Writings and Lectures

Food for Thought (Published in the Independent on 3 May 2021)

Dear Sir,
Marc Abraham's article about the cruelty involved in production of factory-farmed chickens is a timely reminder that as a race we humans have to recalibrate our relationship with the animal word. It is not only about compassion to animals it is also about our own welfare and survival. Our food habits are degrading the planet.
A plant-based diet is the only solution to avert an existential crisis.

Nitin Mehta

Veganism is Our Only Hope (The following Letter published in the Independent 11 August 2019)

Dear Sir,
The United Nations urging everyone to eat less meat is a mantra we have been hearing for a long time. It is designed to keep the meat industry happy and to placate the climate lobby. The stark reality though is that we are beyond the point of patching up the planet with half measures.
Around 75 billion animals are raised for meat; between 200 billion to one trillion fish are killed annually for human consumption. The message that needs to go out urgently is that mankind needs to return to a plant based diet if we are to avoid a catastrophe which will make this planet unhabitable for future generations. The vegan revolution going on at the moment is a ray of hope.
There are ethical reasons that we need to consider too. As a supposedly superior species do we need to carry out so much violence on the animal kingdom? Meat consumption and the resultant health crisis we are facing is well documented. It seems that for our overall wellbeing and to reinvigorate our planet will have to face the facts and be honest. There is no other solution for our dilemma except to eschew all animal products.

Nitin Mehta

There's no place for hunting in this world (The following Letter published in the Independent 10 April 2019)

Dear Sir,
I was disgusted to hear that Ron Thomson has no regrets about killing 5,000 elephants and 50 hippos. His reasoning is that he is controlling the population of these majestic animals. Who, I wonder, gave him the God-given right to eliminate these animals?
It is cowardly to sneak up on these poor creatures and blast them with powerful guns. Hunting is a disgrace and brings shame to the human species.
Just as we have a law for war criminals, we need a law for crimes against animal species. Human beings crave for peace and despair at the violence that engulfs them and yet they are completely blase about killing animals. This violence rebounds on us and hangs on us like a immovable cloud of negativity which deprives us of the peace we desperately seek.
Nitin Mehta

The best thing we can do for the environment is eat a plant-based diet (The following Letter published in the Independent 10 October 2018)

Dear Sir,
Will Gore talks about making small changes in our lives to protect the planet. One change which would really help is to adopt a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet. One of the biggest causes of global warming are the gases released by animals raised for meat. Our planet is simply too small to sustain more than 80 billion animals raised for meat every year.
To meet the insatiable demand for cereals colossal amounts of chemicals are used which is destroying fertile land both in developed countries and poorer ones which are exporting crops to feed animals rather than feeding their citizens.
A huge amount of fresh water resources are being used up in the raising of these animals and the waste produced by them is polluting our rivers and oceans and creating dead zones where all life forms cease to exist.
Huge amount of forests including the Amazon have been cleared to meet the demand for beef in the US. Absence of forests means more floods and other forms of extreme climate occurrences.
A shift away from a meat-based diet to a plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet is paramount if we are to heal the planet and avoid a calamity. This is something every individual can do and become the change they want in the world.

The only way is vegan (The following Letter published in the Sunday Times January 21 2018)

Dear Sir,
Your report confirms that veganism is the fastest-growing lifestyle. ( ''Egg-free, please: I'm only here for the vegan beer'', News, last week ) It is the young who are leading this trend and what motivates them is the plight of animals. Vegan food has the potential to reverse the health issues we face as a result of meat consumption and address the damage caused by raising and killing billions of creatures. To heal the planet, feed the growing population and extend a hand of compassion to animals, going vegan is the answer.

