Indulgence is in, abstention is out

(The following article was posted in the "Inner Voice" column of the Hindustan Times, one of India's largest English language daily newspapers, on 11 May 2004.) SUNIL TOLD Vasini he'd never give up fries. "And I never eat Big Macs," he said. "We're moving to Delhi next month," Vasini reminded him for the third time that day. "At least Arti won't mind, she's doesn't eat that stuff anyway" "I heard even the chips are cooked in beef tallow. OK, I don't believe that, but what if it's cooked in the same oil they make hamburgers in?" "It's okay, I tell you. You'll see. In Delhi, they don't even use beef". "I'm not feeding my daughter any of that stuff," Vasini said, in a tone that hovered between annoyance and conviction. She looked sullen for few seconds, then added, "So you can do it because you're an adult, but she can't because she's eight, is that it?" "It's easier for kids". "What's easier?" asked Vasini. "You know, easier to, 'give up'," Sunil offered. "But we never gave her ground-up meat or anything like that her whole life," said Vasini. "Anyway, she has the right to choose at some point". This time there was a hint of acrimony in his otherwise matter-of-fact voice. "Let's try to keep this philosophical, okay? It's bad karma, you know that." I'm not giving in, at least not completely, she thought. "I think you see omens everywhere," Sunil muttered. There was a long pause. They stood at the doorway; watching children in the playground opposite their three-room flat. "I wouldn't want to be eaten - dead or alive. That's karma, and that's philosophy," said Vasini. "Maybe we can teach Arti that: how there's a living soul in every creature and that God loves them just like we love her." "That's probably as good as anywhere to start," Sunil said, almost inaudibly. (The, writer' is emeritus member of the ISKCON governing body commission)