Thursday October 19, 2017

Turin’s Mayor pledges to turn it into the First ‘Vegetarian City’ in Italy

Turin is one such city of Italy that serves great traditional meat like bollito misto, stew made of beef, sausages and other sorts of poultry

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  • Chiara Appendino, the mayor of Turin, is on a quest to turn Turin as the first vegetarian city of Italy
  • After a long span of 23 years of only left wing politicians turning mayors, Chiara Appendino won the mayor elections with 55% of total votes in June 2016
  • Established in 2009, the Five Star Movement was started by comedian-activist Beppe Grillot which promotes vegetarianism

Italy is a country which is rich in culture and offers the best of fashion- the Milan Fashion Week, heritage- the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and of course cuisine. Not only has Italy given the world its favourite pizza and olives, but also various dishes like lasagna, pasta and riso. With a country that offers some of the best cuisines in the world, it is next to impossible to imagine Italy turning vegetarian.

Turin is one such city of Italy that serves great traditional meat like bollito misto, stew made of beef, sausages and other sorts of poultry. It is a popular destination among Italians during winters due to its vicinity to the Alps.

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Mayor Chiara Appendino. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Mayor Chiara Appendino. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

But Chiara Appendino, the mayor of Turin, is on a quest to turn Turin as the first vegetarian city of Italy. Turin now has more than thirty restaurants that serve vegan food. As an initiative to “protect the environment, health, and animals”, Appendino encourages vegetarianism and vegan diets in her manifesto, reported independent.co.uk.

After a long span of 23 years of only left wing politicians turning mayors, Chiara Appendino won the mayor elections with 55% of total votes in June 2016.

Not only has Ms. Appendino working towards vegetarianism, but various movements have been carried out to promote the same. Established in 2009, the Five Star Movement was started by comedian-activist Beppe Grillot which promotes vegetarianism. This movement was started as an initiative against corruption and for the planet’s environmental issues, but it also has an ambiguous take on immigrants. It is reported that the Five Star Movement would include educating schools students on animal welfare.

Demonstration in support of vegetarianism. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Demonstration in support of vegetarianism.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Apart from Italy, there are many countries and faiths that work on extreme vegetarianism. All religions have stringent commitments to their values about dealing with violence and non-violence. Same goes for vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism.

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  • Hinduism or Sanatan Dharma, for example, is a faith that constitutes the maximum number of vegetarians in the world. Brahmins, who are usually temple priests in and out of India, are strict vegetarians. Not only does Hinduism promote vegetarianism and have vegan food as ‘prasaad’ but is also strictly against beef eating.
  •  While Buddhism is another faith that preaches the concept of ahimsa, Gautam Buddha asked his disciples to accept any food that gets offered to them. It is conflicting to know that Dalai Lama is himself a non-vegetarian. Buddhist schools of thought indeed teach vegetarianism, but Buddha’s act of consuming meat is debatable even today. Traditions interpret that Buddha died of eating pork, while some believe he ate a poisonous mushroom.
  • Another faith that practices vegetarianism is Jainism. With its inception 6,000 years ago, Jains believe that every creature in this world is here to help another. They believe in non-harmed peaceful coexistence and consider all living beings sacred. It must also be noted that Jains also wear masks to avoid killing the smallest of insects and walk carefully as to never kill an insect lying on their way.

– prepared by Chetna Karnani of NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Choosing Vegan Diet, Why it is not Successful in India?

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Vegan Diet Food Items
Vegan Diet Food Items. Pixabay
  • How Vegan Diet helps you healthy body functioning
  • It has some nutritional shortfalls

5 Reasons To Choose Vegan Diet

Being vegan helps in a lot of ways –gives you a healthy body, disease protection, and an overall healthy lifestyle. Vegans choose to eat plant-based products and eliminate animal-based products, dairy products like milk, honey, meat, fish, eggs from their diet. The reason can be to stay healthy, religious beliefs or Ethical values. A vegan diet is nutritionally balanced and is highly beneficial for the healthy lifestyle. Some of its advantages are –

Weight Reduction

A large number of population opt for this diet to do excessive weight loss. The reason behind this is there is less intake of fats which come from animal-based products and high intake of fiber. Vegan Diet includes consumption of healthy food products like fruits, vegetables, nut and other plant-based products which maintain nutritional balance in your body.

Reduces Diabetes and Hypertension

People following Vegan Diet are often able to reduce their blood pressure and sugar level than compared to Non – vegans. Intake of plant-based products helps in reducing the need of insulin for the diabetic patients. As mentioned in various researchs, meat and fish eaters tend to have high blood pressure which is eliminated in the vegan diet.

Avoids Heart and Kidney Diseases

Vegan Diet helps reducing cholesterol in your body. Healthy food intake avoids risky heart diseases and helps in proper functioning of the heart. Plant proteins reduce the risk of the poor kidney function than meat proteins.

Helps to Maintain Healthy Bones

The diet is rich in potassium, magnesium and vitamin K which contributes to the bone health significantly. Calcium Fortified plant milk and yogurts can help in achieving recommended calcium dietary intake which keeps the bones healthy and prevents various bone and dental diseases.

Overall healthy lifestyle

It keeps your mind and body relaxed and stress-free. Prevents you from common body ailments like a frequent headache, body pain etc. Eating healthy food like fruits, vegetables and less intake of fats makes you feel active and energized whole day. It makes you feel good and confident about your body.

