Leave alone being easy about other religions eating beef, few Hindu communities are intolerant of their women eating poultry too.
I recall my friend being deeply in love with her boyfriend but it was difficult getting a non-vegetarian to-be-bahu accepted to the brahmin family. The boyfriend chose to lie, but the girl decided to be honest. And what followed was no less than mayhem. "Tumhare liye apna dharam chod de kya?" (Do you expect us to abandon our religion for you?) the boy's parents told him each time the topic came up. And one day it all ended when he announced, "Mumma she doesn't eat alone, I love chicken too."
A janeho (sacred thread)-wearing person was ousted from the family for being a disgrace to his community. The only condition under which he could be accepted back was a "shuddhi" ceremony and purifying his heart of the thoughts of an "ashudh" (impure) girl who had taught him such low eating habits. With a heavy heart, he walked out of the family for which, a cow was more significant than the girl he loved.
I have close relatives who don't even visit families who cook non-vegetarian food at home. "Humhare ghar toh ande wali bread bhi nahi aati (We don't even allow bread which have eggs in our house)," their voice chimes with pride. They consider themselves as the saviours of Indian culture, but on the contrary end up being a butt of ridicule for their out of place reactions. They make long faces if they have to share the dining table with meat-eaters.
And then there are families that have a different code of conduct for men and women. "Aab ghar ke auratein bhi maass-machi khayengi kya? (Will the women of the house now start eating fish and meat?)"
"Strictly veg" is a common phrase on matrimonial sites/advertisements in India. People unambiguously mention their "shakahari" (vegetarian) expectations; it's a matchmaker and even a match-breaker. What you eat matters more than what you think.
Now having diet restrictions that derive from religion or faith is no crime; it is, however, one when you impose them on others to an extent of suffocating them.
The problem is the same; the absolute refusal of a few sectarian individuals to move with time or to let others be. The problem is not their dedication to their beliefs; the issue is their unceasing propaganda to prove other theories derogatory. That they look down upon meat-eaters is highly snobbish.
Being vegetarian is a choice. And people who embrace that lifestyle have all the right to pursue it. But being a non-vegetarian is not a profanity to culture. Research reveals the high-protein benefits of chicken and turkey. Fish has a tremendous advantage of omega-3 that is vital for the growth of bones and hairs. Egg is considered as a storehouse of calcium and proteins.
And more than nutrition, it's a matter of choice. It's about taste buds.
And seriously, does what I eat define my character? We have read amusing statements where chowmein was charged as being a catalyst to rape? So does that mean China where chowmein is a staple food is a land of rapes? And that also reminds me, an Islamic clergyman mentioned that Westerners eat pig and hence they have swine-like characters. Well, to me, that thought smelled filthier than pigs playing in the muddy puddle.
We truly need to make way for rationality and equality in our daily lives.
Diet, food, lifestyle are matters of personal preference. You may choose to befriend or un-friend someone if your mind is a victim of irrationality but please stop preaching your agenda. Hanging only with birds of a feather is acceptable but trying to chop someone's wings is intolerable.
I make friends based on how people treat me or how we get along. My best friends are vegetarians; my husband is a non-vegetarian, and when on foreign vacations my son drools over pepperoni pizza. Judging anyone on what they eat will consume my positivity. Light banter over the choice of food is amusing but being a maniac regarding your agenda is repulsive.
I would rather concentrate on what's on their mind rather what's on their plate.
And when asked, "Are you vegetarian?" I snap, "I don't mind vegetables too."
Proud to proclaim that I'm a Hindu, I'm a woman, and I love non-vegetarian. Big deal!