I am intolerant when it comes to Meat – and don’t feel guilty about it – 10 Dec 14

I already planned yesterday to tell you a bit more about my own experiences in various restaurants with special food requirements – and here you go!

I have been vegetarian my whole life long. In my hometown Vrindavan, you actually won’t find any restaurant that sells meat. It is a vegetarian town. I travelled a lot in my childhood but in India, and especially in the circles that I was moving in, being vegetarian is nothing unusual. On the contrary, the people that I was around considered being non-vegetarian an outrageous way of living.

Then I started travelling abroad. I knew before that I would be doing a lot of cooking for myself – I also used to do that when I was on journeys on my own. I got to know that there were no vegetarian restaurants available abroad. When I went to restaurants, it was Indian restaurants where I could clearly explain that I didn’t eat meat, nor onions nor garlic and they would understand.

And finally my Western friends started taking me to other restaurants and I learned to be very clear with everyone around what I would eat and what not and also how I could eat.

Most vegetarians in the west are used to being the minority and being the only ones to eat vegetarian food while everyone else eats meat around them. I was and am not used to this at all – and I have to tell people who go out for dinner with me that I cannot eat when there is meat on the table. I don’t have appetite, on the contrary, I even feel like I could get sick. For me, there is just too much connected with that piece of dead animal on your plate!

If you call this intolerant, I can accept that. I am, in this regard, fully intolerant – and I don’t feel guilty about it. If you believe you cannot eat vegetarian for one day when we are out together, I have to tell you that I will not eat with you at the same table. And next time I will completely avoid eating together with you. That’s just the only way that I can get down food into my stomach.

Now that doesn’t mean that I want everyone else around me to eat like I do at all times. I don’t want you to pretend being someone who you are not. Of course I would appreciate others to become vegetarian – which is a general attitude because I believe it would be good for everyone – but just because I tell the waiter that I don’t want onion or garlic in my sauce, you don’t need to do the same. I don’t mind my Western friends drinking a glass of wine in the evening either, when we are sitting together – even if I don’t ever touch alcohol. And in this way, I have had thousands of wonderful dinners.

What I mean to show is that even though you may have different habits than others, even though you can accept some things and others not, you should not feel bad about it. Know your limits and make them clear in a friendly and polite way. No need for bad feelings if everyone knows about it.

Should someone decide to pass a stupid comment – so be it, you don’t need to give them the pleasure of your company while having lunch or dinner!

Don’t feel guilty about being Vegetarian among Meat-eating Friends – 9 Dec 14

Yesterday I explained my dislike of 'meat substitutes' like tofu sausages etc. I mentioned that you shouldn't have feelings of regret and cravings once you have made your conscious decision to be vegetarian. I remain on this point and want to add that it is still true, even if you are sitting with friends in a restaurant and don't find any acceptable vegetarian options on the menu! Don't feel bad or even guilty about your choice of lifestyle!

Many vegetarians know this feeling: you go to a place to eat together with friends. You open the menu and the only thing that could be eatable for you would be a tomato salad. If you don't eat onions, like me, even that is not an option. There is no single dish without dead animal in there.

What to do? You can either take the tomato salad and plan for another snack to still your hunger once you come home or you can start asking the waiter for vegetarian options. Depending on the person in front of you and the flexibility of the restaurant kitchen, that can be a rather lengthy discussion. You will get incomprehensive glances and maybe even stupid remarks. In the meantime, you start feeling more and more uncomfortable, wondering whether your friends feel you are making a fuss and are getting impatient because you cannot just place a simple order.

The result: you feel guilty and bad. If your meal arrives and it turns out that they have only picked out the bacon from the sauce and you still see the rests, it gets worse. Should you complain, embarrassing your friends further? In the end, your evening is definitely not as pleasant as you hoped for.

I tell you something: you have to take some decisions. If you know that you will go for dinner, tell your friends that you need a place that has vegetarian options or you won't go. Nothing that they need to feel bad about and nothing that you have to feel bad about. If you want to do something together – and you friendship should be more important than the choice of restaurant – you can go to a place that has something to eat for you, too! After all, these days vegetarianism is not anymore such a strange thing! Restaurants should cater to this need as well – and if they don't, you should not bring them business and definitely not blame your own decisions.

Another option is to invite your friends to your home! Cook something together or simply invite them when you have cooked one of your favourite dishes. Show them that vegetarian food is tasty – maybe they will then agree on finding a good place with you that does have vegetarian meals!

