Eat less beef says the latest health and environment study

The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health brings together more than 30 world-leading scientists from across the globe to reach a scientific consensus. In addition to focusing on what consumers consume, the planetary health diet focuses on the role of farming plays and the impact it has on wildlife and pollution. It also addresses a widening paradox of this world: that 1 billion people across the world live in hunger, while another 2 billion people are obese. If successfully implemented, the authors estimate 10.9 to 11.6 million deaths could be avoided every year. To enable the world to follow the diet, the report suggests five strategies, one of which is subsidies.

The report also states that incentivizing farmers to shift food production away from large quantities of a few crops to a more diverse production of nutritious crops could be beneficial. The commission says that an effort to reduce food waste can be made by improving harvest planning in low and middle income countries. It also suggests that the shopping habits of consumers in high-income countries need to be improved, too. An increase in consumption of healthy foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts), and a decrease in consumption of unhealthy foods (such as red meat, sugar, and refined grains) that would provide major health benefits, and also increase the likelihood of attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

According to the lancent web site, Poor nutrition is a key driver and risk factor for disease. However, there has been a global failure to address this. It is everyone’s and no-one’s problem. Despite several efforts, actions for improving nutrition have failed to gain global traction. The triple challenges of obesity, under nutrition, and climate change, which interact and affect human and planetary health, need solutions that disrupt their common underlying societal and political drivers. Sustainable food systems that ensure health-promoting nutrition for all need urgent attention and will benefit people and planet alike.

 

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Beef tallow in Australian currency notes

WHILE Australia was the first country in the world to produce banknotes made from plastic (polymer), what many people don’t realise is that our currency uses tallow — rendered animal fat from sheep, pigs and cows — as a ‘slip agent’ to prevent friction and static.

The Reserve Bank of Australia confirmed banknotes have a tiny amount — around one per cent — of the animal by-product

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Book Review – Hinduism and Nature

By : www.arc.org.

Penguin India publishes important new book on Hinduism and Nature

 

We have just received our copy of Penguin India on Hinduism and Nature by historian, environmentalist (and good friend of ARC) Dr Nanditha Krishna.

The book, published by Penguin India, is about the mythical stories and religious significance of many forests and mountains, lakes, rivers (and a few flat bits) of India’s varied landscapes. And how those stories and significances are one of the things that can and might protect India’s animals and places from the bulldozers of progress.

The basis of Hinduism is righteousness, or dharma, she argues, and the great epic texts of Hinduism show a clear appreciation of the natural world by people in India 5,000 years go. Even then, writers and thinkers wanted to urge people to manage natural resources and protect animals.

“I fell in love with sacred groves attached to Hindu temples,” Dr Krishna said to explain how she came to write the book. They were places “where not a twig may be broken and which are the remnants of ancient forests where sages lived in harmony with nature.”

She also was inspired by “rivers that gush from the hills and meander through the land; with the sacred tanks attached to each temple, the sacred plants and the animals respected by my religion; with the awe-inspiring mountains which reach up to the skies and where the Gods live.”.

In her long career as an environmentalist, the Chennai-based author of Sacred Plants of India and Sacred Animals of India has explored the divine relationship between human beings, plants and animals, “which are an essential part of every Hindu prayer.”

In her long career as an environmentalist, the author of Sacred Plants of India and Sacred Animals of India Dr Krishna has explored the divine relationship between human beings, plants and animals, “which are an essential part of every Hindu prayer.”

“The Earth is my mother and I am her child,” says the hymn to the Earth in the Atharva Veda. The human ability to merge with nature was the measure of cultural evolution. Hinduism believes that the earth and all life forms – human, animal and plant – are a part of Divinity, each dependant on the other for sustenance and survival. All of nature must be treated with reverence and respect. If the forests, clean water and fresh air disappear, so will all life as we know it on earth.

An Excerpt

“Forests have always been central to Indian civilization, representing the feminine principle in prakriti. They are the primary source of life and fertility, a refuge for the wanderer and a home for the seeker, and have always been viewed as a model for societal and civilizational evolution.

“Forests were places of retreat, a source of inspiration, for all Vedic literature was revealed to the sages here. Rama’s entire journey from Ayodhya to Lanka was through forests. In the Mahabharata, the big war is for urbanization and to capture the cities of Mathura, Hastinapur and Indraprastha. Yet the Pandavas spent their years of exile in the forest and made marriage alliances with forest tribes, a move that would help them later in the Kurukshetra war. They also learnt several important lessons from living in the forest, which became a source of knowledge and a place for learning higher truths. There were several classifications of the forest.

