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The hair-splitting analysis of veganism, at best a fad, taking up so much space in a popular, prestigious, national weekly like Outlook is slightly unwarranted (The Veganistas, Jan 28). I’m sure there are many things of concern happening in the country that should make the cut for the cover story. If all-inclusive animal food even like milk, fish and eggs etc., are not to be consumed by mankind to avoid cruelty to other living beings, by the same analogy, we must not kill mosquitoes and cockroaches. Even agricultural produce, other than dairy products involves protection from pests by the use of insecticides. If the life on our planet is viewed in a wider, long-term and ‘real’ perspective, veganism is against the supreme law of nature. Bigger fish swallow the smaller ones.
M. N. Bhartiya, Goa
Every other species in the world has its own natural diet but we humans eat a wide variety of food. The environmental impact of meat and dairy production is said to account for 14.5 per cent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. This figure is considerably more than the emissions produced by every car, train, aircraft and ship on the planet. Meat and dairy product consumption is not only bad for the animals involved in the process and the environment, but also for public health, as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer rates are on the rise. Researchers have pointed out the economic value of health benefits associated with plant-based diets. Eating plant-based protein results in far fewer greenhouse gas emissions per “protein unit”. In 2006, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) produced a report, ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow’, estimating that our meat consumption was responsible for 18 per cent of anthropogenic gas emissions, revising it in 2013 to 14.5 per cent, which is still pretty significant. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine says vegetarian diet is the optimal way to meet your nutritional needs. The key to a healthy vegetarian diet or vegan diet is variety—which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Going vegan certainly has its benefits and it is not difficult to be one in our country. Interestingly, going vegan has significant benefits on water conservation in a water-stressed country like ours and to save the world as well.
H.M. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
I belong to a Punjabi, meat-consuming family. However, as a kid, I realised that it is just too cruel to kill someone for one’s selfishness and so, I became a vegetarian and have been so for more than two decades. It was just after my class X. Subsequently, I quit leather shoes, wallets and belts. Only this year, have I turned vegan as working closely with dairy companies has made me realise the inherent cruelty of the process of milk procurement.
From personal experience, turning vegan has been a deeply satisfying experience. I also had a chance to visit the Ahimsa fest in December last year which was held in Mumbai, where I came across an entire ecosystem of veganism. It was quite heartening to see that such a lot of entrepreneurs see potential in a vegan society.
Yes, it still is a problem eating out, especially in north Indian restaurants, where dairy manifests itself as cream, curd, cheese, butter and ghee, in almost every dish. Yes, it is tough to say ‘no’ to hosts who serve you non-vegan vegetarian items. Yes, vegan cheese and milk are slightly expensive. But all-in-all, even a more-than-slight interest in this trend can dramatically change lives of millions of animals. Not to mention that it is actually good for the environment, and hence for all of us. So even if veganism is just a fad, or some see scope of making money here, it is actually serving the cause that is at the heart of it.
Mohit Ahuja, Mumbai
If the number of people turning vegetarian is going up across the globe, it is because of the growing awareness about its benefits. Health issues are the primary consideration as vegetarian food is found the best for human health. It is significant that all really big animals are vegetarian—elephant, camel, giraffe, hippo, horse. I read about an interesting sign somewhere that made a distinction between vegetarian and non-vegetarian animals by illustrating vegetarians as sipping water while those licking water are supposed to be non-vegetarians. By this criterion human beings are basically born vegetarian.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
Does that green ‘vegetarian’ dot on all dairy products mean that they’re grown in fields?
Richa Juyal, Dehradun
This refers to your cover story on Laloo Prasad Yadav (Down But Not Out, January 21). Laloo’s rustic trappings, easy accessibility and earthy sense of humour endear him to the people of Bihar, regardless of the poor administration, hyperbolically criticised as jungle raj, and widespread corruption during his rule. His Muslim votebank may have been somewhat poached by Nitish Kumar, but the veteran leader continues to have a sizeable following in the state. His failing health, imprisonment and consequent absence from active would be hugely felt, but it would be naive to dismiss his impact in Bihar’s politics due to these dampeners. Moreover, his ‘no airs’ demeanour and amiability across parties and leaders make him an important ‘behind-the-scenes’ player, more so when the election outcome is likely to be fuzzy. It would be too early to write his obituary in Indian politics.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
This refers to your cover story on Laloo (Absentee Kingmaker?, Jan 21). I should congratulate Outlook for shamelessly glorifying a most corrupt politician of all times. Even heaviest words like ‘ozymandian pathos’ can’t save Laloo. He is a spent force no one is willing to touch. Though, one should appreciate your enthusiasm in resurrecting whatever can be called Laloo’s legacy.
