I Love Steak

Having spent the last month of my life eating unbelieveably tasty but primarily vegetarian food, I realize that we in the West miss out on a lot of culinary wonders by generally insisting our food have meat in it. And having spend the last month in a primarily vegetarian country, I also realize why, exactly, I’m not a vegetarian.

Ya’ know the stereotype of India where cows roam the streets with impunity? Where crossing a street means taking your life in your hands, but cows nap peacefully in the middle of traffic, unmolested?

Unlike most stereotypes, this one is true. All true.

So I walk past cows wandering the streets on my way to school. And on my way home. And pretty much every other “on my way,” too. Some of them are tied or restrained; most are not. They roam the streets freely, foraging for food in trash piles and generally making a mess of everywhere. There should be something incongruous about cows wandering around lazily in busy streets, but somehow… it fits. It seems natural. It’s India: everything seems a little incongruous, from a western perspective. But nothing seems at all out of place from an Indian perspective. Or such has been my experience, thus far. So the cows wander the streets, unfettered. What does that have to do with my vegetarianism? Well, it goes like this…

I was walking down the street today, or the sidewalk, rather, on my way to the post office. I hardly gave a second thought to the cow on the sidewalk– not until it head-butted me, that is. Ya. As I walked past the cow, it took a step or to, and gave me an unfriendly shove on my way. Maybe it was bothered by my bright-orange sidebag. Or maybe it sensed that I’m from a country where beef is what’s for dinner. Or maybe it was just an honery cow. Regardless, being half-charged and head-butted this afgernoon brought me to an important realization: I like my steak on my plate, not on my sidewalks. The worst a well-cooked steak has ever done to me is leave me a little fuller ’round the waist, and not without providing a hearty and pleasing meal along the way. Never in my life has a steak attacked me. Or made me feel endangered. Or angry. Never has a steak made me want to take off my sandal, swear profously, and beat it soundly. Never.

And, as much of a social blunder removing one’s shoe in a busy restaurant and proceeding to beat (or “tenderize,” as it were) a steak would be, I suspect it would be still less than beating off an overly aggressive cow here.

Of course, Indians have a thing about shoes. Not about feet, like the Thais, but about shoes. Right.

So why am I not a vegetarian? Go figure. =P

More seriously, though, I’ve seen nothing in India that would induce me to become a vegetarian. The only discernable difference between a vegetarian and a non-vegitarian here is that… the former doesn’t eat meat. No, that’s not completely true: vegetarians often have a more prominent role of fat, partially hidden by a sari: so it goes with vegetarians. But that’s it. Are vegetarians happier? More at peace with nature, or more at peace with the earth? Maybe. But not that I’ve observed. Conversely, are the rest of us any better off? Of course not. But I’d argue that our lives has an additional pleasure. Of course, most of the vegetarians here have been vegetarians since birth, so they don’t know what they’re missing.

And then there’s the fact that beef isn’t consumed here. Non-vegetarians have a choice between pork, chicken and mutton. Not beef. Never beef. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I don’t even know the reason why cows are revered, consecrated. It seems like a rather illogical choice to me. I mean, why not forbid the killing of platypuses? From five feet away, is there an uglier animal than a cow? An animal more contemptably stupid and slovenly? Worship lions, monkeys or bears. Fine. I understand. But cows? Notoriously dim-witted, unkempt, more often covered in its own feces than not… yes, a cow is a fine animal. Heh. When cooked medium rare and served with A1 sauce, that statement wouldn’t even be sarcastic.

Right. In summation (for all you TLDR people…): cow attack precipitates realization that I love steak.

About Mark Egge

Two truths and a lie: Mark Egge is an outdoor enthusiast, opera singer, and a transportation data scientist. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.
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6 Responses to I Love Steak

  1. Upidivl says:

    You should learn how to butcher a cow in like 5 minutes. Or at least get the best meat off in 5 minutes. I sure would. Of course, I’m not suggesting to do anything with that knowledge…

  2. ken-mister says:

    you dog you, even got other species hitting on you… in this case, literally.

  3. Pavan says:

    Hey Mark, I got to read your blog which obviously is far more interesting than the Lesson Plans that you wanted us to review :) Just Kidding.

    You are right about the vegetarians here being vegetarians from birth and hence their ignorance of what they are missing :)

    Atleast the vegeterians in India do not discern a differnce between a cow/chicken/fish/goat as we consider they are as much full of life as a human being is (I have nothing against non-vegetarianism, though i can never think of myself practising the same)

    Coming to think of why a cow is considered sacred in India. There are a few reasons i can think of
    a) One of the most prominent Hindu Gods (Lord Krishna, Not sure if you have heard of an organization called ISCKON) is a cowherd.
    b) Cow Milk is one of the omni-present ingredient of Hindu “Offerings” to please Gods and is part of all the Hindu cermonies.
    c) Not Cow, But Bulls are used to till the land and Indians being primarily agriculturalists might as token of respect spared the cows attributing them to be the very reason they earn their living.
    d) Cow is a mammal (Err…Even Sheep or Goat is..so..this one is fallacious)

    You have got a fantastic Blog..

  4. markegge says:

    Thanks for the response, Pavan. That’s insightful

    The Krishna Consciousness movement has a small presence in the United States. I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered any ISCKON members, but I’m aware of its existance.

  5. me 82009 says:

    i must say it very nice knowing that beef is whats for dinner when ever i want it to be for dinner.

  6. Jenny says:

    you are hilarious! good thoughts, especially on revering the bovine!
    great talking with you the other day…and the card made it!!!! thanks for the birthday wish and gifts.