In the first millennium CE, Indian vegetarianism advances from an ascetic fringe to a mainstream high-status lifestyle. Episode 6: Hinduism How did vegetarianism permeate Indian society? Ian tracks the changes in India’s religious life during the first millennium, following the vegetarian strands of the tapestry that we now call Hinduism. Ian travels to a temple to Vishnu in eastern India to understand the importance of vegetarianism to his worshippers. He talks to theologians and historians in Oxford and Delhi about the factors that caused the change. He uncovers heated arguments about vegetarianism and animal advocacy in the leaves of India’s sacred texts. And he explores the medieval Buddhist monastic university of Nalanda, in the company of a lecturer from its modern namesake. Play or download (42MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript.… more
As the British public make their biggest decision in a generation, Ian asks Kerry McCarthy MP about the potential impact of Brexit on animals. Vegan MP on EU Referendum In this special short extra edition of the Vegan Option, Ian catches up with longstanding vegan MP, and main official opposition spokeswoman on farming and the environment, Kerry McCarthy. How does she think animals would vote? (And, for that matter, how will Ian?) Play or download (17MB MP3) (via iTunes)… more
In the eastern Roman Empire, several faiths and philosophies agree on one thing; that you need to eschew flesh to live a life of the spirit. Episode 5: Flesh & Spirit Not all Romans celebrated pagan sacrifices or the bloodthirsty arena. Some Romans followed the semi-mythical vegetarian Pythagoras, or neoplatonist philosophers who preached a vegetarian contemplative life. In the melting pot of Jewish mythology, Greek philosophy, and the worship of Jesus many forms of Christianity emerge. Some of them advocate vegetarianism. The lost world religion of Manichaeanism took ideas from India and was led by a plant based priesthood that would last a thousand years. Alexandria in Egypt is the epicentre of many of these contemplative movements. Ian visits a valley in Yorkshire that still echoes with the traditions of the ancient Egyptian desert – the Coptic Christian monastery of St. Athanasius. He discovers why the monks pursue that life, what it means to them, and how they maintain some of the original vegetarian traditions of the Egyptian desert fathers. Play or download (43MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript.… more
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In Ancient Greece, vegetarianism belongs to a secretive subculture – amongst the mystery religions of Orpheus and the musical mathematical cult of Pythagoras. Episode 3: Pythagoreans The Greek philosophers knew about vegetarians. But they were part of cults associated with the mythical figure of Orpheus, and the guru of harmony and number – Pythagoras. The people who introduced the concept of reincarnation into Greece. In the British Museum, Ian talks to Hugh Bowden, the head of the classics department of King’s College London and mystery religion specialist. There, Prof Bowden examines what its artefacts of Greek life and death tell us about attitudes to animals. Including – some suspect – an Orphic pocket guide to Hades. Play, download (43MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript… more
Ian travels to the tree where the Buddha is said to have achieved enlightenment, and explores the paradox of his early followers’ attitudes to vegetarianism. Episode 2: The Middle Path Of the many monks of the ancient Indian kingdom of Magadha, only one has become a global household name. Buddhism will spread ahimsa to the ends of the earth, and inspires many millions of vegetarians today. And yet the oldest Buddhist texts seem to portray the Buddha eating meat. Hear commentary from theologians from both vegetarian and meat-eating interpretations of Buddhism, the insights of world-leading historians, and a dramatisation of the moment in early texts where vegetarian Jain activists clash with Buddhist meat-eating. Play or download (43MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript.… more
In the Ganges plain in Northen India in the middle of the first millennium BCE, the idea of “ahimsa” – non violence – emerges. Episode 1: Ahimsa Ian visits the intellectual hub of iron age India – the Kingdom of Magadha. He discovers a subculture of vagabond philosophers that developed two world religions; and the vegetarian order of monks and nuns who became the torchbearers of ahimsa. Play or download (41MB MP3) (via iTunes) or read transcript.… more
Digital Vegans: The Tab As the internet transforms the media landscape, how can vegan organisations and businesses survive and thrive? In the midst of the crowdfunding campaign for Vegetarianism: The Story So Far, Ian McDonald interviews Stephanie Redcross of Vegan Mainstream. Play or download (23MB MP3) (via iTunes)… more
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Posted 10 years ago Tagged WSPA Robert Goodland Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil RSPO Sumatra Vegan Margarine Veganism Orangutan World Society for the Protection of Animals Palm oil Ms Cupcake Eric Lambin CSPO Centre for Orangutan Protection Boulder Brands Borneo Miskin Porno Malaysia Kerry McCarthy Kerry Foods Indonesia
Palm oil is everywhere – from cooking oil to soap to vegan margarine. Equatorial rainforest and peatland are cleared and replaced with serried ranks of oil palm trees (Elaeis guineensis). The whole biodiversity of Borneo and Sumatra is threatened by habitat loss, particularly the iconic Orang Utans.
Some vegan activists say no product that kills this many animals can be considered vegan.
But is palm oil really worse than anything else? Can poor countries like Malaysia and Indonesia develop without it? Is there a sustainable solution?
Environmentalist Catherine Laurence helps disentangle the thicket of issues.
Hear academic experts Eric Lambin and Robert Greenland; vegan baker Ms Cupcake; primatologist Georgina Ash; vegan MP Kerry McCarthy; the boss of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and vegan Indonesian palm oil activist and Miskin Porno lead singer Daniek Hendarto. more