Monday, January 07, 2013

Solutions to WORLD HUNGER

Our Human Responsibility – Practical Solutions to World Hunger

By Paul Turner, Director of Food for Life
(Orignally published January 1999. Updated March 2012)
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one billion people in the world live in poverty today. Jeremy Rifkin, author of Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Industry, comments:
Increased poverty has meant increased malnutrition. On the African continent, nearly one in every four human beings is malnourished. In Latin America, nearly one out of every eight people goes to bed hungry each night. In Asia and the Pacific, 28 percent of the people border on starvation, experiencing the gnawing pain of perpetual hunger. In the Near East, one in ten people are underfed.
The World Food Programme (WFP) reports:
“There are 1.02 billion undernourished people in the world today. That means one in nearly six people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to the health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Among the key causes of hunger are natural disasters, conflict, poverty, poor agricultural infrastructure and over-exploitation of the environment. Recently, financial and economic crises have pushed more people into hunger.
As well as the obvious sort of hunger resulting from an empty stomach, there is also the hidden hunger of micronutrient deficiencies which make people susceptible to infectious diseases, impair physical and mental development, reduce their labour productivity and increase the risk of premature death.
Hunger does not only weigh on the individual. It also imposes a crushing economic burden on the developing world. Economists estimate that every child whose physical and mental development is stunted by hunger and malnutrition stands to lose 5-10 percent in lifetime earnings.
Among the Millennium Development Goals which the United Nations has set for the 21st century, halving the proportion of hunger people in the world is top of the list. Whereas good progress was made in reducing chronic hunger in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, hunger has been slowly but steadily rising for the past decade.
Indeed, despite the noble efforts of the WFP and tens of thousands of individuals, World hunger remains a grave problem. The compelling truth is this: never before in human history has such a large percentage of our species—nearly 20 percent—been malnourished. Each year, between 40 million and 60 million people around the world die from hunger and related diseases. Sadly, the toll is heaviest on the world’s children.


In his forward to UNICEF’s 1998 “State of the World’s Children” report, Secretary General Kofi Anan spells out a simple but most unassailable truth: “Sound nutrition can change children’s lives, improve their physical and mental development, protect their health, and lay a firm foundation for future productivity.”
Over 200 million children under the age of five in developing
countries are malnourished. For them, and for the world at large, Kofi Anan’s message is especially urgent. Malnutrition contributes to more than half of the nearly 12 million deaths of children under five in developing countries each year, and malnourished children who survive often lose precious mental capacity.
The report goes on to explain that 30 years ago, the idea that specific nutrients could help treat specific diseases smacked of “fringe science.” Today, however, through clinical trials and studies, the fringe is edging closer to the mainstream, and malnutrition’s link to the poor growth of children and adolescents, low-birthweight babies, and a child’s capacity to resist illness has been established scientifically. “It is thus reasonable to argue,” the report states, “that in the global fight to reduce childhood death and illness, initiatives to improve nutrition may be as powerful and important as, for example, immunization programs.”

The right to good nutrition

However far reaching the benefits of nutrition may be from a clinical viewpoint, ensuring good nutrition is also a matter of international law. The right to proper nutrition is most emphatically proclaimed in the UN’s 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Under the Convention, virtually every government in the world recognizes the right of all children to the highest attainable standard of health, specifically including the right to good nutrition.
Under the Convention’s pre-eminent guiding principle, good child nutrition is a right because it is in the “best interests of the child.” Article 24 of the Convention specifies that States must take “appropriate measures” to reduce infant and child mortality, and to combat disease and malnutrition through the use of technology and the provision of adequate, nutritious foods and safe drinking water. In this light, every human being on the planet is responsible for alleviating child malnutrition, based on international law, scientific knowledge, practical experience, and basic human morality.

Hunger in a world of plenty

The theme for the large international gathering at the United Nations World Food Summit in Rome in 1996 was “Hunger in a world of plenty.” United Nations representatives and non-government organizations (NGOs) from around the world met to discuss ways to solve this global crisis, which continues to escalate and challenge the conscience and sustainability of humankind in the 21st century. The meeting’s secretary general, Dr. Kay Killingsworth, explained that the problem was not insufficient food production but inequitable distribution. “The result is that the food does not reach the needy.” (See: A change in diets may be necessary to enable developing countries to feed their people, say scientists. Guardian UK John Vidal, Aug 23,2004)
Furthermore, when we recognize the equality of all beings,we will naturally want to share the bounty of the earth with others and give up all selfish tendencies. The most damaging expression of selfishness is the growth of factory farming. Vast tracts of land are now needed to grow crops to feed the billions of animals being raised for food each year. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institute, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed every minute, much of it to create more room for farmed animals. Of all the agricultural land in the U.S., nearly 80 percent is used in some way to raise animals—that’s roughly half of the total land mass of the U.S.10 More than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals. Furthermore, to service the growing demand of animal agricuture, over 35% of all grain production in the world is fed to livestock and not humans.

