Agriculture minister urges all to stop serving meat at official gatherings

Ban: The first month of the Bhutanese calendar, Choetrul dawa, starting February 8 and ending on March 9, could become a strictly no-meat month.

Despite notifying the public to ban slaughtering animals, import and sale of meat, the agriculture minister, Yeshey Dorji has urged all ministries, constitutional bodies, autonomous agencies, corporate bodies, armed forces, international organizations, private and non-governmental organizations to not serve any meat or meat items during the ceremonial or official gathering during the holy month.

While slaughtering, import or sale of meat is ban on auspicious months; it is not rare to see meat on the menu at home and at lunches, banquets and dinners hosted for official gatherings. Meat is stocked to last the month.

The special request signed by the minister, states that it was to mark the birth  year of Guru Rinpoche and 400 years of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s arrival in the country. The ban is also mandated by the Livestock Act, 2001.

The notification comes at a time when there are numerous occasion scheduled starting from the losar on February 9 and 10. Families also plan their annual rimdros and lochoes during the auspicious month.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said despite such historical occasion and important events about to take place in the coming month, the notification is a reminder of the importance of the holy month.

“The notification also serves as a means to avoid food safety emergencies resulting from consumption of improperly stored meat and meat items in this month-long ban period,” Lyonpo said.

Regulatory and quarantine inspectors will also be placed at various entry points, check points, towns and other appropriate locations throughout the country to strictly monitor the non-compliances as per the mandate of the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority.

“We want people to go vegetarian for the coming month if possible and through this notification, we hope to strictly reinforce the annual month-long ban,” Lyonpo added.

Meanwhile, aware of the annual month-long ban after a week, people have already started stocking up meat enough to last for a month.

A resident of Changidaphu, Tshering Lhamu, 49, have already bought more than 20kgs of beef this month, which she had started drying.

“I’m a vegetarian, but I bought the meat for the rest of the family members,” she said. “The ban is useless because people still consume meat and restaurants go on serving meat items. I’m happy that a lot of animals lives will be spared in the coming month.”

Thinley Zangmo