“The ancient forests have survived as the sacred groves of modern India. The seals of the Indus civilization contain figures of wild animals such as the elephant, water buffalo, rhinoceros, deer, gazelle, antelope, wild sheep and goat and ibex and tiger, which means that the area was once covered with dense forests. Rhino habitat ranges from open savannah to dense forest, while tigers live in swamps, grasslands and among trees, bushes and tall grass which camouflage them. Elephants are found in savannah and forests, where they can find fresh water to cool their thick dark skins. The large number of such seals suggests that the Indus–Sarasvati region was once a thick forest, not the agricultural fields or deserts we see today.

 

Hindu Environment week is one of the eco initiatives by Hindus today, inspired by the insights of their faith

The Vedas were composed in the Indus–Sarasvati region. In these texts, there is a fundamental sense of harmony with nature, which, in turn, nurtured a civilizational value. Forests were the primary source of life and inspiration, not a wilderness to be feared or conquered. The Vedas were written by sages living in the forest who saw it as a home and a source of revelation, exaltation and creativity. Some of the greatest verses of philosophy were written in forests. People drew intellectual, emotional and spiritual sustenance from the twin concepts of srishti and prakriti.

‘So may the mountains, the waters, the liberal (wives of the gods), the plants, also heaven and earth, consentient with the Forest Lord (Vanaspati) and both the heaven and earth preserve for us those riches’

One of the most beautiful hymns of the Rig Veda is dedicated to Aranyani, the goddess of the forest. She is an elusive spirit, fond of solitude, and fearless. The poet asks her to explain how she can wander so far from civilization without fear or loneliness. He creates a beautiful image of the village at sunset, with the sounds of the grasshopper and the cicada and the cowherd calling his cattle. She is a mysterious sprite, never seen, but her presence is felt by the tinkling of her anklets and her generosity in feeding both man and animal:

Aranyani Aranyani, who are, as it were, perishing there, why
do you not ask of the village? Does not fear assail you?
When the chichchika (bird) replies to the crying grasshopper,
Aranyani is exalted, resonant, as with cymbals.
It is as if cows were grazing, and it looks like a dwelling, and
Aranyani, at eventide, as it were, dismissed the wagons.
This man calls his cow, another cuts down the timber,
tarrying in the forest at eventide, one thinks there is a cry.
But Aranyani injures no one unless some other assails;
feeding upon the sweet fruit, she penetrates at will.
I praise the musk-scented, fragrant, fertile, uncultivated
Aranyani, the mother of wild animals
(Rig Veda, X.146. 1–6)

LINKS

Find Hinduism and Nature on Good Reads.

Penguin India on Hinduism and Nature

The Hindu Newspaper features vital work on green pilgrimage by ARC’s partner organisation in India

ARC’s partner organisation in India, ATREE

Building Stewardship in the buffer zone to protect biodiversity – Clean KMTR Campaign

(Source : www.arc.org)

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Addressing Global Warming through reducing meat consumption

By : Vijai Singhal.

An Open letter to MPs and Senators.

3rd December, 2018

Dear Senators and MPs,

As you already know, addressing Climate Change is the most important issue for humanity.The recent results of the Victorian State elections have clearly proved that Australian people want positive action on climate change. It has already resulted in the dethroning of the past four Prime Ministers in Australia.

Hindu Council of Australia has been very actively involved in addressing this issue mainly from the point of view of reducing meat consumption, which is the most effective things people can do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and ensure food availability for the poor, as well as extending the values of respect and compassion for animals and is good for our own health. Hindu Councilhad launched its “Meat Free Day” campaign on 2nd October, 2008 – on Mahatma Gandhi’s Birthday. We are now celebrating its 10th anniversary and Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th year of his birthday.

You know that as per UN FAO report: “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, animal-farming contributes more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than of all forms of transportation worldwide (18% vs. 13.5%). Under a business as usual scenario, the number of animals farmed worldwide is projected to double by 2050. The resulting greenhouse gas emissions would negate reductions from other positive changes (e.g. increasing automobile fuel efficiencies, switching to renewable energy etc). It is therefore necessary to take positive action to reduce meat consumption. This aspect of the problem is not getting the attention it deserves. At long last the recent IPCC report did emphasise the need to move to plant-based diet, improved farming practices and reduction in food wastage as being necessary to limit the GHG emissions.

