I wasn’t at all a major meat consumer. In fact, I loved – and still do – my vegetables. However, when I made a decision to come and study in Thailand, little did I realize that my eating habits would change so significantly because every meal I consume now includes some form of meat in it.
For some reason, meat products are far easier to find here than our typical alu tarkari or hariyo saag. So a major meat consumer I’ve become.
It’s not impossible to find vegetables here, of course not. It’s just that it’s way easier to find meat. And undoubtedly, I take what I get.
Until recently, I hadn’t a clue as to how sucked in I had gotten into this dietary routine of mine that doubtlessly included meat.
It was when Mamu called me one evening and asked me not to consume any meat the next day, for some astrological reasons that is beyond my understanding, did I realize how ridiculously difficult it was to refrain from eating meat.
I refused her straight out. But you know how it’s so easy to succumb to all that emotional drama. So I was left with no choice but to comply.
The next day was some task, I have to say. I remember that the first thing that crossed my mind after I got up was, “Don’t eat meat!” After carefully selecting my fruit and nut cereal instead of ham sandwich, I made a conscious effort to start my day rightly.
But can you believe that this “pressure” to desist from eating what I’m not so fond of in the first place was so great that it felt like I had subconsciously internalized this whole “challenge of going vegan” nonsense without even realizing it.
It felt more like a chore not because I couldn’t eat meat, but it was because someone had told my mother that I not eating meat on a particular day would be good for me. It felt like a lifestyle choice was being imposed on me.
Imagine when during lunch I had to ask the eatery to make me a meal that didn’t exist in their menu!
“Did you go vegetarian?” one of my friends inquired, to which I had no answer. How was I to explain to him that I was vegetarian only for that day, that too not because I wanted to be but because someone had told me to be.
The woes don’t stop here, no. Do you ever feel like the very thing you’ve been trying to avoid finds you when you least want it to? What I mean is that on the day that I consciously tried so hard to be as far as possible from meat, meat seemed to be looking for me.
Friends here and there kept offering me pork balls and chicken nuggets and all the fast food junk that I was asked to stay away from. Of all the days, they had to decide to be so generous to me then!
Again, it wasn’t at all that I was struggling to cope with the challenge of being vegan on that day. Like I said before, I love vegetables. But the fact that it wasn’t a decision I made was eating me up from inside.
At the end of the day, I was so frustrated with the fact that I eschewed eating meat not because of my own values and beliefs, not even because of my mother’s, but because of some third persons.
And when my mind was so preoccupied with such an attitude, you would really wonder if my endeavor to go vegan for that day did me any good, if at all.
After all, is it so bad not to be vegetarian? Perhaps not. The countless articles I have read and consultations with many dietitians suggest that if you want to go the vegan way, then there are certain ways of doing it right.
I mean, how do you disregard the importance of proteins in your dietary routine? You don’t.
But many a people seem to think that the path to a slimmer, leaner – not necessarily healthier – self is to embrace vegetarianism. These people obsessed with stick-thin images surprisingly see going vegan as the solution to their excess body mass problem.
This is actually quite funny because these very people tend to disregard the health factor, or even the age factor, when it comes to having a curved body. All I’m saying is: if you want to do it, do it right.
I actually remember one of my cousin sisters fainting in front of all of us because she was subscribing to eating only vegetables for her source of energy.
Blinded in part by false belief and in part false hope that resorting to vegetables would get her the illusory size zero figure, her consumption pattern got worse off by the day, and needless to say, she wasn’t doing it the right way, either.
Granted, it is two different things to go vegan for one day as opposed to a permanent lifestyle adjustment.
However, my point is that you can’t afford to be oblivious to false illusions or get someone to impose their views on your lifestyle choice. If you want to go vegetarian, make sure you make that decision and that you make it consciously.
Decide to adjust your eating habits – either by going or not going vegan – for whatever reason without compromising your health. At least this way, the challenge of going vegan might not be as mighty as many of us believe.
Ayushma Basnyat is a student of political science at Thammasat University who enjoys exploring life and all that it has to offer.