Meat loving vegetarian
By Etan Doronne
22 Jun 2011
India is The place for vegetarians. Hindu culture, thousands years in the making, developed such an abundance of vegetarian cooking knowledge that it has become the default cuisine in any Hindu home and restaurant. Worldwide, people may not be aware of this reality as Indian restaurants abroad must base their menu on non-veg entries, to meat public's demand
Non violence, 'Ahimsa' is part of the Hindu scriptures and of traditional life ever since. While human sacrifices around ancient world were mostly imposed and lethal, Indian people, to this day, take promissory vows which upon fulfillment they would strain their own body but not irreversibly, never self-mutate nor suicide.
Due to these perceptions meat eating is regarded immoral. Holly cities, such as Pushkar Rajasthan, ban entrance and preparation for any type of meat or eggs. Although in most cities and towns butchers are around it is always in hidden, improvised or modest locations, as would be the case with prostitution, drugs or alcohol in many western countries.
Some minority religions in India do consume meat traditionally. Such are Muslim, Christian and Sikh. Some of these along with ex-Hindu converted to other religions, run beef stall diners. The few times I aimed for a photo of these I met a strong objection from owners, a rare act around Indian daily life.
On the other hand some Hindu sects have even stricter diet restrictions. Brahmins, the Hindu priest community, avoid garlic for it's sexual and craving arousing effect. Jain, a 1000 year old relatively new sect, avoid all root vegetables clearing the doubt of consuming insects prevailing in these.
The cow, more then any other animal, is worshiped. It is the Hindu mother of god Krishna. That obviously makes it off-menu for even those Hindus who do eat chicken, goat and fish. Here's my experience with Desi Cow - Or - how to spell 'Indian street'.
Across most of India preventive cow slaughter regulations are in place. Kerala state is one of the more "relaxed" and so, many trucks stuffed with standing aged cows head over from neighboring south Indian states. Under a blazing sun on a 500 km journey with no water or food these cows, as my friend Sridhar told, actually shed tears.
"Farmers", he answered my question, "can not afford to support a non fertile cow. Some traders promise the cow will be kept alive but of course that is only to ease a farmer's pain of separation."
There are cow dedicated government run home-for-the-aged, where they supposedly live to a natural death. I haven't yet visited one.
And back to my own story: At that age of 8 my dad and me drove to the endless sand dunes near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, where after sitting in the Bedouin's woolen tent we bought a baby goat. White female that became our beloved pet. My sisters and me used to play goats' head-to-head natural game with it. Since there was no male around, it never delivered or gave milk, it was just another member of the family. Of course we never could consider it a food item. Unfortunately, some years later, it ate some poisonous bush and despite veterinarian efforts it died. That's about when I put this note together.
Many years later, while staying at a family home in Uzbekistan, I played with a black goat in the main courtyard. Later that day, after returning from a visit to the old towns market, I saw it's two chopped legs resting besides the doorway to my room. I was boiling with sorrow and anger and berried my face in a pillow trying to erase this from my mind while others attended the dinning table.
Just before signing my name on this childhood note I mentioned that we live in a Villa ?! :) , In fact it was a 50 years old simple pioneers house which at that age and time captured my imagination. That has changed since, but not my friendship with those animals.
More about this personal and documentary project on My India: Where every village is home - Experience !