“being mindful of what you place in your gob”

Chaïm Soutine (1893-1943)
Le boeuf écorché (The beef carcass)
Painted circa 1924

From an article by Andrew Graham Dixon:

“In 1925, when he had a studio large enough in the Rue du Mont St Gothard, he procured the entire carcass of a steer… He did at least four similar canvases, as well as sketches … and meantime the steer decomposed. According to the legend, when the glorious colours of the flesh were hidden from the enthralled gaze of the painter by an accumulation of flies, he paid a wretched little model to sit beside it and fan them away. He got from the butcher a pail of blood, so that when a portion of the beef dried out, he could freshen its colour. Other dwellers in the Rue Mont St Gothard complained of the odour of the rotting flesh, and when the police arrived Soutine harangued them on how much more important art was than sanitation or olfactory agreeableness.”

On Facebook I follow Phil Rockstroh who is a writer, philosopher, activist and poet. He often writes provocative political pieces as well as social commentary.

Today he wrote this:

“The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion in the only guarantee of morality.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

And the situation has deteriorated into an even more all-compassing, ethical imperative since Schopenhauser’s era. The cruelty and exploitation we inflict on animals is a direct analog of the evil we inflict on each other e.g., slavery, economic commodification, mass slaughter. The mass "production" of animal flesh (appropriating the very model of a Death Camp) creates more climate chaos than do the emissions of internal combustion engines.

Do you feel animus towards that selfish tool in the SUV next to you in traffic. Then put down that burger, hypocrite. If you seethe in rage about fracking, strip-mining, and mountain top removal — then step away from the sushi bar, because the type of large trawlers used for purposes of industrial scale fishing have depleted 90% of the large fish (e.g., tuna, mackerel, sea bass) in the oceans of the world.

Tired of the exploitation, degradation, and general harm the corporate state inflicts on you and upon the earth, my friend — then cease existing as a microcosmic version of the death-sustained system that you abhor, by the simple act of being mindful of what you place in your gob.

He rather likes the provocative polemic which is one of the reasons I read what he writes.

We can move away from exploitative practices in everything we do. It’s not going to happen overnight. No need to be hard on one’s self. You don’t have to be a Yoda. "Do or do not. There is no try." and life is never that simple anyways.

I’m not a vegetarian generally but do take a lot more time to consider where my food comes from and how it is raised. Once one becomes conscious of that it’s a lot harder to think of things like veal or pate as even remotely appetizing.

One thing I’ve found that brings this to consciousness, sometimes in a big way, is cooking one’s own meals. When you have to look at and handle the raw meat you have to really connect with it in a sensory way which you don’t with processed, packaged, pre-cooked or restaurant food. It can be a very visceral experience to strip the skin off a dead chicken or slice the fat from a raw beef steak. It’s skin. It’s muscle. There’s sinew and cartilage. It’s got blood and bone. It feels resistive. It smells dead.

I have no ambition to become a vegetarian. There’s no compulsion to some kind of dietary purity in my book. I don’t take my meals based upon what some trendy Buddhisty types approve of. That’s all pretty shallow bullshit.

But there have been an increasing number of days where I could not get over the sensory experience of the raw meat and ended up with a vegetarian pizza or bowl of lentil soup instead.

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Do Preachy Vegans Exploit Animals?

My short answer is yes.

There’s been a lot of back and forth on the vegan (or is it Vegan) position in many venues. In a recent article on elephant journal called “Vegans are Better Than Everybody” the author, as well as several commenters based positions on a number of erroneous assumptions and claims.

The author defends to some extent the preachyness of some vegans with:

“They want everyone to feel what they feel.  They want all to be free!”

This is exactly the point. It is my choice to feel that or not. Evangelicals want everyone to feel what they feel too.

There is no guarantee that I would indeed feel exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. We each have our own individual ways of dealing with emotions and life situations.

