International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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37th IVU World Vegetarian Congress
Goa, India, September 10-16, 2006
Healthy Lifestyle - Vegetarian Way!

 


World Meatless Day & Animal Rights Day
A presentation by Pishu Murli Hassaram, Penang, Malaysia

The World Meatless - Animal Rights Day campaign was first started in India in 1986 by the Sadhu Vaswani Mission - a social service organisation with a spiritual aim dedicated to serving mankind, especially the poor and downtrodden. The mission has declared the 25th day of November as an international meatless day to honour and remember its founder, Sadhu T.L. Vaswani - a saint, philosopher, spiritualist and educationist

Every year on November 25th, millions all over the world pledge to observe this day as "MEATLESS DAY", during which they abstain from consuming all forms of meat, fish and fowl for an entire 24 hours. Last year, over 36 million throughout the world including 11,650 from outside India pledged to go meatless.

The Meatless Day Campaign is aimed at creating awareness in the minds of the people in regard to the cruelties perpetrated on animals, day after day. The conscience of humanity needs to be awakened in regard to the cruelties inflicted on dumb, defenceless creatures that are being slain the world over to manufacture food for man. This is the idea behind the Meatless Day— to initiate an awareness of reverence for all Life as a first step towards World Peace!

Rev.Dada J.P Vaswani said –

“Meat eating and world peace appear to be poles apart. Actually the two are interlinked. So long as animals and birds are slain to provide food for man, so long we will not see peace on the face of this Earth. If man kills an animal for food, he will not hesitate in killing a fellow man whom he considers as his enemy. The root cause of world wars is irreverence towards life.”

The Campaign believes that a symbolic token observation on one day, as a Meatless Day and Animal Rights Day, will initiate an awareness of the imperative need for reverence for all forms of life.

We can say, honestly and sincerely, that the mindset of the world is gradually beginning to change. The growing response to The World Meatless - Animal Rights Day reveals this change, slowly but surely.

From 2002 onwards, the SAK (Stop All Killing) Association has been formally founded to take the Meatless Day campaign forward. Under the SAK Banner, we propose to carry on the good work that has been undertaken for the past 16 years. We are committed to the building of a world order based on the principle of non-violence.

Activities in India

In India activities are well organised to promote this campaign.

  • Pledge collection, including collection of life time pledges.
  • Peace marches
  • Presentation of SAK at public functions like World Foundation for Reverence for Life
  • Closure of slaughterhouses in 5 states
  • Celebrities supporting campaign like Hema Malini, Pankaj Udas, Rajiv Khandelwal, Anil Kapoor, Mukesh Khanna
  • Slides in Cinemas
  • Cable operators telecast the SAK message requesting people to observe Nov. 25 as a meatless day
  • Painting Competitions eg in Pune where over 5000 students take part
  • Street Plays
  • Veterinary Clinics
  • Lectures on Vegetarianism are held in Schools and Colleges.
  • Vegetarian Food Festivals are held in various places to applaud the vegetarian life style which is fast gaining popularity today.

The above list is impressive showing a well-organised campaign with strong support as shown by the number of pledges collected throughout India. Even more impressive is the closure of several slaughterhouses for the day.

 

Peace March in Pune, India
click on pictures for bigger images

Rev. Dada J. P. Vaswani
leading the Peace March


Rev. Dada J. P. Vaswani
addressing the Peace March.


Street Play by the students of
St. Mira’s College For Girls
during Peace March 2005


Students of different Schools
joining the Peace March

Celebrities at Peace Marches : Actors Jackie Shroff & Rajeev Khandelwal and vegetarian Crusader Dr. Gangwal


Some Other Events in India

A play enacted by children - and a Painting Competition

Activities Outside India

The meatless day campaign is organised in many countries; from places in Asia like Singapore, Jakarta, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taipei, Japan, Manila to Casablanca, Tenerife & Mauritius in Africa, Spain & London in Europe.  In America places like Miami, Atlanta, New Jersey also organise meatless day campaigns while the same happens in places like Curacao, St Thomas & Panama in Central America and Chile in South America.

While the campaign is active all over the world, it has not been done on the scale as in India. However in Penang, Malaysia we have achieved some success in creating activity to promote the campaign. Last year over 6,172 pledges were collected from all over Malaysia.

