At the time when more and more foreigners have started to preach and practice vegetarianism, more and more of us are turning flesh-eaters. Once I had a debate with a friend of mine on whether man has been created as a flesh-eater or not. I fought with him saying we were flesh-eaters and I showed him my canines. He argued that ours were not canines in the true sense of the word. But as more and more in the room joined him, I withdrew hesitantly. To be frank, I still don’t know whether I’m right or he is.
But all the doctors have unanimously declared that meat is harmful to our body. Our body does not need it. Our digestive system has been programmed to cater to only a vegetarian body. And by eating non-veg, we are taking a great risk. But over the generations, even our digestive system has undergone evolution, resigning to the fact that they are to work overtime.
Can’t blame the present generation or, for that matter, the one before that for turning non-vegetarians. You find more variety in non-veg food. My sister is a thoroughbred vegetarian, who, even after continuous persuasion from her husband and his family for years, couldn’t change ways. I see her distress when we all go out together to eat. We all freak out on the best available non-veg food, when she is forced to opt for a daal fry or a chilli gobi. Being a very poor eater, this doesn’t affect her much, though. And I’ve noticed the step motherly treatment of such restaurants towards vegetarian food. You go to any major city, it is inundated with international eat-outs – McDonalds, Pizza Hut, KFC, the list is endless.
But like a friend of mine once said, “goodness of anything is relative. One person’s good is another’s bad”. This is very true in the case of food too. When my husband was in Dubai and me and children back home, every time he calls us up, the first question, invariably, would be, “What was for lunch and what is for dinner?” When I tell him the menu for the day, his reply generally comes in “wow”s or “slurp”s. And what I generally cook are rice and the usual accompaniments like sambar, rasam, pulisseri, aviyal, etc. And when we return the question to him, his answer will be, “a burger from Subway”, or “a pizza from Pizza Hut”, or “a chicken tikka biriyani from Mohammedikka’s shop”. This answer will soon be followed by a “yuck”. And our son always complains, “Acha is so lucky, he gets to eat all exotic food. Here I am bored stiff with the same stuff, day in and day out”. And another of his complaints is that my menu is so predictable. He says, “When it is sambar today, I know its gonna be aviyal tomorrow and rasam, the day after. Why can’t you be unpredictable once in a while?” And my husband says, “It’s so nice to think of home, where you have a wonderful wife, lovely kids and sumptuous food. What more would a guy want in life”. This was what I meant when I said “relative”. And I try to instill in my son the fact that he is indeed lucky. I tell him, you have such a wide choice now, which gives you a chance to complain. When I was young, I never had much choice. Going out to eat was on rare occasions, mostly when we found ourselves outside home during lunch or dinner hours. And the hotels didn’t have much choice back then.
It was during one of these arguments that I got a chance to show him how lucky he was to get the type of food he eats now. My sister, her husband, I and my children were out shopping once. While returning, my sister and her husband decided to do a bit of extra shopping on their own. We opted to stay inside the car. It was raining cats and dogs. It was almost dinner time, and then the talk of what to eat sprang up between my son and me. One lead to another, and soon we were arguing. Suddenly I looked out of the window and saw this old man sitting on the sidewalk and trying to eat something out of a small packet he had with him. He was sitting under a parasol and it was raining all round him. And the walkway was crowded. But he was oblivious to all that, busy eating. He would have had great difficulty getting someone to part with that packet. We could see pieces of roti falling off the sides of the packet. He didn’t need to think twice to take it from the ground and put it back. I looked at my son, and I could see he had suddenly become quiet. I had driven home my point.
But I was under no delusion that he would never again complain about his food.