A comment followed:

“There’s only a problem with vegans being judgmental if they’re right. If a vegan makes you feel insecure, that’s about your own insecurities, not an evil vegan conspiracy. ”

One can be secure and annoyed at the same time. If one half of a conversation consists of berating the other person it’s fairly unpleasant to be that other person. I simply avoid most vegans just as I avoid many PETA supporters. Doesn’t mean I hate or demean animals. Usually the animals have less to do with the situation than the self-glorification of the preacher. Am just not into feeding that kind of exploitation, Yes I do mean animals being exploited existentially by animal rights activists in an individual or collective ego trip. That’s when it gets annoying.

Here is an example of that annoying tone which I was referring to:

I agree that we tend to get a bad rap about being ‘self-righteous’, though I think the root of that lies within the the critics, who know why we live like we do, and really just don’t have enough compassion to decide upon that lifestyle.

Judgmental and condescending. Did I mention annoying?

The author herself states:

A lot of times, vegans or vegetarians are interpreted as being “Self Righteous” or “holier than thou”.  This is very untrue in most cases.  If a person is a vegan for ethical reasons, then being vegan is actually a very SELF LESS action! It isn’t about you at all.  Deciding to change your life to a vegan lifestyle is a big decision.  Once one makes the choice to  save the lives of animals, everything is turned upside down!  

Being vegan means that you are looking for the truth.  Trying to make the connections that relate to life, compassion, all beings, etc. Sometimes, uncovering the truth of the matter can be difficult and unsettling.  It can also be very freeing once you realize you have the power to change the world!

So it does often come down to sensations of personal power and living with the contradictions of “It isn’t about you at all.” and “you have the power to change the world!” Is that a contradiction or hypocrisy?

In the last post I mentioned the prosthelytizer who wishes to convert others in order to bolster the validation of their own belief system. That is exactly what is occurring in the above two comments.

The author then carries on to describe The Martyrdom of the Vegans:

Giving up eating meat can be difficult for some and giving up cheese can be even more difficult for others!  I mean, seriously, who wants to pass on a hot, cheesy slice of pizza?  It’s hard.

A vegan lifestyle can be tough sometimes too…You have to read labels on EVERYTHING in order to make a conscious decision on what to buy and to ensure that there has been no cruelty involved in what you use or eat!

Well that must be a real torment.

This sort of lifestyle identity politics can be seen in all kinds of groups such as environmental, cultural, social and other instances. It’s not about the causes, it’s about the appearance of doing GOOD. And therefore being a GOOD person.

And GOOD people are usually right and much more pure than the rest of us ignorant, unwashed or is that unbaptized, un-sacrosanct, un-holy members of the masses. These notions of purity have huge input from a dominant cultures religious values.

Food is a holy thing in many cultures. It is prayed over, mixed according to religious dictates (halal, kosher), denied for various reasons (fasting), used as offerings (Hinduism) and symbols (communion) of the divine and so forth. The consecration of food is a millennia old practice all over the world.

Food is also a dirty thing. Mainly because it is so intimately tied to shit.  Food becomes shit. We all know that but don’t like to think about it.

Every culture has some kind of taboo regarding food. Some don’t take pork, shellfish or beef. Other’s don’t take certain foods during certain seasons. The reasons for these taboos are diverse. In many cases they are ideological justifications for actual health hazards bourne by certain food types. Example-improperly cooked pork can harbor trichinosis. In other cases it has to do with the vibrations, powers, attributes of the food. Example-snake blood is thought to increase male generative powers. The latter cases relate to beliefs about food rather than the verifiable effects of food itself.

Meat is  dirty thing, not only because of the means to obtain it, even hunting is messy, but also because of the potential for disease that is bourne by meat. (example- e-coli) And increasingly, with factory meat production, the conditions in which animals are kept could at the very least be deemed dirty.

The factory farming of meat,  and animal rights prosthelytizing, whether by vegans or PETA, all within the same culture, have similar roots.

