A meaty issue

After all the debates and discussion it now emerges that the government is not going to go in for a slaughterhouse.

Though the government claims that there never was a plan for one, it should clearly clarify on whether this is a change in stance or there was some confusion in the layers of governance and communication.

However, the spirited debates and interesting viewpoints in the past few weeks have shown two interesting things about the Bhutanese people.

The first is that we are still a largely very spiritual people regardless of the hypocrisy of eating huge amounts of meat. The second is that Bhutanese democracy is doing well as all hues of people put forward their views instead of hiding behind anonymous accounts.

The discussions have thrown up interesting takes on GNH and who we are as a nation and people.

An interesting development was the intervention of the Zhung Dratshang, which by itself throws up new questions in our young democracy.

It has also raised the issue of the safety of meat that we consume in Bhutan. Even if Bhutan cannot have a modern slaughterhouse it is imperative that the government ensures the supply of safe and reliable meat for its population.

The government’s idea of looking for quality meat in third countries and also processing meat in Bhutan is a good start.

One important issue that also came up on several platforms was the health and environmental consequences of eating meat. It is a matter of fact that eating meat in large quantities is bad for health and also the environment given the water and food resources required to raise cattle.

One healthy development in Bhutan in the last few years is a growing vegetarian movement whereby many people are laying of meat completely or partially.

However, many people also pointed out that while vegetarians and the religiously minded are appreciated, they should not engage on moralistic and spiritual finger pointing exercises that help no one and does not add in a meaningful way to the debate.

In the end with the meat ban month closing the huge rush to buy spectacular amounts of meat from meat shops also underlie the ground realities of our meat consumption.

“Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally”

Alan Dershowitz

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