14 June 2006, source edie newsroom

An event celebrating the capital’s ethnic diversity and looking at environmental issues from a multicultural perspective knuckled down to debate food this week.

The fourth annual London Multicultural Environment Fair was held in Hackney on Tuesday, itself home to a vast array of nationalities and ethnic groups.

Speakers considered the wide spectrum of dietary requirements and culinary preferences of the capital’s population and how this ties in with environmental concerns.

Nitin Mehta, from the Young Indian Vegetarians, described how the meat-free diet advocated by the Hindu and Buddhist belief systems has now become an environmental issue.

Outlining the standard environmental arguments against meat-eating, Mr Mehta claimed the land used to raise and feed the world’s 55bn head of livestock could be put to better use supporting four billion humans, more than half the world’s population.

The waste of land and shocking quantities of water used to raise animals was, he said, unacceptable.

“The ecological damage we’re doing is fundamental,” he said.

“It’s a criminal waste in an already thirsty world.”

If people truly cared about the environment, he said, they were duty bound to make real changes in their own lifestyles and put their money where their mouths are.

“In the words of Gandhi,” he said, “let us be the change we want to see in the world.”

The issues of food miles and the energy used to transport exotic crops to British markets were also touched upon.

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