The campaign in Malaysia has received support from a diverse cross-section of industries including support from commercial organisations like banks, departmental stores and institutions like colleges, hospitals, hotels and various ethnic groups. Various celebrities have also supported the campaign, including beauty queens, political leaders, artistes and sportsmen.

Why is the campaign from Penang special and given considerable emphasis in this presentation? This is because Penang is famous for its food, and meat diet is a culinary culture in Penang and Malaysia. Hence our efforts in promoting this campaign have somewhat been more significant in view of the above situation.

How did we promote this campaign?

We had to start somewhere! And that is what Penang did. A few years ago we actively built a campaign that grew from strength to strength. From Penang our campaign reached the rest of Malaysia. We started and managed to create an awareness of the need to go Meatless.

We started by organising events where we provided information to the public on the advantages of going meatless. We invited VIPs, personalities and even sportsmen to launch the event. At some of our events, the Chief Minister of Penang was the guest of honour. We got him to pledge to go meatless. We invited heads of non-governmental organisations to these functions and got the chief guest to present the pledge forms to them so that their members could participate. We invited various speakers from around the country to speak at our functions. We conducted cooking demonstrations by gourmet chefs. We downplayed the spiritual aspect to attract a broad spectrum of the public. With all of this we invited the media, provided proper press kits and our events were featured in the local press. We have had our events in resorts, public halls and we even had one signing ceremony at the State Legislative Assembly. On other occasions, we had state leaders and even a beauty queen Ms Mabel Ng (Miss Malaysia 2002-2003). We even one occasion had a Federal Cabinet Minister pledging to go meatless.

All this resulted in increased publicity and wider participation. Members of educational institutions, public hospitals, banks, hotels, departmental stores, newspapers, old folk's homes and members of different ethnic groups pledged to go meatless. In many cases, staff canteens of hospitals & hotels offered only a vegetarian menu to their staff on International Meatless Day (Nov.25)

Coincidently our efforts in promoting World Meatless Day have led to the creation of the concept of "Vege-Tourism" in Penang. This is evident in the following events that have taken place over the years.

International Meatless Day Carnival

In 2000 at one of our meatless day functions, we suggested to the State Minister of Tourism that with over 10 million vegetarians in USA & another 3 million in UK that vegetarians represented a potential niche market for Penang to focus and capture. With Penang being famous for wide variety of cuisine, Penang could also attract many vegetarians to visit our island to savour the fantastic food available here.

She requested us to organise an event together with the Penang State Government and list it on the State Tourism Calendar. This would be despatched to 4 million people overseas.

This gave rise to the first International Meatless Day Carnival in 2001. An event was created which showcased a wide variety of vegetarian food with over different hundred dishes with the aim of telling the world that Penang is a haven for not only food but also vegetarian food. Other objectives included showing people that a wide selection of vegetarian food remains available to the public. Another objective of the carnival apart from promoting vegetarianism was to raise money for charity. 

In our yearly carnivals, we got resorts, restaurants, hawkers, non governmental organisations to set up stalls featuring the really wide arrange of vegetarian dishes. People were spoilt for choice. Over 40 stalls were set up offering over 100 different types of vegetarian dishes. At most of our carnivals, an estimated 5,000 people would attend these functions. Carnivals were widely featured in the press & local radio stations made announcements about it. Posters and banners were used to publicise the carnival.

Many events were organised during the carnival including live entertainment, cooking demos, competitions like fruit craving and chappati rolling were held to attract visitors. Games organised by volunteers from Intel Corp., clown performances helped to attract children to the event.

Vegetarian associations around the world were invited to attend the carnival.

Simply put, we were telling the world that Penang not only had good food but we also had good vegetarian food. We also put forward the message that we had an endless variety of vegetarian food available to us.

WE were fortunate to have the State Government provided funding for the events. Finally the carnivals also raised money for charity.

Bayview Beach Resort - hotel industry involvement

In 2002, the management of the resort were concerned over declining numbers attending the regular Sunday buffet. They decided to take the radical step of introducing a meatless section in their Sunday buffet with at least 25 dishes being offered to their patrons.

