Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm a vegetarian and I love my leather boots

My recent trip to the land that knows nothing of the existence of vegetarians (a.k.a New Orleans) made me reflect on why I was still vegetarian. I mean, it's not very easy being vegetarian. While NYC is as vegetarian friendly as an American city can possibly be, I did spend two long years in Pennsylvania, mostly ordering pancakes and fries at restaurants for dinner because I had nothing else to choose from. But I was never the least bit tempted to sway. So, I developed some grandiose notions about why I had stuck with vegetarianism while many "had strayed from the path". Clearly, they were "too weak".

Of course, the fundamental reason why I'm vegetarian is because I was raised vegetarian. But then I was raised to be a lot of (good) things that I am not today. For instance, I come from a household that set a store by keeping one's place very clean and organized, whereas I dread unannounced guests for a reason (never, ever show up unannounced at my place). So upbringing couldn't have been the only reason.

Then I thought that I was vegetarian because "it was the right thing to do". After I moved to the US, I quickly lost that notion. I stopped thinking that eating meat was some sort of sin. So I decided that I must be vegetarian because I was non-violent - I didn't want to see some innocent creature get hurt. But one day I realized, much to my horror, that I had fallen in love with a pair of lovely leather boots and had no compunction whatsoever in buying them. They're my favorite, most comfortable pair of boots I've ever owned and if I ever had to replace them, I'd do so with (gasp) the exact same pair if I can (Do you know hard it is to find a good pair of boots?). This was an eye-opener and I quickly checked off love of animals as a possible candidate.

Thus I've concluded that it is neither strength of character nor principle nor love for all things living that is keeping me vegetarian. Clearly I'm somewhat hypocritical, and I think I must generally be disgusted by meat, the same way I'm disgusted by beets and spinach and raw plantain (ugh!). Nothing great about that, but in the grand scheme of things if a chicken or two is saved, then all the better.


  1. I loves me some beets. Raw plantain will forever be on my "avoid at all costs" list though.

  2. Anna! I've seen you pounce on beet salad every time it appears on the menu and lucky for you, you never have to share that dish with me. As for aritikaya (raw plantain), like brother, like sister :)

  3. Hi Padma,

    I am a vegetarian too... and this post did rise a few questions in my mind... And guess what, I hate non veg for one single reason (may sound funny) too. It's kind of sticky between the teeth..

  4. Beet salads are the best.. specially if they have some mandarin orange with them :)!

    Peeps.. srsly you gotta atleast try non-veg.. you are missing out on so much :P

  5. @Medhini - Thanks for leaving me a comment. That's a perfectly good reason for hating non veg :)
    @Tanz - Ugh! Not a beet lover, not a meat lover!

  6. Hi, Padma!

    New to your blog and had to comment on this one. Was also vegetarian in the US without a problem though for me, it is animal rights that is the reason for not eating meat. My kids and husband do their thing and eat meat pretty happily. Conversation with son today, preparing them for a pooja where kids were invited.
    Me: Don't ask for chicken.
    Him: Why? I love it.
    Me: This God is not crazy about chicken today.
    Him: Then why did he make chicks?

    No arguing with some people, huh? Like your blog. Shall be back.

  7. @Sangi - Hehe, kids say the darnedest things! Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a comment :)

  8. @Padma couldn't stop from replying becoz I had this brainstorming hundreds of times. Raised a vegetarian I did eat meat a few times. However, while trying to justify my reason to be vegetarian I couldn't find anything else other than the brought up and the family tradition. I know you beat this reason by comparing it to keeping your place clean. But keeping your place clean needs a whole of lot of inertia, where as converting to non-vegetarian needs a little bit of inertia. My hypothesis, we follow the traditions of bring up when it is convenient but otherwise wouldn't unless there is a strong belief in it.

  9. @Kapileswar - Thanks for stopping by! You bring up an excellent point - we let go of things that are easy to let go. Keeping my place clean takes work. But being vegetarian takes work too, albeit much less :)) Although, I do think that while upbringing is certainly a factor in keeping me vegetarian to some degree, it's not the only factor. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. Hi padma,
    I to am a vegetarian and I have grown up a vegetarian and I have never had one bite of meat in my life. This did make me think of why I am a vegetarian and why I think it is good. I believe that it is because of the way they come up with the meat, how they put all of these terrible things into the animal just so they can have what apears to be better meat. And all of those things can not be good for you so I think that that is the reason I am a vegetarian

  11. Loralye, thanks for stopping by. Yes, all the hormones and antibiotics and stuff that they pump into animals can't be good for you.

  12. Hi Padma!
    I think it was R. W. Emerson, that said it's OK to contradict yourself. (in his SA Self Reliance)
    I think that your sharing of thoughts it's an amazing, inspiring and brave.
    waiting for your next post... :)