Until the start of the new millennium, my classification of people into “meat eating” vs “non-meat eating” was pretty static. If you were born vegetarian, you remained vegetarian (and vice versa). Although, I must admit, I ran into quite a few Indian vegetarians who had belatedly discovered their omnivore impulse.

Then I met the Englishman (Richard) in Santa Clara. He declared, with an evangelical flourish, “My entire family turned vegetarian after we realized the massive ecological cost of meat eating.”

It would be my first encounter with someone who had eschewed meat for non-personal reasons. Thinking about the planet.. when so many folks don’t even think about their community, city or country, I thought to myself.

Years later, I would learn that Europe & UK (and London in particular) would spawn the modern unstoppable movement towards veganism. Arguably the most famous member of the London Vegetarian Society is our very own Mahatma Gandhi – a fact I learned from Nico Slate’s wonderful Gandhi’s search for the Perfect Diet.

The witness to a slaughter post was a reminder (to myself) as to why I remained a non-meat eater. When I shared it on Facebook, it triggered some interesting stories that I’m reproducing below:

Kavitha’s story: Most of the times, I prefer vegetables. I ate meat when I cooked for friends or family, once or twice a month. Recently when I went to pick up meat, I saw the butcher cut a baby goat. For some reason it turned my insides. Since then, I just don’t like the idea of meat and just in time I started procuring organic veggies which taste so much better as well. Pretty much a non-meat eater now. It’s a choice. ‘How can you’, for both parties isn’t a question that is not laced with some sort of judgmental pre-disposition. PS: I saw chickens being caught, hacked and sliced many times over during our village-life days. Didn’t react to that the same as I did to the baby goat’s butchering recently. May be I am just getting old!

Amit’s story: I was 7, me and my sister were in our village for summer vacation. The smell of mangoes and litchies were all around the house. One hot day, we both were going to a near by relatives house for some ceremony. Just near the mango trees, we saw few people surrounding a goat. We rushed towards them in excitement. What followed was horrific, to say the least. One swift movement of the blade and the tan, dry sand turned red. I puked a lot that day, maybe because of the hot sun or maybe because how for our own happiness we could kill someone else. The smell of mangoes and litchies were replaced by the horrific sight. I am a vegan, not because of religion or family values, but because of what I saw that day.

Shuchi’s story: we had gone to the dhaba for my birthday party. Some drinking but mostly a lot of eating, almost entirely meat. I had left my purse behind so I returned to the dhaba the next day. I retrieved my purse but the collateral damage was seeing an entire sackful of chicken legs. I don’t know why but that sight “turned my stomach” and I couldn’t bring myself to eat meat since that day.

(Gestational note: this post germinated after nearly 4 years in the Drafts folder. Go figure!)