Saturday, 17 December 2016

Vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism and various other superiorities

My doctor asked me is a conversation, 'So vegetarians consider non-vegetarians immoral ?'.
I told her, 'That is a baggage all vegetarians have inherited. The sense of superiority of choice. i was also there once long ago. Then I moved in to live with a community far superior morally in generosity and ethics and courage - as evidenced by easily accepting their own tomorrow's hunger, while reaching to feed a hungry soul today. I in my vegetarianism was nowhere close to them, even if they were occasional meat eaters. I learnt my lesson the hard way. Others vegetarians need to learn their lesson of humility and limitedness in their own time and way.'
Incidentally I stay uncompromisingly vegetarian still .. but know that it is simply one small choice.

Preethi Raghav I will strongly disagree on the one *small choice* part! Taking away a life that wanted to breathe and live cannot be a choice. Choice is to mentally make a decision after considering multiple options. Most folks follow vegetarianism or non vegetarianism out of habits and not out of thoughtful choice.

However I will agree on all other parts that we've our own limitedness in many aspects but I will never be convinced to make a comparison of that with taking away a life and that too just for a meal!

Deepak Kumar Agree preetiji, would just add, out of habits and that too are successfully implanted by market, if you don't eat meat you will be deficient physically in many ways. Thus creating an environment on compulsion and showing it as smart choice.

Aparna Krishnan Preethi Raghav, in case we drive a car, and contribute to ozone layer tearing we are killing many more lives - yes, in ways we do not see. The global warming that we are party to is wiping out swathes of people at animals at rates that leaves all our hands bloodied. I would consider an occasional meat eater who has simplified his life to basics far more non-violent (and also, yes, killng less animals), than a vegan who lives a more consumerist life.

Preethi Raghav Zero killing in my opinion is non existent. If I call myself a VEGAN, I surely don't become a saint who never kills. But I make a decision to end visible suffering and I think that's how we function we act upon what's visible and appealing to us. I will surely not argue with you living a consumerist life right now. I know I have a long way to reach before I comment on villagers and that's why I'm careful to talk only in the urban scenario. My cries are against animal agriculture

Aparna Krishnan The entire picture has to be seen and accepted. And that a non-vegetarian who chooses only public transport and cycles would actually be killing less animals than a vegan who drives a car. Having said that, yes, we make small personal choices. Yes, i also stay vegetarian.

Aravinda Pillalamarri It is possible that the apple in the market, imported from New Zealand or elsewhere has wreaked violence every step of the way - from depriving subsistence famers of land in favour of export-crops, to the toxic pesticides and fertilizers all the way to packing, shipping for consumption in seasons and locales where such apples do not grow

Aparna Krishnan a free running hen killed one day for a meal is more ahimsa-ic.

AV Gopalakrishnan Bernard Shaw replied to s journalist when mocked him as a grass eater that he is a vegetarian as he don't want his stomach to be considered as a burial ground for dead (meaning killed or slaughtered) animals and fowls. He further claimed he is a vegetarian by conviction than any injunction by a Canonical scripture. So am I.

Prabha Krishnan Once Shaw was asked if he disliked flowers because there were no vases in the rooms. He replied - I like children too but I don't cut off their heads and stick them in pots. Irascible chap

Mekhala Gee I don't feel morally superior is just a personal choice that I am a vegetarian....I am not sure it is worth all this analysis

Ekta Agarwal Agree, that is what I was going to say. I am vegetarian by choice, please respect that choice too. I am already struggling with lack of vegetarian places to eat. And if I do not like the smell of meat, or fish, please understand. If you do, I understand.

Aparna Krishnan i have never faced any unpleasentness or thoughtlessness ever, though ours was the only vegetarian family in a non vegetarian community.

Ekta Agarwal That is why generalizations are bad. Do not assume, especially in a diverse country like India, nothing can be assumed.  I do not feel superior, never have. I went to an all Khasi (tribal) school in the North East, I was the only vegetarian and people of course, respected my choices. But it meant growing up without sharing tiffin boxes  They could share mine, but I could not share theirs, and hence they refrained from eating out of my box because I will have little.  They were all Christians though and had accepted I was different. They had learnt to accommodate me, and I them. But Hindu kind of non-vegetarians are another story. They are not cautious and forget basic courtesy while dealing with vegetarians. Many a time I have foregone a meal because of lack of vegetarian option.  [I am generalizing, not always correct, of course. ]

Narayana Sarma Ekta Agarwal In complete agreement with you. "they are not cautious and forget basic courtsy.." so true.