To promote this new feature in their resort, they invited us to launch 2002 meatless day campaign at their resort. The chief minister was invited to launch the campaign & and the same time declare open the additional new feature of the Sunday buffet. Representatives of society including leaders of non-governmental organisations were invited. At this function, the staff of the resort presented their meatless day pledges to the Chief Minister. Their general manager also announced that the staff canteen would go meatless every Friday.

The inclusion of vegetarian food in the hotel's Sunday buffet resulted in a dramatic increase in sales. We believe that our campaign had a small part in influencing the decision making process in Bayview Beach Resort. 

Halal & Vegetarian Outlets Directory

At the opening ceremony of the International Meatless Day carnival 2004, the new State Minister of tourism announced that Tourism Penang would come out with a directory listing all Halal outlets. A separate section would feature the vegetarian outlets in Penang. Our committee would supply the list of vegetarian outlets in Penang to the publishers of this new directory. Again we believe that our efforts in promoting vegetarianism and promoting Penang have resulted in this publication.

There have been other occasions when we have called upon to brief tourist industry players about the availability of vegetarian food in Penang.

Hence with the meatless day campaign, we have been able to promote a marriage between the needs of the state to promote tourism and the need to promote the vegetarian cause. We have managed to create Vege Tourism.

Meatless Day Campaign - An Important Tool to promote Vegetarianism

Ours is a movement that works on changing people's hearts and minds; numbers can never be the indication of the movement. But every "pledge" involves a voluntary signature; and every person who puts his/her signature down on our pledge form has heard our appeal, opened his or her mind to our ideas, and taken a conscious decision to go meatless on one significant day. A small step it may be.....But surely, a significant step, we feel. 

The campaign has strong merits. By getting people to sign a pledge to observe Nov.25, as a meatless day, we are creating awareness. We are planting seeds, which will surely sprout someday. We are making people think that alternative diets are available. We are making people conscious of the physical, spiritual, ethical & environmental reasons for turning meatless. Most important of all we are going to awake the feeling of compassion in our hearts for all living creatures.

Help us in this Campaign

We would like to humbly request for all of you to join and support this campaign. Many of you here today are leaders of vegetarian organisations with considerable manpower resources. If each of you here present today goes back promoting this campaign, vegetarianism will today be a great winner.

If we could persuade people to go meatless for one day, you would have planted an important idea in the minds and hearts of the people. You can also inform other vegetarian organisations to support and organise their own campaigns in their respective areas.

Finally we wish to enlist your help to get Meatless Day recognised by the United Nations.

Conclusions

  1. The meatless day campaign represents a unique method to promote and create awareness about vegetarianism.
  • People consciously think about vegetarianism when they put their signatures down to pledge.
  • People are reminded of the reasons for avoiding meat being ethical, health, environmental, spiritual
  • Events organised during the course of the campaign creates publicity for the vegetarian cause
  • Celebrities pledging to go meatless become role models & also promote the vegetarian cause
  1. Vege tourism
  • A marriage of convenience – the need of the state to promote tourism & need to promote vegetarianism.
  • By organising the International Meatless Day Carnival we have brought about awareness about the wide availability of vegetarian food in Penang. Our event is listed on the state tourism calendar, which is circulated round the world. We have promoted this carnival to as many vegetarian associations around the world as we could.
  • Hence we are telling the vegetarian world – you won’t get hungry if you decide to come to Penang. The listing of vegetarian outlets has helped this.
  • We have made the state of Penang aware of a potential niche market which we could jointly explore
  • We have made the tourist industry players aware especially the hotels that they need to increase the availability of vegetarian food. – the case of the bayview beach resort.
  • We are indirectly supporting the vegetarian food industry, thereby ensuring a continuing supply of vegetarian food for the vegetarians

 We would like to present the view that we have managed to raise a level of awareness about vegetarianism particularly in Penang by using the meatless day campaign. We feel that this model can also be used effectively elsewhere to promote vegetarianism. Our methodology can be changed to suit local conditions and we appeal for all to use this effectively.  

In Penang we hope to establish an association and we hope to promote the vegetarian food industry but also to get them to reform themselves by improving and increasing the quality and variety of food. We want to tell people that with the wide variety of vegetarian available, who needs meat!

 

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