We must go veggie to protect the planet (The following letter was published in the Independent 7 September 2017)

Dear Sir,
After the devastating Hurricane Harvey the US is now bracing for Hurricane Irma. It is obvious that Mother Earth is in a precarious state because of decades of abuse. In pursuit of short-term gains we have put in jeopardy our lives and lives of future generations.
One of the biggest causes of climate change is billions of animals raised for human consumption. Deforestation, the degradation of soil, the massive amount of chemicals seeping into rivers and oceans all are a result of billions of intensively reared animals. Such is the insatiable demand for animal feed that poor countries are roped in into growing soya to export to European countries at great environmental cost. Our planet is simply not big enough to sustain a human population of 9 billion and an animal population of 120 billion to feed it. A return to a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet will replenish the planet and restore it to robust health but we are running out of time.

No more violence towards animals (The following was published in the Independent on 15 August 2017. It was in response to a very good article written by Yas Necati who is Turkish and Vegan)

Dear Sir,
Yas Necati is right about the violence we inflict on animals. As a species we humans have put many wrongs right over the centuries. However our treatment of animals is a last frontier we have not overcome. It is time to accord animals some fundamental rights. We will be doing ourselves a big favour as it will be great for our moral well-being. We will have declared a peace treaty with animals.

Creature comfort (Letter Published in the Sunday Times in response to Brian Appleyards article regarding the growth of vegan and vegetarianism the following was published 6 August 2017 )

Dear Sir,
Is our treatment of animals an issue that we as a species have to put right? For our own moral wellbeing we need to move away from the cruelty we perpetuate on them.

Catastrphe of Anti-Biotics in Animal Feed (Letter published in the Guardian 25th May 2016)

Dear Sir,
The imminent threat of antibiotics becoming ineffective in fighting diseases could indeed be catastrophic. It is estimated that almost 85 billion animals will have to be raised to meet the meat demand in the near future. Animals are raised in intensive factory farm conditions with minimum welfare standards. Little wonder then that disease and misery is rampant among them. They are fed antibiotics which humans then ingest, leading to drug resistance. There is an urgent need to move away from a meat-based diet to a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet. This will take the pressure off the animals and also improve the health of the nation. As a bonus, global warming due to methane released by animals will slow down, as will the mass pollution of farmlands and waterways by billions of tons of animal waste and blood. A diet change is something each of us can do to help avert disaster.

Nitin Mehta: We could live with 9bn vegetarians (Letter published in the Independent 31st Oct 2014)

Dear Sir,
The world population is indeed growing inexorably (Population explosion of planet can't be halted, 28 October). Would the planet be able to sustain a population of 9 billion by 2050? Yes it could as the planet is sustaining over 65 billion animals raised for meat consumption every year. There are at any time 3 times more chickens on the planet than human beings. Any discussion on the growth of population should also account for the other living beings who also need to be fed and watered just as we do. It is this massive number of animals which is causing global warming, desertification of fertile land, using up a huge amount of the world's fresh water supplies and almost 40% of worlds cereals for animal consumption. Billions of tones of animal manure and slurry seeps into the Earth causing massive pollution and acid rain. It would be possible to feed the world if so much of the cereals produced were not fed to animals. The health impact on human beings is also great as animals are fed antibiotics rendering them ineffective as the meat consumed carries antibiotics. A move away from a predominantly meat diet to a plant based vegetarian and vegan diet is imperative if we are to avoid mass starvation and catastrophic climate change.

Nitin Mehta: The Foods We Eat (Letter Published in the Independent. 11th. Feb. 2013)

For all those who are experiencing nausea and worse after finding out that their beef burgers had horse and pig meat, there is a simple solution. Go vegetarian and explore a whole world of gourmet food. Experience the freedom of eating food that does not involve the killing of sentient beings. You will be in good company. Mahatma Gandhi, George Bernard Shaw, Tony Benn, Bill Clinton, Joanna Lumley, Martin Shaw, the list goes on. Enjoy!

Pickles with Shanta Ben & The Young Indian Vegetarians
(Article from pedatha.com website)

Jyoti Mehta says, “My mum’s food is famous among my friends. The good thing is that mum enjoys feeding them as much as they enjoy being fed! I am a Vegan and mum has been hugely supportive in this choice. She has found ingenious ways to Veganise many Indian dishes. She uses Tofu instead of Paneer and has actually managed to improvise on recipes like ‘ Kadhi’ by replacing yogurt with coconut milk! Now, even my Grandma uses Soya milk in tea thus giving me a chance to rediscover Indian Chai (just don’t watch how much sugar she puts in)!”