Aparna Krishnan Narayana, I asked you if this seemed so in ckpalle also ?

Narayana Sarma Aparna Krishnan told u t2 is an arrogant NonVeg kind.

Narayana Sarma "they are not cautious and forget basic courtesy while dealing with vegetarians" so true.

Aparna Krishnan I spent my youth and middle age with naren and uma and eashwaramma and sankaranna .

Aparna Krishnan the ordinary simple 'illiterate' villager is cultured. so i'm asking you about ckpalle. not interested in t2 !

Aparna Pallavi Really appreciating the struggle. I feel happy when vegetarians and vegans can see the side of the meat-eaters, but I can also empathize with how severe the struggle can be for them, especially if they have been indoctrinated into it by birth, or have very strong views about the subject.

Narayana Sarma btw I have witnessed the arrogance and intolerance of non-vegetarians (just the opposite of what you have seen). I have seen places where non-vegetarians said- "This is what we have, if you want it- eat. Otherwise go fasting- we don't care". And ofcourse I reacted. They ensured I become a stronger vegetarian.

Aparna Krishnan Narayana Sarma, I am talking of the overall situation. Brahmins generally feel superior because they are vegetarians. I do beleive that overall given a choice between assuaging hunger by killing an animal or a plant, the latter choice is superior. But I cannot accept the personal superiority that is taken on ! That often is. The reverse is maybe not so common ? In the village we were the only vegetarians in the community. There was only mutual respect for the differing coices.

Narayana Sarma There is a prblem with subjectivity, Aparna. May be I am also talking of the overall situation?  Actually I am seriously thinking of starting a vegetarian society in ckpalli and fight non-vegetarianism full throttle.

Aparna Krishnan In ckpalle does it get provoking ? it has never ever been so in paalaguttapalle. ? Never. If anything, in initial years, I have been provoking/

Narayana Sarma Aparna Krishnan t2 remains a strong nonveg entity.#CausesForDiscord

Aparna Krishnan Narayana Sarma paalaguttapalle is also n.veg. But cultured deeply, and hence #NoDiscord (whats the hash for ?? i simply returned the compliment with a hash !)

Aparna Krishnan Forget T2. In the village how are they ? There must be peaceful co-existance.

Narayana Sarma Common people have no issues at the moment. But no one remains common forever, Aparna, people get influenced. There are all kinds of influences; and they change peoples' perceptions of their neighbours and of themselves. People get offended, and they offend, take sides, get polarised, take to arms and eventually go to the extent of lynching when it comes to food and its various choices. "I decide unilaterally on the food choices of others" may well be 8 points on the scale of fundamentalism; but "I have a right to comment and look down on the food choices of others" is, surely 5 points, if not more, on the same scale.

Aparna Krishnan So T2 would also have an influence on local people's attitudes ? I dont think we or Naren-Uma had any 'influence' here ... we simply merged in some senses, and where we didnt we were accepted for what we were. There have been no undercurrents even on food tho' in the whole panchayat only they and we were non-meat-eaters.

Narayana Sarma Aparna Krishnan I sincerely hope the discussion wont digress.. but look- economic relation is the substructure, whether one agrees with Marx or not. Naren-uma or you would not influence, but only merge, because you did not (and hopefully would not) indulge in economic activity the way a typical foreign funded NGO would. People in DA used to imitate AK, people in T2 imitate B&M, and people in D's setup would imitate D- and in that process they would get influenced and loose their sense of identities for the newly acquired ones. If bosses eat meat, they eat meat; if the boss drinks liquor, they drink liquor; if the boss argues against prohiibition, they would do the same. And mind you, they wouldn't be as polished as the bosses, so they actually make a clumsy show of the whole thing; get drowned in liquor; challenge vegans, accuse them of being brahminical; or indulge in stone throwing and loose control. To 'influence' them thus, you need to interact with them sufficiently on the economic plane- Naren did not do that, probably because he did not like to influence people that way. (- Influence of that kind will actually make silly sheep out of people; Like they attend a politician's meet for the 500Rs offer, they would attend an NGO meeting for the perks it offered.

Aparna Krishnan But lets face it clearly - we were against NGOs, and it stayed that way here - but, post-Naren the land redistribution efforts he worked for have faded away. I have no answers. I am not even sure of the questions anymore.

Aparna Krishnan Yes, I get the picture of what disruption an NGO could cause, were it less than 100% sensitive to the village, as well as to its own soul.

