The presentation mainly discusses International Networks of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) approach on sustainable consumption in the Mekong sub-region. We directly address a common dilemma among vegetarians that whilst it is considered more environmental friendly not to consume meat one still damages the environment considerably since intensive farming is employed to produce fruits and vegetables. For non-vegetarians intensive farming is also employed in the meat and dairy industry. INEB’s attempt in dealing with sustainable consumption issue which cuts across vegetarians and non-vegetarians is we have formally formulated Towards Organic Asia Alliance (TOA) with our partners in the subregion.
We believe organic farming is a sustainable replacement for intensive farming methods offering sustainable consumption. Though in some circumstances organic produces, meat and dairy are subjected to food miles indicating they can accumulate carbon footprints during transportation. With careful consideration we think organic farming still offers a good option for consumers to eat sustainably long term. Thus a movement is formed.
On an abstract level formulating TOA fits perfectly well with INEB’s socially engaged Buddhism ethos as we believe in Buddhist wisdom of establishing a more interdependent worldview with all sentient beings. As a movement TOA fosters connections among farmers who feel connected to nature. To us socio-agricultural transformation comes in the form of small victories, individual transformation, and most importantly the strength of relationships among friends sharing a similar goal. The movement is built on a holistic framework where nature, animals and all humans are interconnected.
On a deeper level TOA as a movement also rests on the idea that the expression of the nature in Buddhism combines the concept of reverence for life and nature as teacher. The organic movement in itself respects life by working compassionately with the land and animals. TOA looks to nature as offering many flexible solutions rather than seeing it as presenting obstacles to productive farming.
On a practical level the presentation aims to demonstrate the importance of sharing and being responsible for our actions to the planet’s resources. INEB and partners are committed to strengthen and promote the organic movement in four ways including capacity building and youth, action research and advocacy, technical exchange and consumer education and marketing.