P.S. My family was your uninterrupted subscriber since your inception, but now they have decided otherwise.
Saroja B., On E-Mail
Even in Bihar, Laloo Prasad is down and out. Totally unnecessary and irrelevant big words, like ‘ozymandian pathos’, can’t save your cover story from being a fool’s dream. The wheels of our judicial course are slow, otherwise, some members of his family should have been with Laloo in jail. Any calculations of vote patterns are of no use.
Bharat Trivedi, Ahmedabad
This refers to your interview with N. Chandrababu Naidu (Space only for two fronts: One for Modi, other against Modi, January 21), which was especially interesting because of his denial of being in the PM race. The BJP debacle in recent assembly elections has inspired many veteran regional leaders to jump into the fray as probable PMs, in the hope that post-election permutations would go in their favour. In Narendra Modi’s wake, current and former CMs of various states aspire to become PM, and Naidu is no exception. This has reduced the general elections to an exercise for the selection of PM rather than the election of MPs. Changing of goalposts according to the situation has become a trait common to leaders of regional and smaller parties not only as a means to enhance their bargaining power, but also to broaden their existing base. In the process, we have come across several phrases—products of past and present political arrangements—such as ‘pre-poll alliance’, ‘post-poll alliance’, ‘grand-alliance’ (mahagathbandhan), ‘federal alliance’, ‘support from outside’ and ‘support for a common minimum programme’. These forms exhibit the flexibility of our political leaders to adapt to various vested interests and act in whichever way suits their goal of holding on to positions of power. Whether this reveals the maturity of our democracy and augurs well for it is anybody’s guess.
Jaideep Mittra, Varanasi
This is with reference to your cover story on shootouts in Bangalore (Shoot Madi!, January 21). Crimes such as theft, burglary, dacoity, chain-snatching, acid-throwing, kidnapping, abduction, rape, murder, smuggling, poaching and lynching happen because authorities are too insensitive, inactive and lackadaisical to nip the crimes and criminals in the bud at the local police station itself. There is no use of tough actions and snap encounters later when the cat is out of the bag and things go out of the police’s control. Governments too use the police to trap their opponents in false and frivolous cases and send them to jail. The numerous encounters in Uttar Pradesh and now in Karnataka remind us of the days of the ruthless British regime, when many were shot without reason, as well as the Emergency years of 1975-77, when many were jailed.
The police should stop dancing to the tunes of the government and using brute force without wisdom. They should resort to encounters only when it is impossible to catch someone alive. The ruling party may rightly get perturbed by the killing of its man in Mandya, and police may legitimately kill criminals in self-defence. But they shouldn’t kill criminals at the throw of a hat, but choose the right tools and preventive sections of law to take sustained action against criminals. After all, criminals multiply in numbers because the police are inactive at the initial stage, when dealing with crimes of a simple nature, and become active only when the criminals become more dangerous and the crimes more heinous.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
This refers to the article The Neta Script Alliance (Jan 28), on the recent trend of political biopics. The last I remember of Anupam Kher the actor is from pre-2014. Since the last general election, he has come up more as a supporter of PM Modi and a consistent lambaster of those dissenters branded ‘anti-national’ by the media and the government. I used to like his histrionics on screen. He had a nice touch to whatever roles he undertook. And without any personal context of the actor, one could interpret him like one should all actors, based on their skill and screen presence. Now, the story has changed too much. In The Accidental Prime Minister, he’s caricaturing a figure he has mocked and derided many times off screen—ex-PM Manmohan Singh. Sadly, a decent actor has made an exit to make way for a propagandist.
Ashok Kartik, Mumbai
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