Friday, 30 December 2011

On being vegetarian

Recent conversation I had with a waitress in a restaurant. "Excuse me, I ordered vegetable curry, but there's chicken in this." Waitress, "But there are vegetables in it too." You know, I'd prefer to ask for a vegetarian curry, but I'm scared they'll serve me a curried vegetarian.


  1. It must have never Occurried to her that you were a Vegetarian. Sorry for the bad pun, not even sure that is a pun, more of a bastardizing of Occurred and Curry.
    I remember listening to a tape of a Buddhist Monk giving a sermon, she was served a meat dish and rather than reject it she ate it because she said the animal had already died and it was pointless to make a fuss at that time. She got laughs from the crowd but I don't think she was trying to be funny. I am going to be going strictly pesco vegetarian with some cheese thrown in there for New Years. I've done this before but in this culture it's rough, just like that waitress that did not understand your complaint.
    I want to comment on your next posting from Dec 28th but will pick a day when I am not thinking about going to work.
    Happy New Year Frog!

  2. Leo, the monk you speak about is probably referring to Dogen Zenji's writing in the Shobogenzo when he says the same thing, i.e. don't refuse meat when it is served to you, as the animal has died and we shouldn't waste it, but eat with thanks.

    We didn't send the dish back. My wife ate the chicken (she's neither vegetarian of Buddhist). I think it's important though to make the point in places without vegetarian options that there is demand for vegetarian food. Japan has a very long way to go.

    Vegetarianism is seen here just as it was seen in the West some twenty or thirty years ago, as a weird behaviour that denies us necessary nutients. There also seems to be a cultural hangover that, seeing meat was once the food of well-to-do people, it's a privilege to be able to eat it in every meal. It's sometimes hard here to get anything without meat in it, even though traditionally monastic food here is vegan, and regarded as very healthy. However, things are changing here slowly, but surely. Obesity is on the rise and people are questioning the Western meat-filled diet. Vegetarianism is getting more a mention in young women's magazines and amongst health professionals. Maybe one day we'll have health-food shops in Japan (haven't seen one yet).

    Happy New Year to mate. Have a good 'un!

  3. Glad I just happened to wander onto your blog. I'll be back!

  4. Hello David. Thanks for popping by. Have a lovely and peaceful New Year :o)

  5. Hello again, Thanks for the response my green skinned friend and also the info from the Shobogenzo about this meat verses veggie thing. I was not aware of that, nor was I meaning to imply that you would waste the chicken, my wife is also not Vegetarian and orders Chicken frequently unless I send her one of those PETA videos, then she stops for a bit. Have you ever read any of those "angry food" bits? The ones where they said the "karma" is carried over if the animal was not treated well? I guess I am too empirical to believe that sort of thing but then again cruel conditions and mass inoculations are never good.
    I did not know about the culture in Japan, I assumed that since Dogen was from Japan that there would be a strong sort of Diet in that direction in the culture, of course this is the 21st century and maybe money rules like it does here in the US, but that money can go towards the Health Food Shops that you speak of and improve ones options. I need to buy Realizing Genjokoan so I learn a bit more about Soto Zen other than what some monk tells me ;)
    Here's to a great New Year and welcome to the Lilly Pad David!

  6. Hi Frog! I find it sometimes amusing when I'm asking in the restaurant, cafeteria etc. if they have anything vegetarian. Sometimes they're offering me fish. "It's not meat, it's fish." Ummm, thanks, but no thanks. But generally in Finland being a vegetarian is really easy. You can almost find veggie food everywhere in some form at least.

    Happy New Year, Mr. Frog!