It occured to me how I never shared with my readers my evolution into a vegetarian. It happened after a post on selfishness and the post following it (which carried forward the issue raised in ‘Selfishness’). The comments that were left on those two posts also helped me make up my mind.
After having witnessed the Mumbai terror attacks (albeit via TV and newspapers), I am crystal clear about my stand and feel good about it. For our survival, we need to destroy something or someone. In other words, selfless survival is not possible. The only thing that we can do, if we do want to keep living, is to choose how cruel we want to be.
All of the following are forms of destruction, but in increasing order of cruelty (that’s a personal opinion):
- killing plants to feed ourselves
- killing animals to feed ourselves when there is nothing else to eat
- killing animals to feed ourselves even when plants are available
- killing animals for pleasure / luxury clothing / luxury bags
- killing a human-being when it is absolutely necessary for our survival
- killing a human-being for any other reason than that mentioned above
Terrorists would belong to the last group (most cruel) and a vegetarian would belong to the first group (least cruel). Gandhi had gone a step ahead – he had even stopped eating killed plants and had taken to only fruits (further less cruel). I might not be Gandhi but I asked myself if it was possible for me to climb down the cruelty ladder at least by one step. The answer to that was an obvious ‘yes’ – and that was when I stopped eating animal flesh.
Since this change had happened before I had left for London, my decision had ensured that it wasn’t going to be easy for me there. Unlike India, the veg platter never has much to offer in UK. Also, it felt odd to refuse the chicken cooked with so much love by Bua in Leeds (she obviously wasn’t aware of the transition) that I ate it quietly. I should have realized this earlier that she would have definitely prepared the favourite dish of everyone in my household – when her nephew was visiting her house for the first time. But eating the chicken that night, didn’t change anything. I know that I am a vegetarian now and I shall remain one for the rest of my life because there is no other way I can be true to myself.