It is also a big health issue, as you know WHO had released a report on 26 Oct 2015 that says that if you eat as much as 50 grams of processed meat (the equivalent of a few slices of bacon) every day – or a total of 350 grams a week – your risk of colon cancer goes up by 18 percent. Our average consumption is far too high. The resulting increase in health budget is becoming a big problem for the national government to balance its books as well. Moderating our consumption of meat and dairy products will lower the incidence of obesity, ischaemic heart disease and stroke, while cutting consumption of processed meat will reduce the incidence of colorectal cancers, resulting in the saving of billions of dollars in health budget.

We look forward to the support from Greens to highlight this issue as it effects so many aspects of our living.

Vijai Singhal

Director, Hindu Council of Australia

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Selling Burgers to eliminate world hunger and save the earth

By : Surinder Jain.

Amit Tiwari, founder of Soul Burgers fast food chain of restaurants in Australia, prides on selling tasty burgers with no animal meat in them. A burger without cruelty to animals (assuming killing is cruelty) and good for the environment (meat production is one of the major factors for climate change) is certainly good for the Soul, a soul burger.

Source : www.soulburgers.com.au

According to Soul Burger’s web site, plants are the future of meat! Although we make look at Amit and his Soul Burger joint as a fast food outlet, he doesn’t see it that way.  He sees himself and his burgers as leading a global movement in keeping animals out of slaughterhouses and off our menus. Plant-based foods also reduces the risk of chronic disease and are lower in calories than a typical meat burger.

Source : www.soulburgers.com.au

Amit Tiwari also believes that he is selling more than burgers. He sees himself on the forefront of fighting climate change as a global shift to a vegan diet will cut food related GHG emissions by 70%. Every plant based burger helps save the planet!

If cruelty and climate change were not enough, Amit also believes that his burgers can eliminate poverty. How? Well, by shifting to plant based foods, we cease contributing to inflated grain prices used to feed livestock, creating stronger food security in developing countries. He sees a shift to his burgers will thus help feed millions of hungry mouths.

Next time, I am out and about, I will eat Soul Burgers. It will help me stay healthy, help keep earth from becoming an inferno and will help me gain punya (merit) by feeding the poor.

You can read more about Amit Tiwari and Soul Burgers in this ABC News report.

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Australia’s first Hare Krishna schoolies: No sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling or meat

 
Australia’s first all-Hare Krishna Year 12 class is shunning traditional Schoolies Week celebrations in favour of a trip to India, while vowing to forgo sex, alcohol, drugs, gambling and meat.

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Giving Tuesday promoting vegetarian diet in New York schools

By : Kelley Wind, Giving Tuesday.
 

I didn’t think it could happen. I didn’t believe that a New York City public school would adopt a vegetarian menu… and then become one of the highest rated schools in the state. But I was wrong. 

 
When the school leadership and staff is fully on board, and there is a great partnership in place, the extraordinary happens. At PS 244, The Active Learning Elementary School in Flushing, Queens, health and wellness are woven into all aspects of the curriculum. And the students are thriving. Test scores are far above the state average, with PS244 in the top 11 schools in the state. Students are absent less, and teachers report they are more attentive after lunch. 
 
Our friend and partner, Principal Bob Groff, reached out and welcomed us into his school. And by working together with the NYC Office of SchoolFood, the menu went from vegetarian two days a week, to three days, and after we asked if they would consider a vegetarian menu, finally by 2013, five full days.
 
We provide cafeteria staff training and support. We get as many of the recipes to be fully plant-based as we can. At Family Dinner Nights, we offer children, their parents/caregivers, and school staff a free fully plant-based meal featuring recipes from the lunch menu, and a nutrition education presentation for the adults. And during our after school classes, students make their own healthy plant based recipes.
 
With your support this GivingTuesday, we can make the unbelievable happen in more schools across the country. I don’t doubt it anymore.

 
Here are three ways you can help TODAY:
 
1. Donate by clicking here.
 
2. Sign up for the RoundUp app, a way to donate your spare change. You link your credit and/or debit cards, and each purchase is rounded up to the  next dollar. You can put a monthly limit on your giving. If we get 24 people to sign up on Tuesday, we’ll get $1000 from RoundUp.