These roots relate to the concept of dominion over the natural world, including animals.

Dominion comes from the same root word as dominance. Dominance over nature is explicitly outlined in the Christian bible. I am referring to Genesis chapter 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

The meat industry is openly exercising it’s sense of cultural “entitlement” in the activity of meat production.

Prosthelytizing vegans as well as other animal rights advocates, including organizations like PETA are  similarly exercising this sense of “entitlement” although it is on a rather covert level. Those who presume to “speak for” animals also presume to have a sense of ownership and dominion over those animals.

On that point I don’t disagree. Animals cannot raise funds for television commercials or design web pages to outline their plight. And concern for the natural world is necessarily a concern for the survival of the human species as well. And vice versa. Interdependence and all that.

The point of disagreement comes when this notion of dominion, entitlement and ownership spills over to other’s spaces of consciousness in an aggressive and judgmental way.

It is one thing to inform people about situations of which they may not have knowledge. Health benefits, cruel methods of animal production, the ecological inadvisability of factory farming and so forth are all well documented. To advise people of this is educational.

On the other hand to berate people as lacking in compassion, avoiding the truth, lacking in accountability, ignorant of the issues, being in denial, selfish, not serious, unBuddhist, hypocrites, full of shit, cowardly for not engaging the particular issue in a particular way, propagating evil karma, unethical while simultaneously puffing up one’s ego by attempting to demonstrate one’s food choices are somehow the opposite of all this emotional moralizing does a disservice.

Animals and the planet are in peril because of human activity. That is scientific fact.

Using animal and planetary issues to attempt to gain moral dominion over other human beings to satisfy some egoic projection of self is more exploitative and immoral than those who shoot the nails into the cow’s heads.  At least the workers on the slaughter line are aware of what they are doing and why they are doing what they are doing. It comes down to the paycheck and supporting their families.

Conflating environmental issues with moral issues is a categorical error.  It is not a mindful approach but a mindless spewing of self-congratulations at the expense of others including the animals that it purports to care so much about.

Genetic Diversity:a Green Heritage

I don’t usually write too much on ecology, green, etc. as there’s plenty available elsewhere. Some of it interesting and useful and some of it is a redressed consumerism.The consumerism issue is one that was written about in the post Right Lifestyle a while back.

Today though I ran into a post that brought up some interesting issues. Nutritional Value of Fruits & Veggies dwindling which appeared on elephant journal. I commented there but want to expand on those ideas.

amaranth crop at taluka

[photo: Amaranth crop ripening in Taluka village in the remote Indian Himalayas]

Seed banks are being set up at rates that can’t keep up with the extinction of plant species. Seed banks collect diverse kinds of seeds in case disease, disaster or extinction befalls specific types of plants. Since uniformity in farmed species has become the norm many heritage plants including grains like amaranth and spelt, as well as many varieties of vegetables are not grown on any kind of scale except by hobbyists or in remote areas. Seed banks are expensive to operate because the plant material has to be kept in conditions with proper humidity and temperature or it spoils.

All this does not bode well if disease strikes a particular cash crop.

Consider the example of bananas. When farmers start cash cropping bananas they tend to plant only that “perfect” banana that the foreign markets want. The local varieties, with all their various tastes and textures begin to vanish. One of the main problems with this is that if a plant disease strikes the cash crop it will wipe them out. Other varieties may be naturally resistant to such disease. In 2001 the main varieties of bananas were stuck with a fungal disease called Panama wilt. This was a global problem brought on weather patterns that occurred at the time.

There are banana species that are resistant to this however they are not so “pretty” as the Chiquita or similar brands and are only grown in small quantities for local use.

Do you know how may types of tomatoes exist? Around 7500. But if everyone is eating only the mass produced supermarket varieties there is no incentive for farmers to plant other types. The same is true with mangos which have over 2500 varieties, as well as oranges, lettuce, cabbage, onions and many others.

