Trials of a Vegetarian

19 Feb


People frequently assume that it must be very difficult to live on a vegetarian diet. It is! But not for the reasons they assume.

No! The most difficult thing about being a vegetarian has nothing to do with finding healthy or tasty vegetarian food. Instead it’s having to explain why we opt to be so, to self-appointed nutritionists out there – aka most of the non-vegetarian population.

“You will have difficulties in child-birth.”

“You will die young.”

“You will never get your required amount of proteins.”

Etc, etc! You get the picture? In this subcontinent where people have lived perfectly healthy lives as vegetarians for centuries due to the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, I really don’t see why I have to answer for my food habits to know-it-alls with colonial hangovers.

Unfortunately though, they seem to take it as some inalienable right of theirs. Thus most of us vegetarians have gotten used to the inevitable interrogation sessions on our food choices.


There is a two-fold reason for my vegetarianism.

1 – I was born into a Hindu vegetarian family.

2 – I happen to be an animal lover and do not want to eat meat, regardless of religious injunctions.

I draw criticism on both counts. People ask me if I am a religious extremist, for being a Hindu vegetarian. I wasn’t aware that peacefully following the principle of Ahimsa would make me an ‘extremist.’ Nor do I see why following such an obviously ethical principle should even need defending. Following on that principle, for a long time now I have wanted to be a vegan (which diet would be comparatively difficult to follow), but even that in my estimation would not be extremism. I simply do not wish to give pain to other living beings. That is humanism, not extremism.

Which brings us to the other famous argument non-vegetarians employ against us: “Plants have life too.”

You don’t say!


Yes, I did study science in school too, thank you very much. I know plants are living beings too – but they don’t exactly have the consciousness to know that they are going to be butchered and thus feel fear and pain like animals. If it makes you feel better about your dietary choices, by all means tell yourselves that plants have lives too – but try to wipe that triumphant smirk off your face when telling us that.

No – unbelievable as it might seem, you are not the first person to confront us with that brilliant line of reasoning. Nor even the hundredth. Even more annoying than having to answer for being vegetarian is having to put up with that “AHA, Gotcha” smugness most people radiate when they come up with that hackneyed argument.

Fortunately for them, my belief in practicing non-violence extends to idiotic humans too.

So, there you have it:
Yes, vegetarianism is a perfectly healthy way of life.

No, I am not going to die young. My strapping six foot two’ grandfather, a strict vegetarian all his life, lived till ninety-three.

Yes the vegetables I eat had life too but they didn’t bay with terror as the knife sliced through them.

No, doctors haven’t said that vegetarianism is an unhealthy diet. Or rather they said that decades ago, but now they are saying that vegetarianism is actually healthier than eating meat.


Your trump card of being ‘scientific’ as opposed to us, no longer washes I am afraid. You have sat on your high-horses long enough. Come down to earth and join us in our journey to humanism.


2 Responses to “Trials of a Vegetarian”

  1. Ashish February 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Love the way you put it, Thulasi 🙂

    • Tulie February 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

      Thanks 😀

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