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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Attacking vegetarianism the latest frontier of wokeism?

Attacking vegetarianism seems the latest frontier of wokeism. It’s a bizarre world where the same practice is demonized and called names if it’s practiced by Hindus, and eulogized and glorified if it’s a fad introduced by the woke lobby. Vegetarianism and veganism are almost similar except for the dairy product bit. Vegans exclude dairy products from their diet whereas vegetarians don’t. Veganism also promotes a plant-based diet, and yet, being a vegan isn’t associated with any “caste privilege. Being a vegetarian Hindu, one is assigned all sorts of inconceivable motives like practicing casteism, being exploitative and oppressive, etc. The woke logic is if you are a Hindu and call yourself a vegetarian, you are essentially discriminating against people belonging to “lower castes” who aren’t vegetarians.

Does this make sense? Well, not really. Anyone who has lived in Bharat even for a while knows that vegetarianism has nothing to do with the caste system. It’s a matter of choice. Many Brahmins are non-vegetarians, and many people belonging to so-called lower castes are vegetarians by choice. Even Muslims and Christians can be vegetarian by choice. Yet, the woke lobby must forcefully drag caste into everything and accuse Hindu vegetarians of being a casteist just because they are Hindus eating vegetarian food.

Food delivery platform Zomato is the latest to become the target of the toxic woke lobby. Zomato recently launched a special service catering only to pure vegetarian customers. This service would include a selection of restaurants serving exclusively vegetarian food, thus excluding any establishments that offer non-vegetarian food.

This essentially means that as a Zomato customer, you can opt for this service and thus ensure that you are ordering food cooked at exclusive vegetarian restaurants so that there is no concern of any kind of non-veg food contamination through pots, pans, utensils, etc. As a part of this service, Zomato also launched an exclusive delivery fleet catering to their pure vegetarian service.  The vegetarian delivery fleet decided Zomato, would be sporting a green uniform instead of the usual red uniform sported by the Zomato delivery executives.

Zomato’s announcement of a special service for its vegetarian customer base became a huge controversy as the woke warriors of social media shamed the company for giving encouragement to casteist, hierarchical, and exploitative practices. (Never mind if you can’t make head and tail of this allegation.

Woke netizens smeared various social media platforms with toxic comments against Zomato. “Deleting the app. I will never use Zomato again. This is Casteist and criminal. Hope someone files a case on them”, wrote one user called Shalini Maria Lawrence. “The move of Zomato introducing a specific fleet for ‘pure vegetarian’ is casteist by nature and against the very idea of secularism and it is anti-employee”, wrote another user Raghul Baskar.

However, an overwhelming number of netizens supported Zomato as well, calling out the wokery and the barrage of lunatic comments being made against Zomato just because it launched an exclusive service catering to vegetarians. “How unnecessary hype is created by stupid pseudo seculars in the society. A pure veg delivery message channelize into nasty “casteist and criminal” twitter banter and this possible by idiotic wokes”, wrote a user called Gayatri. “Leftist crooks take pleasure in imposing meat on vegetarians, fully aware that it causes discomfort and nausea. Let’s get this straight: It’s MY money, MY choice. This applies to whom I employ, what I eat, where I sit, who delivers to me, and to whom I rent my houses”, says another user.

When Zomato introduced its vegetarian fleet, it probably never imagined the kind of woke backlash the move would lead to. For a delivery platform like Zomato, an exclusive service catering to vegetarians is simply a business decision. Bharat has an overwhelming number of vegetarians who are extremely particular about how their food is cooked, and whether it came in contact with any utensils or vessels being used for cooking non-vegetarian food.

There are homes where some family members eat non-vegetarian food, but they are not allowed to eat it in their homes. They can consume it outside in a restaurant if they like. These are essentially personal choices made by people and communities, and nobody has a right to meddle their noise in people’s personal affairs and choices.  Many Muslims are strict about halal requirements, and no one has a problem with that. No one thinks that’s encouraging casteism and discrimination. Then, why are Hindus being targeted for being vegetarian?

Coming back to Zomato, the company made a purely business decision by announcing a special vegetarian service as it wanted to expand its market by catering to a huge base of vegetarians who were suspicious of ordering food online since they weren’t sure about the food being “pure veg”. Now, pure veg here has nothing to do with notions of caste-based purity and alleged moral superiority because of one’s plant-based eating habits, as being insinuated by the woke lobby.

In the context of vegetarianism, the phrase pure veg is a widely used slag which simply means that many vegetarians prefer vegetarian food cooked separately from non-vegetarian dishes. It’s a lifestyle choice; many vegetarians wouldn’t want to eat in restaurants that also serve non-vegetarian food, or they wouldn’t be comfortable ordering food online, as vegetarian food and non-vegetarian food are all mixed up, and they can’t be 100 percent sure about the food being pure vegetarian. Thus, purity in this context would just refer to certain expectations that their food hasn’t been contaminated by non-veg in any way. It has nothing to do with caste privilege.

In my own family, my mother was very strict about non-vegetarian food not being allowed in our kitchen. If we ever ate non-veg food, it would be brought from outside, and we consumed it in separate utensils. We had to wash those ourselves and my mother would never touch the utensils. Does that imply that my mother was being casteist against her own children for eating non-veg? Of course, not. The very idea seems ridiculous. I gave the example just to show that Hindus who are strict about vegetarianism impose the same protocol on their family members, and would have similar reservations against family members who consume non-veg. It’s not just about “outsiders”.

