The Vegan Forest Festival and the Voice of the Grandmothers

“Scientists study the world as it is. Engineers create the world that has never been” – Theodore von Karman.


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Dear Climate Healers,

Much has happened in the past week that indicates the world is transforming. Students at Cambridge University voted overwhelmingly to remove all animal products from their cafes and canteens in response to the climate and biodiversity crises, indicating that they are serious about addressing the Cow in the Room. Though this resolution alone does not guarantee that Cambridge University will go Vegan as that decision rests with the administration of the University, it sends a strong message to that administration to get on the right side of history.

The Million Vegan Grandmothers wrote a letter to the producers of the NOVA program on Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) of the US, asking them to show greater sensitivity to animals in their episodes:

“Dear NOVA Producers,

It is with great sorrow that we write to you about NOVA episode S48E2, “Beyond the Elements: Reactions”, which originally aired February 3, 2021. In the episode, host David Pogue asks Theo Gray why he is using bacon as the material for a tube in which to burn oxygen, to which Mr. Gray responds: “because bacon is the funniest thing that you can form into a tube and shoot oxygen through.”To us, the flesh of a sentient being seems the saddest material that can be used. It is surely not funny to the pig, nor to anyone who truly values and respects life. That Mr. Gray was able to see it as such testifies to the terrible power of normalization, a power only reinforced by offhand remarks like his.

The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, unanimously endorsed by prominent international neuroscientists in 2012, confirms what we already knew: that our fellow sentient beings suffer when we confine them under horrible conditions and, ultimately, slaughter them. We entreat Mr. Gray, Mr. Pogue, and publicly funded institutions like PBS to better align their values with this scientific declaration and, rather than make light of the death of our fellow sentient beings, join us in our efforts to halt their needless suffering.

Since animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change, we, the Million Vegan Grandmothers, also find it heartbreaking that the destructive practices of this industry are being trivialized for the edu-tainment of our children at the cost of their futures.

Our fierce love for the children of all species compels us to speak out. We trust that Nova and PBS are able to show greater sensitivity to the issue of animal cruelty in future episodes.

With much Vegan Love,
The Million Vegan Grandmothers”

The Vegan Forest Festival was a whirlwind of events in the sylvan setting of Sadhana Forest in Auroville, India. The festival was attended by over 300 people from around the world, exchanging notes on how best to lead a healthy vegan lifestyle, how to create sustainable living environments and how best to use existing legal structures to advocate for animals. I’m sure the animals and birds approved of everything, except perhaps the late night music sessions.

My session (see photo above) on “How Can We Heal the Climate” was the last event to cap the Festival and it went on for nearly 3 hours even though it was scheduled for one hour. I began by noting that in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl underscored the importance of meaning in life as the key to survival. Therefore, for humanity to solve the ongoing ecological crisis, it is important to find meaning in our existence as a species and accept the responsibility of harmonizing the climate of the planet.

This requires us to be honest about the root cause of climate change, to see through the deceptions that have clouded our judgment and blinkered us from addressing the Cow in the Room. In the Narrowed Timeline deception, the first of the Six Deadly Climate Deceptions, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) subtly implies that humans started tinkering with the climate only from 1750 onwards with the discovery of fossil fuels.

CO2, one of the primary greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, is absorbed by trees and plants during photosynthesis and it is stored away in vegetation and soil in regenerating forests. However, in the absence of active reforestation efforts, CO2 is a long-lived greenhouse gas that lingers in the atmosphere for tens of thousands of years. At present, about 85% of human-made CO2 emissions are from burning fossil fuels, i.e., coal, oil and natural gas. The remaining 15% is mainly from burning down forests to clear land, i.e., land-use changes.

However, since CO2 is a long-lived greenhouse gas, it is the cumulative emissions of CO2 over the past 8000 years that impacts climate change, not just current emissions alone as is currently being calculated by the UN IPCC in its Summary for Policymakers. Until the 1900s, land use changes, principally involving deforestation, were the main source of human-made CO2 emissions, while at present, it is fossil fuel burning. Integrating the annual CO2 emissions components over time, we know that from 8000 years ago to the present, CO2 emissions from land-use changes far exceeds the CO2 emissions from all fossil fuel sources combined. This shines the spotlight on land clearing for animal agriculture as the leading cause of human-made CO2 emissions over the years and not fossil fuel burning, thereby making visible the Cow in the Room.

Thank you for your support.

HELP us every day to

Heal the planet.
Eat plants.
Love animals.
Plant trees.

It’s that simple.

Thanks again for being a superhero and joining our herd. Please forward this post to all your friends and let’s grow our MOOOvement together.

With much love,
Sailesh on behalf of Vega, Cow and Climate Healer and the Climate Healers core team
(Akhil, Alison, Anne, BJ, Carl, Chip, Debra, Gabriele, Ilse, Jamen, Kelly, Ken, Kimaya, Krish, Maggie, Marco, Paige, Pareen, Ray, Sailesh, Sarah, Shankar, Stacey, Tami and Vega, the Cow and Climate Healer).

PS: If you are looking for Vega the Cow’s weekly update on “50 Ways to Leave My Udder“, please click here.


Dispatch from Tamil Nadu and More From the Grandmothers
The Six Deadly Climate Deceptions
Sailesh Rao
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