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Food: Diversity In The Dishes

Food. The means of sustenance for the countless species on planet Earth. It’s the source of energy to carry out daily activities. From the minute bacteria to the gigantic blue whale, each and every living creature lives on some or the other food source.

We could go on and on about the food habits of all the different species that exist on the planet. But let’s just focus on the humans for now. Following is a list of all the ‘arians’ I could find. Mind you, the list is not exhaustive and I might have missed out on a few obscure ones. Do feel free to enlighten me. So here goes:

Vegetarianism:

The most basic of them all. Vegetarians abstain from meat and meat products of all kind, be it red and white meat, poultry, seafood and even derived products like gelatine. This lifestyle could stem more often from religious beliefs, but sometimes it’s an adopted choice of lifestyle. Even though eggs are considered as a non- vegetarian food, the same cannot be said for milk, which is consumed by vegetarians and non- vegetarians alike.

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 Veganism:

Veganism is a more refined form of vegetarianism. While some vegetarians do eat eggs, the diet followed by vegans is stricter. Apart from meat, vegans, also refrain from consuming milk and eggs, even avoiding other products in daily life that use animal matter. The American Vegan Society links the vegan philosophy the Jain tenet of ‘ahimsa’, or peace.

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Jain Vegetarianism:

This kind of vegetarianism, is followed chiefly by the followers of Jainism in India, and is known to be one of the most rigorous vegetarian diets. This diet is similar to any other vegetarian diet, but the followers of this diet refrain from consuming onions, garlic, and other such fruits and vegetables which grow below the ground, considering them to be ‘tamasic’, believing them to have a quality of darkness and lethargy. Mushrooms, fungus and yeasts are also forbidden, as they are believed to be parasites, and grow in unhygienic environments.

The foods they have are what in Sanskrit are known as ‘sattvik’, or good and happy.

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Non- Vegetarianism:

Non- vegetarians, apart from following the common diet that vegetarians have, also eat the meat and animal products mentioned above. However, there are subtle differences among several faiths. For instance, Hindus (even though some do eat meat), do not consume beef, considering cows to be holy; Muslims don’t consume pork, as pigs are unholy for them. Non- vegetarianism is further classified into several other branches.

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Piscitarianism:

It derives its name from the Latin ‘Piscis’, meaning fish. This kind of diet includes the meat of strictly aquatic animals, like fish, lobster, crabs, octopus etc., along with a normal vegetarian diet.

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Seafood Diet:

This is an extension of Piscitarianism, and includes any form of food taken from the sea, like fish, lobsters, crabs, octopus etc. Historically, whales an dolphins were also a part of this diet. However, due to the efforts of conservation activites, this practice is limited to only a few small areas. Seafood also includes several seaweeds and microalgae.

It is an important source of proteins, minerals and minerals. Fish oil is also extracted to be marketed as capsules, most commonly, cod liver oil.Image

Eggetarianism:

Eggetarianism or the more scientific Ovo- vegetarianism consists of the diet of the consumption of eggs as the only non- vegetarian component of a diet. ‘Ovo’ comes from the Latin word for ‘egg’.

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Fruitarianism:

A fruitarian diet consists of chiefly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. No animal or grain products are involved. It is an extension the vegan diet. In the true sense of fruitarianism, a person will only eat what has completely left contact with the plant or tree, for instance, a fruit fallen on the ground, believing that plucking the fruits amounts to physically hurting the tree. Grains and seeds are also avoided by some, as they are believed to hold the future plants, and consuming them would mean not giving a chance to these seeds to grow into plants.

Based on Genesis 1:29, Adam and Eve strictly followed this diet in the Garden of Eden, and thus it is considered by many to be the ideal way of life, based on simple living and a holistic diet.

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Probiotic Diet:

A probiotic diet is one which includes a lot of probiotic foods. It is believed to be good for curing gastric disorders. Probiotics are living organisms which are commonly labelled as ‘good bacteria’, as they are beneficial to humans. The most common of them are the lactobacillus, which helps for curd; and yeast, which is an aid for baking.

This diet consists of ‘cultured’ foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, cheese etc.

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Halaal:

The concept of ‘halaal’, or ‘permissible’ in Arabic, is predominantly a Muslim concept. It refers to not just food and drink, but everyday life. Pork is not consumed at all under this diet, as they consider pigs to be ‘haraam’, or ‘forbidden’, and there are rules that govern the consumption of other animal meat.