I am lucky to live in the country that has the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world – which means that there are always vegetarian restaurants somewhere close-by available. I am faced with another issue sometimes: I don’t eat onions or garlic. But I have lots of experience in the food question – and I think I will write more about my personal experiences tomorrow.

Substituting Meat is a wrong Approach to Vegetarianism – 8 Dec 14

Recently I stumbled upon an article online that had a headline similar to this ‘The 10 best Substitutes for Meat’. As you could expect with such a title, the author described ten food items that you could use instead of meat. I hate this kind of articles. Wait, no, it is not the ’10 best…’ theme that I dislike. It is the subject of this article. The idea that going vegetarian could mean that you need to substitute meat!

I believe it is the wrong approach to vegetarianism. Why do you turn from meat-eater to vegetarian? There are so many possibilities: because you love animals and want to stop animal cruelty, because you are sensitive enough to know that it is wrong to raise a duck in order to eat it, because you have read and actually feel that your body is not made for it…

All of these reasons mean that you consciously decide that you don’t want to have meat on your plate anymore. So why do you act like you are missing it and need to replace it?

That’s the reason why I don’t like all those alternative products in shape of popular meat forms – tofu-sausages, seitan-bacon and vegetarian chicken or vegan turkey! Do you really want to imagine eating a turkey? Do you miss eating dead animals and regret your decision each time you have to say ‘without bacon’ while ordering breakfast?

I can just say it again: you have made a conscious decision!

It’s not like you have a meat-intolerance that deprives you of the joys of biting into the thigh flesh of a killed and cooked pig! If you have lactose-intolerance and have to give up on yoghurt or substitute it with soy products, I understand that you sometimes look at a yoghurt made of milk and think how easy life could be if you could eat it like everybody else.

If you have such feelings about your vegetarian diet, you are on the wrong path. You won’t succeed keeping a diet while feeling guilty about it and longing to eat something else!

You don’t need substitutes. Make normal, regular vegetarian dishes. Eat tofu and seitan and whatever you like – but buy it in its normal form without the label of some kind of animal on it! Take care to eat a balanced diet without thinking you are lacking anything by not eating meat – eating a proper vegetarian diet is healthier than eating meat!

Be confident about your decision and stop searching for substitutes!

If you eat Meat do not claim that you love Animals – 28 Jun 11

Yesterday I wrote about Mark Zuckerberg and his idea to eat only meat of animals that he killed himself. I mentioned that in my opinion one possible reason for this idea was the history of the meat that you can usually buy at the supermarket or even at the local butchers.

Apart from the fact that it is medically better for you to have a balanced vegetarian nutrition than eating meat, there are reasons for being vegetarian that have more to do with the way that animals are kept nowadays.

Let me describe you the ideal way that any meat-eater would hope that his meat comes to his plate. There is a young calf, born to a happy mother-cow in a big farm in the mountain area. It grows up, drinking milk from the mother, being brought up by its mother but also the loving farmer. Each day, the farmer brings the calf and its family to the meadows where it can eat fresh grass and herbs. It grows and gets stronger and stronger. One day, the butcher comes to the farm and without any pain or fear to this animal, kills it, ideally even praying for it and thanking God and nature for the life he takes. He brings the meat to the market where it is sold as freshly as possible and without any further treatment.

This however, my dear friends, is not the reality. It is only an illusion and not the history of the meat on your plate. It may have been, many years ago, when the towns were smaller and when there was less demand for meat. The lifestyle of cows even was similar in my childhood, when we and several neighbours had cows and a person who took care of them. He picked them up at our home in the morning and brought them to the forest or on meadows. In the afternoon or evening he brought them back and we milked them.

These days however calves are being born in the hundreds on big livestock farms that have thousands of pieces of cattle. The calves are separated from their mothers right after birth and grow fast and fat with hormone injections given daily or weekly. Milk cows additionally get injections for a bigger milk production. They have a space of maybe three square meters where they can hardly lie down and where it is impossible for them to turn around. They see the open sky maybe once in their lives – on the way to the butcher’s house. The selected cows are brought there, beaten to the right way, their shrieks and cries of fear and pain are ignored. They are slaughtered in the most brutal ways, often without care whether they are quickly dead or if they die slowly and with much pain. Their meat is taken, stuffed full of chemicals to make it look fresher, better and to preserve it longer and sometimes it is mixed with waste to increase the amount. Then it travels long ways on lorries to get it to supermarkets where it may lie around several weeks until you finally buy and eat it.

Do you really think this is good? Do you really want to eat this meat?