Making our lives expressions of our spirit

John Robbins, author of the best selling Diet for a New America, writes: “The existence of so much hunger in the world is a reality we cannot deny. It is a reality that challenges us deeply: it asks us to become more fully human.” Robbins argues that the world hunger problem is not only the responsibility of the United Nations, but of every human being on the planet. “When we remember those who are without food,” says Robbins, “something is awakened within us. Our own deeper hungers come to surface—our hungers to live fully, to bring our lives into alignment with our compassion, to make our lives expressions of our spirits.”

Greed not scarcity

The Vedic scriptures of India provide us with some insight into the nature of compassion and spirituality:
“Everything animate or inanimate being that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.”
By divine arrangement, Mother Nature supplies the needs of all living entities. Overcome with insatiable greed, however, modern society blindly pillages the earth of valuable resources, and thus robs billions of people in developing countries of their God-given quota of food.
This statement is clearly corroborated by the fact that more than one-third of all grain produced in the world is being fed to cattle and other livestock. It appears, therefore, that the solution to world hunger lies beyond the boundaries of expensive and exhausting humanitarian efforts by a few NGOs and that the root cause needs to targetted, namely, greed. For too long individuals and wealthy nations have taken more than their fair share of the Earth’s resources and now must completely cease their selfish gluttony.

A worldwide mission to feed and educate

Food for Life initially focused on India, attending to flood victims in West Bengal after the founder, Swami Prabhupada proclaimed to his yoga students that no one should go hungry within a ten-mile radius of a temple. Since that time, over one billion free vegan and vegetarian meals have been served to the needy on six continents. Food for Life has emerged as the largest vegan food relief program in the world! Food for Life’s mission—to bring about peaceful and prosperity through the liberal distribution of pure plant-based food prepared with loving intention—is thus advanced through a twofold strategy:

1. Feeding programs

Food for Life operates feeding programs through the following distribution channels.
  • Free food restaurants
  • Budget restaurants
  • Emergency relief
  • Home delivery services (meals on wheels)
  • Shelters (homeless, single women and men)
  • School and college feeding programs
  • Cultural festivals.
Food for Life currently operates feeding programs through all of the above distribution channels.

2. Education

  • Public Discourses
  • Distribution of Literature
  • Networking with other NGOs
  • Social Media
  • Food Yoga
Food for Life is a conscious organization with the vision that the world’s problems can be solved by spiritual solutions. Specifically regarding world hunger, Food for Life maintains that when the people of the world recognize the spiritual equality of all beings, they will learn to share equally in the bounty of the earth, and only then will they experience genuine peace and prosperity.

Equal vision

In its efforts to eradicate world hunger, Food for Life trains its volunteers to be selfless, humble, compassionate, equipoised, and broad minded enough to understand the needs and concerns of the world they live in. In fact, Food for Life volunteers often risk their own lives to help those in need. Throughout the fighting in Grozny, Chechnya, for example, Food for Life volunteers cooked and served hot vegetarian meals to desperate civilians in the war-torn city. More than one million meals were served during the 20-month conflict. New York Times correspondent Michael Specter visited the Krishna devotees at their kitchen in Chechnya and wrote of them, “…here they have a reputation like the one mother Teresa has in Calcutta: it’s not hard finding someone to swear they are saints.
These volunteers showed tolerance and compassion above and beyond the call of duty, demonstrating true equanimity and a deep understanding of their human responsibility. The jewel of India’s spiritual wisdom, the Bhagavad-gita describes equanimity as a natural expression of one’s spiritual wisdom. The Sankrit term Sama darshinah is used, which translates as “equal vision”, and the Gita describes it as that which separates the truly wise person from the fool.
Food for Life believes that food, so central to the survival of every culture on earth, holds the key to real peace and prosperity. What better way to express that understanding than by educating people on the value of spiritual equality and the selfless sharing of karma-free pure food?


