My First Shot at Becoming Vegetarian

A thump of approval
…pain is joy…joy is pain…this mind is a strange thing

The hook sunk into the soft flesh of the upper palate of the silvery fish – it writhed and jerked in pain. The line jerked sending an instant message through to the bamboo rod and an almost instantaneous sense of joy filled the young boy holding the fishing rod. “I caught one! I caught one!” cried the overjoyous boy – eager to see the pride and joy in his father’s face.

The fish’ tail curled up tautly as the pain seered through it entire body. It tugged to get free, only the hook began to get embedded even deeper.

The father ran to his son’s side and helped to pull the rod up. As the fish emerged from the surface of the water, the rays of sunlight playfully twinkled on the struggling flashing silvery scales – the father and son were almost stunned with the beauty of the play of light, only to be superceded by the joy of having a catch.

The more the fish struggled and tugged, the greater the excitement of the boy at his prowess – his first catch.

A thump of approval and pride on his shoulder and the start to a journey where pain is joy and joy is pain…this mind is a strange thing.

The above is a scene I have seen quite often in movies and television – where millions of children digest the subtle message that violence can be justified and can even be enjoyable…let’s think again.

Motivation Counts

The first time was when I was around 4 years old. We were on a group pilgrimage with our spiritual teacher, family and friends. At one sacred spot, our spiritual teacher shared a teaching on the importance of compassion for all beings. He also talked about how becoming vegetarian would benefit all beings for all including oneself. He invited the pilgrims to volunteer to become vegetarians. My elder sister who was around 6 years old raised her hand. My parents did not take her seriously thinking that she would forget about it by dinner time. My sister refused to eat meat during that night’s meal and the next and the next. To date she remains vegetarian.

When finally it hit my parents that my sister was dead serious, then they started making separate vegetarian food for my sister. During my sister’s first “separate” meal my senses perked up – I looked at her plate and I looked at mine. My sister had this crispy fried “samosas” on her plate. Suddenly, my plate of rice and meat looked plain and boring. I demanded that I also get what my sister had on her plate in addition to what I had on my plate. My mother explained that my sister was getting the “different” food because she had become vegetarian. I pushed my plate aside and decided to become “vegetarian”. Needless to say that with this motivation my stint at becoming vegetarian did not last too long.

The Second Try and Going Strong – Genuine Motivaton
Almost 4 decades later, I gave it another try. Prior to that I had wanted to give it up several times. Each time I saw a goat bleating, I wanted to seriously become a vegetarian but each time a mutton curry was dished up in mouth watering exotic versions, I did not see the goat.

Two friends of mine and I were visiting the same holy place. We arrived at the hotel quite late. For the sleepy town, it was closing time. The restaurant at the hotel obliged and agreed to serve us dinner. There were just three of us. Both my friends ordered vegetarian dishes. I could not resist ordering a chicken curry. After a while, the waiter opened the kitchen door and came towards us. Through the swinging kitchen door we distinctly heard a loud and desperate squawk and then complete silence. One of my friends and I looked at each other. My heart came to my mouth. I was tempted to ask the waiter whether they had just killed a chicken just for me. I did not have the guts. I kept shut.

The waiter came back with my friends’ orders. Then he deliberately turned around to me and with a wide smile he said, ”Madam, I specially got chicken fresh from the market for you.” Then indicating the slicing of the neck with his hand he said, “The chicken is being prepared for you.” No room for any doubts or mercy. When the chicken curry came, I forced myself to eat it with prayers in my heart – I could not get any taste whatsoever.

It was my awakening. The next day I prayed at the place of worship and I vowed not to eat meat. It has been 16 years now and I continue to be a vegetarian.

More Veggie Mama Stories:
- Losing a bit of compassion
- No Mashpo Momos!!!
- The Veggie Mamas’ Dream
- My First Shot at Becoming Vegetarian
- Mashpo Momo on the Go!
- Thank you my son
- About Veggie Mamas

Try the Mashpo Momo Recipe tonight!

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