It is not only cows! Chicken are sitting on top of each other in tiny cages, their beaks cut off, their feet and wings crippled, just laying eggs and, when of no use anymore, killed for being eaten. Pigs are produced en masse, stuffed with hormones and chemicals to make them fat and then killed in similar ways. The list goes on with all other animals that are kept in mass stock and merely for being eaten.

You eat all their pain, their misery, the cruelty, their fear, the hormones, chemicals, preservatives and their death along with their meat.

This is happening all over the world. Even in India, where Hinduism once protected cows from this fate, this is what is now in many places reality. Cows were considered holy but then there was a business, a demand for their meat and with it the idea to put them in a cage and produce more and more and more. The religious feelings all vanished and what is left in the end is the cruelty of humans who ignore nature, animals and everything around them in a greed for more wealth.

Don’t support this greed. Don’t support their cruelty. Live a vegetarian life. If you eat eggs and drink milk, take care from where it comes. Don’t eat meat. It is not good for you and not good for the world.

Mark Zuckerberg, please look in the Eyes of the Animal that you are about to kill – 27 Jun 11

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

I don’t really know you and you probably have never heard of me. You, the founder of facebook, have become so popular simply through this social network that nearly everyone who uses the internet will know you. There are many stories about you online and sometimes I read one or the other. I liked to read that you, too, have signed the pledge of Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, to give a big part of your wealth to charity.

On one of the last days I came across an article about your resolution for the year 2011. The article told that in this year you would only eat meat of animals that you have killed yourself.

Reading about this idea gave me two feelings which are very different from each other. The first one was simply ‘What? How can you do that?’ and the second feeling, maybe a second after the first one was ‘Well, okay, you want to know what you are eating’. It showed that you don’t only want to eat what you buy in the supermarket, probably because the meat there has a history of suffering, cruelty and violence or simply because you want to know what is in the meat that is on your plate. It shows sensitivity and that you want to feel what you eat. I appreciate this wish to be aware of what you are eating.

People like you have inspired millions of people and there are millions of eyes looking at each of your actions to either criticize or praise them. Many of these people follow what you are doing. Have you thought about them when you started your resolution? You now eat vegetarian meals a lot but in between you again and again set out to find an animal to kill, be that fish, chicken, pig, goat or others. Will people start following you in this point, killing the meat they eat? But don’t you think that it will be difficult for the common man to do that? You can do this because you are Mark Zuckerberg, not everybody has the chance to kill the animals they will eat.

With your resolution I understand that you wanted to make a connection between you and your food. I appreciate the idea but at the same time I feel that you, the person who was able to connect 600 million people online, over the internet, are still not able to connect with the animals you eat. I once wrote about a friend who could not eat in a restaurant because they killed the fish in front of the customers’ eyes. I thought you might have the same feeling for animals and would not be able to kill them. I was never a witness of how you killed any of the animals you eat and I have the question on my mind whether you stroked the goat before you killed it. Did you look into its eyes before you did it? If you did, were you not even then able to make a connection with this animal? If you had made a connection, I am sure you would not have been able to kill it.

Maybe you had this idea by looking at the history of the Native Americans who were hunting for their food because they only had this. Maybe you thought of the respect that these people gave to their food and wanted to have this feeling of respect. They had a connection and were thankful for the life that was given to sustain their lives. The reality is that they had nothing else to eat. We are living in the 21st century though, in the facebook-time, when we can go into a supermarket and buy all kinds of grains, vegetables, fruit and more. We don’t need to kill in order to survive. There is plenty of food available without killing any animal. And it is even proven that would people not eat meat, would there not be the extensive meat-production, there could be enough grains to feed the hungry of this world.

I am sure you have heard about researches that show that our human body and system is not made for digesting meat. You probably have also heard scientists telling people that a balanced vegetarian diet is much healthier for the body than eating meat. Even with all the medical and scientific reasons telling us that it is better to be vegetarian, this is not why I am writing to you today. I am not writing to tell you that it is medically not good for you to eat meat. I am writing to ask you about your sensitivity.

For me being vegetarian is a question of sensitivity. It is also not a question of religion, tradition or ideology! It is about sensitivity. Why do we kill animals if we have lots of other food available that can nourish us much better? I am writing to you because I love animals and because I see in your resolution that you also love animals. But even though you love animals and don’t want to eat meat out of mass production and mass killings, you were not able to connect with the animals.

So the next time, when you decide to kill an animal, first stroke it, feel the life in it, look into its eyes and try to understand the language of its eyes. It wants to say you something. It knows that it is going to die, what does it tell you with its eyes? It may not be able to talk to you in your language but its eyes will tell you that it doesn’t want to die. I am sure you will not be able to kill this animal.

