A compassionate movement to save animal lives

Initiative: A quiet revolution is taking birth in Thimphu. And as it matures in time, it will spread out of the capital to the dzongkhags beyond and, hopefully, it will see a roaring success.

This is the vision of one man who saw that going meatless for a day could save the lives of thousands of animals. And thus, he borrowed an idea from an international campaign Meatless Monday that was founded in 2003 to encourage people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet.

And here, it is Jangsem Monday.

Karma Dendup, 35, who is a reporter with Bhutan Broadcasting Service, started this movement on July 7, 2014. Today, this initiative is being supported by Humane Society International (HIS) based in Hyderabad, India.

“This is my most important dream. I will follow this my dream until the end of my life,” said Karma, who is working to register Jangsem Monday as CSO. “We have currently achieved more than 2,000 likes on our facebook page.”

To help Karma achieve his lifelong dream, he has the support of Pema Yangtsho, who coordinates the overall initiative of Jangsem Monday. She puts it admirably succinctly what Jangsem Monday really stands and works for. “Jangsem Monday is all about adding vegetable items on hotel and restaurant menus, not really to subtract meat items.”

Monday was chosen as the no-meat day because Karma found that Monday is the day when most people set new goals to achieve. Also, it is about the number of chances people will get in a year to make decisions.

“There are 52 Mondays to decide on changing their habit,” said Karma. “Ours is a habit forming movement; do something nice and selfless.”

And so, Jangsem Monday has a lot to do. It will have to create awareness and urge institutions, hotels, and restaurants to go meatless on Mondays. That’s just the beginning. The movement will then have to sip into schools and households.

The response so far has been good. Ambient Café and Chha Bistro have already joined the movement. More is expected to follow suit.

Kencho Wangmo, a restaurant owner, said Jangsem Monday is a good initiative. “I will now on focus more on developing vegetable items every Monday. I don’t care if I lose customers, because going meatless even for a day will save the lives of many animals.”

Norbu Zam, a nun from Pema Choling Dratshang in Bumthang, said she eats meat occasionally but praised the idea of going meatless once a week.

“I will stick to this initiative strictly. In the end, it is about saving lives of animals and sowing the seed of compassion in us,” said Norbu Zam.

Karma said that Meatless Monday saved some 400 million animals in America in 2015. Jangsem’s Meatless Monday will save the lives of at least 35 animals every year.

It has just begun, the movement, but Karma can already see the movement penetrate into the farthest hamlet in the country. This is what keeps him going.

Tashi Tobgay

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