Life as a Vegetarian

As some frequent readers of will know, I am currently serving my two plus years of national service — at present I am undergoing something called BMT, or Basic Military Training.

I have been posted to Charlie company (one company consists of about two hundred recruits). In my company, there are only two vegetarians, one of whom is me, the other a muslim who is probably vegetarian for religious purposes.

Vegetarianism, I believe, is not very popular in Singapore, and especially not so among the male Singaporeans.

Why I am a vegetarian

I turned vegetarian really out of fun. My sis had just started trying out the vegetarian lifestyle, and I thought “why not?”, and decided to join her. For a year I ate no meat except seafood; this was followed by my completely cutting out seafood as well.

My turning vegetarian has nothing to do with religion (or, at least, very little; you could argue that Catholic’s no meat on friday had something to do with it), and little to do with health (I only learned recently that those with blood type A might benefit from a vegetarian diet).

After I got myself an Apple eMac though, I have started to have doubts as to whether or not my turning vegetarian had something to do with my wanting to be “different” — I am not proud of wanting to be different, but I would not rule that reason out; I do like the limelight once in a while.

Missing meat

One of the most frequent questions I get asked about vegetarianism, especially after one learns I converted out of “fun” as recently as three years ago, is whether or not I get cravings for meat. The answer is “no”.

Cravings for meat is something meat-eaters get, but not for most vegetarians.

You can understand other beings only to the extent that you know yourself.

A person who had never consciously experienced bodily pain could not possibly know anything about the pain suffered by others.

E. F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed

Harder to eat meat

I have had people praising me for my “faithfulness” and discipline to keeping to a vegetarian diet for so long. Perhaps I should make it clear that being vegetarian no longer requires much discipline nor effort. At the start of my conversion, I have to admit it took some effort. Right now though, if you asked me which was easier, being a meat-eater or a vegetarian, the answer would most definitely be “vegetarian”.

It is harder to convert back to eating-meat than it is to remain where I am. As such, as much as people praise me for remaining vegetarian, I can praise them for remaining meat-eaters.

Problems with vegetarianism

Vegetarianism has played with my mind a bit. I used to have no qualms squashing ants or slapping mosquitoes — “die! die! die! to hell with you pesky insects!”. After a year or so of a meatless diet though, killing even the peskiest, most terrible insects, feels like sin.

Eating out with friends also becomes quite a bother. No more McDonald’s or most other fast-food restaurants anymore, and barbeques can be difficult to plan.

Majority rule

I guess the problems that plague Mac users are very often similar to the problems that plague vegetarians — too many companies cater only to the majority, leaving out the minority to fend for themselves. If the majority of the people were vegetarians, eating out wouldn’t be a problem, nor would people have problems catering to vegetarians at barbeques.

Perhaps that too reflects “democracy” — majority rule may work most of the time, but “most of the time”, when concerning the lives of millions, may be too little. If an elected government wins by 75% of the votes, you can say that it was a convincing win, and that one should be in pretty safe hands.

But 25% is no small percentage. When do we get returns of our money that large? Do banks ever pay interest so high? If a shop offers discounts of 25%, we would believe it is a good deal, so what makes us so generous with the voting of the government?

But then again, are humans meant to be governed in the first place?

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