In the Andes, for example, some 3,000 potato varieties are in use, and in Java, some home gardens have more than 600 plant varieties!

Did you know that about 96% of the commercial vegetable varieties available in 1903 are now extinct, and that today, 90% of our food comes from just 25 plant and 8 animal species? This situation presents potential risks for global food security and nutrition.

from Tasty And Funky, Heirloom Vegetables Also Enhance Genetic Biodiversity

It is no wonder then with limited variety, genetically modified, chemically fed food sources that vitamins, minerals, protein and trace elements are missing from so many diets.

There are some solutions. By going for the advertised or most common brand of any sort of vegetable it is endangering the entire food supply, ruining the nutritional value of food and encouraging corporate profiteering. . So consider buying/planting/eating some of the lesser known varieties.

These diverse and interesting varieties are heritage or heirloom vegetables.

Typically, heirlooms have adapted over time to whatever climate and soil they have grown in. Due to their genetics, they are often resistant to local pests, diseases, and extremes of weather.[1] 

from Heirloom plant (Wikipedia)

This is important because many of the Genetically Modified varieties of vegetables created by the multi-national corporations are bred specifically for the purposes of being resistant to pests and diseases as well as to curtail natural seeding. The latter is to enable the corporations to patent and sell seeds to plants that no longer give viable seed for the farmer to continue growing. Heritage varieties do seed naturally so crops can be planted in perpetuity. This means with heritage seeds, plants can be grown from the seeds of the vegetables you or the farmer produce. No need to continue to buy more seed from corporations. It is sustainable. As well heritage seeds help to maintain the genetic diversity of plants. .

Some say GM foods are contributing to genetic diversity. The problem is when you rapidly accelerate or modify one part of the ecosystem it unbalances the entire system. In natural evolution and diversification of species changes are incremental not whole sale. The rest of the ecosystem has the opportunity to adjust to the changes.   Consider the situation of bees in North America as an example.

Open pollination, such as is required for heritage crops, is facilitated by insects, particularly bees as well as wind, birds and other animals. Bees are not only wasted on GM crops, which don’t require such pollination, GM crops are not suitable for bee food.  Bee colony collapses have increased dramatically with the introduction of GM food sources. We have to consider the results of rapid food modifications.

The magazine truthout has reprinted an article from the German magazine Der Spiegel on the effects of GM crops on bee populations. In the US many bee colonies are dying. One possible reason is

…the fact that genetically modified, insect-resistant plants are now used in 40 percent of cornfields in the United States could be playing a role.

from Are GM Crops Killing Bees?

The whole article is worth a read.

So we have choices to make. The cheap, uniform, relatively juiceless and tasteless supermarket tomato or the rich colorful tasty heritage tomatoes.

image

The Usual Supermarket Tomato

VS

image image 

Heritage and Heirloom Tomatoes

Uniformity is fine for…manufacturing I guess, but not for food.

A Breakfast Recipe for Heritage Tomatoes

Cut some tomatoes in half along the middle. Sprinkle with finely chopped hot green chilies, tiny amounts of salt and turmeric, then a little Demerara (natural brown) sugar. Saute slowly face down in a little butter until sugar dissolves and tomato is hot and juicy. Serve on warm toast slices in the same way one does with poached eggs. You can also use a couple of steamed spinach leaves instead of toast. I guess that would be the Florentine version.

Links with Additional Information

Global Food Crisis from Science Alert Australia. A collection of articles on food issues around the world.

Banana: Africa’s untapped gold mine  from The Times of Zambia. Discussion of cash cropping bananas, banana diseases as well as a lot of advice on how to grow bananas should you feel inclined to do that

Biodiversity big list of articles and links related to biodiversity on Wikipedia

Heritage, Heirloom and Traditional Breeds from Sustainable Table. An interesting read with some astounding figures. Also talks about heritage meat sources as opposed to current market types. Good sources and links listed at the bottom of the article as well.

