As we observe World Oceans Day today let’s have a look at how we are pleasing our taste buds at the cost of someone else’s death. NT BUZZ finds out about PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) initiative to protect the aquatic species by encouraging people to become vegans and more
Sheras Fernandes | NT BUZZ
Goan cuisine is incomplete without fish but little do we know about the adverse effects consuming fish has on the ecosystem. Radhika Suryavanshi, campaigner of PETA India fears that if we continue to eat fish at the present rate, we won’t have any fish left by 2048. Ahead of World Oceans Day, PETA India had on display a model dressed as a mermaid to express their love for fish. “A supporter posed as a mermaid in Panaji to urge passers-by to go vegan. Today being World Oceans Day we want people to read about the plight of aquatic animals and how they are suffering because of us,” says Radhika.
There are several benefits of becoming a vegan and quitting non-vegetarian food, says Radhika. “There are three aspects we want to focus on and spread awareness about. Fish aren’t considered animals because of the physical differences but they too have feelings,” says Radhika. She adds that the fish that we currently buy from super markets are from farms that breed fish an not the ocean, which also adversely affects the environment and as well as human health. “We want to tell people that consumption of fish accumulates mercury in their body. Fish are a part of the ecosystem and by consuming fish that live in a polluted environment we unknowingly allow pollutants into our body,” says Radhika.
Given that meals in many Goan households are incomplete without ‘xitt ani nustem codi’ (rice and fish-curry) Radhika says: “It won’t be easy for many but it’s not very difficult.” For those who feel veganism would mean spending more on alternate food, Radhika says it is not expensive. “Mock meat has entered the Indian markets. It tastes like normal meat but is made using vegetables,” says Radhika. She adds that it will help people in the transition and is healthier and environment-friendly.
City coordinator of Vegan India, Gemini Xettigar says: “Over 90 per cent of our Goan vegetarian dishes are vegan by default. The ones that are made using meat can be veganised by using tofu, mock meat or mushrooms. This way one can retain the authentic Goan flavours of the dish.”
20-year-old Himaani Choudhari is a student at Goa College of Home Science and was the mermaid model who held a shell-shaped placard that read ‘Fish are friends and not food, go vegan’. “People say we have only one life but in the midst of enjoying our lives by eating non-vegetarian food we are making animals suffer,” says Himaani. She feels for these animals and has seen how they are slaughtered. “I place myself in their shoes and understand what they must be going through. I am happy to give up something so that someone else can live,” she says, adding that there are many options other than eating meat. “It is absurd to think that because the animal population is increasing that we keep a check on it by killing or consuming them. In that way the human population is also increasing- this does not mean that we should kill humans too,” she says.
However, she feels that food is personal and it is wrong to dictate what one can or cannot eat. “I am not against people eating fish or meat, but against the way animals are slaughtered these days. Animals too have feelings and families and it hurts me to see a cow or calf being slaughtered,” she says.