for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built. ~UNESCO

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Weird (Bhutanese) Food Beliefs Exposed

Endangering the Endangered!
Bjing ngom (Hornet)- a delicacy among many Bhutanese

In a world facing constant global threats, consumption of rare animals and plants in the name of personal benefits should be strongly discouraged.  
Various beliefs on eating animals and plants for their supposed healing powers have been prominent since dateless period in history. People indulge in eating rare birds, animals, insects, reptiles and plants for multifarious results. Very less scientific answers support these 101 bizarre habits. Some eat to gain strength while few believe in hair growth or better eyesight etc. More, we promote these unusual recipes for healing different ailments. For many of us, eating a snake is a creepy affair but few enjoy the dish with heightened faith.
Whenever I see these unique beliefs in action, one question runs through: How far is it true that the formula will help? In the name of uncanny faith, rare birds like blood and Monal pheasants are hunted down. It is even saddening to see number of rarities like beautiful orchids, hornets, the Himalayan Tahr etc.  find forceful, silent, entrances into the kitchens. I am a non-vegetarian yet I strongly oppose the eating of atypical recipes.
The most famous list of weird food beliefs that exist in the so called Happy Buddhist country (as far as I know) may get you off your normal stance or make you lose your appetite or have no effect. In the biodiversity rich nation, few people secretly enjoy odd food items of rare flora and fauna based on culturally passed down beliefs and assumptions. I strongly belief in preservation and promotion of our culture and traditions but I will support the termination/degeneration of such bizarre customs that have more negative impacts compared to the assumed positive factors.
My List of Top 10 Weird Food Beliefs Existing in the Last Shangri-La
1.        Hornet and few other wasps and bees ( It is believed that it will give one strength  and growth)
2.         Orchid (believed to have incomprehensible benefits.)
3.         Blood and Monal Pheasants
4.         Tragopan
5.         Kalij Pheasant
6.         Himalayan Tahr
7.         Wolves (Believed to cure Diabetics and few other diseases)
8.         Snake (Strength and hair growth)
9.      Bear and Bile (Strength and believed to cure many illnesses)
10.  Musk Deer 
*The list is not at all  comprehensive in terms of number or beliefs regarding the recipes.
An interestingly funny reality: We are proudly writing slogans on protection of animals, preservation of our environment; we promote eco-tourism; the country formulates strict environmental acts; Participate actively in global environmental campaigns to create awareness… all juxtaposed to indulgence in consuming our endangered lists for fulfillment of ambiguous faith. We know that some plants are used in medicine generation but how far are we using it in a sustainable way. The concerned authorities possess strict laws but the laws should be applied firmly like the Tobacco act or even Pedestrian Day.
There is a need to revisit our beliefs. The World Environment Day 2013 came with an interesting theme- Think.Eat.Save. The world is going hungry and our small planet is consumed at an ever increasing rate. Food waste is an issue to fight at par with starvation. But for Bhutan, it would be a wise pledge to stop promoting the weird food beliefs before talking about other food related promises and acts. Endangering the endangered is what we do in the name of personal advantage.
Animal protein and plant nutrients do great help to our health and there are numerous alternatives to obtain these necessities through positive means. It is mere idiocy to belief that rare items possess super muscles and to deciding to devouring weird food items, which directly as well as indirectly have various unconstructive environmental impacts. After all, there is very less proofing and discovered facts on these strange food beliefs, leave alone the threat on the environment.
Let us Stop Indulging in Weird Food Habits!
THINK before you EAT… to SAVE and Be Guilt Free.

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