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Home Cover Features Making A Right Choice

Making A Right Choice

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Making A Right Choice

On the occasion of World Vegan Day, which falls on November 1, celebrated across the globe, nation and the Hyderabadi City, day by day many citizens are going Vegan. They believe in the policy that life can be lived without torturing the animals for their products be it meat, eggs, dairy, leather, wool, silk and pearls. Going Vegan is a healthy living by choice.

Most of you who have taken international flights must be aware that at the time of booking the tickets your preferred choice of food is asked. A clear study of the form mentions various types of foods like – Vegetarian, Non-vegetarian, Hindu, Jain, and Vegan among many others. Same way, when one goes to a restaurant, we look whether the restaurant is serving vegetarian or non-vegetarian food. But, nowadays some of them have turned Vegan and believe in eating and promoting Vegan for a healthy living, with a promise to live and let live.

What is Vegan living, one may wonder. Vegan living is a conscious decision taken by an individual on not harming another living creature for satisfying their appetite. “A Vegan rejects all forms of animal exploitation - for food, clothing, entertainment, etc. So, being vegan means avoiding milk and its products, eggs, meat, honey (substituting them with their plant-based alternatives for taste if desired), wool, leather, fur, pearl, silk and all other animal products/use,” says Pulkit Parikh, a Software engineer in Microsoft, practicing Veganism for the last five years. Parikh adds that Vegans do not visit zoos, circuses and refrain from animal-tested products too.

Making A Right Choice

Pulkit Parikh firmly believes: “Animals exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans, just like blacks were not made for whites, and women not for men.” Parikh says that Hyderabad has vegans from almost all walks of life, ranging from software engineers to doctors to students and senior citizens. “The ‘Hyderabad Vegans’ Facebook group has seen a consistent increase in both membership and engagement of members. The potluck get-togethers that is organised always has a lot of non-vegans taking part. They realise that avoiding animal cruelty does not mean giving up tasty food, comfortable clothing or enjoyable entertainment. They taste a wide variety of delicious dishes made from plant-based milks, Tofu (which is Vegan and tastes just like Paneer), plant-based curds and so on,” the engineer says.

Speaking about their activities, Parikh says that they spread awareness about Veganism in the city and across the nation. “On weekends and evenings, we show people videos documenting the immense physical and emotional suffering caused to animals by our everyday choices. They see how terribly egg laying hens and chickens are confined, how their beaks are cut using red hot blades soon after birth, etc.,” he says.

The videos also show the emotional trauma caused to animals when their families are broken up to meet the animal-based demand. “We then briefly explain how animal-based choices also cause environmental devastation, how it takes enormous amounts of grains to sustain the artificially bred animal population, etc. Most people respond positively by saying that they will change. Very few make excuses,” Parikh says. The activist says that they have also been creating awareness about speciesism, a discriminatory attitude similar to racism, casteism and sexism based on species membership. “Just like it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of caste, gender, sexuality and so on, it’s equally wrong to use species as an excuse to exploit animals through our choices,” he says emphasizing his point.

20 coffee from tea stall

In very clear terms, Parikh states Veganism is not a fad, and that ethical obligation is not limited to dietary choices. “Veganism is about avoiding all forms of animal exploitation and other harm, as far as possible. Hence, we should also do away with animal-based clothing, entertainment and other animal use,” he says.

Parikh says that that torture of animals is no different from the ones that hurt women and other oppressed groups. “Non-human females also suffer unspeakable atrocities, ranging from being sexually abused as breeding machines to heartbreaking separation from their babies,” he says. The activist says that while animals of both sexes suffer, the animal industry is almost entirely built on the abuse of the female reproductive system. “The animals, who are tormented for humans wants, have to be bred into existence. For female animals, breeding means a relentless, body-breaking cycle of artificial insemination (which is sexual abuse) and separation from her babies without even being allowed to bond and do things that humans take for granted as fundamental rights,” he says.

“Another disturbing trend is that egg laying hens are confined in ‘battery cages’ with no freedom of movement. Their beaks are cut using red hot blades soon after birth. Imagine the fate of male chicks? Day old chicks are ground up alive or suffocated to death in bags because they do not lay eggs or grow fast enough for meat. Animals used for experiments are separated from their natural habitats and families, confined in tiny cages and subjected to stress, pain and suffering continuously,” he says.

For the past couple of years on the occasion of World Vegan Day, which falls on November 1, awareness programmes and marches have been organized in Hyderabad. According to Sejal Parikh, activist, the march is to bring forth the fundamental right of these non-human fellow animals not to be enslaved or harmed. “It is to make people aware of the antidote to animal exploitation – veganism,” she says. Sejal believes that being a Vegan is a win-win-win proposition in terms of animal suffering avoidance, human health and environmental sustainability. For the first time, a Vegan Bazaar was held in the heart of the city at Our Sacred Space on Sunday, February 9, 2014 which was inaugurated by animal activist and actress Amala Akkineni. “It was an overwhelming success, which was visited by over 500 people in five hours,’ says Manpreeth Singh Nishter, Senior manager, 3M.

At the Vegan Bazaar, delicious vegan cakes, bakes, puddings and pies ranging from flavours of spices, ginger, berries, banana and walnuts, apple tarts, jowari chocolate cakes, butterscotch and blue berry ice creams, millet upma, mixed and raggi millet vadas, soya buttermilk, sesame seeds/almonds/cashew nuts sweetened milk, creamy mint and nut chocolate and many more goodies were available. The Bazaar has become a regular feature in the city.

