It was an occasion for celebration, as the pretty HR person handed over the team spot award. But the next moment, the heart sank, as she announced that the reward was to be a team lunch sponsored by the company. Now, any sane person would never “cringe” at the prospect of a free lunch; and team-lunches as we know, are a tradition by themselves in the industry we work in. It’s the time when you’re allowed to “officially” have fun, bonding with the team, getting to know everyone better – a fact accepted and encouraged to build a healthy and balanced work environment.
All said and done, the heart still plunks down – all of my 156 cms, at the mention of a team lunch these days. Uninspiring visions of previous such team lunch-es float before the eyes. As in the general case, our team too has a generous percentage of non-vegetarians as against a few veggies like me. And as it always happens, bowing to the majority’s choice, veg-&-non-veg serving restaurants are chosen on such occasions.
Now, before the non-veggies in you sharpen your claws and spring to tear me apart, lemme put in one disclaimer – I have nothing personal against the non-vegetarian fraternity. I have several non-veggie friends with whom I have shared a table on many an occasion and I do not squirm in my seat when I eat with them.
But a couple of experiences of-late have turned me into a skeptic. During my travel abroad, I have been asked point-blank and pointless questions like – “Why? What will happen if you eat?” This was on the occasion when I and a colleague expressed our shock and distress on realizing that the seemingly innocent veg-rolls offered (and declined) actually contained pork sausages, after reading about the ingredients on the packet!
And of course, the aforesaid team-lunch-es where the minority of just a handful of us veggies, are pitted against the huge bunch of up-until-then well-behaved and well-meaning colleagues, who suddenly turn into this gluttonous gang – ordering nearly every non-vegetarian dish in the menu and gorging like there’s no tomorrow!
Here again, the issue is not with how much they order or what they eat, it is the apathy and the insensitivity shown towards veggies – the seemingly “lesser mortals” if you ask them, that enrages me. Not only do they not care for your preferences or comfort, they look at you in pity and distaste for not appreciating the tastiest and most sumptuous food, that they think, exists in the world.
Why can’t we be more understanding of the different needs of different people? If not share why can’t we respect others’ preferences? Why can’t they make an effort to realize that, while for some it is a matter of choice, for others it is something which runs much deeper – it is about beliefs and values, principles and practices?
Each one is a master of self and is free to do as one chooses. But at-least when we are in a group, where not everyone thinks and enjoys in the same way, why can’t we be a little less loud and a little more reticent in flaunting our acts and choices?
And finally, here’s a piece of advice to all those all-questioning morons out there – if you can’t very well fathom why I choose to be vegetarian, the least you can do is respect my choice by not asking me the reason there-of!