The Interfaith Vegan Coalition Shines a Light on Ahimsa and Veganism at the Parliament of World Religions Conference
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy

FROM

Judy Carman, Peace to All Beings
November 2018

The theme of the Parliament or World Religions (Toronto, November 1-7) was “The power of love and the promise of inclusion.” Eight thousand people from around the world attended this historic event. We felt it was essential for the animals and the vegan message to be represented there and to reach as many people as we could.

interfaith vegan
The Interfaith Vegan Coalition side of the booth. The panels on the sides
are the Animals and World Religions traveling art exhibit.

Thanks to the hard work and donations of many people, In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition, co-founded by Lisa Levinson and Judy Carman, had a well-received presence at the 2018 Parliament of World Religions. The theme of the Parliament was “The power of love and the promise of inclusion.” Eight thousand people from around the world attended this historic event. Plenaries, talks, and panels went on all day and into the evenings from November 1 to the 7th in Toronto, Canada. We felt it was essential for the animals and the vegan message to be represented there and to reach as many people as we could.

We reached out and spoke out for a Vegan World in six ways: The Interfaith Vegan Coalition (IVC), Good Dot, and Vegan World 2026 booth; networking with attendees; a vegan banquet for the Charter for Compassion; several vegan talks and panels; two showings of the Thomas Jackson’s new film, “A Prayer for Compassion; and a traveling art exhibit entitled “Animals and World Religions,” curated by Dr. Lisa Kemmerer.

The Booth: IVC shared a 20 x 20 foot booth with Abhishek Sinha and Deepak Parihar, co-founders of Good Dot (www.GoodDot.in); with Dr. Sailesh Rao’s Climate Healers’ Vegan World 2026; and with Dr. Lisa Kemmerer’s brand new traveling museum exhibit, “Animals and World Religions.” Good Dot offered samples of their plant-based meats to their visitors on one side of the booth. Good Dot’s mission is “to bring high quality, affordable plant-based meat substitutes all over the world. We want to save lives, both human and animal, by providing tasty, healthy and environment friendly alternatives to meat.”

On the other side of the booth, IVC displayed our Vegan Advocacy Kits for various religions (accessible online at www.interfaithvegancoalition.org) and shared handouts from coalition members such as Vegan Spirituality, Circle of Compassion, Vegetarian Friends, and Christian Vegetarian Association. We also had recipes from Madeleine Tuttle and others, several books and prayer flags to sell, invitations to the film screenings of “A Prayer for Compassion,” etc. Along each side of the booth, Lisa Kemmerer’s “Animals and World Religions” panels were displayed. Sailesh Rao’s Climate Healers’ Vegan World 2026 banner and science-based poster brought attention to the urgency we are facing. By the year 2026, if we do nothing to change the current trajectory of extinction, all wild vertebrates will become extinct. We must create a vegan world soon in order to eliminate animal agriculture, the leading cause of extinction and so many other world crises. The dialogues with visitors to the booth went on steadily throughout each day. We were so encouraged by the many vegans who visited as well as those who were not vegan, but who were very open and interested in the spiritual, environmental, health, and animal connections.

Networking: Some of the religions represented at the Parliament indicated a definite leaning toward veganism as part of their spiritual work. Among them were the Tzu Chi Buddhists (www.tzuchi.us), Aumism (www.aumisme.org); and Caodaism ([email protected]). Zoroastrians are asked to be vegetarian one month out of each year; The Sufi Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship recommends vegetarianism. The Urantia Foundation members are approximately half vegetarian or vegan. Many in the Share International group (www.share-international.us) are veg, and they serve vegetarian food at events. The founder of World Clergy (www.worldclergy.org) is vegan. We met several animal ministers. Of course, many of the Jains, Hindus, and Sikhs were veg or vegan. At the Hindu American Foundation (www.HAFsite.org) one third of the meals served are vegan. The Brahma Kumaris group includes a growing minority of vegans. The Ontario Sikhs and the Sikh Gurdwara Council served a free vegan lunch (although the desserts were not vegan) to thousands of people every day. The people in the world who have aligned veganism with their spiritual values is increasing exponentially. It was very encouraging.

The Charter for Compassion Vegan Banquet: The organizers of this banquet for 300 people were very open to IVC’s suggestion to make the banquet vegan. Good Dot provided much of the food, and Chef Sandra Sellani, The 40 Year Old Vegan cookbook author, supplied the recipes and helped the chefs with preparation. The end result was truly delicious. The Banquet took place on November 2 and featured awards, speakers, and music. Although we were not able to offer a meal blessing orally, we were given permission to write a vegan meal blessing. This was printed on beautiful cards and placed at each attendee’s place setting. Abhishek was also given the opportunity to speak about the Good Dot food and why the vegan meal was in perfect alignment with the high aspirations of compassion. IVC plans to follow up with the Charter, as well as its partner, the Golden Rule Project, to create more vegan meals at their future events.

Judy Carman
This is the Vegan Meal Blessing that was placed at each person's place setting at the Charter for Compassion Banquet. Many seeds of lovingkindness for animals were planted at the Banquet and all through the week. May they bear beautiful fruit and bring a final end to the killing, domination, ownership, and exploitation of our animal cousins.

Vegan Talks and Panels: Dr. Lisa Kemmerer, author of Animals and World Religions, gave a talk on “Integrated Justice,” showing how nonviolence to animals is critical to justice for all. She also was on the ”Justice for Just Us?” panel, along with Candace Laughinghouse, Charlotte Cressey, and Dr. Alka Arora. Rabbi David Rosen also gave a talk on veganism, as did Dr. Neal Barnard of Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine. There may have been more vegan talks of which we were not aware, as there were many hundreds of talks and panels. At the closing plenary, Swami Chidanand Saraswati stated that he believed the next Parliament should be totally vegan.

Two Showings of Thomas Jackson’s new film, “A Prayer for Compassion”: Dr. Sailesh Rao, producer of the film, hosted two showings during the Parliament, bringing more vegan enlightenment to all attendees. Thomas interviewed many spiritual leaders who are vegan to show how veganism is in perfect alignment with one’s highest spiritual ideals. Please go here to see the trailer and share it.

The traveling art exhibit entitled “Animals and World Religions,” curated by Dr. Lisa Kemmerer and Carolyn Mullin: Each beautiful panel represented various world religions and included statements made by some of their leaders that align the values of those faiths to veganism. Contact Carolyn Mullin at [email protected] to display this traveling exhibit at your local organization, University, or place of worship. The exhibit will have an online component soon.

interfaith vegan

Heartfelt thanks to the many folks who helped make this happen (some pictured above...): Abhishek Sinha, Deepak Parihar, Frank Lane, Dr. Sailesh Rao, Carolyn Mullin, Dr. Lisa Kemmerer, Marilyn Turkovich, Sandra Sellani, Thomas Jackson, Ray Kowalchuk, Steve Kaufman, Reverend Carol Saunders, April Willson, Raquel Fronte, Charlotte Cressey, Dr. Alka Arora, Candace Laughinghouse, Dr. Neal Barnard, Rabbi David Rosen, Beth Redwood, In Defense of Animals, and many more.


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