We at Food for Life Global strongly believe that it is the responsibility of every human being on the planet to take action to eradicate malnutrition, which is killing upwards of 12 million children every year. This position, long held by many leading vegetarians, was confirmed by the United Nations 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1974, Food for Life has been committed to the practical response of establishing feeding programs in more than 60 countries throughout the world. However, our resources are very limited; sadly, we are losing the race against world hunger. We therefore call out in earnest to the vegan and vegetarian communities around the world to accept this human responsibility. Stop philosophizing and pointing fingers. Be brave—take practical action today! Establish feeding programs in your area, and make concerted efforts to educate the public about the global benefits of a plant-based diet an more importantly,embrace this concept of spiritual equality as a permanent solution to world hunger. The children of the developing world are depending on you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Mother's Love is Divine!

(Excerpt FOOD YOGA - Nourishing Body, Mind & Soul by Paul Rodney Turner, the food yogi)

God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers. 

- Jewish Proverb

Nothing can compare to a home cooked meal from a loving mother. We’ve already talked about the risk we take with our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being when we eat out. Well, in the ideal home, a mother’s cooking is filled with loving intention and healing energy and is therefore the best source of spiritual and physical nutrition on the planet! (Of course, with modern gender roles so blurred, the same could be said of a loving father.)

The sad truth, however, is that, with mothers all over the world ceding control of the dinner table to scientists, food marketers and governments, a terrible thing happened. Tradition and common sense went out the window, and as Michael Pollan notes, “Thirty years of nutritional advice have left us fatter, sicker, and more poorly nourished. Which is why we find ourselves in the predicament we do: in need of a whole new way to think about eating.[1]

A loving nurturer like a mother will invest all her loving intention into the meals she prepares. That sort of loving intention is not only invaluable, but also worshipable. In fact, in the Vedic tradition, the father (Pitru Devo Bhavaa) and mother (Matru Devo Bhavaa) are considered the first guru and second guru respectively and should therefore be worshipped.

In Sanskrit, the word “Guru” consists of two words: “Gu” – which means darkness or ignorance and “Ru” which means “remover of.” The guru is someone who helps to remove ignorance from our hearts and enlightens us.

In the Bible, it is also stated:

Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

I have provided a comparison chart between food prepared by a loving Mother and that which you can buy in a restaurant. I could have extended this list indefinitely, but these are what I feel to be the most important pros and cons of eating a meal prepared by one’s loving mother versus a meal prepared by a restaurant:

Prepared by a loving Mother
Prepared at a Restaurant
Made with loving intention
Made with the intention
of profit
Prepared carefully
Prepared hastily
Cleanliness honored
Cleanliness compromised
Focused intention
Distracted intention
Pure motivation
Material motivation

It is easy to see the benefits of eating a home cooked meal, and yet, every year, Americans will spend, on average, $1,000 eating out (which is said to be less than it once was).

Good Magazine, in partnership with Whole Foods, chronicled[2] the proportion of income Americans spend on food today as compared to the past. And guess what? They’re spending less than ever.
In 1949, Americans spent 22% of their incomes on food, whereas in 2009 they spent a meager 10%. However, of this 10%, nearly half (40%)[3] is spent on food away from home, and research[4] has found that meals prepared outside the home are less healthful.

How is this so? Because, while saving money seems like a good thing, the cheap processed foods we buy outside are often produced by factory farming and industrial agriculture and supported by government subsidies, which we ultimately pay for in the form of taxes. Also, with jumbo-sized products being priced more economically, Americans may be getting more for their dollar, but they’re also gaining more weight, losing their health, spending more on healthcare, and supporting environmentally unsustainable practices.

The Seven Mothers

According to the Vedic tradition, there are actually seven mothers in our life:
The first mother is our biological mother, from whose womb we have come to this world. Then there is the wife of the teacher or spiritual master; the wife of a priest; the wife of the king, or the queen; the cow; the nurse or caregiver; and finally, the earth, often referred to as “Mother Nature.” In Sanskrit, the country in which we take birth is called desa matrika or “motherland.” We refer to our language as “mother tongue.” So you can see that there are so many mothers, including the cow, in the Hindu tradition, because of her selfless service to provide milk. In India, a cow is sometimes addressed as amba, which also means mother.

There is one common principle that characterizes all genuine mothers, and that is selfless, loving service to their dependents. This pure loving intention is the true life giving force that our mothers nurture us with. Whether it is milk from her breast or the fruit of a tree, a mother’s offering is pure. No matter how hard modern science tries to emulate the pure offering of a mother, it will never succeed. The failed history of baby formula is a case in point. In a recent report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), tests performed on liquid baby formulas found that they all contained bisphenol A (BPA). All major baby formula manufacturers use this leaching, hormone-mimicking chemical in the linings of the metal cans in which baby formula is sold.