Death of the Bees: GMO Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America from globalresearch.ca An article that discusses GMO protein modifications as a possible source for the bee deaths and a possible reason for increases in colon cancer in humans.  Includes a lot of reference links.

Addendum:

Genetic diversity is important in humans too.

Eat [recipes]

Yesterday I made this post for one of my other blogs but maybe it’s useful here too. Especially since there is a cluster (#%$*) of really long rambling posts that are coming next and any readers I have left will need to be fortified for the stamina required to read them. [that may be a joke] I’d come there and cook it for you but I don’t have that many airline points. I’d then read the posts to you though, in a really loud evangelical sort of voice-sort of a heaven and hell presentation.

But being the uber-compassionate Bodhisattva-like being that I am, I’ll spare you that horror and let you enjoy some pretty good food.

May 7, 2010 A Quick North Indian Meal

Here’s what we had last night to eat. It’s pretty easy and quick to make. I’ll give a veg. and a non-veg. method. This is enough for 3-4  people depending on appetites.(maybe 5 if some are kids) It’s all pretty cheap to make and tasty.  It also stores well if there’s left-overs.

Sometimes you’ll see pullow (also spelled pullau, pilaw or half a dozen other ways)  or raita on restaurant menus. But usually you wouldn’t be served that in someone’s home since it’s more like family food than “guest” food. “Guest” food tends to be a little more fussy and fancy.

None of this is spicy. You can add some chopped green chilies to the pullow or the greens or even a dash of cayenne (but NOT to the raita!-one restaurant did that to us once and it was horrible)  if you want it to be more spicy. But the masala (spice) that is included adds a good amount of taste without making your eyes water.

Most people just eat raw green chilies on the side if they want that kick.

Pullow (sort of like Pilaf or Paella)

Ingredients are listed in order of use.

1 Large Pot with lid (we use a pressure cooker which is faster but most people reading this won’t have one so just a pot is OK)

3-4 tbsp. oil

2 chopped onions

chopped or whole cloves of garlic (as many as you like depending upon your garlic preferences)

1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger (sometimes we leave ginger out-depends if you want the tang of it)

1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. Deggi Mirch (a mild ground red pepper mix-not as strong as cayenne-a mild Mexican chili is also OK)

1 tbsp. salt

4 small or 3 medium chopped tomatoes

1 lb. chicken with bone (500 gms.) (if making the non-veg type) or meat (beef, pork, goat-the latter is what we use sometimes) or sea food (but using sea food with a pressure cooker is not recommended since it cooks fast anyways)

3/4-1 cup rice-basmati or any kind

3 cups coarsely chopped vegetables (Choose 2 or 3 of  carrots, peas,white radish, green beans, eggplant, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, potato or any harder type of vegetable. Spinach and other greens are not recommended as they become too mushy)

1/2 tsp. MDH Kitchen King spice mix or any garam masala mix

about 1 cup water-depends on the water content of veg and non-veg ingredients-basically enough to just about cover the contents of the pot-too much and it gets mushy and not enough won’t cook the rice enough.

Instructions

If making veg. kind then just skip any steps about chicken or meat.

Heat oil. Add onions and saute about 5 min.

Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, Deggi Mirch, salt and saute until they start to brown.

Add  tomatoes. Cook and stir until it becomes like a chunky sauce. (sort of like a salsa-mash the tomatoes with a fork if you are using them on the greenish side)

Add rice and stir and cook 5 min. on med. heat

Add chicken (or meat) if you are making the non-veg kind and cook for about 10 min at med. heat. (if using seafood put that in when there is only about 10-15 minutes cooking time left or it will be like mush)

Add all vegetables- cook and stir 5 min. on med. heat- if it seems a little dry add some of the water now

Add Kitchen King (or garam masala) and water to almost cover the contents.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat.

