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Who is a vegetarian?

Various definitions/interpretations have been given to the above caption by different persons, due to either ignorance or convenience or both.

In this context, the definition given by the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom Limited seems to be most appropriate. The Vegetarian Society of the U.K., formed in 1847 is the oldest Vegetarian Society in the world and has become the leading authority on vegetarianism.

The Vegetarian Society defines a vegetarian as someone living on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with or without the use of dairy products and free range (non fertilized) eggs. A vegetarian therefore does not or rather should not eat any meat, poultry, fish, shellfish or crustacea or slaughter by-products such as gelatine or animal rennet used in the manufacture of some brands of cheese, ice-cream etc.

The Vegetarian Society's seedling symbol 'V' was first registered as an official trade mark in 1969 and is currently the only vegetarian symbol which is legally governed by a trade mark licence in the U.K.

It is noteworthy that for the Vegetarian Society to approve a product, it must meet the following criteria:

- Free from animal flesh (meat, fowl, fish or shellfish meat or bone stock, animal carcass fats, gelatine or any other product resulting from slaughter.

- Cruelty free: no animal testing

- No cross contamination during the production process.

If the production line is shared with non-vegetarian products thorough cleaning must be carried out before vegetarian food production commences. This extends to all machinery, equipment, utensils, surfaces and clothing which must remain free from non-vegetarian products before vegetarian products are touched, prepared, produced or packaged.

Strict procedures must be in place to ensure packaging mix-ups and other errors do not occur.

It might be pertinent to point out here that the two major religions in Sri Lanka, viz, Buddhism and Hinduism preach and extoll 'Ahimsa', that is compassion and loving kindness and reverence to all life.

In this context, it is axiomatic that we Hindus and Buddhists should refrain/abstain from killing or slaughter of all animal life, (not only of cattle) and consuming their flesh to sustain ourselves.

Some make a plea for humane slaughter of animals for consumption of their flesh, but they should accept the fact that slaughter is slaughter humane or otherwise!

I would like to quote from the Dhammapada here.

"All tremble at violence; all fear death; life is dear to all. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill."

Today research in nutrition and medical science has proved beyond doubt that there is nothing more nutritious that could be obtained from a carnivorous diet than what could be derived from a wholesome lacto-vegetarian diet.

'So live and let live'

PROFESSOR M. SIVASURIYA,
Colombo 8

Inspect private medical institutions

While I was in Sri Lanka last year, I had eye surgery done at one of the leading private hospitals in Colombo 3. (Reference DN March 27) The time was early morning around 6 am and there were about 25 patients waiting for their turn to the operating theatre.

Each person was given paracetamol tablets as mild pain killer. They had only about 5 glass tumblers to serve water to all those people who were given paracetamol tablets.

Glasses were not even washed for the next patient. The surgery fees were enormous but health care was minimal. I was asked to take a seat near the theatre before my name was called. Looking around I noticed there was a syringe with traces of blood in an open tray lying beside my chair. How hygienic is these private hospitals? Aren't they breeding grounds for diseases.

RANJITH CHANDRASEKERA,
via email

Indian visas

I am writing this letter to the attention of high official in Indian Embassy, Colombo with much regret that for quiet long time several Sri Lankan Muslims who have applied for Indian visa have been rejected by Visa Officer without any valid reason even after a direct interview with the passport holders.

Many Muslim Sri Lankans are still having family ties as well as cultural ties with India which no one can refuse or reject and apart from that Sri Lanka is also one of the SAARC countries.

Most of the Muslims know very well that if any Muslim who wears cultural dress and cap with long beard visits Indian Embassy for Indian visa will be definitely rejected and one or two cases may be exceptional. Wearing cultural dress is not a sin.

The Prime Minister of India always wears the cultural turban. Rejection of visa must have a valid reason such as an involvement in any criminal activities or some sort of reasons the Visa Officer should have found. But on the contrary, some Muslims' passports are being held for three days and asked for name sake interviews finally reject the passport.

Apart from this, another reason we have found for rejection is any Muslim who has Pakistan visa endorsed in his passport or visited Pakistan before will be rejected too. If the Indian Embassy in Sri Lanka put up in the notice board will certainly benefit those who want to apply for an Indian visa while having Pakistan visa will not come to Indian Embassy.

I would therefore request the concerned authorities to look into this matter and do the needful to the beleaguered Sri Lankan Muslims who are coming to apply for Indian visa.

Ahamed Abdul Kareem,
Colombo 12

I will break your face - Diplomat?

How dare you! Being a Sri Lankan living in the Middle East, we respect this country and their culture. (Reference the above titled news item published in the Daily News on March 22.) We adhere to their rules.

It is sad that Sri Lankans have no security in their own land. It is time that we stand by for all these victims.

Hats off to Dushy Ranetunge. You are a jewel of an example to all who get away from helping others. Sri Lanka may be a poor country but Sri Lankans are very rich at heart.

M. N.,
via email

Junk foods and childhood obesity

I refer to 'Your health is decided by politicians' by Dr. Saroja Jayasinghe published in a daily newspaper on March 23. I was deeply taken over by the valuable concern given to the public on the dangers of non communicable disease faced by the younger generation.

While many health professionals keep writing on vegetarianism and other health informations, it is commendable on the emphasis by Dr. Saroja Jayasinghe of the dangers due to fast foods and child health.

Obesity in children has become a national epidemic, especially in the urban areas. My son during his young days used to eat a lot. As a father many a times I used to tell him "Don't eat like a pig" worrying over his obesity problem. But being a veterinarian I am aware that pigs don't over eat unlike many humans do.

"Potatoes are for pigs and corn is for cattle" is a famous saying in French for good reasons. These products are used as food for animals to fatten them as just as they fatten the humans. Many are unaware of the polyunsaturated oils used for frying food products could cause ageing, clotting, inflammation, cancer and weight gain.

One can of soft drink (12 Oz) contain 10 teaspoons of sugar, 150 calories, 30 to 50 mg caffeine and loaded with artificial colour and flavours. The recent report in the British Medical Journal's, on the link between childhood obesity and sweetened soft drinks is notable and is of concern.

Human kind has been exposed to the pleasure of eating. 'Cool off with an ice cream' is the famous saying. Ice creams are loaded with calories. A cup of ice cream contains 6 grams of fat out of 4 grams are saturated fats.

Snacks such as Chinese rolls, pastries and doughnuts usually contain high sugars and refined flours. Most snacks contain more than 30 to 40 per cent Tran's fats and high calories.

Child obesity and diabetes is on the increase. What could one do about the children's eating habits in the urban areas? Is it not a national problem? Is it not the responsibility of the health authorities to teach the children on fattening foods, obesity which is associated with cardiovascular diseases?

DR. A. NANDAKUMAR,
Hatton

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