For full story click here.

Growth of Antibiotics in Farm Animals Poses Serious Threat to Human Health
(Letter Published in the Independent-20th June 2011)

The dramatic growth of antibiotics in farm animals poses a serious threat to human health. The real problem is the massive growth in demand for meat.

The only way to meet this is through factory farming, a system based on selective breeding for high yield, overcrowding and gross restriction of animals' natural behaviour.

The only way to take the pressure off animals is to drastically reduce meat consumption. Grains being used to produce bio-fuel and almost 40 per cent of cereals going to feed animals is pushing millions of people towards starvation. The global-warming impact of methane emissions from farm animals is well-documented too.

There is one solution to all these problems and that is to revert to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Those who cannot take this step straightaway can start by giving up meat a few days a week.
Nitin Mehta

There are Two Things that Human Beings Can Do to Avoid the Nightmare of Hunger
(Letter Published in the Independent-2nd Feb 2011)

Almost 65 billion animals are raised for meat every year and the grain fed to them can feed almost 4 billion people. Instead of eating grains and vegetables we are feeding them to animals and then eating the animals. The destruction of rainforests in south America, the spread of deserts and the pollution of rivers and oceans are due to our desire for meat.

In 2007 almost 27 million hectares of land was used to produce biofuel and in 2008 food prices soared, pushing almost 100 million people below the poverty line.

If meat and biofuel production stopped we might avert a tragedy of biblical proportions.
Nitin Mehta

The world's largest gathering and it is all vegetarian!
Nitin Mehta: Come to Kumbh Mela to see the miracle that is modern India

Beginning from 14th January 2010 the world's greatest religious gathering has been taking place at Haridrwar in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Kumbha is a Sanskrit word for a round pot with no handles, Mela means "a gathering", or a fair. The observance of Kumbh Mela dates back many centuries. It is said that once upon a time the Gods had lost their strength, and to regain it, they thought of churning the Kshera Sagara (primordial ocean of milk) for amrit (the nectar of immortality). This required them to make a temporary agreement with their arch enemies, the demons or Asuras to work together with a promise of sharing the nectar equally thereafter. But when the Kumbha containing the amrita appeared, a fight ensued. For 12 days and 12 nights (equivalent to 12 human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the pot of amrita. It is believed that during the battle, Lord Vishnu flew away with the Kumbha of elixir, and that is when drops of amrita fell at four places on Earth: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik, and that is where the Kumbh Mela is observed every 12 years. On 14 January (Makar Sankranti) the Kumbha Mela began with all the pomp and glory for which it so well known. Millions of people led by the holy men took a dip in the holy river. Hindus believe all paths to God are valid. Conflict between different denominations within Hinduism is unknown. It is due to this ingrained belief in diversity that democracy thrives in India. Violence in the name of religion will only stop when all the religions acknowledge that all paths to God are valid. It is a miracle that India pulls of such a massive show, with all its logistical nightmares, so brilliantly. In January 2007 around 70 million pilgrims gathered at Prayag for the Ardh Kumbh Mela, by far the world's largest religious festival. It is estimated around 50 million people attended this year. It is the world's most massive act of faith. Meat fish and eggs are strictly prohibited at the event.


Battle Between Meat Eating and Going Vegetarian
(Letter Published in the Saturday Guardian-27th Feb. 2010)

Jonathan Safran Foer's battle between meat eating and going vegetarian is one faced by millions of people. It is also a moral issue with which some of the greatest thinkers in history have grappled. We crave peace, yet deny it to the living beings we share this planet with. We have forgotten that compassion is the distinguishing mark of a civilisation, and all our otherwise great achievements are clouded by the suffering of billions of animals. The environmental and health issues related with meat eating are a clear indicator that the human race has to revert to a plant-based diet if it is to leave this planet in a good enough shape for future generations.


