I am a Buddhist

No I haven’t changed religion and become a Buddhist but that is what I am typing out at the moment in preparation for my annual trip to China.

Every year I visit China for an exhibition related to my work (engineering work) and obviously a certain amount of preparation is needed. One of my tasks is printing out this paper to say “I am a Buddhist” in Chinese. The reason for this is that I am vegetarian and unfortunately the concept is not well understood in China. They just do not understand that someone, especially Westerners who are considered rich, does not want to eat meat. They do however understand the religious tradition of Buddhism and since most Buddhist do not eat meat it is something they can grasp.

It is however still very hard to get a dish with no animal parts in it as vegetables are usually fried in lard or combined with meat stock. In fact it is the one year a week when I am less conscious about what I eat, although I still try my best to avoid meat when I can. So most people ask me do you get sick if you eat meat? Obviously not. It is a personal choice I make and I am in no way intolerant to meat. Which generally brings on a host of other questions…

Why don’t you eat meat? The main and only reason I do not eat meat is that I do not feel comfortable eating another animal. I am an animal lover and I used to feel guilty eating meat.

But we are made to eat meat? Agreed and I would not impose not eating meat on anyone else (in fact I cook meat for my boyfriend and guests). Unfortunately I feel too much guilt and it is plainly the only reason for me being a vegetarian.

Do you eat fish? I actually do eat fish which prompts the other question of isn’t fish an animal too? I am in full agreement with this but unfortunately when frequenting someones house it puts a lot of pressure on the host when being purely vegetarian. Same goes for eating out. I do not like obliging people to go to specific restaurants just so I can find what to eat. Having said that there are still a lot places in Malta that do not cater for vegetarians.

Do you eat eggs, milk, cheese? Yes. Not eating products derived from animals makes you a vegan not vegetarian.

Ok so my “I am a Buddhist’ paper is printed, my bags are packed, I am off! Wish me luck…

P.S. I do not speak Chinese so the paper could actually say anything!

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