Congress MP Shashi Tharoor seems to have waded into controversy after posting an apparent joke about how non-vegetarians are more prone to violence than those who eat only vegetarian food.
On Tuesday, Tharoor shared a twee-thread on Twitter and wrote, "As a vegetarian (unlike my son who has re-tweeted this thread), I am easily persuaded by the theory that meat-eating inspires aggression and an unwillingness to compromise!"
As a vegetarian (unlike my son who has re-tweeted this thread), I am easily persuaded by the theory that meat-eating inspires aggression and an unwillingness to compromise! https://t.co/Gx9gXSz8LK— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) May 26, 2020
No sooner had he posted the tweet, netizens lost their cool with many instantly pointing out the fallacy of the statement. Many invoked memories of riots and violence in states or by perpetrators who practice vegetarianism. "Hitler was a vegetarian," one Twitter user wrote. Bringing the argument closer home, another pointed out that the 2002 communal riots, which recorded one of the worst cases of sectarian violence in the history of independent India, took place in a Gujarat - a predominantly vegetarian state.
Hitler was a vegetarian— BirdMan (@birdofindia) May 27, 2020
By saying this, you are perpetuating old prejudices against meat-eating people, who on various instances have faced violence against them for their dietary choices.This is a terrible opinion for an elected MP to propagate.— Shivam Bahuguna (@JanusBlinked) May 26, 2020
We have plenty of examples in India, where vegetarians killed non-vegetarians for their choice of food. Unwillingness to compromise, eh?— QueenBee🐝—صباء احمد (@queenbeee_27) May 26, 2020
But despite the outrage, it seems Tharoor may not have been serious after all but rather joking. While Tharoor's tweet may appear to be targeting non-vegetarians as a more violent people, a second look reveals that the politician may indeed have been trying to make a failed attempt at wit.
It all started when the Thiruvananthapuram MP's son and columnist Ishaan Tharoor shared a satirical thread on the historic roots of the anger and animosity between the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU). Written by satirist and academic Karl Sharro, the thread outlined the history of conflict between UK and EU and why it was difficult for both sides to come to a compromise.
While the scholar listed many theories that could act as the reason for the historic aggression including environmental factors and ancestral tribal affiliations, one of the possible reasons for aggression was given as non-vegetarianism.
A thread on the historic roots of why it's difficult for the UK and the EU to agree a deal. European culture is notoriously averse to compromise, largely because of the legacy of the warring tribes that historically dominated this region of the world.— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) October 9, 2019
"Al-Mouhaji (2002) in his seminal study of European conflict tendencies attributed this primarily to the pork and beef-based diet which is rich in zinc and iron, two minerals that have been proven to stimulate the aggression glands. Hence the expression "I got beef with you," Sharro wrote.
"Incidentally there's evidence that this link between eating meat and aggression was known as early as Roman times. And that explains why Julius Caesar invented the Caesar salad and tried to popularise it among enemy tribes," the satirist added.
The witty thread, which was originally shared in October 2019 when Britain was still debating whether or not to vote for Brexit. Ishan Tharoor retweeted the thread recently and wrote, "I missed this thread when it was first tweeted; it is perfect".
He even pointed out that the thread was satirical when some people questioned the legitimacy of the theories on the thread.
I missed this thread when it was first tweeted; it is perfect. https://t.co/8eUKjkp05W— Ishaan Tharoor (@ishaantharoor) May 26, 2020
....it's satire— Ishaan Tharoor (@ishaantharoor) May 26, 2020
But Tharoor senior, it seems, got the raw end of the deal after he specifically commented on the portion about vegetarianism.
Whether Tharoor was joking or whether he himself fell for the satire is hard to tell. Tharoor, however, has previously spoken against the central government's penchant for beef bans and often writes in favour of individual freedom when it comes to eating meat.
Some nevertheless pointed out in a country such as India where some people are lynched for eating beef, such a "frivolous" joke was rather unnecessary and tone-deaf. " You cannot claim to be ignorant about the bitterly fought food politics in our country, and the disastrous consequences it has had for meat eaters over and over. How did you think this was appropriate, however "frivolous" you may have intended for it to be?" a Twitter user wrote.
...are you for real? You cannot claim to be ignorant about the bitterly fought food politics in our country, and the disastrous consequences it has had for meat eaters over and over. How did you think this was appropriate, however "frivolous" you may have intended for it to be?— Asmita (@asmitaghosh18) May 26, 2020