I started learning how to read and write Sanskrit about 8 months ago. I immediately took to it, finding it quite meditative, yet intellectually stimulating at the same time. So of course when I started thinking about the food that I am cooking, I also did some digging on how I could connect it to Sanskrit and yoga. To my surprise, not only did I find the perfect Sanskrit word, I also found a goddess (and a mountain range) to go along with it…
In Sanskrit, annapurna, अन्नपूर्ण, means “full of food”. Annapurna is also known in Hinduism as the “Kitchen Goddess, the mother that feeds”. To delve slightly deeper into the word, purna also means whole or complete.
This was perfect! I am cooking wholesome, complete food and feeding it to people. I am Annapurna!
I also found that Annapurna is the name of a Himalayan mountain range in Nepal, and the Annapurna Conservation Area was the first conservation area in Nepal.
So what does this mountain conservation area have to do with vegan cooking, you ask? Allow me to explain…
The farming industry (in particular, factory farming) in the United States is one of the leading factors to the decline of our environment. Here is a quick summary from Sustainable Table and Food and Water Watch:
- In a healthy (read:small and sustainable) farming system, agriculture works in harmony with the natural environment. Crops are rotated to different fields, and when there is livestock involved, their manure replenishes the land.
- Just one factory farm alone, that has 35,000 hogs on it produces over 200 millions pounds of waste a year! 200 million pounds! From one farm! All of this waste is going into the air and water that we breath and drink each day. In addition to the physical waste that is produced, inordinate amounts of methane and hydrogen sulfide are being released into the atmosphere, expediting global warming. These pollutants also include the antibiotics, growth hormones, chemical fertilizers and pesticides being used on these farms – going into the atmosphere, water and our food.
- A majority of the farming land in the United States is not used to feed humans, but used to grow crops to feed the animals (that are treated extremely poorly) on the factory farms.
- The meat and dairy industry uses more fossil fuels (whose by-products are also a leading cause of global warming) than any other. Large quantities of energy are used to cultivate, harvest and ship animal feed, house, transport and slaughter animals, and process and package the meat/dairy products.
So to wrap up this convoluted connection to the Annapurna Conservation Area, aside from the fact that the Himalayan environmental balance is in danger due to global warming, keeping a vegan organic diet (and a local as much as possible diet) helps conserve the environment overall.
And if you have the thought, “I am just one person, what is changing my diet going to do?”, I leave you with this:
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.” African Proverb
Vegan Diet = Healthy Environment = Healthy You!