By Swati Chopra October 2000 Vegetarianism is an ideal New Age lifestyle choice: not only is it healthier, it is also more humane IGNOMINIOUS INGREDIENTS You may be a non-vegetarian without knowing it! It is shocking but true. If you are serious about turning vegetarian, avoid consuming the following products or check up on the ingredients with the manufacturer. Silver Foil (Varak): normally used on Indian sweets, fruits and paan, it is made by beating silver sheets between fresh cow and buffalo intestines while they are still warm. Microscopic examinations show fragments of intestines embedded in the foil. Ice Cream: It often has nondairy fats. Commercial ice cream does not use milk but the blubber from slaughterhouse waste products like cattle udders, noses and anuses. Biscuits: They are quite likely to contain animal fats. Bread: Most large producers use vegetable based emulsifiers but local bakers may not. Some bakers may grease the tins with animal fat. Gelatin: It is a gelling agent derived from animal ligaments, skins, tendons, bones and other body parts. Alternatives such as agar agar, carrageen and gelozone exist. Medicine capsules: Usually made from gelatin, vegetarian alternatives are coming into the market. Caviar (Fish eggs): They are obtained by slitting the stomachs of live pregnant sturgeon fish. Cheese: It is likely to have been produced using animal rennet. Rennet is made of the stomach acids of a calf obtained by slitting open its stomach while still alive. Vegetarian cheeses use microbial or fungal enzymes. The Indian brand, Amul is vegetarian. Glycerin: It may be produced from animal fats, synthesized from propylene or from fermentation of sugars. Chewing gum: It often contains glycerin. Wrigleys use vegetable glycerin. Toothpaste: Most brands contain glycerin. Margarine: It may contain animal fats, fish oils, whey or gelatin. IS MILK REALLY GOOD FOR YOU? Recent remarks by certain animal lovers in the national press branding milk as non-vegetarian has made traditional vegetarians see red. This is because a bulk of Indian vegetarians follow a ‘lactovegetarian’ diet, that is, they consume milk products of animals while abstaining from their flesh. Indeed, cow’s milk has been hallowed ever since baby Krishna risked his mother’s ire to steal butter, cream and curd—an image immortalized by the medieval Indian saint-poet Surdas in his ‘maiya mori, main nahin makhan khayo‘ (mother, I did not steal the butter). The rationale on which the anti-milk propaganda is based ranges from the lack of the milk-digesting enzyme (lactase) in 80 per cent of adult humans to the cruelty inflicted on cows by the dairy industry. Milch cows are constantly kept pregnant and injected twice a day with oxytocin, a hormone that causes uterine contractions akin to labor pains. Most live only a fraction of their normal life span of 20 years and are literally milked to death. Those who hold up health benefits as the reason to consume milk are in for a shock. Not only is milk responsible for blocking the absorption of iron, only 30 per cent of the calcium it contains is absorbable by the human body. In other words, milk may be chock-full of calcium but as it cannot be easily assimilated, it ends up as kidney stones. Weight-watchers beware! Milk is the fat-food to shun, for it is meant to increase the calf’s body-weight up to four times within a month. Instead, soy milk is an ideal substitute, rich as it is in proteins and vitamins. It has 50 per cent protein by weight compared to cow milk protein, which has only 3 per cent. ARGUE WITH A MEAT-EATER…AND WIN!If you belong to the vegetarian-by-choice species, you must be immune by now to the varied reactions to your culinary preferences. For those neophytes who are yet to develop a thick skin to queries ranging from the aggressive to the downright asinine, here are some tips: Hunger argument: Eliminating meat eating will drastically cut livestock pasture and that land can then be used for growing food. One acre of land can produce 40,000 pounds of potatoes but only 250 pounds of meat. Already, vast quantities of food that can feed humans are being fed to livestock. For example, of all the corn grown in the USA, the livestock consumes 80 per cent and humans only 20 per cent. Environmental argument: Topsoil erosion, global warming, depleting rainforests and extinction of species may be halted if the majority of the world’s population adopts a vegetarian diet. For instance, according to research statistics, 300 million pounds of beef is imported from Central and South America to cater to the USA. The economic incentive impels these nations to cut their rainforests to make way for more pastureland. Natural resources argument: Raising livestock is an inefficient way of generating food. While 25 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of