I was surprised and shocked to hear the news that dead animals, collected from garbage dumps, are being processed and supplied as meat for human consumption in restaurants. Animals included dead dogs, and cats and I do not know what not. I hope there was no dead donkey.
Born in a Bengali brahmin family, I am not a vegetarian. But my uncle was. Like any self respecting Bengali vegetarian, my uncle loved his fish. He would, however, not allow eggs hatched by a hen (moorgir deem in Bengali) to enter his household. Those days chicken (moorgi in Bengali) used to associated with a snack served along with liqour and by extension linked to debasement and debauchary. My uncle, however, had no objection to eggs hatched by a duck (haanser deem). This suited me well. Because duck eggs were bigger in size than chicken eggs.
My father was less conservative. I remember going with him to neighborhood butcher shop and by mutton every Sunday. I studied in a boarding school run by Rama Krishna Mission. Swami Vivekananda had urged youth of India “to eat meat and play football, to understand Gita better” (not exact quote). As a result, non-vegetarian food used to be served four days a week in our hostel. Meal included fish in the morning and egg in the evening. On Saturday afternoon, a goat or two would be sacrificed. All of us would wait eagerly for dinner bell. Meal used to be terrible, more water than mutton, but it was still a mutton curry.
I was introduced to chicken when I was in college. My friend invited me to a beer party. Thereafter, I would go to such party to gorge on chicken tikka. As my gluttony became apparent, gradually they stopped calling me. Beef and pork were still a no no. My mother would give a scientific twist to her arguments by saying “in a hot tropical country like India, beef and pork generated too much heat, which may not be good for health.” To top her argument, she would say “many cows have disease and tape worm.” Those were days when gau rakshaks were not rummaging through peoples refrigerator in search of beef. Anyway, we did not have a refrigerator. I followed my mothers advice and did not eat either beef or pork. No I was not afraid. Any, my mother did not know that it is mostly buffalo meat that is sold as beef in India.
My resolve was broken as I was going for my graduate studies. On air, I was served some meat preparation. Without fuss, I ate it. It was certainly not mutton or lamb or chicken. But I did not protest or ask for a vegetarian meal. When I landed in Canada, my first meal, encouraged by a fellow Indian, was a hot dog and then a few days later a hamburger from McDonald. Hamburger was most certainly had a beef patty. And, about sausage in hot dog, the less said is better. Managing my expensed in a shoestring budget, I realised chicken and beef were least expensive compared to ham, lamb and mutton. In my defence, I can say that in Canada food meant for human consumption was inspected better rigorously and Canada was a cold country.
As the news of dead animal carcass from dump yards for human consumption hit the airwave, I wonder, in India of 2018, who knows what is being home delivered and eaten in the name of numerous non-vegetarian dishes like chicken chowmein, chicken fried rice, chilly chicken etc, to name a few. I wonder what my mother would say about eating non vegetarian food today. This information could desist people from eating non-vegetarian food indiscriminately, from sundry joints.
Apart from societal aberration, something is changing inside. I think of cruelty inflicted upon chickens in commercial farms, steroids pumped in cattle to increase muscle, toxin under fish skin and infection in farmed fish, the list goes on and on. Once in a while, I also wonder am I trampling on the right of another living organism for pleasing my taste buds? Digestive system certainly does not seem to relish it. Am I becoming a sissy with age? Apparently, no societal pressure works better than self realisation and regulation.