Sadhana Forest Community Value: Veganism

Veganism is the idea that every living thing deserves to not only live, but to live a peaceful life. Vegans do not eat any products from living or dead animals or use any products that were tested on animals or use animal byproducts. Vegans are trying to live as peaceful, cooperative, and non-violent a life as possible, which also means being peaceful towards animals.

 The animal product industry is incredibly violent, not just because it can directly result in an animal’s death, but also in the harvesting of animal byproducts.  In order for people to eat eggs, we use the female hen but guess what happens to the male? Have you ever though about how violent it is to get milk from a cow? The cow has to have a child in order to produce milk for it’s offspring, so the cow has to be forcefully impregnated, over and over again, and then the calf has to be separated from it’s mother. This is stressful for baby cow and it’s mother, not to mention violent for people who work in this industry and have to separate mom from child or kill animals.

 All mammals drink milk from their mothers when they are young. Human milk is made for humans. Cow milk is made for calves. No species other than humans drink milk past their infancy stage, or drink the milk of another animal. That’s not what it’s there for.

 I recognize that not everyone in the world has the ability to be vegan. In some cultures and climates food choices are limited to what is available. But if you have the choice, why not be vegan? 

Vegan Food Photo Essay

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Vegan Food is Amazing! 

First row: Solitude Farms thali plate made entirely from food grown on Solitude Farms/ Varagu cake with chocolate sauce and pomegranates

Second row: Savory corn-cakes with eggplant gravy, salad with tahini dressing and sweet banana pancakes with chocolate sauce/ A meal designed by me and Lark: lemon rice, beans with tomatoes and garlic, steamed greens from our garden, and thai salad (with spicy peanut dressing)

Third row: Vegan macchiato with cashew milk/ Papaya-banana-greens smoothie with guava, coconut and pineapple/ Raw carrot-date-nut cake with lime frosting 

Fourth row: Sweet porridge with jaggery, fruits, and pancakes with Yasmine’s amazing pesto spread/ Me eating my ninth (?!?!?) pancake with pesto/ Edwina’s dal, sauerkraut, red rice, and spicy corn salad

Human Unity at Sadhana Forest

Human Unity is the idea that together we are stronger than we are when segregated. Just like an ecosystem is stronger the more diverse it is, so are we as a community stronger because of our differences. As individuals we can share our skills, talents, compassion, empathy, listening, stories, ideas, and love. Too many times in developed and Western countries people are segregated. We are segregated by age and ability in the school system. We are segregated by age in nursing and old age homes. We are segregated by socio-economical class in our jobs and neighborhoods. If we are to learn from each other, support each other, and understand each other, we need to be together. 

Human Unity is the idea that together we are stronger than we are when segregated. Just like an ecosystem is stronger the more diverse it is, so are we as a community stronger because of our differences. As individuals we can share our skills, talents, compassion, empathy, listening, stories, ideas, and love. Too many times in developed and Western countries people are segregated. We are segregated by age and ability in the school system. We are segregated by age in nursing and old age homes. We are segregated by socio-economical class in our jobs and neighborhoods. If we are to learn from each other, support each other, and understand each other, we need to be together. 

Quiet Healing Center and Guest House

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Being a Project Director is hard work. And living in India has exposed my body to bacteria it is not used to. Even with my 70%-effective typhoid vaccine, I got typhoid fever. It lasted for 4 weeks, each week being a different stage, bringing on intermittent fevers, tiredness, weakness, and a host of other symptoms. I couldn’t be the effective Project Director I wanted to be. Unfortunately, living where you work and eat and sleep makes it difficult to rest. So I took a vacation to the Quiet Healing Center and Guest House on the beach in Auroville. Upon entering the winding roads decorated with stone patterns, hearing the waves wash upon the shore, and seeing the quiet little rooms with individual patios overlooking the ocean, I was smitten. For $57 per night I was able to have a beach-facing room, 2 beds (one for my friend Celeste), 3 vegan (and I think organic) meals per day, laundry, and a hot shower. For an additional $17 I could get an hour and a half massage. I got a massage every day I was there. So Celeste and I would wake up and walk along the beach, which was super peaceful until we realized that it’s where the locals come to poo in the morning. So we stopped doing that. Then we’d eat a delicious breakfast buffet and go back to our room to sit on the patio or in our window seat to draw, paint, color, and listen to music with the sounds of waves crashing in the background. After lunch we’d lay in hammocks on the sand, and before dinner we’d have tea in the gardens. For 3 days and 2 nights we lived in bliss- just enough to heal my body and soul and get me ready to give 150% again. 

Formidable Vegetable Sound System in da house!

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Formidable Vegetable Sound System in da house! 

We were fortunate to have Charlie of the Formidable Vegetable Sound System, a permaculture rockabily band from Australia perform for us in the main hut. It was a packed house! Each song taught about the different stages of permaculture and had choruses we could sing along to. People came from all around Auroville and Pondicherry to take part in the festivities. It was so amazing to have this happen in my living room :-) 

A Puja for the Vehicles!

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A Puja for the Vehicles! 

