People who are not vegetarians "easily cheat, tell lies, they forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes", according to a new school textbook. This is a LIE. We do not commit sex crimes. New Healthway, a book given to schoolchildren in India, also explains that non-veg people are "lazy, sluggish and short-lived". So how do we get the time and energy to steal, fight, commit sex crimes, etc?
I met with a veggie friend for lunch to discuss this and she said the textbook allegations were "plainly true", pointing out that the majority of murderers were meat-eaters. "Your sort commit a type of murder every time you have a meal," she said, pointing to my sausage, as if I had hunted it down in cold blood and tortured it to death. She was so annoying I wanted to stab her with my steak knife. Maybe the textbook IS right.
School textbooks in Asia often bluntly reveal what communities really think of each other. A sample sentence in my first Chinese language textbook, printed in Hong Kong, said: "Foreign children fight in the playground but Chinese children do not fight in the playground." I thought about filing a complaint but I was too busy fighting in the playground.
The night before writing this, I was sitting in a room with people of two other cultures (there was a European, a Chinese person and me, a South Asian) when a TV trailer came on to the screen and loudly told us about the launch of "Asia's Next Top Model", an Eastern version of a hit Western TV show which follows around a catty group of wannabee fashion models.
All three of us immediately shook our heads. "It'll never work in Asia," I said. The European agreed: "Definitely not. Asians just aren't bitchy enough."
Maybe if we all become meat-eaters...?
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveler. Send ideas and comments via www.mrjam.org)