90 percent vegetarian
A few years back, I went on a road trip with a colleague of mine on the east cost of US. We being in this noble profession could not afford the restaurants and hence thought of relying on the ubiquitous and benevolent Uncle Mac-the patron saint of broke tourists any where in the world.
My friend being a vegetarian had a problem to contend with. He does not like burgers , will not take fried chicken. We tried the super market, but the frozen delicacies need a micro wave oven and our rooms did not always have one. So he subsisted on fruits though he had a value based objection to GM foods. After a day of bananas, apples and pomegranates, I took to him a packet of bread and marmalade.
He was quite hungry, still he carefully read the contents listed on the pack. Being in US, most packets list a lot of ingredients.Turning to me with a frustrated look, he said, the bread is omega enriched which most likely must have come from fish and marmalade contain gelatin which is of animal origin. So I can't have either.
Here is an example of a fanatic vegetarian . He had become a vegetarian later in his life after marriage. The lesson here is simple -converted ones will be more fanatic in their beliefs. Perhaps it is about earning the respect by outdoing others in devotion. Is the classification vegetarian-non vegetarian a strict binary divide? I think it is more of a continuum.
I have an exploratory approach to food and accept a wide variety of foods with out being very fastidious about their origin. Still ,more than 95 percent of what I eat is what is typically described as vegetarian. Since I take a lot of vegetarian foods, do I quality to be called a Vegetarian. Similarly, many usual vegetarians during their life would have tried non-vegetarian food, just because they occasionally try non -vegetarian food, can they be classified as Non-vegetarian.
A friend of mine who claims to be a true-blue Brahman from an ancient clan, who do Pooja on all days and all occasions, and is a choosy vegetarian to the extent of avoiding even onion because of the mythological non-vegetarian association, once while drunk tried chicken sixty five. He liked it. Does this make him a non-vegetarian.
So what am I rambling on? A friend sent me a link from national sample survey that claims more than 70 percent of our countrymen (and women) are Non-vegetarian. This assumes that vegetarian -Non vegetarian classification is mutually exclusive. I would like to think of a continuum where on one extreme we have the fanatic vegan and on the other extreme we may have some one like one of my friends who had this LCHF (Low Carb High Fat ) diet for an year. My friend reduced more than 10 kilograms by surviving on egg, fish and meat (and of course alcohol)
Most of us ordinary ones, fall between the extremes , the difference in percentages. If I am 90 percent vegetarian, my wife is perhaps 98 percent. But if we compare the per-capita consumption of meat, egg and fish between two nations say India vs Thailand, we may find that India is a lot more vegetarian than Thailand. Or US is significantly more Non-vegetarian than India. But if you ask some in a survey, have you consumed any meat, fish or egg during the last three months, they might say yes. If you ask them will you describe yourself as a Non-vegetarian, they may even say yes. But the fact remains that by value or quantity terms, the consumption of meat, egg or fish in a person's diet remains a very small.