Cook with the lid on at med-low heat (slightly bubbling) for about 20 min if making veg or seafood type.

If using chicken or meat increase cooking time to about 25-30 min.

Check if meat is thoroughly cooked.

(if using a pressure cooker then it’s about 2 pressures, turn heat off and wait for pressure to subside-about 15 min. total final cooking time with meat)

It is done when liquid is all taken up by the rice and rice is soft.

You can garnish with some chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaf-which I don’t like but lots of people do) and some sliced hard boiled eggs (which is what restaurants do for both veg and non-veg sometimes-so if you’re vegan and in India make sure to tell them no eggs or just say “pure veg” which means you won’t get stuff made with butter either)

Serve hot.

Green Onion and Garlic Saute

Ingredients are listed in order of use.

2-3 tbsp. of butter or oil

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. salt

chopped cloves of garlic (we put lots but depends on your garlic tolerance)

4-5 bunches of green onions chopped-about 4 cups total (depends on the size of the onions and bunches-it cooks down to about 1/4 of the uncooked) (you can also use spinach, dandelion greens or just about any kind of greens in this recipe)

Instructions

Heat butter.

Add turmeric, salt and garlic.

Saute for about 5 min.

Add green onions.

Saute and stir for about 5-7  min. until onions/greens are soft.

Serve hot.

Raita (yogurt and veg. side dish)

Ingredients are listed in order of use.

500 ml plain smooth yogurt (about a pint or 2 cups)-the Balkan style which is creamy

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup shredded veg (mostly cucumber but added onion, tomato, white radish are good accents)

Masala (spice)
Fast way Longer way
2 tbsp. Chunky Chat masala mix 3 tbsp butter or oil
2 tbsp. cumin (jeera)
pinch of turmeric
-heat butter, add cumin and saute until cumin starts to brown, add turmeric, stir and lat brown a little more.(total cooking time about 5 mins-med heat) Let cool for a few minutes before pouring into yogurt mixture

Instructions

Mix yogurt, salt and shredded veg.

Add spice and mix together thoroughly.

Some people garnish this with a little chopped fresh coriander leaf (cilantro) but a little fresh parsley would be OK too.

Serve cold. (Also makes a nice dip or sauce for a wrap)

About Spice Mixes

Spice mixes mentioned here are often available at Indian grocers and sometimes in the Asian sections of big grocers (I’ve even seen a few at Walmart!) MDH makes a pretty good quality lower priced mix-it’s the most popular in this area. No need to buy the fancy package ones you see sometimes in cookware stores. They have the same ingredients but cost about 4 times as much and are often stale.

MDH-Chunky-Chat-Masala MDHDeggiMirch MDHKitchenKing

About Pressure Cookers

This is one of the two we have pictured below. It is the Indian style with the long handled lid that fits inside the pot and then clips to the end of the pot handle. It has a rubber gasket around the lid.  I don’t know much about pressure cookers of the North American or European style. Some I’ve seen have dials and complicated valves and such.

This Indian style is pretty straightforward. When the pressure is up the little top knob spins around and shoots out steam. That is called One Pressure. So recipe timings go by the number of pressures at a certain flame height. Flame is put to high to bring pressure up then usually set to medium.  So for cooking hard vegetables like potatoes is usually 2-3 pressures depending on consistency of potatoes, rice 2 pressures, chicken  2-3 pressures, meat 3-4 pressures, hard beans like Rajma or any kind that have to be soaked overnight is 5-6 pressures over 15-20 minutes or so. Then the time to decompress-about 10 min. Some things we decompress quickly by lifting up the little knob with a spoon (its hot!) and releasing the steam. This would be for rice, potatoes or vegetables.

