Sunday, September 30, 2012

LifestyleBohol * World Meatless Lunch is Tomorrow

This article is exactly as you will see it on the September 30th, 2012 issue of LifestyleBohol.  I'm posting this here as a public service effort to reach out to those who aren't subscribed to the Bohol Chronicle.

meatless monday
webpage heading of

Granting that you’re reading this on the very last day of September 2012, tomorrow would be Monday, October 1st.  To majority of Bol-anons, it is the beginning of the Month of the Holy Rosary.  To the more socially aware lot, it marks the first of 31 days of wearing pink ribbons, clothing, and accessories to point to the fact that it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Yes, you read it right.  A whole month dedicated to the color pink.  Soothing, isn’t it?

Every shade of pink will be proudly displayed throughout October by Bohol’s hippies and social advocates in an effort to promote awareness on research endeavors and developments on the very long still-under-construction road to curing breast cancer.  More than that, it’s also a symbolic extension of hands to those presently living with the disease.  I’m urging everyone reading this article to join the movement.  You can wear a pink ribbon on your chest, a pink baller band, a pink sticker on your I.D. card, or maybe a couple of pink stripes on your lanyard made using a marker.  Anything, really.  You can get creative with pink.  A simple positive gesture makes a huge difference.

Anyway, let’s move on to my primary reason for writing this entry.  Another thing happening tomorrow is something called the World Meatless Lunch.  It’s an awareness initiative created by Filipino environmentalists headed by Dr. Custer C. Deocaris, a molecular biologist who cares deeply for the planet.  This idea was inspired by Meatless Monday, an international campaign run by the Bloomberg Public Health School of Johns Hopkins University, one of the most prominent and advanced medical research institutions in the world, promoting a vegetarian diet every Monday for the improvement of personal health and the health of the planet.  The latter has a Filipino version called Luntiang Lunes, for which a bill to proliferate the campaign and institutionalize the concept in schools is already in its early development stage.  It will mark every single Monday as a day to rejoice for veggie lovers and a day to dread for professed carnivores.

Tomorrow’s event, the World Meatless Lunch, however, isn’t quite Meatless Monday yet.  It’s simply a call for everyone to forego meat for just one meal—lunch.  It encourages solidarity where, at lunch hour, we imagine ourselves on one enormous dining table munching on vegetables and fruits with the rest of the world.

Some of you may be wondering how this meat “mayhem” relates to the environment since this is, as I said, a movement initiated by environmentalists.  No worries, I’m getting there.  Most of you have probably heard secular vegetarians and vegans cite health as a reason.  On the other hand, those whose basis for their special diet is religion or spiritual study would tell you that compassion and kindness to all sentient beings is their primary motivation.  However, an inexplicably large beneficiary of a vegetarian diet is our very own Planet Earth.  Why, you ask?  I’ll give you a number of reasons.

FACT:  45% of the Earth’s habitable land area has been cleared for raising livestock and growing crops to feed them.  To cite a rather extreme example, 70% of the Amazon forest’s original tree-rich terrain has been flattened for this purpose.  Several wildlife species endemic to it are at risk of extinction because of our perceived need to produce so much meat.

ANOTHER FACT:  In November 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), for which Filipino artist Lea Salonga has been recently selected as a Goodwill Ambassador, released an official report as a result of several scientific studies stating that conventional livestock farms produce more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s conceived forms of transportation combined.

Read the above statements over and over again until they manage to get drilled in your head.  Industrial meat production is the #1 culprit of climate change.  That means if the beef steak on your plate was produced inorganically, whoever owns the farm that grew it should, in part, be blamed for the unusually frequent flooding or excruciatingly long drought periods.  Don’t blame legislative propositions!  You should even point a finger or two at yourself for not being conscious about whether or not the production method for your meat was humane.

It’s not that I’m waging a war against meat consumption altogether; I’m merely giving you a few very good reasons to lessen your hunger for flesh.  If you care enough to translate thoughts into actions, you can start by joining the rest of the nation’s caring citizens in turning tomorrow’s World Meatless Lunch into an impactful statement both to others and to yourself.  Make it a test run to see if you can manage a meal without flesh obtained by killing a previously living, breathing creature.  That means you should have lunch with no pork, no beef, no chevon (kanding), no chicken, no fish, no shrimps, not even bivalve shells—just dairy, eggs, and vegetables.  You will find it very light on your tummy afterwards.  You might even decide to forego meat for the rest of the day.

My hand, as a vegetarian, is permanently glued to the cause of compassion, health, and environmental healing through meatless meals for the rest of my life.  It’s a conscious choice I’ve made which I happen to be very, very happy about.  I know this is extremely difficult for most people but I’m glad to say there is a growing number of vegetarians in Bohol.  We are not aiming to proselytize the rest of the province into taking the same path.  We are merely appealing to your good nature to count yourselves in along with the thousands of people observing World Meatless Lunch tomorrow.  Come hand-in-hand with us even if it’s just for one meal.  Surely, you could bear it.  Command yourself to muster the willpower.  If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for our Mother, the Earth.