Contributed by Jogyata Dallas, the following interview considers the growing phenomenon of veganism and vegetarianism in New Zealand, recorded in conversation with one of it’s very keen advocates from the Sri Chinmoy Centre.
Q: What led you to become a vegetarian then vegan?
A: I started out on a personal journey of discovery, one that’s really part of a much larger inquiry, a global awakening about health. I read up on the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet which are well documented and compelling and I began to feel so much healthier almost straight away. Even recent NZ Herald coverage has looked at the mounting evidence of the health positives, and mentioned the link between high animal protein diets with the rise of colon cancers and numerous other health disabilities. Of course I’m always being challenged because the old myths are still there, milk needed for heathy bones and calcium, animal protein for sound nutrition and so on, but they’ve been rigorously disproved – it takes a while though to get past all this to the facts.
Q: Do you really think the vegan diet can become popular in a country like New Zealand?
A: It’s happening now, and much faster than you think. Vegetarians and vegans are rapidly growing in numbers – it’s part of a consciousness shift that you can see in the bigger global canvas, an incoming tide of knowledge and change, the interest in mindfulness and spirituality, vegetarian schools, the scores of online websites dedicated to raw food, green smoothies, fasting, yoga and health. We’re taking more note of the environmental aspects of it all as well, the huge and unsustainable misuse of land and the massive environmental footprint of the agri-businesses.
Q: And you practise meditation too – where’s the link here?
A: Mind and body are inseparable – in looking for optimal health you can’t focus only on one and neglect the other. A lot of meditators are vegetarian because it helps us to have a more calm and peaceful mind. Ayurvedic medicine talks about the rajasic, tamasic and sattvic qualities of food, the type of body energies we have in the subtle realms. These principles have been known for thousands of years. Vegan and vege foods enable the deeper, subtler experiences in meditation. I meditate with the Sri Chinmoy Centre – there are 6,000 vegetarians in our organisation worldwide, all super-healthy people who run marathons, treat the body as a body-temple.
Q: You mentioned the environmental impact of farming and that’s quite a topic right now. Even the United Nations has identified land based animal farming as the leading driver of environmental degradation.
A: It’s true. A World Bank report stated that animal agriculture is producing 51% of of all greenhouse gas emissions, and is the number one contributor to human caused climate change. Researchers also agree that the primary cause of loss of species – the largest widespread extinction of species we’ve seen since the age of the dinosaurs – is caused by habitat loss and overgrazing from livestock production. Our last rainforests like the Amazon are disappearing at the rate of one acre every second to enable beef and dairy farming, soya crops – and palm plantations are wiping out the last Indonesian rainforests and causing many extinctions.
In New Zealand there’s a lot of concern too at the degradation of our lakes and rivers and coastal waterways caused by farm run-off. And look at the global epidemic of diet based, high animal protein health problems – cancer, obesity, coronaries etc. It’s all reversible!
Q: In NZ and a lot of western societies agri-businesses are fundamental to our economy. News that milk and meat production are driving climate change, environmental degradation, species extinctions, health problems and so on will unleash a real firestorm of resistance.
A: Yes, it will take a long time for the inevitable changes to go mainstream or bring about a shift in our way of living. But there are moral issues as well – it has often been pointed out that the acreage and resources required to produce a kilo of beef or mutton or a litre of milk can produce between fifteen to twenty times more plant based protein. There are over 210,000 people being born on our planet every day – the present systems can’t feed them all. A US report I saw stated that one and a half acres of arable land in a single year can produce 13,810 kg (37,000 lbs) of vegetables, but only 140 kg (375 lbs) of meat. In a world where food shortage is a growing problem, the implications of this are obvious. There are almost one billion hungry people on this planet – 82% of starving children live in countries where vast amounts of grain and food are fed instead to animals that are raised to feed the wealthy. We are heading towards food wars, water wars, arable land wars, mass migrations of people to liveable climates and away from rising sea levels.
Q: Do you really see significant changes soon happening?
A: We might be on the verge of an evolutionary jump, perhaps one forced upon us through necessity. The outcry of agri-businesses – the number one polluters and environmental wreckers on our planet – will fade away, just as the outcry against the right of women to vote or outrage at the abolition of slavery faded away.
I also believe in the goodness of human beings, something better and higher that we have within us. The majority of vegans are also conscious of the enormous scale of suffering that human beings inflict on virtually every other furred, feathered and marine creature on our planet.
Q: Veganism – is it a modern phenomenon?
A: No, not really. You can see it in different cultures way back in time. In India the Jains have an ecological philosophy synonymous with ahimsa or non-violence. Ahimsa is the principle of compassion and responsibility, practised not only towards human beings but towards all animals and nature itself. For them there is no greater virtue than reverence for life because as a highly evolved form of life ourselves, we are seen to have a great moral responsibility in our guardianship of the planet. But we are instead the most terrifying predator earth has ever seen, numbed down by habit and culture to the accepted exploitation of all other species, thought to include over 100 billion land animals annually. Perhaps it is time when the growing sensibilities of our race will include, as the Buddha proposed 2,500 years ago, a widening compassion for all other creatures, including man, on our planet.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein.
The Lotus-Heart is proud to be supporting “Songs of the Soul,” at the Piano, 6 November, 8.00pm.
Join us for an unforgettable free concert featuring world and classical musicians. Journey across a sublime musical landscape of eastern and western, tranquil and dynamic, magical and meditative melodies.
• Shamita Achenbach of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra
• Sahadeva Torpy with his 20 piece concert jazz orchestra
• Alap Jetzer: Renowned New Age musician, flute player and maker.
