A Lively Discussion on Veganism at IHM Goa

“Question everything even if it represents generations of conventional wisdom” – Robert Ringer.

Dear Climate Healer,

This is Week 1 of the 30 day 16-city Compassion Tour of India with The Land Of Ahimsa documentary. Thus far, it has been hectic but exhilarating. It began with a screening at The National Institute of Naturopathy situated in a historic building named “Bapu Bhavan” in Pune. This is the place where Mahatma Gandhi spent 18 months persuading the political leaders not to partition India and failed in his mission.

Vega flew majestically in the balcony of the MovieMax theater in Sion, Mumbai, where the second screening took place. We had a vegan potluck lunch with the Dr. Nandita Shah’s SHARAN India community the next day followed by an interview with Compassion Magazine of Dr. Rupa Shah.

Next stop, the tropical paradise of Goa. We had a potluck lunch followed by a screening of The Land Of Ahimsa at Welfare for Animals in Goa on the first day.

The day after India’s 76th Independence Day, we gave a talk at St. Xavier’s college and screened The Land Of Ahimsa at the Institute of Hotel Management in Goa to second and third year students and faculty at IHM. Until this screening, we had received numerous accolades for Dolly and the TLOA team and everyone wanted to know how they can access it online to show to their friends. However, following the screening at IHM Goa, we had a lively discussion on the origins of veganism, why every vegan seems to tell everyone about it and why do we say not to consume dairy when Lord Krishna himself loved butter.

The curriculum at IHM is set by national committees and studies revolve around the cooking of different animal bodies and secretions as the main course with a few vegetable side dishes. In a fully colonized education system where the protein and calcium myths are foundational, you would be hard pressed to believe the subcontinent of India has over 17,000 indigenous varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. No more than a couple of dozen of these varieties pass the student’s kitchen counter in the officially sanctioned curriculum.

Given this background, we were pleasantly surprised by the openness with which IHM hosted The Land Of Ahimsa screening. We fielded the usual questions once the screening was over –
Aren’t you making plants suffer when you eat them?
Will there be enough land to grow the plants we need in a vegan world?
Aren’t animal foods nutritionally denser than plant foods?
What about all the poor people who can’t afford vegan foods and need animal foods for their survival?

Then a faculty member at IHM started the philosophical detour proclaiming his allegiance to his current dairy-filled lifestyle. This emboldened some students who began asking the tough questions:

1) What is the origin of Veganism? Isn’t Veganism a Western concept?
Answer: Actually, Veganism is an ancient Indian concept thousands of years old, practiced by Hindu Rishis who went up the foothills of the Himalayas to meditate and attain enlightenment. They certainly did not take cows with them on their spiritual journey.

2) Why can’t Vegans stop talking about Veganism?
Answer: Once Vegans experience the good health, spiritual uplift, ethical benefit and truly understand the environmental impact of going vegan, they can’t bear to see the unnecessary suffering around them and feel compelled to speak up about it. Vegans talking about Veganism is therefore compassion in action. Mahatma Gandhi wrote in 1926,
“I consider it my duty to induce people, by every honest means, to wear Khadi.”
Likewise, we Vegans consider it our duty to induce people, by every honest means, to go Vegan.

3) Why can’t we consume butter when Lord Krishna himself loved butter?
Answer: Lord Krishna’s stories are mainly symbolic and we are being marketed by the dairy industry in India to take the butter story literally. As a child, Lord Krishna lifted a mountain, Govardhan, with his little finger and danced on the hood of a 7-headed snake, Kaliya. Clearly, these two stories are symbolic. Then, why is the third story of baby Krishna and butter being pounded into our minds as literal by the marketing machine of the Indian dairy industry? Is this not an abuse of a sacred Hindu story? The actual symbolic interpretation of Lord Krishna’s stories can be viewed here.

The bottom line is that while we’re all for people having choices, if those choices involve hurting even a single hair on Kimaya’s head, then we will not rest until those choices are eliminated. Surely, there are plenty of choices to explore among the 17,000 varieties of indigenous fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and seeds in the Indian subcontinent without resorting to animal bodies and secretions and destroying all life on earth in the process.

With much love,
Sailesh Rao, Vega, Cow and Climate Healer and the Climate Healers team.

Transformations Galore in TamilNadu
The Pinky Promise that is Changing the World
Sailesh Rao
srao@climatehealers.org
2 Comments
  • Pareen Sachdeva
    Posted at 11:25h, 18 August Reply

    Awesome!

  • Charlie Behrens
    Posted at 15:01h, 18 August Reply

    Loved your point about symbolism and butter.

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