Insights from World Veg Festival in Malaysia

There’s been a buzz around Australia this week with the Change Makers Festival in all the major capital cities around Australia. This was from the 1st to the 10th of November.

It’s an appropriate celebration of people raising consciousness about food and lifestyle.

Recently, the 41st World Veg Festival was held in KL. The organisers in the Malaysian Vegetarian Society did an amazing job pulling this together. Special mention to Dr Vythi, Krishna and Raj.

World Veg Congress (Festival)

Whilst the history of Vegetarianism goes back further in the East, and even in the West with Pythagoras, the first Veg organisation was set up in UK in the middle of the 19th century and the first Congress was held in Dresden in 1908. Since then, various leaders have come together to discuss the issues, reasons and trends for people becoming Veg*n. The congress was officially changed to a festival in 2012 in San Francisco where many V Stars attended (Sun Veg, Sean, Zara and myself).

This year, the Congress brought speakers from around the world, like Cherie Soria (Living Light Culinary Institute), Melanie Joy (Carnism), Sebastian Zosch (Germany’s Veg Society), Marly Winckler (IVU President from Brazil), and many others from the local region.

It was encouraging to see the participation of the Malaysian Health ministries in the Veg congress, and business leaders. The Malaysian Director of Nutrition talked about the growth of Non-

Communicable diseases among the greater population and how they can slow it down by eating more plants.

In Australia or the US, can you imagine the Health Minister speaking about eating more veg for health?!

Malaysian Veg & Environmental Scene

 

Malaysia Veg Cuisine

 

 

 

 

 

Malaysia is quite a melting pot of cultures and development. Majority are Muslim Malays with a size-able Indian and Chinese populations. They too have refugees from all nations.

The growth of the nation is due to petroleum and palm oil as well as manufacturing sectors. If KL is a reflection of the country, new buildings are coming up everywhere. It all appears bright.

In regards to the Veg scene, due to religious considerations there are many vegetarians in Malaysia, estimated at nearly 5% of the population of nearly 30 million. The veg communities are of mainly Chinese and Indian backgrounds.

Love my fruits!

Food is abundant in KL and everyone likes to eat, ALL the time. The good news is the traditional food included a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, with the rise in affluence, the trend has moved to eat large amounts of meat along with highly processed foods.
Vegetarian or Vegan does it mean healthy? Not necessarily.  Many Indian vegetarians are not eating healthy foods either with consumption of processed foods, sugar and lot of milk. The health aspect of plant based diets appears to be in its infancy in Malaysia.

Mock meat is very popular in the restaurants. When I dismissed a mock food suggestion, the notion that people would rather eat real plants versus mock seemed incredulous to the restaurant owner.

Environmental scene

It pains me to see household waste all being ‘thrown away’ in KL. Especially when compared to Australia and Sydney. The plastic litter too is everywhere without

much consideration for the outcome. The good news is the jewel like state of Penang is starting to take a leading role with developments. In fact, we were invited to visit the Chief Minister of the State (Premier) of Penang and discuss how to increase more veg options in restaurants (see above). The Environment Minister discussed how the zoning for the new dwellings will include a community gardens space for people to grow their own food. A nice step towards Grow it Local.

World Veg Delegates with Chief Minister of Penang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Speakers

It’s lovely to see the growth of the World Veg Festival to include more international speakers as well as attendees who have Veg and Sustainable communities.

Once upon a time, the speakers were mainly those connected to a Veg associations or academics. With the change of the times, we are seeing different community leaders who have large communities through Facebook and Meetups. There were many speakers of which I’ve select few to give you an overview.

 

41st Veg Fest
Dr Rokiah Don (Director of Nutrition, Malaysia) – highlighted that only 7.5% of Malaysians are eating enough Fruit and Vegetables based on a survey in 2011. When clearly increasing Fruit n Veg can significantly reduce various non communicable diseases.

Cherie Soria (USA) – From Living Light Institute. Showed us how to take raw foods easily for smart busy people.

Dr Maitree (Thailand) – Who held the South East Asian Veg Congress last year, talked about how to increase the chances of beating cancer. Consider Dr Maitee The regions equivalent of Colin T Campbell.

 

Sebastia Zosch (Germany) – Talked about forming a Global Veg Organisation with branches in different cities, like Greenpeace for example. This way, the body can approach institutions like the UN, whereas now it’s done by country or region.

Marly Winckler – More than 80% of the destruction in the Amazon Rainforest is caused by cattle rearing and soy (to feed animals for food). Some 247 Million acres per year are fired. To
save the Amazon, we must move away from meat.

Joyce D’Silva (Ireland) – Talked about compassion in world farming. In 2000, an estimated 60 billion animals were killed.  By 2050 it’s predicted to rise to 120 Billion.  If we used grain feed for cattle for humans instead, 3.5 Billion people could be averted from hunger.

Dr Melanie Joy (USA) – Author of the Book why we love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows, explained Carnism: the Psychology of eating animals.

Moein Nejad (Iran) – a 20 year old researcher and founder of Vegan Ideal World talked about the foundation of Raw Veganism being started in Iran and the benefits of Salt Free, Fruit based raw vegan diet. He healed his severe migraines by following the Hovannessian (1964) and other raw food teachers. David Wolfe’s first book claims to have plagiarised large sections of this Hovannessian’s book.

Bob Ratnarajah (Australia) – Well once we know all the reasons to be veg, what next? Where does money, purpose and happiness fit? I explore societies measures and building social enterprises. I’m presenting this topic in Bangkok International Veg Alliance on next Sunday. I look forward to presenting this in Sydney when I return.

We also recorded the story or many international delegates on our way to Penang. I’ll be sharing this with you next week.

Now, if you have any suggestions for events in your local city, send me an email and I can connect you with the local organiser. We have regular events in Sydney, we also have members keen to meetup in Adelaide and Brisbane in Australia as well KL, Malaysia.

I have uploaded some videos on the Youtube as well.

Have a great week y’all!

Bob

 

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