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How (Not) to Be a Vegetarian

It's not easy being green.

I’d known it for a while, about a month or so. I decided I had to be true to myself. I’ve dabbled with the idea of it before; people say it goes against God’s nature and for everyone, especially an Egyptian family, it’s always been a big taboo. I had barely even told my closest friends about my decision, but it was time. I had to come out the closet… I’M A VEGETARIAN. But I might as well have said homosexual.

For a country that calls itself the mother of the world, it could really do with a few lessons from mother nature. Don’t worry I’m not going to  go into an irritating, in-depth soliloquy about why I dumped Ronald McDonald for the Jolly Green Giant because we’d be here all day. But, in the end, the best way I can put it is like this: I just feel it’s a bit mean to eat animals. But to each his own. The problem here is that each of us aggressively defends “his own”, if only to justify their conditioning and education. Generally, The Egyptian Ego is another animal all together and not only will it not accept anyone else’s morals if different to its own, it will also bite back for no apparent reason.

As such, I kept my vegetarianism a secret for a while. I would sit there at the family dinner table,hoping to God that Chef Hossam would have a nice plain rice and possibly some bamia that would fill my stomach. But no. Day after day, I would be sat there picking the beef out of the pasta, picking the cold cuts out of the salad and picking the hot dog out of the chicken that was was wrapped in a pigeon to get to the tiny quantity of chickpeas it was cooked with. Why the fuck do Egyptians love to put meat in meat so much? Is it repressed sexual desire?

Anyways, I’d had enough of the vegetable scavenger hunt every day so I came clean. This was the response to my herbivorous announcement…

Brother: Can we get the vegetarian menu for this faggot?

Sister (to Father): What the fuck? If I told you I was a vegetarian 5 years ago, would you even have allowed me?

Mother: Who put these abnormal ideas into your head? Tayeb hangeblek ferakh…

Grandmother: La2, lazem fi protein.
Me: Bas fi protein fel fasolia.
Grandmother: Tayeb mashy. 5od shweyat ferakh ba2a.

Chef Hossam: Ahh fehemt, inta veshateriah ya3ni? Mafeesh moshkilla, hane3melak ferakh mashweya gameela enaharda.

It was no use. So I went to Metro Supermarket to see if I can get my hands on some other options.

Me: 3andek tofu?
Man at Metro: Ehhhhh?
Me: Tofu.
Man at Metro: Ah, ah fi. Ta3la habibi.

This is what he got me: