Musings: Plant-Based Planet

 

By Krishna Pamidi

How meatless travels the world

Illustration by  Sujean Gahng .

Illustration by Sujean Gahng.

Countless big businesses around the world capitalize on one important human resource: food. It is such a vast opportunity because food can be sold for either $1 or for $1,000. Given this opportunity, there are multiple businesses which capitalize on varieties of this. Two of those varieties are vegetarianism and veganism, and they are rapidly growing sectors of nutrition that are particularly interesting. This is because vegetarianism and veganism (as bland and unwelcoming as it may seem) have various cultural connotations and roots that may alleviate the predominantly negative inference that is associated with them.

I cannot fathom the reason behind the soy bean patty in my burger, but I also couldn’t fathom a life without my one true love: hummus.

Romance on the Plate

The centrality behind vegetarianism, at least in England, was influenced primarily by the Greek philosopher, ‘Pythagoras,’ who concocted the ideology of kinship with the nature. After the Industrial Revolution in England, this romantic view took precedence; nature was viewed less as a hunting ground and more as a place of life and dynamism, which should be preserved. Sadly, the plant life had to make sacrifices for this cause, in order to protect its animal brethren.

No matter, we must honor the fallen by exploring their contribution to the sustenance of human life around the world.

India: Prayers and Potatoes

As one of the most spiritual places on Earth and the largest country to consume more vegetarian food (particularly potato-based food) per capita, India is the birthplace of vegetarian diets. Although the association between spirituality and food habits may seem obscure, it is more connected than you might think.

Thirty-eight percent of the world’s vegetarian and vegan population resides in India, as do the largest majority of Hindus who practice Hinduism. According to BBC News, devout practitioners of Hinduism aren’t in the meat-eating business and even those who are don’t deal with cows. That’s a big no-no, although around a bold 7 percent of the population defy social and cultural norms by….eating a hamburger?

On the one hand, filet mignon and paté mean about the same to these folks as a jar of dirt; on the other hand, there are some true delicacies in India which are completely vegetarian. These dishes can also trace their roots to Persia, Tibet and Jordan! Long story short, these are such rich and delicious foods that even the most avid meat lover would lust over.

Lithuania: Post-Soviet Soy

Parting ways from India, up next, we look at Lithuania. Why you may ask? Well, dear readers, Lithuania was a communist outpost of the Soviet Union up until 20 years ago, and consequently, it has had a very limited time to expose itself to the fruits of capitalism and westernization, much less vegetarianism.

Regardless, Lithuania is definitely a progressive state, in that it has acknowledged the existence of the movement. To Lithuanians, who are primarily meat eaters, vegetarianism was an example of the various lifestyles that Americans had.  Still, Lithuania is such a meat-centric country that, as Mr.Kaiser of the Atlantic points out, an order of potato wedges (a vegetarian dish) comes with fried pigs’ ears. Funny, right?

However, the idea of vegetarianism is growing in Lithuania. It is still in its infancy, what with the whole spiel about healthy eating and animal rights etc., but it is still there. Little kids dressed up as animals in the first vegetarian festival of the country, trying to protest the maltreatment of animals. There were homeopathic and therapeutic stalls, in association with the word vegetarian, because that is what it means to the Lithuanians. It is a healthy lifestyle, one that is a product of capitalism and one that they are eager to adopt.

America: Onward to Health

Vegetarianism in America is neither a necessity nor a social norm since only about 10% of the population is vegetarian. Although the vegetarian population is not as large as that of India, it is still a growing phenomenon. The move towards veganism, which prohibits all products animal-related, is coupled with this trend.

In America, vegetarianism is a product of its health-conscious buyers and consumers who were committed to pursue healthy living options. This has led to the mass production of soy bean patties, vegan bacon, etc. (I call them abominations, but don’t let my educated opinion sway you). The point here is that America, which was also full of meat-centric communities, has slowly but steadily adopted vegetarian and vegan products.

Here’s the tea.

The bottom line is that food is awesome (unless it’s soy), and here, right now, rather than diversify the idea behind vegetarian food around the world, I want to celebrate and unite it.

Some may associate vegetarian food as a punishment, like Jeremy Clarkson in the latest episode of The Grand Tour’, but others view it as a rewarding lifestyle. There is no getting away from the fact that it is a healthy choice of nutrition. The meat without the veggies is plainly unsavory but the world has different ideas on how best to cook the veggies.


In “Musings,” sophomore Krishna Pamidi shares a new adventure every week about the grand modesty that is called life by exploring the global twists to universal experiences.