Vegetarian woes

At best we are treated with an air of tolerance combined with condescension.

Despite all the publicity vegetarianism receives, what with international greats advocating and endorsing it, we ‘grass eaters’ – as we are ignominiously referred to – receive a raw deal. Even in this supposedly enlightened day and age, I continue to explain – with a tinge of defensiveness, though why I should feel so is quite inexplicable even to myself – that it has nothing to do with caste or religion but stems from a strong conviction against taking the life of a poor, unsuspecting creature.

And I also feel forced to explain that I stay away from fish, chicken and eggs as well. A Japanese friend of mine always introduces me as a ‘pure vegetarian’. As if there are impure vegetarians! It always proves effective.

A friend, her daughter and I went to Poland to attend the daughter’s friend’s wedding. Even though the mother of the bride had a hundred things to see to, she made time to cook vegetarian food for me and bring it to the wedding hall, neatly packed in small boxes. A touching gesture!

When I was visiting my brother in the US, he very sweetly informed me that the finger chips went into the same oil used for frying chicken nuggets. Since then, I have been put off the snack, even when it is made at home using virgin sunflower oil.

Very often, people poke fun at us. We are the butt of many a joke and generally considered a pain in the neck. Sometimes I am asked, “Are you still a vegetarian?” It is asked with the same casualness as enquiring, “Do you still live in the same house?” or “Are you still working for the same organisation?” As if I were an unreformed delinquent!
At best we are treated with an air of tolerance combined with condescension. The attitude seems to proclaim that, as a tribe, we are a difficult lot. So I exhort, “Vegetarians, come together. Let us take a united stand and make our cause a worldwide issue!”
Here is an example of the trials we vegetarians suffer. At a take away eatery in the US, I asked for a veg burger. As the person at the counter was packing it, just to ensure that he had heard me right, I asked, “Is that a veg burger?”He looked contrite. “Sorry, lady. It’s a chicken burger. Don’t worry. I’ll change it,” he said obligingly. His gloved hand then removed the chicken cutlet from between the two slices of the roll and replaced it with a veg cutlet! With deft fingers, he put it in a brown paper bag and handed it to me with a big smile. “There you are!” he said, with a slight, gallant, old-fashioned bow.

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