ARRCC members pledge for eating less Meat

By : Surinder Jain.

ARRCC – Australian Religious Response to Climate Change is a multi faith network committed to action on Climate Change. Hindu Council of Australia has been a member for more than ten years and has recently celebrated 10th Anniversary of its Eat Less Meat campaign.

Members of ARRCC in Sydney met on 13th October 2018 to celebrate 2018 Week of Living the Change. It is a week in which members make personal commitments on making changes in their lives that will help the environment.

IPCC has recently identified three major causes of climate change and they are

  • Fossil fuels
  • Transport and
  • Agriculture

and the solutions to alleviate the effects are

  • Use renewable energy
  • Cut down on transport that have a large carbon foot print and
  • Eat less meat.

It is the first time that climate change activists have come out openly and boldly to declare that Meat production is one of the major causes of climate change. Studies show that if we take all the action we need to take on fossil fuels and transport but neglect to do anything on Meat production, we will end up failing in stopping the catastrophic consequences.

YET, most climate change enthusiasts are hooked onto the first two and not paying due attention to the third cause of Meat being the final culprit. Perhaps because, it is easy to tell others to stop coal mining. It is happening somewhere far away and affects those few thousand jobs in rural hinterland only. To change our travel habits is somewhat more personal but a matter of pride and a little inconvenience. The technology and encouragement to do so is here and now and we can actually do it with small sacrifices.

However, to change one’s food habits and taste is very personal and perhaps one of the most difficult things to do. It involves the livelihood of not a few thousand Australians but of millions of Australians who produce meat and are also the backbone of rural and national economy. No one seems to have defined a transition path for these proud farmers to help them change from Meat to Plant based food production. It needs to be done on an urgent basis.

If we take Meat out of Australian diet, we will be left with a very poor, unbalanced diet which can be a cause of many deficiencies. Hindus who have been vegetarians for thousands of years and have adopted their cuisine and living style to a vegetarian diet and are thriving (there are over a billion in India alone) have a special responsibility to keep Australian cuisine healthy and balanced as they move towards lesser meat consumption.

The meeting was presided over and addressed by Thea Ormerod who invited everyone to make a commitment to make a change in their lives that will reduce their carbon foot print. This was followed by an address of Mr Atmarama Das (Andre), Director Govinda Valley Retreat. He explained how he got revolted by having to work on a fishing boat chopping fishes and on coming to the shore forever became a vegetarian and joined Hare Krishna movement. The movement taught him that we are not the owners of this creation or even a small piece of it.

This was followed by an address by Rev John Buchanan, Minister at the Presbyterian parish of St Peter’s, North Sydney. Rev John read from the bible that we are stewards of God’s creation and it is our duty no to let it deteriorate and that is why we must fight the climate change.  Reverend told the audience that he has not become a vegetarian but has reduced his meat consumption. The third speaker Gillian Reffell from the Sydney Buddhist Center spoke about her struggle to balance her life with her carbon foot print.

The meeting was followed by other people present their making pledges to reduce their carbon foot print and was followed by a Reflective Interfaith Ritual.

Thea gave following information to help people make pledges to reduce their own carbon footprint :

Pledge

Kgs of carbon saved every year from going into atmosphere

Always use public transport to work 920 Kg/year
Avoid Air travel except for emergencies 460 Kg/year
Replace all home lights by LED 470 Kg/year
Make at least half of my meals meat free 470 Kg/year
Eat meat no more than once a week 640 Kg/year
Eat 5 vegetarian meals each week 690 Kg/year
Adopt an entirely plant-based diet 1,300 Kg/year

Hindu Council of Australia was represented by its directors Vijai Singhal and Surinder Jain. Hindus have a lot more at stake with climate change. We, after our death will come back in a new birth an this process will continue until we attain Liberation. Ensuring that earth remains livable is not only a noble thing to do but is also the only thing to do to our home for many many centuries and eons to come.

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Breaking Bread with Indian Chapati in Sydney Food Festival

By:Surinder Jain.

Hindu Council of Australia participated in Breaking Bread with other Australian communities as an initiative of Food Faith during the ongoing Sydney Food Festival at Hyde Park Palms on 9th October 2018.

Food Faith is a not for profit organization promoting environmental and social sustainability. Sharing of bread and then breaking it to eat – Breaking Bread – is its initiative to bring communities together.

Hindu Council of Australia brought Indian Bread (Chapatis) which were distributed among more than a hundred people present there along with a Kangaroo grass bread from Staple Bakery, a Challah (Jewish bread) from Our Big Kitchen and Rustic panini from Bread and Butter Project.

The session started with an aboriginal elder explaining the value of Kangaroo grass seeds as a staple food for first Australians and as a staple crop before colonization of Australia. Other speakers talked about role of bread in religious ceremonies, how food and bread has changed over the years, ongoing research by universities on less popular slow going grains and how food can be a source of sustainable charitable businesses.

Judy Friedlander explained the concept behind the Breaking Bread initiative.

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Hindu rituals under attack in Australia

By: Smith Jones.

Australia is a very tolerant society. Hindu practices are not only encouraged but participated by a large number of white Australians and elected Australian representatives from all shades of political spectrum. Hindus feel at ease and encouraged to become Australians.