BPA has been found to cause hyperactivity, reproductive abnormalities and pediatric brain cancer in lab animals. Increasingly, scientists suspect that BPA might be linked to several medical problems in humans, including breast and testicular cancer.

Food is a gift from MOTHER Earth

Humans cannot actually manufacture food. We can manipulate ingredients, but it is impossible for us to create food from scratch. Of course you could plant a seed and cultivate a garden, but who created the seed? Within every seed lies a dormant plant or tree, ready to fruit and spread more seed. The phenomenon is an endless cycle of kinetic transmutation of nature, to which Man has little to do with. American Playwright, George Bernard Shaw put it this way:

Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn!  You bury it in the ground, and it explodes into an oak!  Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.

Despite technological advances in food production, including cloning and genetic manipulation of foods, genetic scientists have failed to create a single blade of grass from raw chemicals. Genetic engineering (GE) and genetically modified organisms (GMO) are, in reality, just modifications of what has already been naturally created by God. It is absurd to think that we can ever match the brilliance of Mother Nature and create like her.

[1] In Defense of Food, Michael Pollen p 81
[2] Source:
[3] US. Department of Labor, US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditures in 2007 (Washington DC 2009)
[4] J.F.Guthrie, B.H. Lin, and E Frazao, Role of food prepared away from home in the American diet, 1977-78 versus 1994-96: Changes and consequences, J Nutr Educ Behav 34 (2002): 140-50

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Vedic Culture of Hospitality

"No one within ten miles of our temple should go hungry." 

– Swami Prabhupda

No One Should Go Hungry

Is anybody hungry? Please come to my home, where my wife has prepared a meal. We have enough to feed 20 hungry men.

She has prepared the finest rice, curry, and puris (fried bread). I will not take my meal until I know that every man, woman, and child is fed.

Such selfless gestures of hospitality were common in the village life of ancient India. The religious householders of the Vedic times saw themselves as providers for all living beings, including the animals. No creature was allowed to go without food during the pinnacle of Vedic civilization. This is the fertile ground in which the seeds of Food for Life’s philosophy were sown.

The Meaning of Hospitality

According to the Oxford Dictionary, hospitality is “a friendly and generous reception of guests or strangers.” To be hospitable, therefore, means to care and show respect for another being. It is a sincere expression of appreciation, love, and humility. A person whose heart is filled with gratitude, magnanimity, and spirituality is naturally hospitable.

It’s important to note that hospitality is not the same as entertaining, which is, unfortunately, the more common approach today. When we entertain, we put all of our effort into the event—the appearance of the home, the rich, high-calorie/low-nutrient food and refreshments, and seating and table settings. We judge the success or failure of the event by such unimportant details as whether or not the soufflĂ© fell or the ice ran out. In contrast, hospitality focuses on the comfort and wellbeing of guests; the desire to freely share one’s home; the nutritious, life-giving food that is prepared; and above all, the people.

In her book, Gluttony, the 7 Deadly Sins, Francine Prose notes:

"In the Greco Roman tradition, feasting along with drinking was the social cement that enforced the values of the citizen and kept the state together. Good feasts and bad feasts are reoccurring motifs at the center of the Odyssey, where it is made very clear that the worth of the host depends upon the generosity of his table."

Some hosts put so much energy into preparations for entertaining that they have little left for their guests. By the time the guests leave, the host is exhausted. Hospitality, on the other hand, is physically and spiritually refreshing and nourishing. Simply put, entertaining is fueled by pride, while genuine hospitality arises from humility.

Genuine hospitality does not distinguish based on species, race, caste, creed, or color; these differences are meaningless from a spiritual perspective. Rather, genuine hospitality welcomes all with a loving embrace. For an example of profound hospitality, one need not look any further than the example of King Rantideva of India’s Vedic tradtion.

SOURCE: The Yoga of Eating, by Paul Turner


The Story of King Rantideva

SOURCE: (c) Bhaktivedanta Book Trust

Rantideva is glorified, not only in human society but also in the society of the demigods (devas), for his exemplary tolerance, compassion, and selflessness.