One day, our friend and local taxi driver Arumugam, came and said it was time for a puja for the vehicles. A puja (poo-jah) is a Hindu ritual celebration to the gods with food offerings and blessings. We decorated the vehicles of Sadhana Forest, left offerings of puffed rice, spices, fruits and tools at each vehicle, and then burned some camphor that was stuck in fruit and walked around each vehicle to bless it. Then we celebrated by eating the offerings. A good time was had by all. 

Thali Time

Thali Time   
  Just before leaving Thiruvannamalai, where three of us went to relax for my friend’s birthday, we decided to have one big thali before getting on the 3-hour bus ride. Thali is a traditional South Indian lunch consisting of unlimited rice, dal (lentils), subjee (cooked, mixed vegetables), sambar (spicy, very traditional soupy sauce), and other salads and vegetable dishes. We stopped in a juice shop and asked the waiter to recommend a good “pure veg” restaurant for thalis. He said something like, “Take a right and go a bit, then you’ll see it on your left.” He finished it with an Indian headshake, which could mean just about anything so we took our chances and followed his directions. We came upon a pure veg restaurant and excitedly went in and sat down. The following is the exchange we had with the waiter:  
  Us: We’ll have three thalis, please.   
  Waiter: No thali.   
  Us: It’s lunch time. Do you have thalis for lunch?   
  Waiter: No thali. Dosa, idly. (Other Indian foods that are delicious but not what we were looking for).   
  Us: No dosa. No idly. Lunch time! Thali time.   
  Waiter: No thali.   
  Us: Do you have rice?   
  Waiter: Yes.   
  Us: Do you have dal?   
  Waiter: Yes  
  Us. Do you have subjee?  
  Waiter: Yes  
  Us: Do you have sambar?   
  Waiter: Yes  
  Us: Then you have thali!   
  Waiter: You want thali, you sit here.   
     At this time the waiter points to the table next to us. We look at each other, get up, move to the next table, and a full thali comes. It’s huge, unlimited, and delicious and the waiters are hovering over us serving us more and more food, and confused that we are eating like Indians and know the names of the dishes they are serving us. They keep asking where we’re from but we don’t want to get started in a conversation as we have a bus to catch and our bellies to fill.  

  As we finish eating we take time to laugh about the ridiculocity (we’ve been making up words… this is a good one, right?) of a restaurant serving some dishes on one side of the room and other dishes on the other side. And then two of us start uncontrollably crying as though we’ve been hit with tear gas. We can’t figure out what is going on and we have to use the toilet and we don’t want to pay for the toilet at the bus station so we go to the toilet in the restaurant. It’s upstairs, and as we wait to use the facilities, we notice two women sitting on the floor with a pile of onions almost as tall as them, peeling them, while onion fumes gently ooze down the vents that were directly over our table. We burst out laughing, pee, and then hop on the bus home.

Thali Time

Just before leaving Thiruvannamalai, where three of us went to relax for my friend’s birthday, we decided to have one big thali before getting on the 3-hour bus ride. Thali is a traditional South Indian lunch consisting of unlimited rice, dal (lentils), subjee (cooked, mixed vegetables), sambar (spicy, very traditional soupy sauce), and other salads and vegetable dishes. We stopped in a juice shop and asked the waiter to recommend a good “pure veg” restaurant for thalis. He said something like, “Take a right and go a bit, then you’ll see it on your left.” He finished it with an Indian headshake, which could mean just about anything so we took our chances and followed his directions. We came upon a pure veg restaurant and excitedly went in and sat down. The following is the exchange we had with the waiter:

Us: We’ll have three thalis, please.

Waiter: No thali.

Us: It’s lunch time. Do you have thalis for lunch?

Waiter: No thali. Dosa, idly. (Other Indian foods that are delicious but not what we were looking for).

Us: No dosa. No idly. Lunch time! Thali time.

Waiter: No thali.

Us: Do you have rice?

Waiter: Yes.

Us: Do you have dal?

Waiter: Yes

Us. Do you have subjee?

Waiter: Yes

Us: Do you have sambar?

Waiter: Yes

Us: Then you have thali!

Waiter: You want thali, you sit here.

 At this time the waiter points to the table next to us. We look at each other, get up, move to the next table, and a full thali comes. It’s huge, unlimited, and delicious and the waiters are hovering over us serving us more and more food, and confused that we are eating like Indians and know the names of the dishes they are serving us. They keep asking where we’re from but we don’t want to get started in a conversation as we have a bus to catch and our bellies to fill.

As we finish eating we take time to laugh about the ridiculocity (we’ve been making up words… this is a good one, right?) of a restaurant serving some dishes on one side of the room and other dishes on the other side. And then two of us start uncontrollably crying as though we’ve been hit with tear gas. We can’t figure out what is going on and we have to use the toilet and we don’t want to pay for the toilet at the bus station so we go to the toilet in the restaurant. It’s upstairs, and as we wait to use the facilities, we notice two women sitting on the floor with a pile of onions almost as tall as them, peeling them, while onion fumes gently ooze down the vents that were directly over our table. We burst out laughing, pee, and then hop on the bus home.