The slaughter must be performed by a Muslim, who must precede the slaughter by invoking the name of Allah, most commonly by saying ‘Bismillah’ (In the name of Allah) and then three times ‘Allah Hu Akbar’. The animal must be slaughtered with a sharp knife (so the animal does not feel pain, as it quickens the death) by cutting the throat, windpipe and the blood vessels in the neck, causing the animal’s death without cutting the spinal cord. Lastly, the blood from the veins must be drained. This final step is performed because blood can harbour harmful bacteria, and also to ensure that there are no blood clots, thus keeping the entire body safe and clean to be eaten.

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Organic Diet:

An organic diet consists of food products that are grown strictly by organic means, i.e. without the use of pesticides or fertilisers. Also, no chemical preservatives, additives etc. should be used.

This kind of food is considered to be safer and healthier than the conventional food, and thus followed by a large number of health conscious individuals. Even with respect to taste, organic food fares far better than the Genetically Modified and processed foods.

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Roadkill Cuisine:

Roadkill is any animal or animals that have been killed after being struck by moving vehicles. Roadkill cuisine is the preparation and consumption of these unfortunate animals. It is a practice in several small areas of the USA, Canada, UK and other contries, especially near roads that are close to forested areas.

The most common animals included under this diet are deer, rabbits, bear, moose and several species of birds.

Because it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the time of death, and there are concerns regarding the worms and maggots that might develop over time. The meat is thus well cooked.

Roadkill meat is typically a very cheap source of food, and rich in proteins and vitamins, additionally being free of additives and drug traces. Though quite common and sensible, Roadkill cuisine is often frowned upon and laughed at by opponents, who call it uncouth, unhygienic and unglamorous.

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As mentioned earlier, this is not a complete list of diets. The purpose of this post is to make the reader realize that the concept of food may not be as simple as one might think.

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Reading: The New (or Reinvented) Bonding Agent

The other day, I was at the Bangalore Comic Con.

What an experience it was! Collectibles from every possible genre and every possible fandom, cosplayers at their very best, celebrity guest appearance and so much more!!  There were fans and enthusiasts, right from 6 years old to 60 years old, all under one roof. From having myself photographed with Daniel Portman, the actor who plays the Squire, Podrick Payne, in the popular television series Game of Thrones, to interacting with other fans young and old, to shelling out a bomb (yeah, a little guilt tripping is warranted) for rare artefacts and collectibles, it was an experience that will be cherished for a lifetime. And I do plan to renew it every year henceforth.

The next incident occurred a couple of days later, when I was talking to my mother over the phone. While discussing about the experience, a thought suddenly hit me. We are the generation which invariably has much in common with the next one.

I personally, am from the Harry Potter generation, more commonly called the Potterheads. We grew up gobbling up the tales about the adventures and misadventures of the boy wizard, Harry Potter. JK Rowling, our queen, also gave us several add on stories like the Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and more recently, the interactive website Pottermore, where the user can live the life of a Hogwarts student virtually.

This brings me to the point at hand. Looking back on the event, I had noticed there were fans of every age and generation. There were kids dressed as Harry Potter, there were young women dressed as Anime characters, there were grown up men dressed as Khal Drogo (from GoT) and the Ghost Rider. On the internet, we read and hear stories everyday, how kids are being named after their parents’ favourite characters, the most popular being Harry, Khaleesi, Arya, and even Hermione. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days I hear a mother calling a young Sherlock to the dinner table. I myself would love to get a pair of big, bulky dogs and name them Sirius and Remus!

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As I saw the other day, it is evident that kids barely out of the nursery are taking an active interest in popular, as well as obscure genres of pop culture. Parents old, and more importantly, young, are taking an active interest in inculcating the habit of reading in their progeny. This, I admit, was the norm even before, but this might be the first time in history that parents actually connect with what their children are reading and watching, and vice versa. I regularly suggest my parents new books to read, which they later on thank me profusely for. This trend, I’m positive, is here to stay, even in reverse.

In an age where shorthand SMS ‘lingo’ is the norm, reading novels, or even comics is a trend that we ought to be really pumped up about. It inculcates a habit of reading per se, improves grasp over the language and from personal experience, widens the horizons of the mind, and provides an escape hatch from a reality that may sometimes be mundane or even traumatic.

To end it before the topic itself gets too lengthy or mundane, here’s a quote I found quite apt for the point I’ve been trying to convey:

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

–Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Image Source: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk