Chennai: For vegetarianism, it was a hat-trick of sorts, with personalities from three varied fields — sports, media and the armed forces — batting for it in unison here on Wednesday. Former master blaster and chief selector of the Indian cricket team Krishnamachari Srikanth, veteran journalist and sports writer R Mohan and naval officer in-charge of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry, Amar K Mahadevan (VSM), were the chief guests at the inaugural of the Indian Vegetarian Congress, organised by the Sahal Jain Shree Sangha Chaturmas Samitihi-2012.
Speaking on the occasion, Mohan said that it is easy to practise vegetarianism today than in the 1970s and 80s, when it was not even heard of in countries such as the West Indies and Australia. He added that getting vegetarian food, while on tours there, was a serious problem. “I could afford to skip meals and make do with bread; however, for someone like Srikanth, who had to go out and perform, it wasn’t the case. The Tamil community in such places would come to his rescue and offer him cooked food from their homes. There have been instances when I have visited his hotel room and savoured such food,” he reminisced.
He added that the temptation to yield to non-vegetarian food never arose to the duo, despite Srikanth’s team-mate Sunil Gavaskar poking fun at them, stating that they were missing out on delicious cuisine. Debunking the theory that vegetarians are not cut out for strenuous activities such as sports, Mohan averred: “One must remember that during the 1983 Cricket World Cup final, it was Srikanth, a vegetarian, carting a battery of West Indian fast bowlers all over the ground.”
Srikanth said that he had always been a vegetarian and lauded the Samithi for organising the event, which also includes competitive events for children. “Every kid has a talent, which needs to be showcased appropriately. Such events enable this. Live and let live should be our guiding principle,” said Mahadevan.
He added that he had noticed many naval staff turning to vegetarianism because of its values. Speakers on the occasion dwelt on the benefits of vegetarianism, both health and ecological. Students from various schools were present. Drawing, painting and cookery competitions were also organised for college students and women as part of the one-day event.