• Monk Party: Auckland father and son duo performing on guitar and world percussion instruments – cajon, oud and bodhrán
This vibrant entourage of musicians perform the music of Maestro Sri Chinmoy: musician, poet, artist and master of meditation who voiced an endless vista of spiritual experience through over 22,000 songs. Blending styles of East and West, contemporary and classical – piano, harp, sitar, Indian flute and tamboura play in harmony to bring forth an experience of elevated music and an experience of inner peace. Over the past 7 years, more than 200 free concerts in this series have been offered throughout Europe and North America. Their first tour of Australia and New Zealand in November 2016 will give listeners the chance to be uplifted and enchanted by Sri Chinmoy’s compositions.
Highly regarded for his creative capacity, Sri Chinmoy himself performed hundreds of free concerts during his lifetime. He believed that “Music is the universal language. Soulful music is next to meditation, and it carries the beauty and fragrance of silence.”
The Songs of the Soul Concert will be held at The Piano, a world class facility for New Zealand and a home for music and the arts in Canterbury, in The Philip Carter Family Concert Hall with a raised stage and tiered concert hall seating auditorium, accoustics designed to enhance the presentation of the musical performances to the fullest, and the latest in lighting and audio/visual technologies.
Admission is free but seating is limited. Please reserve tickets by visiting www.songsofthesoul.org
Expanding on the health store, The Lotus-Heart now has a new wellness clinic with BioTrace practioners from Auckland visiting three times a year offering Quantum Reflex Analysis, and Ashly Gilmore from BioTrace based at The Lotus-Heart on Thursdays and Fridays for nutritional consultations.
Quantum Reflex Analysis (QRA) is an advanced form of kinesiology that uses acupressure points to check the bio-energetic field of the body. QRA is a tool that gives the practitioner powerful insights to support the physical and emotional aspects of clients health efficiently and effectively. QRA provides protocols that gives the practitioner a clear structure for an appointment and can transform a practice and the results clients have.
QRA is the union of science-based kinesiological testing, time-proven ancient therapies, systematic analysis of the body’s quantum bio-field, and outstanding nutrition and detoxification breakthroughs of the 21st Century.
QRA practitioners can work with clients experiencing:
• Nutrient deficiencies
• Food intolerances
• Digestive upset
• Physical traumas
• Hormone imbalance
• Symptoms of toxicity
• Low energy
• Emotional Stress
If you have health concerns and would like a health consultation, contact us by email.
Thanks to everyone that supported us. We are humbled and honoured by the result.
Hope you’ve all had fabulous World Vegan Days!
Thank you to everyone who took part in the search for NZ’s Favourite Veggie Restaurant.
The winner (for the second year running!) is The Lotus-Heart vegetarian restaurant and health store. Congratulations to the team, and keep up the delicious good work.
The winner of the Angel Food hamper will be drawn and notified this week.
Blenders: Vitamix, Blendtec and Omega. These are the highest quality, most durable and most powerful blenders available and are crucial in The Lotus-Heart kitchen for creating our raw food dishes. With 2HP and 3HP motors, these blenders power through the densest ingredients, perfectly marrying them to one another, resulting in beautifully smooth soups, smoothies and raw meals. You are also guaranteed a blender that will not burn out under the pressure of heavy ingredients.
Slow Press Juicers: These work by pressing, rather than centrifuging the fruit, keeping the nutrients intact, resulting in a fresher, healthier, tastier and more complete juice. We have in store: Hurom, Omega, Oscar Pro and Oscar Neo slow juicers. These juicers are not as slow as the name might suggest, in fact fast they are fast enough, and of such durability, that we use them in our restaurant. If you are considering buying a juicer, we recommend you try a juice here at The Lotus-Heart, and taste the difference for yourself.
Dehydrators: We have Excalibur dehydrators available in both stainless steel and colours; the Sedona Dehydrators by Tribest with a current special of 9 free dehydrator sheets with the purchase of a Sedona Combo Dehydrator; and also the more economical digital LeQuip dehydrator and Bio Chef dehydrators.
KitchenAid: In 1919 the iconic KitchenAid Stand Mixer was born. From that stemmed an entire kitchen of high-performance appliances, all created with the same attention to detail, quality craftsmanship, cutting edge technology and timeless design. Every product that carries the KitchenAid name is guaranteed to be strong, reliable and versatile and is backed by more than 90 years of experience and excellence in the food arena. And as the only appliance brand that makes appliances exclusively for the kitchen, KitchenAid continues to keep pushing the limits with their products so you can keep doing the same with everything you create. We display a selection from the artisan range but can bring in anything from the complete range as required.
Soylove Soy Milk and Tofu maker: For making all natural tofu, soy milk, nut milks and soups, limited only by your imagination.
…That the drink of tea was discovered when leaves from the camellia sinensis tree were caught upon the wind and dropped into an Emperor’s cup. Enticed by the fragrance of the tea rising up from the hot water, he took a sip, and the drink was born.
While the legend is most likely folklore, it causes one to wonder what unknown tastes are sitting just beyond our senses and attention.
Though with cultivated products taking over most of our culinary experience, the evolution of food is taking place in a new way. In an increasingly global community, doors to exotic places and new flavours are opening right in front of us, and international cuisines are melding before our eyes. Not only do these exotic flavours expand our palate, they offer a source of nourishment to which our bodies might not be otherwise exposed.
Dragonfruit powder (100% raw): The fruit of the pitaya cactus cultivated mostly in South American and Asian countries. Benefits of the fruit include naturally occurring Omega 3’s, protein, vitamin C and Iron.
Pomegranate Powder (100% raw): One of the oldest known fruits, native to ancient Persia and the Himalayas. These are an excellent source of phytonutirients, poyyphenols and anthocyanins and are known to protect against cellular damage.
Gac Powder: A Southeast Asian gourd containing 70 times more lycopene than tomatoes, thought to reduce the incidence of cancer.
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