Radio 101: How Becoming Vegetarian Connects Me To My Culture
Radio 101 is WFDD's education program for high school students. Radio 101 reporter, Akshay Sambandham talks about how he's holding on to his ethnic roots while living in America.
Many Indians share a cultural belief that animals have souls. Because of that, the majority of Indians are vegetarian. Akshay Sambandham grew up eating meat like his peers. But one day, Akshay decided to cut meat out of his diet for three weeks so he could get closer to his Indian culture.
Akshay says, "The Indian blood I inherited from my ancestors is dissipating, thinning by the second." He doesn't read or write his native language, eat Indian food every day, or know much about Indian history. Becoming vegetarian is one way of remaining connected to his roots.
Akshay felt more Indian before he turned five. He only spoke his native language, Tamil, and didn't interact that much with American children. He feels like he's more American now that he's been in public school. But he still has his Indian values.
Akshay talked to Dr. Andy Supple, a Human Development professor at University of North Carolina-Greensboro, about this dichotomy. Dr. Supple says teenagers tend to struggle with their ethnic identities. He adds that Akshay is unusual for his age, because most people explore cuisine and language when they're young adults, not teenagers. Dr. Supple applauds Akshay's early interest in his culture. He tells Akshay, "It'll allow you to have a better ability to connect to that part of yourself."
Akshay is not only trying to reunite with his culture through food. He's also teaching himself to read and write Tamil, and this summer he will be visiting India and taking classes there.