Participating in a discussion on the ecosystem of Western Ghats at the Krithi International Book Fair in Kochi on Wednesday, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh highlighted the importance of adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. He held the beef industry responsible for contributing to global warming. Ramesh buttressed his claim by mentioning that forests were being cut down in nations such as the US, Brazil, and Argentina to make room for the cattle.
Citing studies showing the cattle link to greenhouse gas methane, Ramesh at the same time acknowledged that beef curry was an important component of a person’s diet in Kerala. However, he reiterated that the carbon footprint of a non-vegetarian diet was more than that of a vegetarian diet.
Jairam Ramesh remarked, "I have always held this view that if you want to do something on global warming, become a vegetarian.” He added, “I know that the beef curry is a very important element in Kerala's diet. But there is no doubt in my mind that the carbon footprint of a non-vegetarian diet is greater than the carbon footprint of a vegetarian diet.”
Subsequently, Ramesh added a caveat that food was associated with lifestyle. Claiming that Indians in ancient times were non-vegetarians, he contended that Indians turned vegetarians probably due to the influence of Jainism and Buddhism. The Congress leader also noted that Indians referred to the term ‘non-veg’ in a different way than the Americans.
During the discussion, the Congress leader appreciated the leadership role played by women in the environmental movements in India. Ramesh cited the Chipko movement as an example. Additionally, he recalled the positive impact of the Silent Valley movement, the Athirappally movement and the Narmada Bachao Andolan in raising public consciousness. Moreover, he expressed his optimism on more young women taking the lead on issues concerning the environment.