Rantideva never endeavored to earn anything. He would enjoy whatever he received by providence, but when guests came he would give them everything. Thus he, along with the members of his family, endured considerable suffering. Indeed, he and his family members shivered for want of food and water, yet Rantideva always remained sober. Once, after fasting for forty-eight days, in the morning Rantideva received some water and some foodstuffs made with milk and ghee, but when he and his family were about to eat, a brahmana (priest) guest arrived.

Because Rantideva perceived the presence of the Supreme Godhead everywhere and in every living entity, he received the guest with faith and respect and gave him a share of the food. The brahmana guest ate his share and then went away.

Thereafter, having divided the remaining food with his relatives, Rantideva was just about to eat his own share when a sudra (field worker) guest arrived. Seeing the sudra in relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, King Rantideva gave him also a share of the food.

When the sudra went away, another guest arrived, surrounded by dogs, and said, “O King, I and my company of dogs are very hungry. Please give us something to eat.”

With great respect, King Rantideva offered the balance of the food to the dogs and the master of the dogs, who had come as guests. The King offered them all respect and obeisance.

Thereafter, only the drinking water remained, and there was only enough to satisfy one person, but when the King was just about to drink it, a candala (outcaste) appeared and said, “O' King, although I am low born, kindly give me some drinking water.”

Aggrieved at hearing the pitiable words of the poor fatigued candala, Maharaja Rantideva spoke the following nectarean words:

I do not pray to the Supreme Personality of Godhead for the eight perfections of mystic yoga, nor for salvation from repeated birth and death. I want only to stay among all the living entities and suffer all distresses on their behalf, so that they may be freed from suffering.

By offering my water to maintain the life of this poor candala, who is struggling to live, I have been freed from all hunger, thirst, fatigue, trembling of the body, moroseness, distress, lamentation and illusion.

Having spoken thus, and although on the verge of death because of thirst, King Rantideva gave his own portion of water to the candala without hesitation, for the King was naturally very kind and sober.

Suddenly, out of thin air, great demigods (devas) like Lord Brahma and Lord Siva, who can satisfy all materially ambitious men by giving them the rewards they desire, then manifested their own identities before King Rantideva, for it was they who had presented themselves as the brahmana, sudra, candala and so on. (Bhagavat Purana 9.21.2-15)

The great demigods had tested the King for his level of tolerance and compassion and the great King succeeded and thus received their blessings.

Fighting Hunger in Africa

Dec 2-5 2010 – Food for Life Global, the world’s largest plant-based food relief is one of the sponsors for the East and Central Africa Vegetarian congress in Nairobi Dec 2-5.

Affiliate, Food  for Life Africa will be serving free prasadam (sanctified vegan food) to congress participants and at other events throughout the congress.

“There will an additional vegetarian conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  from December 6 and Food for Life will also be serving prasadam at the conference,” said Congress organizer and president of the Nigerian Vegetarian Society, Emmanuel Eyoh.

Fighting Hunger in Africa

Food for Life Africa is planning  several feeding programs to benefit people in the East & Central Africa regions, including Kenya, Ethiopia, Congo, Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, and Tanzania.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest concentration of hungry people in the world,” says, Eyoh. “There are thousands of destitute people on our streets in Africa that are hungry. A majority of whom are helpless children, women and elderly.”

Food for Life is a revival of India’s ancient Vedic culture of hospitality and its principle mission is to unite the world through pure food. Food for Life aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in Africa by liberally distributing free plant-based meals to the needy throughout the continent.

Food for Life has been active in Africa for more than 25 years and has served tens of millions of free meals. There are active Food for Life programs in Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Togo, Kenya, Uganda, etc.

We need your support

Kindly support Food for Life events in Africa by donating funds, food and equipment.

Donate through PayPal


Congress Web Site


Emmanuel Eyoh [Ekachakra das]
IVU Africa Regional Coordinator
11 Gray St, Sabo, Yaba, Lagos

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Clinton endorses plant-based diet

Food relief in Pakistan

October 10, 2010, Karachi, Pakistan -- Meals continue to go out in Pakistan from Food for Life Global affiliate SKBP. Spokesperson, Vanamali das said, "As long as donations continue to come in the meals will continue."

At a recent feeding in Hyderabad, hundreds of people swarmed the FFL relief tent (picture below).

Details of the progress can be followed at the FFL Pakistan Relief web site

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Food Relief in Haiti

Food for Life Global is active in Haiti serving thousands of freshly cooked vegan meals for the surviving Haitians. You can follow our progress at the new site.

Please help us raise awareness and support this important work.

Paul Turner
International Director