The Hindu : Arts / Magazine : My Take - Love thy animals. But not in thy burger…
INDU BALACHANDRAN on the endless possibilities on November 25, a day of celebration for vegetarians.
There's a day in November when a lot of animals and birds may rest easier: November 25th is International Meatless Day.
Apparently, it's the day when environmentalists and animal rights activists hope that more people will discover the merits of vegetarian food — eating kidney beans rather than kidney stroganoff, trying out yam rather than ham, and sharing recipes involving the flesh of a fruit rather than the flesh of a beast.
Meatless Day will convince people everywhere to love animals and birds more — but not inside their burgers, sandwiches, rolls, curries, pies…(most definitely not blackbirds, four and twenty of them, baked in a pie.)
As a die-hard vegetarian, I am hoping this is not an excuse for supermarkets to push up the price of our already pricey vegetables that day. As for die-hard non-vegetarians, I suspect some will still cheat on that day, and interpret meat-less day as less-meat day, and slyly chomp on a fish finger or two for sustenance.
But somebody should alert Lady Gaga that she can't do a repeat of her sensational outfit at last year's MTV Video Awards, where she wore an entire dress made up of raw meat. Including her purse. (Was it made out of a sow's ear, I wonder…). She's one celebrity PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) will never go running after, as their ads feature famous stars dressed only in green clothes. Greens clothes actually. PETA models often pose in amazing garments made solely out of spinach leaves, lettuce leaves and cabbage leaves, with this catchy headline: “Let Vegetarianism Grow On You”. It might happen slowly, but you'll surely turn vegetarian some day, they promise…
So we can look forward to lots of information by vegetarian activists on the high protein content of nuts, the super-nutrients of soya, the body building qualities of tofu, and the reassuring news that one can even have rippling muscles like Shahid Kapur — who, incidentally, is a vegetarian and has all these as meat substitutes.
Where do they belong?
But I always wonder about those in-betweens: vegetarian lovers of chicken. No, that's not as contradictory as it sounds. I mean those who love to eat a chicken before it is born, not after it is dead. Where do egg-eaters belong?
And even as committed environmentalists turn our attention to the benefits of living better by consuming not animal life but plant life, what about some plants who are consuming living things? The Venus Fly Trap and other insect-gobbling carnivorous plants are not going to be very popular that day for sure.
The day will however be tough on kids who hate their vegetables; whose idea of a balanced diet is a hamburger on each hand. But I must say I am pleased to note that in many restaurants, the vegetarian's options are steadily growing larger everyday. I mentioned this to my chef-pal Abhijit recently. “Time was when people ordered their steaks rare. Now they order steaks rarely…”says Abhijit. All this despite that rather carnivorous hit reality show Master Chef Australia, showing several enticing ways of biting into food before it has a chance to bite the judges back. Sure, they also use vegetables in many wonderful creative ways — but mostly as decorations.
And we must applaud the clever idea of PETA giving annual awards to Celebrity Vegetarians. In the West, kids apparently began eating up vegetables faster when their greatest film hero Toby McGuire declared he was a total vegetarian by choice. As Spiderman, I guess McGuire was protecting a number of his distant relatives in the animal kingdom. In India too this celebrity strategy surely works — especially when Kareena Kapoor was declared India's sexiest vegetarian (even when her Size Zero made fans wish there was more flesh on her, even if it didn't get in her.) Then Amitabh Bachchan too confessed he was healthy and fighting fit, simply by chewing on green leafy vegetables; quite like he once did, chewing paan banaraswala…
Meanwhile this year's winners of India's Sexiest Vegetarian titles have furthered the cause of PETA even more. Among women, the winner this year is Vidya Balan: who looks healthy, glowing and pretty as a picture, in “Dirty Picture”. And the dashing male winner is Shashi Tharoor; he may still occasionally travel cattle class, but no cattle in any form on his dinner plate, thank you…
So enjoy the many healthy options of a meatless life. And don't forget this new-age Lord's prayer as you eat: “Give us this day our daily, multigrain, nutri-plus, ezee-digest, super-crust, vitamin-boosted bread.”
Indu Balachandran is a travel and humour columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.