“Vegans enjoy as much fun food and comfortable life without hurt or harm to any animal. This form of lifestyle promotes non-violent, healthy and sustainable environmental option,” says Nishter.

Making A Right Choice

Raab Ne Bana De Jodi

Film maker Sashi Kiran and Software engineer Poornima Deepika entered into a wedlock in the Nawabi city in June this year. The two met on a wedding website and what attracted them was that they were Vegans. “We have both been vegan - avoiding animal-based food, clothing/fashion, entertainment and so on for several years,” says the newly married couple.

“The reason behind being Vegan stems from the fundamental ethical principle that no sentient being - human or non-human - should be made to suffer, except in self-defence situations. Seeing us our mothers too have embraced veganism whole-heartedly,” the couple states.

Kiran says that Veganism introduced them to one another and later they discovered that their other core principles and ideals in life also matched perfectly. “We communicated online and over the phone for a few months, as we were living on two different sides of the globe at that time. Soon after we met in person, we got engaged and started making preparations for a new life together,” Kiran says.

The couple says in unison that they decided to have a low-key wedding and use the funds that would have otherwise been used for a pompous wedding for charitable purposes. “In the presence of our immediate families, we exchanged garlands on June 10. We cut a delicious double-layered vegan cake made by Terrasen Café,” they say. The couple adds that following the wedding, they had a full meal Vegan lunch, including Vegan curd rice (made from peanut + cashew based curd), tofu curry (tofu is Vegan and can be made to taste like paneer) and a Vegan dessert (made out of cashew + soy milk and mangoes). “Everyone, including the non-vegan family members, absolutely loved the food. Our guests were surprised when we later revealed that the curd rice had no dairy in it. We took care to make it a complete vegan wedding by ensuring that no animals were exploited for making our clothes either,” say the couple.

Bride Deepika says that freedom is the most important thing in life to her. “I once saw a cow tied to a pole. She could not move one step beyond what the string would let her. I imagined myself in that situation and realised how anguished I would be in that case. You do not need to love animals in order to empathise with them and make choices that do not hurt them.

They are our fellow sentient beings deserving freedom just like us. Veganism is about overcoming speciesism, the discrimination that leads to the exploitation of sentient beings on ethically irrelevant basis of their species,” she says.

Sashi says that he was raised non-vegetarian, but after watching ‘Earthlings’ and other videos that brought out the animal suffering that human choices are responsible for going vegan. “Animals exist for their own reasons. The milk of the cow is for the calf and it is human to see the cows being milched with machines,” he says. He quickly adds being vegan is crucial for the environment.

Atrocities on Animals in India:

Some Facts and Stats

Dairy: India is the largest producer of dairy, with an annual production of about 120 million tonnes using about 35 crore cattle. Cows are forced into body-breaking cycle of pregnancy, birthing and milking throughout their life (either through common bull or an equally torturous process called artificial insemination) in all the dairies. These mothers also endure a lot of misery in not being able to spend time with their babies since the calves are taken away soon after birth.

Beef export: India became the largest exporter of beef in the world from 2012. The bans on cow slaughter and sale of beef have not impacted the figures. The consumption of dairy feeds and subsidies the production of beef and leather. This significantly reduces the prices of beef and leather, thus causing a huge increase in their consumption. Most of the leather produced is from male calves (that are useless for milk production) and from cows that can no longer give milk. Most animals are skinned alive to maintain a particular texture of leather. India is the largest in the export of cow leather in the world.

Male Chicks: Male chicks on egg farms are an estimated 18 crore newborn and are brutally killed every year in the country. Male chicks are useless for the industry because they don’t lay eggs and don’t grow fast enough for meat. So they’re crushed to death or discarded soon after they’re born.

Eggs: India is the third largest producer of eggs in the world, with more than 20 crore egg laying hens. To reduce the losses caused by the stressed birds’ pecking one another, they are de-beaked (the beak is cut) in a painful process with red hot blades. At the end of their miserable lives, the birds are butchered barbarically in full view of their terrified fellow victims!

Chickens: India produces about 23 lakh tonnes of poultry meat a year. Chickens grown for meat (called “broilers”) don’t have it any better either. They’re housed in crowded and dirty conditions to reduce costs. They’re fed soy and other feed (that humans could also consume) to fatten them up quickly and sent for slaughter when they’re as young as 30-50 days, long before they become mature adults.

Goats and Sheep: More than 20 crore goats and sheep are reared in India. The consumption of mutton is next only to chicken. They’re bred for meat, leather and wool. With no concern for their natural lives or in the process of slaughter and skinning in small slaughterhouses, they endure a lot of cruelty. Mulesing is a crude attempt to create smoother skin that won’t collect moisture, but the exposed, bloody wounds often become infected or flystruck.

Pigs: More than 1.2 crore pigs are reared in India for meat and leather. Pigs are ignorantly associated with a stigma of being dirty and hence not even thought about when people talk about animal cruelty. But the fact is that they’re smart animals who form cooperative social groups.

Fishes: For every one pound of fishes caught, up to five pounds of unintended marine species are caught and discarded as by-kills. Fishes don’t want to suffocate on land just as humans don’t want to drown in water. Fishing has been widely acknowledged as a huge threat to marine ecology. Fishes on aqua farms spend their entire lives in crowded, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries.

- Courtesy Hyderabad Vegans

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