Friday, 1 March, 2024

Veganism in Nepal


Yubraj Maski

A teacher, Donald Watson, and his future wife Dorothy Morgan first coined the term veganism in 1944 in the UK. It is the practice of abstaining from all types of animal exploitation and cruelty including human beings. The strict vegans do not use any type of animal products like meat, mild dairy products or any animal-derived substance products as much as possible and reject the commodity status of the animal.

No Animal Products
Before that, vegetarians used to eat animal products. However, veganism began with the idea of not using any animal products and being kind to all living things. The middle suffix, 'etaria' was removed from the term 'vegetarian' to begin veganism.
Vishuddha Shakahari is the Nepalese translation terminology used by Nepalese vegans. Since then, the practice of veganism has been added to the movement. The environmental vegans are very much concerned about industrial animal farming, which is said to be the biggest environmental deteriorator. Industrial Farming consumes pollutes too much water and air too.
The dietary associations of many countries have not preferred vegan food, especially for breastfeeding mothers and children yet vegan researchers and dieticians say it is a matter of food management rather.

The right amount of nutritious vegan food is complete nutrition it will not lack the necessary nutrition body needs. The availability of food or fruits may be a challenge in many places. The Sportsperson, pregnant and children surely need many servings of nutritious food in a day. For example, the sportsperson would need more than six thousand calories and as many as 6 servings a day similarly the pregnant mother also needs the double amount of food in comparison to the ordinary state.

Is veganism a western concept? Many people say it is a western concept, Is that true? If we see major food and life practice in Nepal, the majority of meal is vegan or nearly vegan. Though they never were conscious of consuming and abstaining from the foods they were eating. For example, a majority of typical Nepali homes or people usually eat dal, bhat, roti, dhido, aato, makai, bhatmas, chiura, tarkari, achar and water. They are vegan.

Many religious groups, especially the Brahmin in India and Nepal, were supposed to eat the sattwik food which is vegan or almost vegan, some may still add diary products in sattwik food though. They did not eat rajasik containing meat and dairy and tamasik containing alcohol like food and beverages. The certain religious group eat only sattwik food which was almost vegan food. Many religious practitioners and meditators ate only vegan. The majority of Buddhist Monks eat one cooked meal before noon in the day eat only fruit and salad in the evening. Many people have practised eating one sattwik meal which is usually vegan in a day. Some of the Tantrik practitioners of Nepal practised eating a certain meal which was not only vegan but fruitarian and some believed to even breatharian.

Arriving In Nepal
When did veganism begin in Nepal? Nepal has always been said to be Devbhumi i.e. land of God. It is the centre of spiritual and religious activities, meditation and tantra practice too. Lord Buddha's first Sheela among the Panchasheela is ahimsa i.e. nonviolence. Not only physical but mental ahimsa is also very necessary.

Why is there so much animal sacrifice to gods and goddesses? The practitioners of Tantra say one can only sacrifice the living being to God or a superpower if only they can revive the dead one. The practice of sacrificing the animal for just the taste bud and in the name of the liberation of the animal is wrong. That level of practice is a very high level of practice indeed. Supreme Master Ching Hai's arrival on 1 May 2000 created awareness about veganism in Nepal.
Rock Star Bryan Adams' arrival in 2011 and his concert at Dasarath Stadium created another new wave of veganism when many people came to know that the Canadian singer was a vegan. That surely created interest among many Nepalese in veganism.

Another wave of veganism in Nepal will be created after the Himalayan Vegan Festival 2022, which is going to happen from 15 to 17 September in Kathmandu and 18 to 20 in Bhutan. The two-time Mount Everest summiteers, photographer, sportsperson Kuntal Joisher has come to Nepal many times and created awareness of how veganism can save the environment and mother earth. Currently, he is in Nepal. He is an avid ethical vegan who proved all that vegans cannot climb Mount Everest.
Global warming and other harmful activities that melt the Himalayas will be a great crisis for not only human beings but all living things. Industrialization and machines create global warming faster. So, permaculture, organic traditional farming may save the environment and the world longer. We need to promote permaculture for the good health of living beings and mother earth itself.

Himalayan Vegan Festival
Finally, let me tell you about the Himalayan Vegan Festival 2022. This is an event, organised by the World Vegan Organisation, Nepal under the guidance and support from the World Vegan Organisation, dedicated solely to introducing, educating, and promoting a plant-based lifestyle and its benefits to the public by hosting over 100 international, regional and local delegates, celebrities and speakers from more than 32 countries.

The title itself suggests that it is an important event aimed at creating conservation awareness in this area because the living things are depended on the glaciers, rivers, streams originating from the Himalayas and about 2 billion people will be affected if they are not conserved. The ill imacts of climate change will lead to a rise in sea level which will create other problems.
Most importantly, the Himalayan Vegan Festival 2022 aims to share the skills and knowledge to prepare a vegan meal at home at a nominal cost.

(Maski is a member of the Himalayan Vegan Festival 2022 organising team)