BEYOND INDIVIDUAL CHOICE
Recently, the Government of Delhi decided that no beef would be served at the Commonwealth Games. The decision respects the sentiments of a large number of Indians, which are important, but there are other considerations which are even more important. Vegetarian diets have now been scientifically shown to be healthy and adequate. They are also ethically more sound than non-vegetarian diets. From this angle, causing pain to a goat or a pig for the sake of our food is just as unethical as to a cow. No sensitive person takes meat without at least sometimes feeling uneasy. But most importantly, vegetarian diets are more eco-friendly. The conversion of plant food into animal food is so inefficient that if only the world went vegetarian, the problem of hunger can be wiped out from the world in one stroke. Also, according to a 2006 UN report, the contribution of meat industry to global warming exceeds that of all the cars, SUVs, trucks, ships and aeroplanes of the world put together. Therefore, if only we all went vegetarian, we would not have to worry about global warming for a long time to come. One reason why many people in the West are unable or unwilling to give up meat is because they do not know how to cook palatable vegetarian food. Here India has something unique to offer. I have seen hundreds of guests from the West being served Indian vegetarian food. They are not only extremely happy with it, but are also amazed to find that vegetarian food can be so palatable. Thus, without sermonizing, we can deliver an important message of global significance by serving only vegetarian food during Commonwealth Games. Being vegetarian is no longer an issue that revolves around individual choice of a healthy lifestyle or personal ideas about ethics and morality. It is now a question of how much we are willing to do to safeguard the future of our planet. Commonwealth Games may be able to say silently what Copenhagen could not.