Khushwant Singh is an opinion maker par excellence. You may disagree, decry or even reject outright what he says, but you cannot take away the charm and lucidity of his writings.
It often wonders me that Khushwant Singh at 93 still has his mental faculties intact, and perfectly capable of sound reasoning. In that capacity he of course has the august company of luminaries like Jyoti Basu and Russi Mody.
It seems to me that The Telegraph has a pact with the nonagenarian sardarji according to which he will write weekly columns for the paper unto death. If so, it gives the readers a rare glimpse into what and how a person thinks as he marches toward the century mark.
I like reading mostly all that he writes, but sometimes a piece or two look extraordinary to me by their sheer strength of clarity.
Here is one that deals on the perennial debate of vegetarianism versus the opposite. Khushwant speaks his mind that incidentally is ‘my mind’ as well. I excerpt the full article from The Telegraph.
Eat Flesh And Be Merry
The practice of killing an animal or a bird just because its flesh tastes better than vegetables is morally inexcusable. You have to see goats being slaughtered in Calcutta’s Kali temple or the throat of birds being slit at Kamakhya temple in Guwahati and your stomach will churn in disgust.
You will swear never to eat meat again. Whether it is halal or jhatka: taking life is butchery, not sacrifice. Nevertheless, the vast majority of peoples round the globe are meat-eaters. Vegetarians and vegans (those who refuse to consume animal products like egg, milk, butter, cream and honey) are eloquent about the harmful effects of having a non-vegetarian diet. But they have to face a few awkward facts.
Let me spell them out.
Vegetarianism is not in the order of nature. Apart from ruminants like cattle, sheep, goats, deer, horses or donkeys, which eat grass and elephants, which eat leaves, all other species of animals, whether they be canines (of the dog family, such as wolves, foxes, jackals and the like) or felines, (like cats, tigers, lions or leopards) live by eating ruminants.
Every other creature in the food chain, such as birds, reptiles, insects and fish, lives off eating each other. This is the ‘tooth and claw’ pattern of survival ordained by nature. It is nature’s way of controlling over-breeding among animals.
About 90 per cent of the human population are flesh-eaters. There are regions where no vegetables can be grown and people live entirely on meat or fish.
Humankind eats a baffling variety of life: cattle, birds, pigs, deer, rats, dogs, monkeys, snakes, fish, frogs and insects. Some religious communities are selective non-vegetarians. For instance, Muslims would not eat pig flesh, Hindus and Sikhs do not eat beef.
It is often maintained by vegetarians that their diet is healthier than the non-vegetarians’. The argument is not sustainable. Meat and fish are easier to digest than many vegetables.
The ideal balanced diet is a mixture of meat and fish, with vegetables like beans, tomatoes, peas or potatoes.
Meat-eaters are sturdier than vegetarians. They manage to live longer. Vegetarians often say that the strongest creature in the animal kingdom is not the lion, the designated king of beasts, and a notorious non-vegetarian, but the elephant, which lives on foliage.
Perhaps a fitting answer to this asinine argument would be that even the mighty pachyderm is tamed to obey a mahout, who sits on its head and prods it with a stick to make it kneel, stand up or raise its trunk.
But no man has yet sat on a lion and ordered it to do his bidding. If he tried, he would soon find himself in the lion’s belly.