Chicken Language - Maneka Gandhi
(05 January 2010)

Next time you pass by a truck filled with small cages filled with chickens, most of whom have one leg or wing broken and is squatting in great pain and utter hopeless anguish in the truck while the hot or icy wind tears about them and the feces of the chickens in the cages above theirs drip onto them, remember that they are probably talking or crying to each other and wondering which hell they are being taken to. When you see them in dirty cages outside chicken shops seeing their kin being pulled out and chopped in front of them, imagine what they must be saying to each other. What would you have said in their place?

For chickens talk a lot. They have a rich language and intelligence. According to new research, chickens make meaningful sounds that refer to objects around them. A pecking chicken that goes “tck, tck, tck”, for example, is saying, “Hey look, there’s food!”

Would you kill and eat a monkey or an ape with the same indifference with which you eat chickens? No, because you know they think and deal with the world, almost as humans do. Scientists have proved again and again that primates make sounds that, like words, represent something in the world around them.

Now, scientists have found that chickens are like monkeys in their word and sentence structure. Each cluck means something, and lots of clucks together mean whole sentences. Studies in Macquarie University, Australia show that male chickens make certain clucking noises when they find food. When female chickens (hens) hear these noises, they stomp over and either take some food from a male’s beak or stare at the ground looking for morsels to eat. Other studies show, for example, that chickens make alarm calls when scared by an intruder. The calls differ depending on whether the intruder walks or flies toward them, which means that the chicken is saying, “An intruder is walking towards me so scatter in this fashion...” or “A bird is flying overhead, so run and hide.” The fact that it is an understandable language is shown by the fact that other chickens react by looking either up in the air or around on the ground.

In another experiment, researchers allowed half the hens to find some corn - not enough to fill the animals up, but enough to alert them that food was around. The other half did not get any corn. The scientists then played recordings of male food calls for the hens. The hens that already knew food was available looked at the ground for just three seconds. The food-deprived hens, on the other hand, searched for an average of 7.5 seconds after hearing the male calls. On the other hand, when the hens heard alarm calls, both fed and unfed birds reacted in the same way. These results show the birds knew what the food call meant, and their reaction depended on what they already knew about the area’s food supply so they could judge whether the call was a lie or not. Primatologist Klaus Zuberbühler of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland compares the results to those from his own test with monkeys. Monkey calls indicating one kind of predator, say a snake, were completely different from those about an eagle; and the monkeys responded differently to both.

Chickens have a complex communication system which includes over 20 different signals that humans have interpreted; and at least several hundred more that are under translation.

Here are some of the calls that you can learn to understand: Waanh-hunh “I’m curious”, bu-bu-bu-bu-buh1 “Hello”, k-k-k-k-k-kh “I’m happy!”, tw-tw-tw-tw-tw “I’m on the nest”, ooonhaawh “Get out of my way, I want your space”, ooonhaawh (half speed) “Sounds like a foghorn, doesn’t it?, huh-huh-huh-ahn “Give me some food”, wnnn-nn wn-wn “What are you doing?”, cuc-cuc-cuc1 “There’s a cat on that fence!”, cuc-cuc-cuc2 “Happy curiosity. Friendly”, wtwtwtwtwtnnn “Don’t touch my egg”, tookatookatooka “What happy bliss on a perfect day in the shade”. Soft scream “Hawk overhead!” Excited cackling Ga-ga-GAAK, ga-ga-GAAK means dangerous human coming.

Conveniently, we have yet to analyse the calls for “Please don’t hurt me”, “Please don’t kill him”, “Please don’t take away my baby”, “Ouch! that hurts very much”, “My wing is broken”, “Please give me some space”.

Fowl linguist and scientist Dr. Erich Baeumer of Wiedenau, Germany who has been studying chickens since 1954 says that he has made a list of 30 sentences which are part of a spoken international chicken language whether an Indian Jungle fowl, a Russian Orloff rooster, an Italian Leghorn, a Cornish cock or a New Hampshire Red. Baeumer was eight when he realised that he could understand the chickens around his house. “It was an intuitive understanding, I could actually tell what they were saying. I began to spend hours with them; they became brothers and sisters to me.” He learned to imitate their sounds so well that he was accepted as a full-fledged member of the flock. Only when his voice changed did the chickens break off communication with him.

