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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

For a VEGAN 2011: Vegan Inspirations from Seven Vegan Advocacy Groups

2010 was definitely a year that registered the vegan way of life in the consciousness of many people in India. Thanks to the media that it covered many vegan-related stories from the health, ethical, moral, environmental, and spiritual perspectives. To get an idea of the number of vegan-related reports in the media in 2010, you can click this link.

Well, these reports and articles have all materialized in a context and the context has been shaped by the contributions of the followers of the vegan path in India – some working under the umbrella of advocacy groups while many others contributing as individual crusaders. In the final story of our year-end series, we bring you a compilation of the blogs and websites of seven advocacy groups managed by vegans from different parts of the country. It goes without saying that the awareness work done by these groups and the various individual crusaders had an explicit hand in shaping the media reports.

If you are a new vegan or aspiring to embrace the vegan lifestyle, you can greatly benefit by linking up with these advocacy groups. You can draw support, get inspirations and ideas; get your questions clarified; and of course, meet up and form associations with like-minded individuals.

Courtesy: PETA
Make your Choice, take a Stand. Our choices have the potential to influence the future of this Planet and the generations to come. The influence will be, without a doubt, POSITIVE. A “positive” outcome has no other choice but to bring you peace of mind and make you disease-resistant. Only a cruelty-free lifestyle of ‘minimal harm done to others, minimal harm experienced on self’ can achieve a truly positive outcome for yourself! Do take the vegan pledge!

The organizations are listed in alphabetical order. Some highlights of each of their work is mentioned. You can click the names of each organization to be led into their respective spaces on the internet. You can become member of their respective pages on Facebook as well, the links to which are provided.

1. Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC), India
‘Beauty Without Cruelty’ simply means that human animals can live healthy-happy lives, look beautiful, and possess beautiful things without causing any harm to the survival interests of other sentient beings inhabiting the Planet. The India chapter of the BWC was started on September 12, 1974 making it perhaps the oldest advocacy group in India to speak about the concept of a cruelty-free lifestyle. The ‘green’ vegetarian symbol on food packages in the country today is an outcome of the lobbying done by the BWC with the Food and Drugs Department of the Government of India. You can click this link for the year-wise achievements of BWC. You can even become a life-long BWC member by paying a nominal membership fee. As a member, you are entitled to BWC’s quarterly journal called Compassionate Friend. You can download the past copies of Compassionate Friend beginning from the year 1977 by clicking this link.

2. City-specific Vegan Networks: Bengaluru Vegans and Mumbai Vegans
The vegans and vegan aspirants in Bangalore and Mumbai are fortunate to have already formed groups by the names of ‘Bengaluru Vegans’ and ‘Mumbai Vegans’ in their respective cities. Members of these groups interact on a regular basis and if you are a new vegan, these are great support groups to look upto. Noteworthy among all their activities is the monthly vegan potluck organized by the Bengaluru Vegans. The potluck is usually the finale of an evening of film screening, discussions, and interactions. Mumbai Vegans too organize potlucks at regular intervals. The information about the date of the potluck is circulated days in advance in the respective blogs and on Facebook. New vegans, long-term vegans, those who want to know more about the vegan lifestyle – are all welcome! Besides, the blogs of each of these two city-specific groups contain information about the vegan-related happenings (workshops, seminars, protests, exhibitions, fairs, and so on) in their respective cities and reports of events that have already taken place. You can also find information about different types of vegan merchandise available in the city and great vegan recipes as well!

3. Indian Vegan
This website is a one-stop reference for basic information on what is vegan and why vegan? This well-indexed website tells you exactly why animal milk, eggs, meat, fish, honey, silk, leather, fur, and wool are not vegan. The information helps you to think about the alternatives and begin to question even the necessity of animal-derived items in daily life. One of the significant features of the Indian Vegan website is that it contains notes about veganism in our nation language, Hindi! Aao Vegan banen! The website also provides you a platform to get introduced to fellow vegans in different parts of the country and learn about what motivated them to turn vegan. You can add your story as well by clicking this link on Indian Vegan. As you delve deeper into veganism as a lifestyle choice for yourself, the Indian Vegan website helps you address all your health queries guiding you all the way on how to become a healthy, happy vegan!