Aparna Krishnan What is B&M ? AK ? And for interest where do you locate yourself now ? Long back it was in both the Gandhian and Marxist camps ? As Naren also, in a way.

Narayana Sarma I continue flirting with Gandhi, Marx. I am also a Narenian, and a practicing Buddhist.

Rekha Ramu The way u write, Aparna Krishnan...1000 likes for this piece.

Gayathri Nair The presumed moral superciliousness of a majority of vegetarians is surely not an objection to vegetarianism itself, or a comment on its desirability ?

Aparna Krishnan I am for vegetarianism, and would like to see fewer animals suffer. But not for misplaced sense of a baseless superiority.

Gayathri Nair I agree that a sense of superiority ought not to motivate a single virtue. Still, I confess myself willing to compromise the means for the end in the matter of needless violence.

Preethi Raghav I can talk about myself. I'm vegan because I don't think I'm SUPERIOR, because I think an animals life is important too! And that I'd like to believe my instincts. Instinctively I NEVER feel like running under a cows udder to suck milk out of her nor do I enjoy killing an animal. I need to eat to survive and going by all logics I'm convinced we're better off eating plants.

Aparna Krishnan So do milk drinkers (like me) run to a cow's udders ? In the phrasology is a deep superiority over less-moral people preethi. I have been there, so I know. It took long hard years in a wise and non-vegetarian community for me to start seeing parts of my own complexws clearly.

Preethi Raghav Aparna I clearly and carefully spoke only about myself. I don't want to give big talks really. I by no means see myself morally superior. I know very well of my shortcomings and have a long way to work on myself. But that was a response to you repeatedly stating that vegetarians considering themselves superior.

Komakkambedu Himakiran Anugula The seeds of any plant are only meant for procreation. Who gives us the right to deprive plants of that right.

Komakkambedu Himakiran Anugula How many vegans actually own livestock? If we let all domesticated animals be, how will they survive? It's a 10000 year relationship that we have with livestock. No point expecting anything from people who "care" for animals but don't flinch when farmers commit suicide and rural India is ruined deliberately!

Aparna Krishnan Suraj Kumar, that relationship of 10000 years is the point. We need to act based on reality. Theories that settled agriculture started the decline, or that cows should not be domesticaled is so irrelevent in reality, and real time planning.

Aparna Krishnan Understanding rural india comes first - as India is rural. And not thro' just reading. Only after understanding the reality and culture and praxis of a country can anything be said. The english-educated are sadly too distanced from the real India, and many well meant positions become rather meaningless.

Rahul Banerjee We are killing micro organisms all the time as we wouldn't survive otherwise!! Therefore non violence is not a very good argument for vegetarianism. Environmental protection is not enhanced if vegetarians eat water intensive food like rice, wheat, vegetables, milk and sugar.

Aparna Krishnan We all have our own personal choices, and I myself chose vegetarinism. Thats ok, so long as we understand that thats all it is - simply one of many tiny personal choices we make. What we really need is to imagine and fashion a sane world, anchored in the reality and culture of the land, and also having a production and consumption than has relationships which the mind and soul can engage with. Smaller communities with sustainable practices basically, in my understanding. And what I suspect has existed always till the white man, and next the educated brown man modelled on his lines disrupted. Yes, some corrections have been in order - as always everywhere.

Aparna Krishnan Narayana Sarma, would you agree withe the above. Its been some 20 years since you moved from our village ... and my learnings and understandings have been from my village. But somewhere I would generalize also. And interestingly when I read Vinoba;s description of villages in maharashtra, they simply match my own understandings ... so village as a concept in India, stays across space and time.

