CULTURE SHOCK

Life in Queens (the Most Diverse Borough of the Most Diverse City in the World)

Vegetarian Culture

People choose to be vegetarian for various reasons. Common misconceptions confuse people about the reasons behind the choice to be vegetarian or vegan, and therefore, I have decided to clear some of these confusions.

I have been a vegetarian for all my life and I choose to, not because of religious reasons, but because I don’t believe that harm should be done to innocent animals. I plan on one day converting to veganism as well, because the way dairy farms use animals is entirely inhumane. A couple of days ago, I was at a restaurant in the city. I asked for tomato basil soup, and when told that they were out of it, I asked if I could just buy the salad by itself. It was a combo meal and because of this, the man behind the counter kept pushing for me to try their chicken soup. I explained several times that I do not eat meat, and he continuously responded with, “Can’t you just eat meat for today?”

This is the biggest misconception people have about vegetarianism. Many people believe it can be an on and off thing, but there is no switch in my mind that can allow me to flip back and forth. Yes, it can be difficult finding meals at restaurants that aren’t completely vegan or vegetarian, but at the same time, I would not allow for that to be a reason to eat meat.

Most vegetarians eat fish and seafood. Personally, I never understood this, because they are still living breathing creatures, so why don’t they classify as meat? I don’t eat them because anything with a face should probably be called an animal.

Now, to speak about the religious views on vegetarianism. Many people assume that because I am Indian and a vegetarian, I am Hindu. Whilst it is true that I come from a Hindu family, not all Hindu’s are vegetarian. Actually, only 20-30% of them are. Hinduism does not say to be a vegetarian, but rather to respect animals (especially the cow- because it is sacred) and live a humane life. It is actually Jainism that says that all should be vegetarian. Most Jain’s are considered lacto-vegetarians or vegans, because they do not consumes eggs or any animal product other than milk. Both Hinduism and Jainism say that non-violence to animals is key to the religion.

Other religions, such as Sikhism and Judaism, have guidelines on the extent to which animals can be harmed for food. Each varies slightly, but in the end, the basic ideas remain the same: to have respect for these animals.

For some more information on vegetarianism and veganism, you can visit http://www.peta.org/living/food/vegetarian-101/.


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