Most of the vegetarians either by tradition or by religion or by choice would certainly like to remain vegetarian for the rest of their life. This is what the vegetarians do for the sake of ethics, natural living, spirituality, good nutrition and better health. Still, it is my common experience during the last over five decades in working for the cause of vegetarianism that innocent vegetarians sometimes tend to eat non-veg food inadvertently. Hence, if this article I have given a few tips for the vegetarians so that they avoid eating non-veg food like foreign toffees and chocolates, etc., inadvertently. It is a general practice amongst vegetarians to buy chocolates, toffees, and sweetmeats which are of foreign make so that the children remain happy. However, my experience in buying and eating foreign chocolates, toffees, etc. is that for many of the prestigious brands of foreign chocolates, etc., it is very difficult for the vegetarians to know whether they are vegetarian or non-vegetarian because there is no practise or law of putting green dot for vegetarian foodstuff and red dot for non-vegetarian foodstuff. Hence, it becomes absolutely necessary for a vegetarian to read the ingredients carefully. It would be seen that in many of the ingredients of famous chocolates, toffees, etc., there is a mention of egg, etc., which clearly shows that the said chocolate, etc. is non-vegetarian in character. For example chocolates and toffees like Frutellas, Toblerone, etc. contain non-vegetarian stuff which is normally not noticed by most vegetarians because the ingredients are printed in very small type which usually cannot be read and understood well. Therefore, at the time of buying the imported chocolates, etc., either in India or abroad, the vegetarians would do well to read the ingredients and understand the meaning so that they eat only vegetarian chocolates, etc. and avoid eating those which contain non-vegetarian stuff.
One of the very popular items in salad is ?Russian Salad.? Many of the vegetarians don'tknow that 99 per cent of the Russian Salad served in good hotels contains ?Mayonaise? which is prepared from egg. Hence, we must avoid eating Russian Salad in the hotel. And, where a party is thrown by a vegetarian himself, he must give specific instructions to the hotel staff not to add Mayonaise in the Russian Salad but to prepare it with cream only, which can be done by the hotel management if this precaution is taken. This is what I have been practicing for the last several years.
Cakes and Pastries
A very important item at the time of birthday party, marriage anniversary party or any other party in the hotels and restaurants is a birthday cake or anniversary cake being prepared and cut by the concerned person. If no instructions are given to the hotel management then usually every such cake contains a part of egg. Hence, it is necessary for the vegetarians to place an order for ?eggless cake? which can be prepared by the hotel staff if such advance intimation is given. Likewise, when we go to attend a party and are asked to eat a cake we must avoid doing so otherwise we might inadvertently be eating a cake containing egg. This is an important tip, which the vegetarians should remember and also tell the members of the family to remember and practise. The same is true for pastries also. In the market most of the cakes and pastries contain eggs. However, at some selected places like ISKCON food counter or at Haldirams or at Bikanerwala or at Nathus, eggless cakes and pastries are available. While placing order for cakes and pastries also for our home consumption or for the use of consumption at parties, etc., vegetarians must make it explicitly clear to the shopkeeper to give only vegetarians cakes and pastries.
A few years ago, when I was working as the Honorary Legal Adviser for the entire hotel industry represented by FHRAI, I was total by its president that in almost all 5-Star hotels most of the soups or tomato soups are non-vegetarian soups as they are stirred with streak or mixed with particle of bones, etc. Hence, we should avoid eating such soups and take only soups like clear vegetarians soup or dal soup, etc. Where there is no chance of having a non-vegetarian item.
One important tip to be remembered by all vegetarians is to read the menu card either at parties in the hotels and restaurants or elsewhere carefully. Likewise, the names of the dishes with indication boards should be read carefully and if the meaning is not clear, then proper enquiry should be made from the hotel staff as to whether the item is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. This is absolutely necessary because in most of the hotels both vegetarian and non-vegetarian items are kept together. Despite my requests to most hotels to segregate and keep the vegetarian and non-vegetarian items separately and indicate the dishes, which are pure vegetarian so as to distinguish them from non-vegetarian items, this is not being followed.
No egg is vegetarian
Vegetarians must remember that eating eggs or any item made of eggs or containing egg makes them eat non-vegetarian stuff. This is because I have heard many of the vegetarians saying that the infertile egg is ?Vegetarian? on the ground that it cannot give birth to a chicken. However, we vegetarians should remember that merely because there are some infertile eggs they do not become vegetarian because they do not grow on trees and plants. Science has now proved that there is an element of life even in an infertile egg. The scientists of USA in 1971 proved beyond doubt that there is no egg in the world, which can be said to be lifeless, whether it is fertile or infertile. The well-known scientist Philip J. Scamble of USA in his book Poultry Feeds and Nutrition (page 15) says that egg is very delicate and there is a natural process for the air to enter the inside of the egg. Oxygen enters the inside of the egg through various small pores through which carbondioxide is thrown out and which helps the egg to grow and develop. Besides, life within the egg inhales oxygen by means of about 15,000 tiny breathing pores in its shell and also by means of air space under its shell. Further, it has been conclusively proved by a famous writer John Robbins in his world famous book A Diet for New America that the infertile eggs are produced in very unhygienic and cruel conditions in the cages or egg factories where they are kept for about 24 hours in dark light and in crowded spaces so that more eggs could artificially be produced. Such eggs caused by unbearable cruelty to the chicken can never be called vegetarian eggs. Hence, it is absolutely necessary for the vegetarians not to eat eggs or any part of the egg to remain vegetarian.
Hence, as a vegetarian we should remain not merely a passive vegetarian but should become and active. Vegetarians must avoid eating alcoholic drinks because most of the alcoholic drinks contain non-vegetarian stuff. In particular, the best brands contain particles of fish and other living creatures so as to make them non-vegetarian. For example, in the website: www.vegansociety.com it is stated that wines contain bone marrow and isinglass (a form of gelatin obtained from the air bladders of some fresh water fishes, especially the sturgeon). Hence, a vegetarian must avoid alcoholic liquor to remain vegetarian. Further, whenever we throw any party, we the vegetarians should serve only the vegetarian food. If, however, we have to eat at any hotel where both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food items are served, we must find out which items are non-vegetarian and which are vegetarian so that we avoid eating non-vegetarian food inadvertently.
(The author is national vice president, Indian Vegetarian Congress can be contacted at Lakhotia Niwas, S-228, Greater Kailash-II, New Delhi-110048(India)E-mail: the[email protected])