The Future Is Green
Condé Nast Traveller India|February - March - April 2021
Vegetarian diets are becoming more popular, but it’s not that simple. Smitha Menon gives you more to chew on in your quest for a healthier lifestyle and a better planet
Smitha Menon

In January 2020, my husband—once famously known for his love for tandoori chicken—announced that he was turning vegetarian. His decision was fuelled partly by his love for animals but more specifically for a healthier lifestyle and a sustainable future. “I need to consider the impact of the way I eat, not just for my body but also for the planet. For me, that means giving up meat and eating greens,” he explained. I nodded and tried to be supportive. But as someone who writes about food for a living, I was miffed. His decision would limit the dishes I could try at a restaurant and the recipes I’d experiment with at home. “A vegetarian diet alone can’t save the planet—look at what the obsession with quinoa did to Bolivia’s farmers and what almond milk is doing to bees in California,” I argued. Still, he stuck to his guns (and greens). In February, for the sake of more protein (and marital harmony), he allowed eggs back into his diet.

And then came the pandemic. We sheltered at home, counted our blessings, and obsessed over what to eat. Slowly, as we Googled ‘easy and tasty vegetarian recipes’ and watched IG videos of home chefs cooking turai and padwal, our standard fare began to evolve. Operating with a nonvegetarian lens makes you view vegetables as a ‘side’. But as their place on our plates changed from supporting cast to star, I pondered if the argument isn’t about a meal that has prawns or peas, but simply a healthy meal that features both, in moderation.

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