Disclaimer: This is NOT a post championing one type of food preference over the other. It in no way intended to stir a debate over vegetarianism, non-vegetarianism, or veganism or ridicule anybody over their food choices. This is an extremely personal post to share my musings, frustrations, thoughts and current state of mind over food.
My earliest memories of non-vegetarian food go back to when I was 6 or 7 years old, sitting in a posh Victorian styled restaurant, dangling my legs above the wooded floor. I watched my mother roll her eyes, as my father devoured a chicken tikka masala. Coming from a traditional Brahmin family, technically, I have been told by my ‘mummy’ that we don’t eat non-vegetarian meals. But for some reason, my father’s never told me so and has experimented with his meal preferences, while my mother has stayed away eternally from any meat or fish. Cut to 28 years ahead, my younger brother someday, I think, would like to build “of the food, by the food and for the food” esque home. He’s a great chef by the way and just as dad doesn’t shy away from his chicken! My friend, mentor and partner in crime and travels, @Srinistuff loves everything meat, while just being beaten by sea-food because of his allergic reactions to it.
As for me, I have been a self-proclaimed/ self-righteous vegetarian, I have never eaten fish, chicken, beef, pork or anything that belongs to a legged family. Call it my sensitivity to smells, flavours, or plain meek attempt at getting through by life without stirring any controversies by uttering “stop the cruelty to animals”, I have never attempted to try non-vegetarian food. I am scared to have eggs, without getting caught between two of my friends- Raghav and Arjun- who insist, eggs are vegetarian. Get it? Ironically, I have not been a foodie traditionally. I have always skipped breakfasts to rush to work, and finished with lunches and dinners as routine chores. Yet, here I am today. Thanks to hyperthyroidism, I am always hungry, ready to hog. Sometimes people make fun of me, but how do you explain your hormones to anybody?
Betrayed by my body:
4 years back, I started traveling extensively thanks to a forced sabbatical owing to a hectic corporate life and my doctor’s “You are nearly finished if you don’t make a drastic life change!” shrieks, through the breadth and width of India…, umm…..may be world… I have crossed 6 countries from my bucket list during this period. I think, I got my math right… Not sure. Anyway, that is a story for some other time. The point is, that I have been faced with a conundrum of “you can’t do this, you can’t have it or not good for hypothyroid.” I am forced to cut back on what I eat, what I drink. I can’t have my vodka, my rum or whatever. One doctor advised me not to have tomatoes. Oranges and lemons contain lot of citric acid and do no good to acidity levels experienced in hypothyroid. No pineapples either. One doctor said- “No broccoli!”
What? No broccoli?? There went my fuse. I get irked when I listen to somebody telling me- no broccoli. Like, are you serious bro? How can a damsel like me survive without a broccoli?? Ugh. I will write about my love for broccoli in another post. Then early this year, sinus made an entry into my life, further cutting out all COLD out my life 😦
At one point, I felt frustrated. Tears would swell in my eyes at any culinary get-together. I started avoiding food all-together, which I realize now, turned out to my biggest mistake. How could I be happy, if I couldn’t even enjoy my food, I was being conditioned to make my food choices as per my health, religion, beliefs and moral responsibilities? Everything, each moment, I was being watched, I was being judged for what I would eat…
I digress, but this continuous badgering of what to eat and what not to eat is getting on my nerves. My food options were limited. I couldn’t go out. I would put on weight. My brain and heart would sing a Karoke on “I can’t even have my food?” I understand that food choice is an important ingredient of living a happy and healthy life. I know, we are what we eat. All this “let’s go vegan or vegetarian at least because of climate change, healthy lifestyle, compassion towards other living beings” make sense to me. But I will not let anybody else’s knowledge, righteousness or high hand philosophy to decide what I will do. I have met enough compassionate people who urge me to go vegan and enough adventurous souls who think food is the essence of life. I have met enough god-fearing people who think everything is about god!
To be honest, I am not against either of this kind. I am happy to know, something makes you happy and you live with it. You might be concerned for me, for my health and my well-being. But that doesn’t give anybody a free hand to dictate something as basic yet critical element that nourishes our souls, our universe. The whole purpose of “I was born. Then I went to school-college, got a degree, went to work, earned money” is to enjoy our lives, do what we can, dream and basically just chill. If living life becomes a tedious task, then what’s the point?
Taking the leap of faith:
My mind is currently set. I think the Universe heard my pleas and started sending me work assignments which give me a free hand to try and eat everything on this god dammed planet! Recently, I visited an Asian foodie’s paradise. I ATE EVERYTHING except for Octopuses (ooh that still scares me!) Beef and pork noodles with chopsticks, pork dumplings, abalone in an ice cream cone, oyster omelette, quail eggs, prawns, barbequed squid, etc, etc. I went crazy eating everything that came to me. Nevermind, I didn’t even bother to ask what I was eating, lest, I would have just given up without trying.
Yes, all the judgmental people can now come and lecture me on how what I feel is wrong, why I shouldn’t write online, why I should go anonymous, how my life is at stake, how immoral I am, etc etc. But don’t ridicule me for my food preferences or life style. Moreover, it’s unfortunate and a human fallacy that we learn from others’ mistakes or experiences. As a race, we learn only from self- experiences, we learn from our mistakes. We learn from our accidents, heart breaks. Only we, individually can decide whether we are responsible for what’s happening across the planet today- whether it the Irma Hurricane, Everest Avalanches, Mumbai Floods, Hong Kong Typhoons, Japan earthquakes- the environmental degradation, the climate change, the animal skinning for fashion industry, animal testing for Pharma. Yes, we are all responsible for this together. But if humans would learn to “live and let live,” I don’t think we would have ended up like this in the first place.
As for me, may be this is just a phase. May be I am just frustrated with the limitations placed on me, maybe I am myself to blame for it. May be, I will go back to my old – vegetarian meal or maybe I will turn vegan completely. Only time will tell. May be right now, I am angry, impulsive, being childish and I am going to devour my way into this world. It’s an ongoing process, mentally, spiritually as well as physically. For the time being, I feel calm, happy and physically much better. I am learning to accept my place at the top of this natural food-chain. May be one day, I will wake up with a different mind…
Until then, I will eat everything through my world….!