4. Indian Vegan Society
Indian Vegan Society is the group that had organized the South West Asia Vegetarian conference in October 2010 with the support and blessings of many compassionate people from different parts of the world. Some remarkable presentations at the conference included a report on the deforestation of the Amazon rainforests—known worldwide as the “lungs of the world”—brought about by the cruel raising of cows for slaughter; the noteworthy gains made by the vegetarian movement in the Middle-East countries; and the history of the vegetarian and vegan movement in the world among many others! By supporting the Indian Vegan Society, we can help pave the way for many more such conferences where solid exchange of information on the different aspects of veganism—environmental, moral, ethical, spiritual—can take place between the representatives of different countries. To become a member of the Indian Vegan Society, you can click this link. You can also subscribe to the Society’s quarterly newsletter, VeganVegetarian. An interesting and much needed section in this newsletter is the matrimonial column where prospective vegan brides and grooms advertise in search of their compassionate soul mates!

5. Kranti
'Kranti' meaning 'revolution' in Sanskrit is an abolitionist vegan group whose vision is to, “to dispel speciesism by providing equal rights to all life forms that posses a central nervous system, no matter how primitive”. The word 'speciesism' is used to describe the widespread discrimination practiced by the human species against other species in Nature. This discrimination leads to the unfortunate 'property status' of non-human animals. Kranti is an uprising against this societal schema that, in addition to having internalized the 'property status' of non-human animals, is largely unable to relate to the horrors in the animals' short lives in which they are raised for slaughter. Honestly, for what purpose? To satisfy the inexplicable human craving for the animal’s flesh, skin, bones, hairs, enzymes, fat, and whatever that money and greed can fetch! Kranti is a call for a revolution to break the existing schemata in the human mind characterized by large-scale ignorance. You may want to read all about Why Kranti? in the group’s own words by clicking here. In a spirit of healthy scientific enquiry, Kranti systematically dispels every myth surrounding a cruelty-free lifestyle. You can connect with the other Kranti members at the Forum and Community pages at the Kranti website.

6. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), India
PETA is perhaps the most popular animal rights group in the world that presses for veganism and vegetarianism alongside. At the core of PETA’s work is the ethos of promoting an understanding of the rights of all animals to be treated with respect. Towards this end, PETA India engages in many different ways to dialogue with the people: through investigative work, public education, research, animal rescues, legislative work, special events, and so on. Eliciting celebrity involvement and national media coverage have definitely resulted in delivering significant blows to the societal schemata we just spoke about. The latest to join the PETA list of celebrity campaigners in India is Sri Paul McCartney who has appealed to the Prime Minister of the country to declare the day that PETA India was founded as a 'meat-free day' across India. With the verve of a youngster, PETA executes all their campaigns for justice for animals with remarkable √©lan. A storehouse of information, you just need to explore the PETA India website!

7. Sanctuary for the Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN)
This is a website based on the preventive medicine philosophy of Dr. Nandita Shah, an Indian doctor widely known for her work of spreading holistic health awareness through an organic-vegan diet. You can visit the SHARAN website and learn about a doctor's view on what it means to be vegan, learn some wonderful vegan recipes suiting Indian taste buds, check where SHARAN's workshops and seminars are taking place in the country, borrow books on nutrition and health from the impressive collection, and many more! Also, not to miss, this is where you can get answers to the commonly asked questions such as: where do I get my calcium/protein/iron from? and so on!

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Ahimsa Paramo Dharmaha! Non-violence supersedes all other duties! This blog is work-in-progress to make the Earth a little less violent. Are you on the same task as well? Best wishes to you and thank you for reading this post. Do feel free to type in and share any information that you think might be significant to this story.

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