The Accidental Vegan

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“The power to question is the basis of all human progress.” – Indira Gandhi

Before diving into the ensuing narratives and reflections, I should warn you of my somewhat unorthodox documentary habits. I will chronicle my experiences continually throughout the week, but due to a combination of endless work, crummy Internet connectivity, and admittedly, a bit of laziness in those moments of calm I can claim to myself, I end up procrastinating on the actual posting process. Also, due to that crummy Internet, I won’t be posting photos until I find the time to do so while in the office, utilising the high-speed wireless connection there.

Given my penchant for entomology, I suppose I knew that some species of crickets have a set of flight wings. However, I remained blissfully unaware of that fact… until last night.

Flying crickets can be terrifying, especially prior to identifying them as such. The first thing I noticed was a rather large, black insect zipping erratically around the kitchen. It narrowly missed diving headfirst into the pot of vegetable biryani I had cooking on the stove and ended up crash-landing on the floor, adjacent to the fridge. I swiftly moved in to examine the unwelcome “UFO, “ and upon positive identification, I immediately snatched it up, cracked open the kitchen window, and tossed it outside. I figured the extra protein really wasn’t necessary.

The biryani turned out well, sans cricket. There are other ways to add protein… speaking of which, I realised that all of my sources of protein are “alternative,” or originating from beans, soy-based additives, etc. I haven’t been consuming animal products because they’re incredibly difficult to source here given that many stores lack refrigerated and/or frozen food sections. Thus, much to my dismay, I am not only vegetarian, but also an accidental vegan. I never saw that one coming.

My dietary constraints, like the many other relative limitations I have experienced since arriving in India (including, but not limited to: initial lack of a fridge, lack of a/c, lack of a washer and dryer, lack of a car or other safe and reliable form of transportation, lack of temperature-controlled water, lack of certain freedoms in dress, etc.), have prompted me to place these restrictions in perspective. Life without certain luxuries can be more stressful in some ways and less so in others, depending on one’s perspective. However, I have learned that in questioning and challenging my own ideals, let along those of others, I learn to surpass these perceived limitations and to revel in life’s newfound simplicity.

A simpler life experience calls for increased time and patience dedicated to the smallest, most trivial tasks, enabling one to grow in strength and wisdom. India is challenging me, along with everything I know about myself and my personal preferences. Given time and continued temperance, I know that I will leave here a more resilient and more introspective individual, equipped to face the greater issues of humanity.

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