In 1954, he started working with Professor Erich von Hoist at the Institute of Behavior Physiology near Munich. Chickens were photographed and recorded repeatedly. After recording hours of chicken talk, Dr. Baeumer selected examples of clear-cut chicken “sentences” that could be related to records or photographs of specific actions. Dr. Baeumer’s chick-talk tapes have been played at universities in many countries. He knows the loneliness cries of young chicks separated from their mother (“Pieep-pieep-pieep”); and their terror trills, a high-pitched “Trr-trr.” Both sexes make “frightened” cackles when first they sense danger. After the danger passes, their cackling is full-throated and rhythmical, as if they had triumphed.

Hens make a cackle when they have laid an egg, but Dr. Baeumer does not think they are boasting or saying, “Thank heaven that’s over.” He believes that it all goes back to the days when wild hens laid eggs in hidden nests. After each delivery, the hen gave a loud cackle to regain contact with the rest of the flock. Chickens make screams of distress; they have battle cries and calls for privacy. Hens lead their chicks to food with a gentle “Tuck-tuck-tuck”, and roosters entice pretty young hens with soft cooing. “Chicken behavior is not too different from human behavior,” says Dr. Baeumer. “Nor is chicken language.”

Think of this when you eat a chicken. What could she have been saying as she was dragged out to be killed for you. Could it be “Forgive them for they know not what they do”?


Face to faith - Faiths that originated in India have a long history of toleration and openness to new ideas, says Nitin Mehta
(Published in The Guardian, Saturday 23 May 2009)

Religions that have their roots in India – namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism – believe all paths to God are valid, and over the centuries this sublime belief has helped avoid violence and strife. There are thousands of sects within Hinduism, and violence between them is unknown. Jains have a concept called Anekantwad, meaning that truth can be arrived at from different paths. And there is a great parable in Buddhism that describes a blind man touching different parts of an elephant and describing what he thinks it looks like. In his own way he is correct in his description, and the same is true of religions.

According to the time, circumstances and the culture it is born in, a religion will interpret the truth as it sees it. Indic religions believe there is nothing to fight about in these apparent differences. Indeed the whole concept of "my religion" is an extension of my race, my country, all of which the Indic religions call maya or illusion – at death all these attachments are severed.

When the Zoroastrians known as the Parsees came to India having been driven out of Persia for their religious beliefs, the Hindu king welcomed them and not only tolerated but encouraged them to continue practising their faith. Parsees have lived happily in India over the centuries, and there has not been a single incident of confrontation with the majority Hindus. Indeed the Parsees have paid back by excelling in so many fields that have put India on the map as a economic giant. Sikhs have defended other faiths facing persecution.

This unshakable belief in diversity has meant that religions of India have never sought to convert others. The root of cause of violence in the name of religion is the desire to convert – indeed entire civilisations have perished whenever a new ideology believing in the supremacy of its truth has decided to impose its version of truth on others.

The other unique advantage the Indic religions have is that precisely because of their tolerance of ideas they are able to reform whenever negative practices creep in, as they do in any long- established religion. Mahatma Gandhi and many others in India were able to confront long-established but outdated and corrupt practices which had taken root in Hinduism. Much earlier Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira had also challenged practices such as animal sacrifices that had crept into some Hindu sects. In many faiths such reformers have faced violent persecution, but Hinduism welcomes valid criticism.

This permanent revolution, to use a Trotskyite term, keeps the faith in touch with the ever-changing world. And this freedom of thought and expression is the reason why democracy is thriving in India. Until the recent Indian elections, the communists had been in power in West Bengal for a long time; in true Indian tradition, they had become integral to the all-encompassing mosaic of Indian life. The significance of this can only be realised when one considers the likelihood of communists running the show in one of the states of America!