I would be happy if you could make a resolution to be vegetarian, not only for one year but for your whole life. With love and compassion for animals, you can set an example for the whole world. We don’t need to kill in order to eat, mother earth gives us enough food.

Much love,

Why do children not eat vegetables? – 19 Aug 10

In western countries, when I am travelling, I always stay in family homes with my friends and thus get in touch with the local culture. Today I thought of the life in these homes and a topic came into my mind that I would like to share with you.

Whenever we stay with a family who has a teenage child, I see the same thing: children do not eat vegetables. You know that we are vegetarians and when we are with a family we usually cook rice, lentils and vegetables for dinner. It is healthy and also delicious food! The parents know that and also tell their children that there will be no meat on the table. The parents try to convince their children that it is good for them if they eat the vegetables but often it ends with the children eating some rice and bread. They just do not like to eat vegetables.

Now let me tell you that this is not a single individual case and also not only four or five families, I have seen many hundreds of families and have experienced this thousands of times. What I would like to ask is why it is like this? I have seen really many children but I could not find one child in any Western country I have been to who would really like vegetables. Why?

On the other hand I see here, in India, how children in families eat what everybody eats, including the vegetables. Of course, some prefer the potatoes to the eggplants, others like tomatoes more than carrots, that is normal, but they eat the vegetables just as they eat the rice and they like it. Also here I am not talking about one child or one family that I have met or seen but about hundreds of children whom I have seen eating in their families or whom we have fed here. So what is the difference?

The answer that comes into my mind for that is pretty simple: the children whom I have seen in India are vegetarians, the children whom I have seen in western countries are not. So there must be something with the meat that they eat or rather the fact that the others do not eat meat. Those who grow up eating meat just do not like the taste of vegetables and do not see is as a normal part of a meal. What else could be the reason? How does this situation occur in the first place?

I have written about this topic many times before, too, and I would like to say parents again: please raise your child as a vegetarian. I think first parents need to educate themselves and realize that their child will not be weak if they raise the child as a vegetarian. It is a common misconception that a child needs meat to grow strong. It is not like this. A balanced vegetarian diet has everything you need. You can trust that all the people here who are vegetarians are not weak. However your children may become weak if they do not eat any vitamins that they get from fresh vegetables.

Teenagers often already have this wrong belief that meat makes them strong and they needed it. I do not blame children or teenagers for this attitude or that they do not like vegetables! A child doesn’t know what it is eating, it eats what you put on the spoon or the plate. It is parents’ responsibility and the opinion of parents that a child learns. Give them the habit of eating vegetarian food from the childhood, then they will eat it later, too. If a child has been given meat daily and then he or she comes into an age, let’s say about 10 to 16, you cannot expect them to suddenly like vegetables, no matter how healthy they are! Give them vegetables from the beginning and leave away the meat instead!

Now some people, as always, may say that vegetarian food is boring. It is absolutely not! There are many different ways how you can cook and eat all different kinds of vegetables. And there are many delicious vegetarian recipes! We are working on filling up our own section of Ayurvedic vegetarian recipes and as soon as we find some time, we will have some new recipes online, too! 

Circle of Life vs. Animal Killing Factories – 1 Jul 10

I know that I have written many times about vegetarianism and why it makes so much sense not to eat meat. Apart from your health and the question what actually is in the meat that you eat, I also always emphasize that you need to have some sensitivity for life on this planet. You do not need to kill any life so that you can live!

It is fully natural that birds eat worms, cats eat mice and lions eat deer. It is just the natural circle of life if a mouse is killed in this way and totally natural that the cat fills its belly in this way. I also don’t say that people like the Inuit for example should be vegetarian because they need to eat meat, especially fish, there is not much more for them to eat, they are living in ice.

That however is an exception. In former times, when human was not as developed yet, he was used to hunting and also gathering whatever they knew was eatable. They did not kill hundreds of animals in a day, for that the hunt was much too tedious and they knew that they did not need that much. They killed whatever was necessary and could be eaten before it went bad.

Now it is different. Human has made factories in which animals are killed in hundreds, thousands and millions. Only in the US they say that more than 20 million animals are killed for meat each day! Who gave human to write to act like this? It is not only unnecessary, it is cruel and, yes, I will use this word, inhumane!

I know that the video that I am sharing here is horrible and maybe it can offend some people and others may be shocked. Please take care, if you are sensitive and if you are not yet vegetarian, think again and choose not to eat meat!

