PUNTA GORDA TOWN, Belize – The best meal I had in Punta Gorda was prepared by a Rastafarian vegetarian by the name of Ignatius “Gomier” Longville. And the conversation was even better than the food.
I asked Gomier to explain to me how he came to be a vegetarian. “I consider myself a Rasta man,” he said. “To be a Rasta man you have to be respectful; what I don’t like for myself, I shouldn’t like for you.
“We’re supposed to have dominion over all the animals – but that doesn’t mean we can kill them and slaughter them.”
Gomier’s Restaurant, which promotes the idea that “Health is Wealth,” flaunts its rasta colors close to the entrance of town, where Gomier instructs locals and tourists on the many uses of soy. He began by working with Plenty Belize, a nonprofit established by members of The Farm in Tennessee, working to promote a more healthful diet in the community. The restaurant started as a demonstration project of Plenty Belize, and evolved into a full-fledged restaurant.
Gomier’s ideas were initially met with skepticism by many locals, but the food is so good that he’s won over a number of skeptics. Sampling the savory curry tofu, I’m not surprised.
“There’s so much you can choose to eat in the plant kingdom; you got plenty food,” he goes on in his Marley-like patois. “If an animal can live on only grass, why can’t we humans with all our dominion live how we’re supposed to live?”
If that weren’t enough to convince me, he nailed his case with one more argument:
“Carnivorous animals all have pointy teeth,” he said. “We have teeth more like the coy, the horse, the donkey – we’re supposed to be herbivorous people. The elephant is the biggest animal in all the kingdom, and all it eats is grass and water.”
Vegetarians, he tells me, have so much energy they can’t eat enough to keep up with all the energy they burn. Maybe that’s what accounts for his lanky frame. Meat, on the other hand, sits in your stomach for 24 hours or more. I don’t like the thought of that.
To be sure, if I could find a Gomier in every town, I would be a vegetarian already. I resolve to use my dominion to find more vegetarian options, and to spread the word about Gomier’s. If you ever find yourself in Punta Gorda Town, put his restaurant on your list. You won’t be sorry.