New thoughts and new ideas do not frighten the people of Indic religions; neither do they stifle them. As Mahatma Gandhi said: "Let my windows be open to receive new ideas but let me also be strong enough not to be blown away by them." In the heart of New Delhi there is a beautiful Baha'i temple. This new temple sits comfortably in its new home and Indians visit it in large numbers hoping that there will be something new to learn from it which will enrich their lives. Until and unless all faiths around the world acknowledge the unique diversity and the rainbow of different cultures and faiths that God has given us and which so enrich our lives, religions will create strife instead of the peace that is the main purpose of religion.


Nitin Mehta: Each of us should help save the planet by changing our diet (Published in the Independent, Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Here is something we can all do and should do to save our planet: give up meat eating and return to a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet.

Apart from the human population of six-and-a-half billion we are raising a staggering 60 billion animals a year for meat. Our planet is simply not big enough to sustain these numbers. Farmed animals produce more greenhouse emissions than the world's entire transport system.

To produce a pound of meat 2,500 gallons of water are needed as opposed to 25 gallons needed to produce a pound of wheat. In the Gulf of Mexico pollutants in animal waste have contributed to a "dead zone" where there is not enough oxygen to support aquatic life. During the summer of 2004 this dead zone extended over 5,800 square miles. Livestock is responsible for 70 per cent of the Amazon deforestation. On present trends the rain forests of South America, the lungs of the planet, could disappear by 2030 – this could lead to a major catastrophe. The introduction of biofuel combined with livestock rearing may deliver a fatal blow to Mother Earth putting in danger the human civilisation as we know it. Industrial fishing is doing to oceans what animals reared for meat are doing to the land. All marine life from turtles to dolphins is perishing due to modern fishing methods. Mangrove forests and coral reefs are disappearing; mangrove forests are being cleared to start fish farms. The amount of grains fed to animals could feed up to 4 billion people, and with the human population set to grow up to 9 billion by 2050 mass starvation is inevitable unless the Western world and the middle classes of Indian and China reject meat and fish as a food of choice.

On present trends global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tonnes in 1999 to 465 million tonnes in 2050, while the milk output is set to rise from 580 to 1,043 million tonnes. Unless this trend is reversed, future generations will face a unimaginably bleak future. Let every individual weigh the habit of meat eating with the terrible damage it is already doing to our planet. Here is something positive we can do – go vegetarian and reduce our foot print.

This is an edited extract from a talk given by Nitin Mehta, the founder of the Indian Vegetarian Society, at the Jain Centre, Manchester


Question published in the Independent

Christmas veggie recipe

Angela Hartnett is a celebrity chef working for Gordon Ramsay's restaurant called the 'York and Albany' near Regents Park.
She answered readers questions about Christmas recipes
The following question was asked:

If the whole country decided to have a vegetarian Christmas, what would you suggest so that no one would miss the poor turkey?
Nitin Mehta

Angela :
I think aubergine parmigiana is always lovely- baked aubergines in mozzarella. A nice dish is pumpkin and lentils cooked with bean curd. You could do braised vegetables, such as parsnips and carrots with garlic.



The Patriotism of an Immigrant (Letter Published in the Independent, 15.11.2008)

Yasmin Alibhai Brown a columnist of the Independent wrote that patriotism cannot be forced upon the ethnic minorities. Identifying with a nation is not the gift of anyone. Nobody can force you to love your country she said. In response the following letter was submitted.


Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's piece "You can't force patriotism on a people" (10 November) is flawed. Loyalty to one's country cannot be negotiable. Once you become a citizen of a country it is incumbent upon you to identify with the country. Minorities everywhere have to make a special effort to join the national mainstream.

Yasmin claims: "We will withhold that kiss if the state disappoints. " This implies that a democratically elected government should shape its policies in such a way that it never offends the minority. This is an untenable position which will do the minorities no good. This country gave thousands of refugees like me and Yasmin an opportunity to settle and prosper. That for me is enough to be a patriotic citizen.

