India has the world's most ancient and deep-rooted vegetarian traditions. The followers of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism avoid meat not only for moral and philosophical reasons, but also for physical and spiritual benefits. However, there are gradations within these religions; only Jainism, which developed in the sixth century B.C., is unconditionally vegetarian. Jains even avoid eating certain plants that are believed to contain the seeds of life. This talk examines the origins and role of vegetarianism in Indian philosophy, religion and daily life.
Colleen Taylor Sen is a Chicago-based food writer specializing in India and Asia. Her articles have appeared in Travel and Leisure, Food Arts, the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Yoga International, the Globe and Mail and other publications. She is the author of Food Culture in India and the forthcoming Curry: A Global History.
After Taylor's talk, Bruce Kraig discusses the anxieties many American carnivores have about the ethics of eating meat. The effects of our industrialized food systems on health and the environment, sentiments about animal welfare and the costs of animal protein are major topics in public discussions, especially in the media. Yet, there is one food source that meets almost all ethical criteria: companion animals, or pets. Kraig argues that anyone who rejects so sensible a plan is nothing less than a carnivorous hypocrite, and he tries to persuade one and all to dig into a good plate of doggie.
Bruce Kraig is a food historian and an author of papers on insectivorism and cynophagy. His most recent book is Hot Dogs: A Global History.
Recorded Saturday, March 14, 2009 at Kendall College.