One important thing to note is to always leave space in the cooker for the steam to pressurize.  Never fill you pressure cooker more than 3/4 full before cooking. 2/3 is better since some contents can expand. So get a large enough cooker to allow for that depending upon the size of family or group. We use a 5 liter (about one gallon) size for a big dish like pullow. Though we also have a 3 liter Minolta for cooking dal and beans.  If your cooker is too small and contents expand you might not be able to get the lid out without making a huge mess. (that’s Manoj’s tip since he is contributing here in a roundabout way-that means he’s reading this over my shoulder and making suggestions-ahem!)

It is important to keep the valve clean and open so it doesn’t clog and blow out the emergency valve which will ruin the lid and probably the pot too. If using a pressure cooker read all relevant instructions first-I’ve seen a 20 liter cooker full of potatoes blow up at a restaurant because of too much heat and clogged valves-it pretty much demolished the kitchen. Potatoes on every surface including the ceiling and a twisted hole in the side of the pot. That’s quite an unusual occurrence but it happens if one gets sloppy. Pressure cookers are great though, when used properly, since they save a lot of time and cooking gas or electricity

You can get the Indian style pressure cookers in some Indian grocers sometimes. I’ve seen them in Vancouver and other larger cities. You can also order them over the Internet. They are a lot cheaper than the deluxe western kind. (about half the price) I’d recommend Hawkins, Minolta or Hawkins-Futura brands as these are the most commonly used and I’ve used all of them myself. You can also get then with a non-stick interior.

In a price comparison I’ve seen the Hawkins 5 liter pressure cooker for less than 40$ while the equivalent Fagor or Presto North American brands go for 70$ and up.  There are used (or as they say “vintage”) ones on E-bay but I’d be wary of that since you don’t know it’s use record. If you find a used one somewhere like at a garage sale check the bottom. If it is not flat or is bowed out on the bottom then the metal has weakened or it has been over-pressurized and it may not be too good.

Hawkins Pressure Cooker 4 Liters

Is That a Buddhist Cow in Your Stir-fry?

In the Austral-Asia area the Maggi company has a flavor of seasoning mix for a Beef and Blackbean dish. It might possibly taste good. However the packaging strikes me as somewhat odd. We have an image of the Buddha presiding over a gigantic plate of cooked beef.

soup

The Constitution of India prohibits the slaughter of any cattle. This includes cows and buffalos.

48. The State shall endeavour to organise agriculture
and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines
and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and
improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter, of
cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.

Although the actual laws for this are under the purview of the states,  cow slaughter is illegal in all but two of India’s 28 states and 7 federally administered territories.

In the old days (a couple of thousand years ago) many Hindus did eat beef. And many still do today, particularly in the south and east areas of India.  Some in the north now still do but it is done very discreetly. Many Tibetans and Muslims eat beef in India and despite prohibitions I have been offered and eaten beef in states where it is illegal.

Being a firengi barbarian it was expected that I would enjoy this delicacy and by accepting and eating it this gives an overt acceptance of the practice and assuages some of the shame people would feel if it got out into the community that beef eating had taken place.  If such a thing can be blamed on a foreigner with their disgusting habits then the fault is mitigated.

The problem locally though,  is that if people are caught with slaughtered cattle they can get lynched-literally. In a town not far from where I live a couple of guys were sneaking a couple of carcasses into a shop in the middle of the night when an insomnia-ridden neighbor spotted them. Police were called and other neighbors were summoned. By the time the police got there one guy was dead and the other was in dire shape. It was not even determined that they had killed these cattle but the fact of the carcasses got everyone in that area worked up. It was also a caste thing as only the lowest are supposed to touch the carcasses to remove hides for tanning and such.

So the couple of points I am making here are:

  • if you are touring around India check the local food prohibitions in your area and don’t put the lives of locals in danger by asking for a juicy sirloin. People will go out of their way to provide for your comfort and will even take this kind of risk so as not to lose face in front of you, their guest.
  • this package of mix is rather tasteless in that many, if not the majority of Buddhists espouse some form of vegetarianism at least some of the time. (Even me sometimes and in some places)