out of your own personal experiences and insights.

sure, you can make that link to my entry here. watch out for my next posts. i've recently made another vow: not to take alcoholic drinks (including beer). and i plan to write on it soon.

and thank you. couldn't have done it without the lessons i got from you and the other people i met during those three and half years at UPOU.

Cecile said...

Dear Randee,

What does being a vegetarian entails? As one of my friends would say, "one cannot be called a vegetarian, if somehow you still eat chicken meat or fish or some other seafood..." But, I cannot comment on that either...I do not eat red or white meat, that includes chicken meat...I get protein from legumes and beans...although this is detrimental to my health, my father's death made it all the more clear to stay away from them...however, as a scientist at heart, I have to somehow justify my ways and actions...hey, I love vegetables...fruits...even my doctor said that no one can ever eat that much vegetables as I do, but here I am...a human cow...ha ha ha...the scientific explanation will come later...

I am back from the Netherlands, my dear friend...got your e-mail about my address, but my response might have been too late...

Just be safe on your trip again...

Chat with you soon...

~Cecile