Hormones in Meat and Children?s Nutrition – 30 Jun 10

When I was writing about America, obesity problems and healthy or unhealthy nutrition, I also remembered a conversation that I had with a friend about this topic. We were talking about the increasing amount of obesity and overweight among children and teenagers. It is very alarming. Scientists warn already that this generation will be the first one which will be outlived by their parents. The probability that your children die before you is higher than that you die before them. One of the main reasons is their obesity with its consequences like diabetes, heart attacks and more. Isn’t this a reason to stop to think? Give your children education for good nutrition and eating habits!

My American friend mentioned something that I also had heard of before. Animals get hormones in their food or even by injection so that they grow fat and big faster and cheaper than if you feed them with much love and good food. And they give antibiotics to the cows and pigs and other animals so that they stay healthy although they would normally be ill in the conditions that they live in. Now imagine what you actually eat there. These animals only live for being eaten and their meat, which you can buy in the supermarket, is full of those hormones and medicaments.

I heard that tests now revealed that one reason why girls start their menses more and more early is because of those hormones in the meat. There are girls who have their first menstruation at the age of nine! And it also makes children aggressive, especially in boys you can see that. I already wrote about ADHD, the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is diagnosed in many of today’s children. Their nutrition is one of the reasons why they cannot calm down. And in the end you treat them with medication again, which is one of the worst things to do to a body that is growing and developing.

This all is happening not only in America, I just happened to have this conversation there and maybe it is, as everything, a bit more extreme there, but you can see this nearly everywhere, children and adults are getting bigger and bigger, search for ways to lose weight but never manage while they are eating things that I would consider as poison for your system.

My strong belief is that eating meat is not good for us and not good for our children. Take care of your kids, raise them with a good nutrition, show them how they can live and eat healthily without meat and with as much natural food as possible. They are our future and the future of this universe!

Supersize me – Fast Food, Overweight and Obesity in America – 24 Jun 10

It is already some time ago that I have written about the extremes here in America but in that time we watched a movie which was about another extreme: it was a documentary called ‘Supersize me’. I do not usually watch TV or movies but sometimes there are movies and especially documentaries which are really very informative and interesting. In this one, a man eats nothing but food of McDonalds, fast food, for 30 days to see how it really affects the body. And of course, it harms badly! Doctors already advised him to better stop this experiment some days before it was completed because they worried if his liver was able to cope with all that junk that it had to work with.

Apart from showing the bad effect of fast food very clearly, this documentary also told some interesting facts, for example this one: about 60% of all American adults are overweight or obese. If everything goes on as it is now, obesity and not anymore smoking will be the ‘leading cause of preventable death’ in America. It is dangerous to go into this extreme just as it is dangerous to starve yourself for getting thinner.

America is a country of extremes. On the one hand you nearly have to search for a yoghurt that is not ‘fat free' or 'low fat' and on the other hand each day one of four Americans visits a fast food restaurant. In those restaurants there is nothing or hardly anything fat free or sugar-free. Additionally you have to have a look at the portions: enourmous amounts of French fries, soft drinks and meat. Your body doesn’t need that much! More importantly, it needs very different things!

I just would like to appeal to everybody again: take care of your body! Do not eat fast food, take care of what you put into your stomach! Discover healthy, vegetarian and delicious food, you will see how much better you feel!

Mass Stock and Diseases from Non-Vegetarian Food – 2 Oct 09

Yesterday it was the world day of vegetarianism. The day before already Iris told me that she had seen a documentary which said that the fact that animals are being kept in mass stocks for producing meat strongly supports viruses like the ones that caused bird flu and swine flu. It is obvious that a virus will develop and spread much more easily when there are hundreds and thousands of cows or pigs in one cot.

They usually have far too little space and the only reason for their living is actually to be eaten. Their living conditions however are so bad that if you once have been in such a place you would never like to eat meat coming from one of these cows or pigs. People have different reasons for becoming vegetarian and even if you don’t feel pity with these animals, then you will still understand that it is not a healthy way that they live in and that the spreading of viruses is normal there. So no matter what reason you give, but becoming vegetarian is definitely a good choice. I am happy that you can read and see in the media now, too, that vegetarianism is the healthier way to live.

Today I will upload the diary very early because we will leave to the airport now. We are very much looking forward to fly back to India now after six months. It was a very long time and my family is very much looking forward to have us back. We had a wonderful time here again and will have a great time in India with many friends visiting and many celebrations to come.