Narayana Sarma Our daughter has some lessons on Tribal cultures- some loose talk about panch, patla and community decision making. It is obnoxious Aparna, primarily because it is written in present tense. Those cultures had their own serious problems, and they are all now GONE- partly because of the invasion of the 'white-brown' man and partly because of the severity of their own inherent problems. What remains of them is not even their ghost but the mainstream is interested in painting some fanciful picture of its liking and then calling it tribal. More than the already gone tribal culture, I am interested in seeing why her text book talks about them thus. The context turns surprisingly 'present' then. One would then look at present day 'intensions'- one would look at present day 'purposes'. The world, to me is marching 'forward'- It has never stopped. (Wishfull) Thinking- 'idea' -never ruled the world Aparna, as much as praxis- the complex web of economic relations in today's 'global' society- that is where I like Marx. Villages described by Gandhi or Vinoba may have existed, villages like yours and mine may have existed- at some point in time, in some particular state of things- but they have all changed, they will all change- in very pre-defined ways- Let me explain this: The first ever flyover I had seen was in Delhi, 1991. It was only in 2001 that Hyderabad got into the flyover frenzy. It took ten long years for the transformation- 'technology transfer' from Delhi to Hyd. It took ten more years for it to spread to district head quarters. And it follows the idea would reach villages in ten more years and it did! Can't you imagine what transformation a four lane NH7 can bring to a 'serene' and 'peaceful' 'commune' like CKPalli? It transforms- and the old ideas about 'life at ckpalli' turn into mere descriptions of a ghost. Let me Sum up now- individuals like us do indeed make our own choices- but it is best remembered that they ARE our petty little choices. They have a very low chance of getting emulated en masse- unless they are really the fashiontv or the fb kind (which they are unfortunately not) and flow with the current that Marx liked to call capitalism. But we are always free- to try and get more people to think the way we do- whether it brings in any revolution or not. We are free to run real organic farming experiments; free to run kottapalli's; keep talking about going green, rural india, community living, etc. And the world keeps marching forward. And I insist this is not pessimism- actually it is a realistic action formula. कर्मण्यॆवाधिकारस्तॆ |

Aparna Krishnan I agree essentially with the part on change. But my village, and my understandings of it are based on my own living there of 15 years.Th stories and accounts are not romanticised notions. When you dismiss panch, Narayana, do you remember that Naren would attend every single madhyastham despite his utter inability to stay up after 9 pm. And last out till it winded up, often adjourned, well after midnight. In my own experience the madhyasthams in dalitwada have, with 2 expections over the 15 years, been fair and sensitive judgements factoring in nuances. Local people prefer this, and go to the police only next. Times are overall corrupted, and with that madhyasthams, as also the police will get more and more corrupted. That needs to be seen, and maybe addressed at a larger level. There is still much that can and needs to be preserved in villages. And much that needs to be restored, and corrected. I stand by the essential sanity and balance in villages, as the small, somewhat sufficent communities is the only answer. Acheiveable or not is not in our hands !

Aparna Krishnan Narayana SarmaEkta Agarwal - actually both your experiences on non-veg people also being offensive I do not think are based on simple Indian peopel. Either some experiences in urban metros, or some NGO cultures. I think my sense of peaceful co-existance of veg and non-veg in villages stays valid. And, if anyone was offensive, it was the urban vegetarian ladyin the village ! When I moved in first in my late twenties, fresh from an urban upbringing, and with the judgementality that is part of that upbringing, , in my initial years, i have refused to go to the Gangamma festival, telling them that I am against animal sacrifices ! They responded with the civility that is only part of a deeply cultured community. They took it without offense, and asked me to add a few grains of rice in their pot and that that would be accepted as a prasad even if i didnt come. Over years i learnt better values and culture as in rural india.

Aparna Krishnan From another thread. Was struck by the ability to bluntly face oneself. That is what is needed, even accepting that over years perceptions and understandings can and will change.

Karthik Duraisamy If we think non vegetarianism is better than cannibals, then vegetarianism is definitely better than non vegetarianism! I am a non vegetarian and just because I can't control tongue doesn't mean I have to be right in this.

Aparna Krishnan Sudheer Ayyappan, are things were a zero or one !. Actually eating plants is a lower violence that animals is something we all kind of accept. And which every saint, either of the brahmins or of the dalits (our village people revere brahmayya garu, a local sage of some centuries ago) has suggested vegetarianism. What is totally inacceptable is a sense of superiority, if it accompanies this vegetarianism. Because each of us is compromising in so many ways, that to make an issue of one little point is idiotic and supercilious. And society will have a reality of different choices for a balance always.

Aparna Krishnan Yes, and still I think when the sages recommended vegetarian food, apart from personal growth, there was also the element of compassion. And universally it is assumed that the animals feel more pain than plants. Not to make too fine a point on it.

Rajiv Ramnath So, I asked a colleague of mine if there was a moral framework for eating meat (and for that matter, plants as well). The argument he came up with was as follows: In a sense, domesticated animals and agricultural plants are essentially using humans to propagate their species. That is, without human consumption of these species these species would not survive (or shrink to very small levels). I found this to be an interesting argument. 

Aparna Krishnan Man and his brain ! s

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