Racism is a strange thing, something which is hard to explain but which, believe it or not, we all come across in one way or another in our daily lives. For me it is clear, I am Vietnamese-American and look it. So, I must eat Vietnamese food too, and the western diet is something strange. Add to that the fact that I cannot talk and that I am a vegetarian and you have a wonderful mixture of things people can comment upon, not always in the best of ways either. I mean, how can anyone eat Tofu?
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It is so ugly, tasteless, more like cardboard than anything else. And no one can live on just vegetarian food – that despite the fact that I’ve been vegetarian all my life and, well, I’m fit and healthy – you must have meat. Oh, and vegetarians are eating all the green food that our animals need, definitely can’t forget that one!
The health factor I can write off straightaway. You only need to see me to know that a vegetarian diet, when handled properly, can be more than just healthy. Lack of choice? Sorry, that one doesn’t work with me either. You see, it isn’t just Tofu that we eat, there are plenty of other things out there to make a good, satisfying meal. You just need a little knowledge, fantasy and the will to try it. Not that I am thinking of converting anyone to vegetarianism; everyone goes their own way. I’m not one of these militant meatless people.
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I greatly enjoy cooking and am quite happy spending time in the kitchen – another cliché? A woman who enjoys being in the kitchen? – preparing something special or, on a normal day, something normal to eat. We have guests quite regularly who eat what is served, and some of them even come here more than once, so it can’t be just the food.
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This idea that we can only eat salad makes me laugh inside. Has no meat-eater ever had a dish without meat or fish in it? Is it only vegetarians who eat meatless dishes, aside from salads? And do meat-eaters even know what is in their meal? This last because I have served people who had no idea they weren’t eating meat, that they had specially prepared Tofu on their plates.
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More and more vegetarian food is gaining hold on society, not replacing sausages and the Sunday Roast, but being eaten more often. It is accepted by many as being a staple part of their diet, even if not every meal is meatless, not every meal specially prepared without any animal products. The health factor has grabbed the headlines more in the past, made people aware of what they are eating, and the methods used to produce the meat they cook.
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Added to which, and this is really pleasing for me, there is a greater selection of vegetarian dishes available in restaurants today. This wouldn’t have been a given just a few years ago, but the number of people claiming to be vegetarian in Germany, as one example, as grown over the last decade. I read somewhere that it is now near four million people, not a number that any restaurant would wish to ignore, even if they don’t come and eat every single day.
And the racism bit? Well, that is much harder to ban. But, slowly, as people get to know those from other countries and see that they really are, despite everything, much the same in many ways, it is receding. Not disappearing completely, that will never happen, sad to say. One thing at a time.
Love & Kisses, Viki.