Thousands like me feel that the time has come to stop playing the victim.

 -  Nitin Mehta, Croydon



Food Shortages and Bio-Fuels (Letter Published in the Independent, 19.06.2008)

Sir: It is disingenuous of Elliott Mannis to claim that the biodiesel debate is a proxy fight for those who oppose capitalism and globalisation (letters, 11 June). United Nations reports say that food shortages threaten 100 million of the world's poorest with starvation.

This year, global production of biofuels will consume 100 million tonnes of grain. About 20 million acres of maize, wheat, soya and other crops have been diverted to produce biofuel in the US. Sixty million tonnes of food produced in the US in the past two years, which could feed 250 million people, was used for biofuel. It takes 232kg of corn to fill a 50-litre car tank with ethanol, enough to feed a child for a year. Brazil, Argentina and even India use crops for biofuel.

The result is that prices of staple foods have risen 80 per cent in three years. The problem is made worse by almost 760 million tonnes of grains being fed to animals raised for meat. The biofuel model to solve the climate change and energy crisis needs to be revisited. A return to a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet is also of great importance if we are to avoid the double whammy of biofuel and grains diverted to feed animals. Opposing biofuel should not be seen as opposing capitalism or globalisation. Capitalism with a humane face is in the best interest of all.

Nitin Mehta, Croydon


Pickles with Shanta Ben & The Young Indian Vegetarians

On April 18th, Mr. Mehta invited Pratibha & Jigyasa from Rajasthan and Gujarat, editors of “Cooking at Home with Pedatha” to his home where they dined and addressed a keen audience about the book. Click here for full details.


VEG, NO MEAT (Letter Published in the Sunday Times, 04.05.2008)


Sir: We can feed the world but we will have to change our food habits. Tens of billions of animals are raised for food every year but the grains fed to them could feed billions more people than the meat does. In a thirsty world a huge amount of water is used in raising these animals. Add to this the biofuel that is consuming the food that sustains humans and we have a recipe for disaster. A return to a vegetarian and vegan diet would take off some of the pressure.

Nitin Mehta, Croydon


Global Grain Shortage (Letter published in the Independent, 11.04.2008)


Sir: Your report on the global grain shortage ("Starving Haitains riot as food prices soar", 10 April ) is a sign of a catastrophe facing the world. The UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), according to your report, can only advise governments to improve crop irrigation and storage. The FAO fails to mention the two major causes of the impending crisis: land being used to produce biofuel, and food grains being diverted to feed animals raised for meat.

In the last two years the US has diverted 60 million tonnes of food to fuel. Almost 60 billion animals are raised worldwide for meat every year and the grains needed to feed them could feed over 4 billion human beings. From South America to Africa to Asia the double whammy of biofuel and grains diverted to feed animals is beginning to cause hunger.

The world population is set to rise to 9.5 billion in a few years and unless we in the West and the rising middle classes of China and India revert to a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet, mass starvation is a certainty. Biofuel is supposed to be good for the environment, but it is the billions of farm animals that are contributing more to global warming than all the world's transport put together.

Nitin Mehta, Croydon


Health Crisis Facing the UK (Letter published in the Independent, 24.10.2007)


Sir: Professor Julian Le Grand's proposals to halt the health crisis facing this country do not go far enough. The very ethos on which the National Health Service operates, which is, "you fall sick and we will give you a drug to cure you" needs to be overhauled. Individuals must be made to take responsibility for their bodies.In the Indian Ayur Vedic system, for example, the patient would be expected to follow a strict dietary regime prescribed by the doctor. The patient is told in no uncertain terms that he has to take steps to cure himself. Diet plays a very crucial role in one's physical and mental well-being and instead of just promoting more fruit intake, a meat-free vegetarian and vegan diet should be encouraged. In survey after survey vegetarians and vegans are found to be healthier and less of a burden on the NHS.
Nitin Mehta


Climate Change

The Independent asked its readers to suggest to the government for its green paper--ways of stopping climate change and ecological disaster. The following was published in the paper on 28th October.