The woke backlash against Zomato’s vegetarian service worked to an extent and Zomato has rolled back the “green uniform” feature of its vegetarian fleet. Now, both its vegetarian fleet and the usual fleet would be dressed in the trademark Zomato red uniforms. The international media is portraying this as some kind of grand victory of “normal and progressive non-vegetarian folks” over the “narrow-minded and bigoted Hindu vegetarians, as it were. A BBC story on the issue titled “Zomato: India food delivery app rolls down green uniform plan “says, “In India, eating meat is closely tied to the country’s rigid caste practices. People who describe themselves as “pure vegetarian” often have separate vessels to cook and consume the food to ensure it does not interact with any form of meat”. It’s rather bizarre that in a world where freedom of expression and individual choice are becoming more important than ever, the choice of Hindus to be “vegetarians” is not just being questioned but also vehemently attacked.

It’s not the Hindu vegetarians who are being discriminatory and oppressive against anybody, but it’s the international woke mafia that is tyrannizing the hapless vegetarians by encouraging vigilance on their lifestyle and food choices and shaming them for what happens to be their individual choices. In other words, Hindu vegetarians are being harassed for being “vegetarians” simply because they happen to be Hindus.

Ironically enough, the same vegetarians will be celebrated if they adopt wokery and start calling themselves “vegans” instead of “vegetarian. The vegan ecosystem with its newly founded passion for plant-based foods is purely a business movement, I would say. By rejecting dairy products, it’s trying to create demand for a whole bunch of new products that never existed in the marketplace. Veganism, with its emphasis on plant-based foods, should be technically close to the cause of vegetarianism. But strangely enough, it’s not. That’s because the birthplace of both veganism and wokeism is the US. The wokes, while advocating wokeism with a penchant, vent out rabid rhetoric against vegetarian Hindus.

Shaming Hindus for their lifestyle and cultural practices is a ploy of the woke lobby to “keep the Hindus in their place”. Hindu Dharma is the only surviving non-Abrahamic religion in the world with a considerable follower base. That’s what intimidates the Abrahamic ecosystem. The project thus is to weaken the Hindu identity and annihilate the Hindu ecosystem but turning Hindus “secular” and making them guilty about their own cultural practices and lifestyle choices.

Love and respect for every living being form the core of Hindu Dharma. Killing innocent animals and consuming their meat for self-gratification goes against the core of our spiritual philosophy. Yet, Hindu Dharma doesn’t force anything on anybody, therefore, many Hindus choose to eat meat and many non-Hindus become vegetarians out of choice. The woke lobby is trying to portray this as some kind of Hindu conspiracy against meat-eaters globally. Ironically enough, such a conspiracy is going against the very Hindu vegetarians who are being demeaned and demonized for their choices. When Bharatiya vegetarians go to other countries, they have a limited range of food choices available.

In many countries, finding decent vegetarian food becomes a challenge. Now, the woke lobby thinks that vegetarians should starve for choice in Bharat too. With changing lifestyles and both spouses working outside, many Bharatiya families no longer have the kind of time to cook all meals at home. Thus, if vegetarians want more options for vegetarian food online while making sure that the food cooked adheres to their standards and food businesses are catering to those requirements, why would anyone have a problem with that? Would Zomato stop delivering food to people consuming non-veg?

Would Zomato fire employees who eat non-veg? Most arguments attacking Zomato’s now-banned green uniform decision for vegetarian fleets are beyond ridiculous.  Landlords would see delivery boys wearing red uniforms and figure out that their tenants are stealthily ordering non-veg food. Societies might prohibit the entry of Zomato delivery boys in red because they deliver non-veg food. These are some of the arguments given by woke netizens. As if everyone would leave whatever they are doing to monitor the dress code of Zomato delivery executives, and the whole world would come to a standstill. But this is precisely how the woke lobby creates panic about non-issues by floating all sorts of conspiracy theories.

In 2023, the Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy became the target of woke trolls for her “vegetarianism”. Sudha Murthy had made some rather innocuous comments about her being a pure vegetarian in an interview. She spoke about how she was very particular about her food, and that she always looked for restaurants serving only vegetarian food when she traveled abroad. She also mentioned that he carried her food and cooking items whenever she traveled abroad, in case she could not find choices in vegetarian food. Sudha Murthy also mentioned that she was concerned about the possibility of using the same spoon, crockery, and spatula for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods.

Sudha Murthy’s comments were presented by the woke lobby as manifestations of some sort of hatred against people eating non-vegetarian food. She was called a “passive-aggressive casteist” by netizens and was accused of people who didn’t conform to her beliefs. It’s incredible that a public personality can receive so much hate just for being a Hindu vegetarian. People make multiple choices every single day of their life. Not every choice of theirs will be agreeable to everyone else.

That’s natural. But if everyone starts picking on everyone else due to their individual choices and starts attacking them by ascribing all sorts of conspiracy theories to their choice, the world would become a rather toxic place to live in. Unfortunately, that’s what the woke leftists have been doing to Hindus for a long time. Hindus are being demonized simply for being Hindus and the attack on vegetarianism is a part of that anti-Hindu venomous discourse.

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Rati Agnihotri
Rati Agnihotri
Rati Agnihotri is an independent journalist and writer currently based in Dehradun (Uttarakhand). Rati has extensive experience in broadcast journalism having worked as a Correspondent for Xinhua Media for 8 years. She was based at their New Delhi bureau. She has also worked across radio and digital media and was a Fellow with Radio Deutsche Welle in Bonn. She is now based in Dehradun and pursuing independent work regularly contributing news analysis videos to a nationalist news portal (India Speaks Daily) with a considerable youtube presence. Rati regularly contributes articles and opinion pieces to various esteemed newspapers, journals, and magazines. Her articles have been recently published in "The Sunday Guardian", "Organizer", "Opindia", and "Garhwal Post". She has completed a MA (International Journalism) from the University of Leeds, U.K., and a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Miranda House, Delhi University.

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