Disadvantages

Although Vegan Diet has proved to be beneficial to many it has some nutritional shortfalls as well. Vegans often tend to have various nutrient deficiencies like –

Vitamin B12: Deficiency of Vitamin B12 occurs due to the elimination of dairy products and meat from the diet, for vegans, it can be prevented by taking B12 supplements or B12 fortified foods.

Calcium: Vegan should eat more tofu, tahini, and green leafy vegetables to intake the required amount of calcium in the body.

Iron: Iron is essential to transport oxygen to the blood cells. Eat dried beans and use a cast-iron skillet to prepare the meal to have an iron-rich diet.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids: It is important for cardiovascular health, eyes and brain function. Eating walnuts, soy products, and flaxseed can prevent the deficiency.

Although, It is hard to be a vegan in India as Indians love to eat dairy and poultry products.The most indulgent foods in India consists of milk, cheese, fish, eggs, and meat. But when it comes to healthy living, veganism is one of the best options you can opt for and every non-vegan food in your diet can be replaced by a vegan food.

-prepared by Pragya Mittal of NewsGram | Twitter @PragyaMittal05

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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3 Ahmadi Men Sentenced to Death in Pakistan on Charges of Blasphemy; Minority Communities are increasingly facing the Heat in the Country

“Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. Rights groups say the controversial blasphemy law has often been abused to settle personal vendettas and disputes.

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Pakistan-protest
Pakistani students of Islamic seminaries take part in a rally in support of blasphemy laws in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Hundreds of students of Islamic seminaries rallied in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, urging government to remove blasphemous content from social media and take stern action against those who posted blasphemous content on social media to hurt sentiments of Muslims. The placards, in center, in Urdu language are reading as "Authorized Institutions immediately take action on the incidents of blasphemy and remove blasphemous content on social media". (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed) (VOA)

Washington, October 15, 2017: A court in Pakistan’s Punjab province has sentenced three men of a minority religious group to death on charges of violating the country’s controversial blasphemy law.

Mubasher Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmed and Ehsan Ahmed were found guilty and convicted by the trial court Wednesday for insulting the prophet of Islam.

The men were tried under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, commonly referred to as the blasphemy law, which recommends either life imprisonment or the death penalty for anyone found guilty of deliberately insulting Islam.

The men were arrested in May 2014 in a remote village in Punjab province after residents filed a complaint with the police and accused the defendants of tearing down a religious poster.

Four men were arrested at the time. The fourth man, Khalil Ahmad, was shot dead by an angry man while in police custody just a few days after the incident.

Saleemuddin, a spokesperson for the Ahmadi community, told VOA that the charges against the defendants and the court’s verdict were unfair.

“The convicted men were trying to take down a poster, which had anti-Ahmadi slogans and text that urged the community to socially boycott the already persecuted Ahmadi community,” Saleemuddin said.

“We will challenge the trial court’s decision in high court,” he added.

Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, but Pakistan’s state does not recognize them as such and labels them heretics. There are more than a half-million Ahmadis living in Pakistan under the constant threat of persecution.

The Ahmadi community “is one of the most mistreated communities in the country. They have had been a target of blasphemous charges, sectarian violence and target killings,” said Mehdi Hasan, a prominent human rights activist in Pakistan.

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Ahmadis ‘a threat’

The death sentence for the three individuals came just a few days after Muhammad Safdar, a prominent member of the ruling party and son-in-law of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, publicly denounced Ahmadi community members as a threat to Pakistan and urged the country’s institutions not to hire them in the military or the civil service.

Safdar’s remarks stirred a debate in the country on the issue of minorities and their rights.

Pakistan Minister of the Interior Ahsan Iqbal, without mentioning Safdar by name, denounced the anti-minority rhetoric coming from politicians.

“It is tragic to see hate speech against minorities in National Assembly. We believe in inclusive Pakistan. Pakistan respects all minorities,” Iqbal said in a tweet.

Abuse of law

“Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. We’ve seen several incidents where angry mobs killed those accused of committing blasphemy without giving them a right to face the trial,” human rights activist Hasan told VOA.

Rights groups say the controversial blasphemy law has often been abused to settle personal vendettas and disputes. Due process is often ceremonial, the rights activists add, and decisions are often informed by the growing religious intolerance in the country.

Even if courts do drop charges against defendants, mobs and local residents attack them, and law enforcement authorities look the other way in most cases, the activists charge.

blasphemy
Members of a Pakistani civil society demonstrate April 22, 2017, in Karachi, Pakistan, against the killing of Mashal Khan, a student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in the northwestern city of Mardan. Police say the lynching of Khan, falsely accused of blasphemy, was organized by other students who saw him as a political rival. (VOA)

Social media posts

Nadeem James, a Christian, was sentenced to death last month in Punjab after the court established that he sent a blasphemous poem to a friend via WhatsApp, an instant message application.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a recent report said 15 people were arrested on charges of blasphemy in 2016, including 10 Muslims and five members of religious minorities.

In April 2017, Mashaal Khan, a journalism student, was accused of posting blasphemous content online and was beaten to death by fellow students at Abdul Wali Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan’s government is being criticized for strictly enforcing the blasphemy laws.

In April 2017, the government used newspapers and mobile phone services to warn its citizens not to post or upload any blasphemous materials on social media.

The government has also reportedly encouraged people to report those who violate the blasphemy law. (VOA)