Monday 7 November 2011

Veggies are humans too..!!

(Published in Express Tribune)

Societies are usually gauged by the way they treat their minority. Folks, I confess to being a minority. No, I am not a non-Muslim, gay, lesbian, Atheist or fat(Not that there is anything wrong with that). I am a vegetarian. I have spent most of my life answering stupid question like 'Why aren't you eating anything baita, do you have a medical problem?' or 'You don't eat red meat, that is all right. Have some chicken.?' with uneasy looks and evasive answers. I have had to laugh off jokes about me being 'born on the wrong side of the border' and 'to the wrong parents'. I have left countless weddings, dinner parties and eid get-togethers with an empty stomach. I have quoted facts and figures and even Dr Zakir Naik to argue against the assertion that you just can't live without consuming meat. I have frequently been diagnosed as someone who has 'nakhra', attitude problem or phobia. There are NO exclusively vegetarian restaurants in Lahore, Islamabad or Peshawar(I haven't been to Karachi yet). The maximum I can get at fast food restaurants are French Fries. This despite the fact that around 5% Pakistanis are vegetarians(This is mostly speculative as no definite data is available). There is even a Pakistan vegetarian society whose primary objectives are to 'promote humanitarian, moral and nutritional aspects of vegetarianism'. According to blogger Maryam Arif, “Being vegetarian in Pakistan is highly suspect, Indian-like; even though most Indians I know ask for beef kebabs first thing they come to Lahore. Yet in our minds vegetarian = Hindu = Indian = weak. The popular thinking is that meat gives us an edge over them grass-eaters across the border. Carnivores are stronger and taller; even light-complexioned than herbivores. Isn’t that so? It has to be.” Amber Raheem Shamsie writes, “In our culture, the not eating of meat is considered a compulsion rather than a choice. Vegetarianism in Pakistani culture can be a rebellion.” As if  living as a vegetarian was not difficult enough, living as a vegetarian in Lahore is even worse. It is a bit like blasphemy to live in Lahore and NOT eat meat. Lahoris are often offended when you tell them you are a vegetarian. It is an insult to their intelligence. How can anyone voluntarily give up the meat delicacies that constitute our cuisine? Surely you must crave Mohammadi Nehari, Behari Kebab from Bundu Khan, Seekh Kebab, Siri Paye, Macchi of Mozang Chungi and the mouth-watering abundance of Food Street. I have decided that enough is enough.  I am out of the closet now. I am sick of your Siri Paye, Qormas, seekh kabab, gurday kapooray or whatever and you do not dare question my eating preferences again.!
I would like to finish off with a saying of Albert Einstein, “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."


  1. It was a pleasure reading your post. Have quoted you here:

  2. don't worry....being a vegetarian in France is exactly the same....and they use to put little bits of " lardons" ( bacon cubes) in every vegetables

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  5. @zainab
    well, there are other vegetarians in Pakistan as well. Also, thanx for the Mirchi reference, I have been there 2,3 times but didnt know about the dish u mentioned.

  6. Hey,

    Kudos to you for staying on your convictions!
    After all, as Bon Jovi's famous song goes.. 'Its my Life'!