 3. Whether you can give or not, please share this email with your friends, family, and co-workers. Ask them to donate to support healthy food and nutrition education in schools, or to sign up for the RoundUp app.  
 
Thank you for your interest in healthy school food. Together, we can make a difference! 

 
Sincerely yours,
 
Kelley Wind
Program Director

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Clean and Healthy Planet, the Hindu way

By : Vijai Singhal.

Īśāvāsyam idaṁsarvaṁyatkiñcajagatyāṁjagat;

Tena tyaktenabhuñjīthā,

mā gdha kasya svid dhanam.

 – (Isa Upanishad, Verse 1)

“Everything animate or inanimate in this universe is pervaded by God. Take whatever you need for your sustenance without the sense of ownership. Do not covet the wealth of anyone.”

Consumerism is the basic cause of climate change. Our economic model is demand based. We are constantly pushed to buy more as we have a system of planned obsolescence which results in excesswaste. We can see in our Hindu literature that the emphasis is on need and not on demand. Mahatma Gandhi said: “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”Greed is the root cause of all our problems – environmental or economic.

Gross domestic product (GDP) is a common measure of economic growth. However, GDP fails to account fully for the ecological damage that growth causes. By prioritizing economic growth, societies based on capitalism permit excessive consumption and with it comes excess waste. In 2012, the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan adopted the Gross National Happiness Index as their main development indicator.  This index measured‘Well-being and Happiness’ as a new economic paradigm. The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network which contains rankings of national happiness and analysis of the data from various perspectives, publishes an annual World Happiness Report. In their report, Finland ranks 1st, Australia ranks 10th, whereas India ranks 133rd. New Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi had launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) on 2nd Oct 2014, with the aim to clean up the streets, roads and infrastructure of India. The objectives of Swachh Bharat include eliminating open defecation through the construction of nearly 73 million household and community toilets since the launch of the plan. The Indian government is also pushing the use of renewable energy, particularly solar energy.

Indian government is actively pushing the use of renewable energy. The International Solar Alliance, an alliance of over 121 countries with an aim to reducing dependence on fossil fuels and to promote use of solar energy was launched by the Indian Prime Minister Mr Modi at the India Africa Summit, ahead of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. India has built the World’s largest solar farm of 2GW capacity in Karnataka State and the Energy Minister, Mr PiyushGoel has declared that there will be no new coal-fired power stations planned in India beyond 2018. In Australia also the rooftop solar installations is edging to 2 million households mark but unfortunately the Australian government is dragging its feet in support of the coal-fired power stations.

There is a proposal that has been put forward to the United Nations for declaring 2018InternationalYear of Clean and Healthy Planetaiming to mobilize millions of people worldwide in a single day event to clean up illegal waste on World Clean-up Day on 8th of September, 2018.  Last year, ABC TV produced a three-part series – War on Waste, highlighting the amount of waste we are producing in Australia. We are wasting a massive 40% of food items. With persuasion by the program producer and public reaction to waste, both Woolworths and Coles have declared that they would be cutting down on the use of throw away plastic and reducing the food wastage. This is a positive development.

Healthy living and a healthy planet go hand-in-hand. Choosing a plant-based diet is the single most important thing one can do for the environment and for our own health. There is a strong push for using vegan or plant-based diet in countries like Australia, United Kingdom and the USA, where meat consumption has traditionally been very high. Australia has become the third fastest growing vegan market in the world witha recent survey showing there are 2.1 million vegan/ nearly vegetarian people in Australia. This is another positive development for the health of our planet.

The world’s poor people are the worst sufferers of the environmental pollution. As responsible members of the society it is our duty to live a simple and ecologically sustainable life style. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The rich must live more simply so the poor may simply live.”

  • Vijai Singhal

References:

 

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Meat produced from plants – is it OK for Hindus?

By : Surinder Jain.

Hindus are vegetarians primarily because of cruelty involved in producing meat which is done by killing a live animal. Inflicting pain on a living beings binds negative karma and continues our cycle of death and rebirth.

Pain inflicted on a being in killing it increases with the number of senses possessed by the being. Plants can only feel touch and have one sense and thus feel less pain than a being like a cow with five (touch, taste, hearing, vision and smell) senses. To reduce the cruelty for their taste, many devout vegetarians shun all life forms but plants. Others shun plant food which requires the plant to be killed in order to obtain the food, like root plants potatoes. They limit their diet to fruits and pulses etc which can be obtained without killing the plant.