wheat, 5,000 gallons are used to produce one pound of beef. Also, it takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of beef but only 2 calories for one calorie of soybean. Antibiotics argument: A large amount of antibiotics are fed to livestock to control staphylococci. These are only partially effective, as the bacteria are becoming increasingly immune to them. Both the antibiotics and the bacteria they were intended to destroy are still in the meat when it goes to the market. MANNA FROM NATURE’S KITCHEN The Jews, liberated at last from the Egyptian pharaoh’s captivity, had been seeking the Promised Land for days without success. Desperate for nourishment, they turned their eyes, and prayers, heavenwards. The Lord responded by manifesting manna, a miracle food, for them to eat. Today, in the 21st century, Christopher Hills, founder of the University of Trees, believes that he has discovered the source of that heavenly manna—spirulina. Spirulina is a highly nutritious form of plankton being hailed as a panacea for various diseases and as the solution to the entire world’s hunger problems. Nature seems to be abounding with wholesome comestibles just waiting to be discovered. Another celebrated nature food is wheatgrass, whose amazing healing and nutritional characteristics were first studied by Dr Ann Wigmore, founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute and a leading advocate of a natural food diet. Incidentally, she too chose to describe wheatgrass as ‘God’s manna’ in her many books devoted to this humble weed, like The Wheatgrass Book (1985) and Be your own doctor: Let living food be your medicine(1983). What is the magic ingredient in turmeric (the haldi no Indian kitchen can positively do without) that has pharmaceutical giants hot on its heels? It is apparently phytochemicals-highly concentrated biologically active compounds, which are tissue-friendly antioxidants with potency a hundred times stronger than that of vitamin E. Consequently, milk thistle and turmeric, rich in phytochemicals and with an affinity for liver tissue, have a curative effect on hepatitis, liver inflammation and cirrhosis. If it is green, it has to have chlorophyll, right? The little green cells’ structure matches that of the human hemoglobin cell. Consequently, chlorophyll binds with hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying pigment in human blood, and replenishes it. So the next time you encounter palak ka saag or spinach, don’t pass it up. Eat it! The twelve pigs were huddled together at the far end of the pen, standing quietly, looking apprehensive. One of the men in rubber boots pulled a metal chain down from the wall and advanced upon the nearest animal, approaching it from the rear. Then he bent down and quickly looped one end of the chain around one of the animal’s hind legs. The other end he attached to a hook on the moving cable as it went by. The cable kept moving. The chain tightened. The pig’s leg was pulled up and back, and then the pig itself began to be dragged backwards… the creature was suddenly jerked off its feet and borne aloft. Shrill protests filled the air. ‘Truly a fascinating process,’ Lexington said. ‘But what was the funny cracking noise it made as it went up?’ ‘Probably the leg,’ the guide answered. ‘Either that or the pelvis.’ ‘But doesn’t that matter?’ ‘Why should it matter?’ the guide asked. ‘You don’t eat the bones…’ At this point, while Lexington was gazing skyward at the last pig to go up, a man in rubber boots approached him quietly from behind and looped one end of a chain around the youth’s own ankle, hooking the other end to the moving belt. The next moment, before he had time to realize what was happening, our hero was jerked off his feet and dragged backwards along the concrete floor of the shackling-pen. ‘Stop!’ he cried. ‘Hold everything! My leg is caught!’ But nobody seemed to hear him, and five seconds later, the unhappy young man was jerked off the floor and hoisted vertically upward through the open roof of the pen, dangling upside down by one ankle, and wriggling like a fish… ‘Hi there,’ the sticker said, smiling. ‘Quick! Save me!’ our hero cried. ‘With pleasure,’ the sticker said, and taking Lexington gently by one ear with his left hand, he raised his right hand and deftly slit open the boy’s jugular vein with a knife. The belt moved on. Lexington went with it. Everything was still upside down and the blood was pouring out of his throat and getting into his eyes, but he could still see and he had a blurred impression of being in an enormously long room, and at the far end of the room there was a great smoking cauldron of water, and there were dark figures, half hidden in the steam, dancing around the edge of it, brandishing long poles. The conveyor-
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