right. this began as a reply to an email to someone who asked me to write about any incidents/anecdotes of being a vegetarian in the us. so here goes. forget punctuation and grammar. wrote it while half asleep.
i’m a vegetarian who happens to eat eggs. despite the firm belief and will to not eat any meat (despite the oxymoronish egg-eating) i have never had any problems mingling with folks who do eat meat. i’m in the minority 🙂 so being surrounded by meat-eaters is not new. however, there was never lack of choice back home. in the us however, it is the exact opposite. you have a whole grand one choice in a bevy of menu options. and unlike back home, vegetarian can mean many things in the us. you could be a vegetarian or a vegan or a pseudo-vegetarian who doesnt mind meat products in processed food but don’t eat meat direct on your plate. For eg, there are salad dressings with anchovies in them. On a passing glance, you wouldn’t really stop to think if there are any meat products in something as simple as a salad dressing. On closer look however, you can find many many such products on the shelves of a supermarket, including ‘vegetarian’ noodles which have beef extracts in the tastemaker powders. finding that out after a couple of yummy meals was a shocker! 🙂
The biggest disappointment being the distinct lack of variety at quite a few fast food outlets. Subway rules in that department as do many thai and chinese restaurants, but thats cheating 🙂 Having to be constantly on the watch to pick out any mistake in the food being served to you in the fear that the restaurant missed heeding to your ‘absolutely no meat’ request does tend to become weary very quickly but for some things you just have to plough on. I recall an incident narrated to me by a very close friend of mine. His dad and he were on a trip in South Korea and his dad had ordered fried vegetables and rice in a restaurant because he couldn’t find any vegetarian dish. When the waiter brought a big bowl of fried seafood, he was aghast and asked the waiter what in the name of god he’d brought them. Nonchalantly the waiter replied, ‘these are sea vegetables sir!’ Such are the travails of the vegetarian in a foreign land. Another incident that I remember was in heathrow airport. Having flown nearly 11 hours with a terrible cold and a body weakened by fever, I hardly had any energy to pass through the much reviled heathrow security check for my onward journey. Having refused the cold snack offered on the last legs of the journey, I had barely any energy to shuffle through security checks and then hobble through the lounges to pore through a magnifying glass to pick out the one cold sandwich among the nearly hundred sandwiches ranging from turkey to ham to chicken to god knows what other animal sandwich. No siree. The last muffin available saved the day as did a piping hot cuppa. Never ever travel international alone and unwell. You never know when you might need another person to get you the hot sandwich or coffee that you crave but don’t have the energy for.