Food consumption around the world makes up the basis of human ecology as we eat foods based on our cultural, religious and moral beliefs. Ethical and spiritual concerns have motivated many Greek philosophers like Pythagoras, Plato, Plutarch, and Porphyry to abstain from meat consumption. There has been an increase in the meat abstinence and vegetarian lifestyle due to recent philosophical world views put forth for anti-speciesism, anti-carnism, ethical issues about killing of animals, animal rights, and communal feeling and identification with the animal world. Scientific arguments for the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle and diet are quite recent. Vegetarianism as a lifestyle is difficult to quantify and study, primarily because there are so many interpretations of the word “vegetarian”. This confusion on the term “vegetarian” has presented problems for empirical research. There has been a lot of research with regard to motivations of people turning vegetarian; from environmental concerns, ethical concerns, religious concerns, animal rights concerns and health but little to no research on the experience of being a religious vegetarian. The motivation to understand the experiences of a Hindu religious lacto-vegetarian in a predominantly meat-eating society prompted me to undertake this study. For this purpose, I became a vegetarian for a month and noted down my experiences in an autoethnographical study. I discovered how my culture, my reflexivity and my past life experiences influence who I am and how I choose my food. The loneliness and fears that I faced during the study will also be discussed. The second reason for this research was to understand and experience the challenges of autoethnography as a research methodology and to try to legitimise it as a credible genre of scholarly work.
Keywords: Autoethnography, Hinduism, vegetarianism, cultural food habits, lacto-vegetarianism