65 million Indian people live in slums. 200 million are undernourished. Being a vegan will not change that.
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Many mindfulness practitioners include veganism as part of their daily lifestyle. Becoming an ethical vegan is one way to be mindful about harming animals or the environment.
In the Western world, I hear vegans say that veganism can offer a nutritious and complete diet for everyone and anyone. I beg to differ. In my opinion, choosing to be vegan is a privilege.
I have been told that, even though I run an animal rescue in India, what I am doing is pointless, because I am not a vegan activist. I have even been told (by several vegans) that the only way to save a stray bull on the street with a bleeding leg is to become vegan. I still do not understand that advice (our medical team cared for the bull’s wounds and he is fine), but I try to remember that each of us think differently.
However, when PETA says that being vegan can solve world hunger, we need to take a step back for a closer look:
“Not only does raising animals for food gobble up precious resources and produce tons of waste, it also steals food from hungry people. Raising animals for food is extremely inefficient. For every pound of food that they eat, only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of edible flesh. If we stopped intensively breeding farmed animals and grew crops to feed humans instead, we could easily feed every human on the planet with healthy and affordable vegetarian foods.”
It sounds great, right? In theory anyway—but in reality?
Let’s take a look.
India is, above and beyond, the country with the highest rate of vegetarianism in the world, at 48 percent. In India, being “veg” also excludes eggs. On paper, this sounds fantastic. Westerners might picture a country of meditators and yogis, eating their cruelty-free diet. We see it as something to aspire to in order to live a mindful life.
However, many people tend to forget that the place where these practices originated is not a developed country. India is home to over 400 million people who are living in poverty. These folks are not doing yoga nor are they meditating and 50 percent of them are starving.
This is also a country where there are thousands of cows and bulls roaming the streets because the Hindu religion declares that the cow is sacred and cannot not be killed for food. Get this though—India is alsothe world leader in exporting beef, according to the US Department of Agriculture. It exported an estimated 2 million metrics tons of beef in 2015.
Here are some other alarming facts:
- 43 percent of Indian children under five years old are underweight and 48 percent (or 61 million children) are stunted due to chronic under-nutrition. India accounts for more than three out of every 10 stunted children in the world (stunted refers to brain development as well as height).
- 3,000 children in India die every day from illnesses related to their poor diet.
If these children could get the appropriate micronutrients in their diets, like Vitamin A, it could reduce child mortality by an average 23 percent. Adequate iron could improve school performance. Vitamin A, iron, and other micronutrients, iodine foliate and zinc are needed for a child’s brain development as well as their physical development.
Now, you’d think you could find lots of vegan/veg options to fill these categories, especially because India has such a high percentage of veg eaters. Well, unfortunately, that is not the reality.