Surprisingly, attacks on Hindus are not coming from other religions or from fringe political ideologies. Political leadership in Australia makes sure they come to Hindu events and celebrate it with Hindu Australians. All other religions including the main religion Christianity are very supportive of Hindus and their efforts to organize themselves and celebrate their festivities and conduct their rituals. In fact, some of the religious leaders of older religions who have been here for two hundred years, go out of their way to help new comers find their feet and guide them on how to integrate well into Australian society. The departments of multiculturalism and various other government ministries are inclusive, respectful and supportive of Hindus and their efforts to get spiritual guidance from their temples, associations, seers and saints.

The attack to dissuade Hindus from practicing their rituals is coming from other Communist leaning pseudo-secularists masquerading as journalists who have also migrated to Australia more recently. They seem to question the audacity of Hindus in performing their rituals and Hindu worship in their new homeland of Australia. All Hindus and all religious leaders of all religions in Australia as well as Political leadership should condemn such veiled and sometimes open attacks on Hindus by vested interests.

By:Smith Jones.

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Religions meet for Peace in NSW

By: Vijai Singhal.

The Religions for Peace, NSW Chapter meeting was held on 20 August 2018 in Hon Walt Secord’s Office, NSW Parliament House. Meeting was sponsored by the Hon Walt Secord, Deputy Opposition leader in theNSW Legislative Council (Upper House) Shadow Minister for Health, NSW State Parliament House.

Josie Lacey OAM presided over the meeting. The topic for discussion was “Mysticism in my Religion”. Reverend PravrajikaGayatriprana, President of Shri Ramakrishna Sarada Vedanta Society of NSW spoke on the subject for the Hindu Faith.

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Pope’s emissary meets Hindu Council of Australia

A Papal Contingent from Rome and various parts of the world visited Australia and met various  local faith leaders, including representatives of Hindu Council of Australia in Canberra. Many issues of similarities were discussed. The gathering also talked how to counter differences towards a happier and less wounded world.

Mr Prakash Mehta, President Hindu Council and Dr Himnashu Pota represented Hindu Council in the meeting. The team was received by Archbishop Prowse.  The four high ranking clergy from the Vatican consisted of Bishops, Monsignors and Priests from Spain, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia specialising in relations with other faiths. There were five faiths represented consisting Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Baha’i. There were some 20 invitees who were separated into three groups to interchange their views.

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Religious Leaders Forum of NSW discusses violence against children

By: Vijai Singhal.

Religious Leaders Forum

I attended the Religious Leaders Forum on behalf of the Hindu Council of Australia on 22nd August, 2018 at the Melkite Catholic Church Schoolin Greenacre, organized by the Multicultural NSW. Before the start of the proceedings the members were given the tour of the school which is providing education to 240 students mainly from the Arabic speaking refugee families.

The main speaker for the Forum was Mr. Andrew Johnson, Advocate for Children and Young people. The topic for his presentation was “Violence against children is everybody’s business” promoting prevention of violence against children, which has deep psychological impact on the vulnerable children in the society. Support services are available for both adults and children and young people who may be suffering violence.

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10th Anniversary of Eat less Meat campaign by Hindu Council

By:Vijai Singhal.

The Hindu Council was the 1st in Australia to launch the “Meat-free Day” campaign on 2nd Oct. 2008 to reduce Greenhouse gas emission. We took this campaign to ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change) and renamed it “Eat Less Meat” to appeal to people of multi-faith who are mostly meat-eaters. Lot has happened in last ten years. There is much more awareness among people of eating plant-based diet. There is lot more coverage in the main media. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this launch Mr Vijai Singhal was interviewed at the Darpan Hindi Radio program at 98.5 FM 10-11 am this Sunday, 30 September 2018.

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Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam explained to Youth Parliament of World Religions

The Youth PoWR conference was organized by the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations to bring young representatives of different religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh) to one platform in order to share how each of these religions are contributing towards peace in the society.

Vincy Jain represented the Hindu faith and explained the concept of “VasudhaivaKutumbakam” – the whole world is a family to foster living in harmony by the people of different faiths. The members of the audience also participated in the breakout sessions to discuss a number of current issues. The facilitators of these groups collated all the responses which were published on their website.The conference was a great step towards bringing the different ethnic communities, especially the youth together to foster mutual understanding.

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Farmers helped during Walkathon to Temples

Hindu Council of Australia organized a Walk to Temples event in Sydney on 29th September 2018. Funds were raised for Farmers Drought Relief efforts during the walk. According to Walk organizer Mr Sai Pravastu, $850 were raised on the first day and $540 were raised on second and final day of the walk. More funds are being collected and will be handed over to Hindu Benevolent Fund to help the Australian Farmers.

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Hindu peace philosophy explained at Ahamadiya Peace Conference

By:Tara Sharma.

I attended Ahmadiyya Muslim community a Peace Symposium on behalf of Hindu Council of Australia. We were also represented a few weeks back, on their function on Eid festival.

It was a good experience.

There were people from other faiths too like Budhists, Sikhs, Christians from two faiths. There were political leaders too and some social / community leaders.

The topic of Symposium was : Decency, Tolerance and Respect for lasting peace.

There were 13 speakers.
I was one of the speakers and I spoke on Hindu philosophy/ teachings / thinking on Peace. It was well received.

There were around 400-500 attendees.

I was much impressed with the organisation.
The program was well organised, professional, well attended. The venue was well laid out, technologically well done, timing was on spot, guests were well received. Dinner was well serviced.
Plenty of volunteers, well managed volunteer force, clock precision work, no chaos, very humble behaviour.

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