As technology advances, meat (or what looks and tastes like meat) is being produced from plant based sources.

Also, some labs are doing genetic engineering to grow particualr type of meat in a laboratory dish from cells of an animal.

How would you as a Hindu respond to such food, is it OK or should it be avoided?

Here is an article about meat produced from plants :


A new generation of meat

(sunfedfoods.com)

Sunfed meats are made from premium yellow pea protein, they cook, feel and taste just like animal meat but are healthier, both for you and the planet.

Good Clean Food

With just a handful of all natural wholesome ingredients, and clean water-based proprietary techniques, we turn protein-packed pulses into delicious meaty goodness. That’s it! 

INGREDIENTS
Water, Pea Protein, Rice Bran Oil, Pea Fibre, NZ Pumpkin, Natural Yeast Extract, NZ Maize Starch.

Soy Free. Gluten Free.
Preservative Free. GMO Free.

Good Health

HIGH PROTEIN   HIGH IRON   HIGH ZINC
(62% more protein than fresh lean skinless chicken breast)

HIGH PHOSPHORUS     HIGH POTASSIUM
SOURCE OF FIBRE   SOURCE OF MAGNESIUM
SOURCE OF B VITAMINS
LOW CARB

Cholesterol Free. Trans Fat Free.

Read more about their meat free meat with the following links :

https://www.foodprocessing.com.au/content/ingredients/news/chicken-made-of-pea-protein-selling-out-in-supermarkets-211625223

https://idealog.co.nz/venture/2018/02/if-you-plant-it-they-will-come-sunfeds-shama-lee-tackling-meat-industry-new-zealand

AUSTRALIA

Meat of the future: from lab to plate

 

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Interfaith in Action at Religions for Peace

By : Surinder Jain.

What is RfP

Religions for Peace (RfP) is an organization representing religious leaders of different faiths in Australia and includes Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Bahai faith. Hindu Council of Australia has been a member, represented by its director Vijai Singhal for over a decade now.

According to RfP founder, this Interfaith forum is different from others. Apart from meetings and speeches, it tries to connect individual faith leaders together in a bond of friendship which is best manifested by leaders of different faiths become personal friends. She cited as an example of a christian member whose daughter’s wedding was attended by and blessed by Muslims, Jews and from other faiths.

RfP held a meeting on 19th November 2018 to discuss various issues.

Anti-Hate laws in NSW

High on its agenda was an anti-hate and anti-discrimination law being considered by the state of NSW. Phillip Ruddock, former Attorney General of Australia and now Mayor of Hornsby shire has held wide consultations with community and submitted a report. Ian Lacey, a lawyer explained to members that Australian constitution in 1901 has included a clause on freedom of religions which means that :

  1. Government can not establish a religion
  2. Government can not enforce a religion
  3. Government can not stop a religion and
  4. Government can not ask for a religious qualifications for a job

This, he explained, provides freedom of religion to all Australians.

Various states like Victoria and Queensland have enacted Vilification or anti-hate laws which are not working very well. He feared that NSW should not follow their path and instead enact a robust law like that in Britain which

  1. Allows people to criticize a religion but
  2. Does not allow adherents of a religion to be discriminated

He further explained that stopping people from criticizing religions can have the opposite effect of becoming a blasphemy law.  We all know how some fundamentalists regimes have enacted blasphemy laws and have used them to prosecute and impose a certain religion.

Jatayu earth centre

Robert from Vedanta society explained his recent visit to India and a “Jatayu earth centre” being established there.

Parliament of World’s Religions

Father Patrick and Rachelle Kahn who recently returned from Parliament of World’s Religions held in Toronto briefed about their impressions of the visit.  The first Parliament was held in 1893 where Swami Vivekanand had given his first now world famous address starting with “Brothers and Sisters” instead of the usual “Ladies and Gentlemen” salutation of the time.

Parliament of World’s Religions 1893 – courtesy Wikipedia

The next Parliament was held a 100 years later in 1993 and is now an annual affair. The representation was very wide spread with 7,500 people, from 80 countries, 222 religions and over 500 workshops. However, the depth of religious fervor was very shallow.

Eat Less Meat

Mr Vijai Singhal explained to everyone about Eat Less Meat project in which Hindu Council has joined with ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change).

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