Sir: The Government should actively encourage people to give up meat eating in favour of a plant based vegetarian and vegan diet. A staggering 55 billion animals are raised for meat every year which in effect means 55 billion living beings who have to be fed and watered. This is in addition to the eight and half billion human population which will rise to over nine billion by 2050. Our planet is simply not big enough to sustain these numbers. The result is destruction of rain forests, spreading of deserts and massive methane gas emissions leading to further global warming. To sustain a meat based diet we effectively need two planets which- we do not have. It was Albert Einstein who said: 'Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival of life on Earth as much as evolution to a vegetarian diet'.

Nitin Mehta


A Vegetarian Diet Is Essential In The Fight To Protect The Planet From Climate Change And Ecological Damage - Nitin Mehta

It seems Albert Einstein made another great contribution to the Human race when he said: ‘Nothing will improve the chance of survival of the Earth as a step towards a Vegetarian life style.’

 -- Click here to read more..


Water Wars

According to an article in the Independent, Water will be the cause of wars between nations, the following letter was published in response.

Sir: The report "Water wars" (28 February 2006) is as clear a warning as one can get that water will create violent conflict between nations. But one of the main causes of water waste is also mentioned. It takes 1,000 litres of water to produce a kilo of potatoes and 42,500 litres to produce a kilo of beef.

Animals are voracious consumers of water and almost 80 per cent of the world's water resources are used in raising 55 billion animals for meat every year, spreading deserts and diverting grains that could feed almost four billion people. The destruction of rainforests in South America is the direct result of beef production. A return to a plant-based vegetarian and vegan diet is imperative for our survival and the survival of our planet.

Nitin Mehta


Chicken Faeces Fed To Farmed Fish - Nitin Mehta

The Independent reports that there could be a possible link between the bird flu and farmed fish fed with manure of Chickens, Pigs and Ducks. The United Nations Food and Agriculture organisation backs this system of feeding fish with waste animal matter --it is called, 'Integrated Livestock Fish Farming'.

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Veganism and Hinduism - Jyoti Mehta

Defining Veganism
Veganism is a growing trend within the vegetarian community, and is considered a stricter form of vegetarianism. As well as not eating meat, fish or fowl, vegans extend this to not consuming anything that is derived from animals. This essentially means the removal of milk and all other forms of dairy from the diet. Some people confuse vegans with those who are lactose intolerant, but whilst lactose intolerant people avoid cow produce for allergy reasons, vegans do no eat anything derived from any animals, and this includes products such as goat’s cheese.

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Talk at the inter faith celebration of animals on 18th September 2005 at Golders Green Unitarians Church

Dear Friends
Lord Mahaveer the 24th teacher in Jainism was travelling as a monk preaching compassion and the message of Dharma. Once he arrived near a huge forest in which lived a fearsome cobra. Everyone pleaded to Mahaveer to not to go into the forest as no one ever returned alive. However Lord Mahaveer was fearless and was determined to meet the cobra. As he went deep into the forest the cobra appeared. Lord Mahaveer stood in meditation. The cobra stung Lord Mahaveer on the right toe. Instead of blood milk began pouring out. Lord Mahaveer than said, ‘O Chandkaushi calm down, calm down, remember who you were in your past life. You were a monk with a terrible temper and when you died you were in great anger.

This little story gives us several messages

1 The animals we see could have been humans in past lives and we might also get animal bodies in future lives. If we want to avoid that fate it is in our own interest to be compassionate towards all living beings.

2 At the time of death the thoughts that will come to us will be the thoughts that have preoccupied us the most. So someone who has enjoyed hunting a lot will get those thoughts and will receive a body in the next life that hunts.

3 There are individual Karma and collective Karma. As a race we humans are destroying the Oceans, the Ecology of the planet and indulging in unmitigated violence towards other life forms. The results are there for us to see: Tsunami, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Droughts---the burden of responsibility on those in this room and many millions who think like us is great—let each one of us give up meat and dedicate ourselves to changing the course of Human history.

Nitin Mehta