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Label medications for vegans and vegetarians - Amarjeet Bhamra



Just as on the market there are products labeled "suitable for vegetarians and vegans", it would also be logical to label medications. This innovation is now being discussed in the UK parliament thanks to the work carried out by the Ayurveda practitioner Amarjeet Bhamra, interviewed by Veggie Channel.

Amarjeet Bhamra: "Back in 1979, there was a World Vegetarian Congress in Loughborough which is a town in North of England. And at a very tender age I was elected to represent the International Vegetarian Union at the very young age and I think I'm still the youngest person to hold that portfolio in the vegetarian fraternity. My passion for compassionate living and vegetarianism and veganism has come to a state where now we are along with our work at the parliament and with that stakeholders. I'm trying to put forward some ideas for the institutions to consider that it's absolutely vital that, for example, most medicines when they prescribed by GP like general practitioner doctor, you go to the chemist to the pharmacy and you buy what the doctor says to you to have. Bearing in mind that a country like UK where I live, almost 2 million people are vegetarians by lifestyle. But there are equally, same number of people, if not slightly more, that choose to practice the vegetarianism and veganism because perhaps of their faith, their religion, their culture or their health issues. So we are very particular at this moment in time in trying to relay this particular point across to the health authorities and the education authorities in the UK. And we are recommending that the medicine should be labeled as suitable for vegetarians and vegans. If that can be done on labeling on food, so we see why there is no reason why it can not be done on medications. And we're all aware that there are a huge amount of dead material, form dead animals that goes into medications.
 
Let me just give you a couple of examples. We are all aware of the fact that the gelatin is a product that is used not only in food but also in medications. That's derived from cattle, also from porcine skin and hide or bone and even in fish in some cases. Other some examples of animal deriving ingredients are from the tissues of pig, the intestines of cattle and from the urine of pregnant mares. This information is quite public. That probably is just a tip of the iceberg, that's only what we get to know. There is obviously lot more activity that's taking place, how this animals are slaughtered and put into various applications. Because people want to make money. I'm not saying that you shouldn't take drugs. If there is a health condition, you have to get better. But it is a right, freedom of choice for people to understand what are they doing, what are they putting inside their body which is hopefully going to make them well again. I think it's just a question of choice. People need to be given that privilege. 
 
This is an area which is very unclear. Also, for example, many patients with pacific dietary restrictions are also likely to be consuming animal products not knowing what medications are made of. We don't want to be in a situation where we say: "Ok, I'm a very strict vegetarian, I'm a very strict vegan, I adhere to a vegan diet", go around wearing leather shoes or leather belts and consuming medications that are made from animal ingredients. There is a whole series of opportunities in traditional medicines of the planet. When you look at The World Health Organization, they are claiming that 70 % of the total population of the world still take traditional medicine. I would like to ask you that last year the pharmaceutical industry made the total profit of over 50 billion dollars. And that's not turnover, that's profit of 50 billion dollars. If I'm going to go and see my regular general practitioner, an allopathic doctor, because I want to get better and I'm taking prescription, some of the this prescriptions that have animal ingredients which I don't support, which I don't want. Can you see that if their medicine system was working on me, why should their profits be growing at the such colossal rate year after year? If their products were working, then I'm getting better, then their profits should be so small because their medicine system is working. 
 
So we need to look at this very carefully and go back to natural medicine, go back to organic medicine, go back to medicine that has been devised by our elders of centuries. One of those traditions, which I work with, is known as Ayurveda. Ayurveda means knowledge of life. It is completely 100% vegan preparation program. People who want to do something natural, they are automatically put into a bracket like "we are vegans", so that what everybody else is doing unnatural. That's not right. So our medicine system is natural but it has been classified as alternative. We are not alternative, we are the natural medicine system of planet Earth. Allopathic medicine is alternative. But I want to offer my hand in friendship to all my colleagues who practice allopathic medicine and pharmaceutical industry. Let us all come together, let us create a way of forming an integrated medicine for the future.
 
We have a wonderful model that European countries can look at when it comes to the work that we are doing in the parliamentary community. I've had the privilege on 2 or 3 occasions to amplify the same message here at the European union parliament in Brussels. I think there has to be first awareness amongst our fraternity. We can not just do all the normal things that each man and woman has responsibility of living their life, looking after their families, going to work, having holidays and all the wonderful things that we do as humans. But I want to, if there is a message that I can perhaps get across in this interview, there might be some of us who perhaps will listen to some of my thoughts that I'm sharing with you: is to look at passionately of putting your time, investing your time in politics. The Italian politics, the Spanish politics or the Norwegian politics. Because nobody is going to do this for us. We have to do this ourselves. 
 
We can not keep on fighting because the establishment and the huge amount of money that is been pumped by this sectors is colossal. We don't have the money but what we have is the very strong will power and we represent the stand of the normal men and the women in the street. Which is lot more powerful, which should be lot more powerful. I think we really need to be creating lobbies, need to be creating organizations and associations. Especially with those political parties who we can make understand that this is what we want. If the political parties can come to you and say: "We need your vote", why can't we say to them: "If you need our vote, then we need you to give us this"? That's fair".
 
This video was realised during the International Congress VegMed 2018 in Berlin.
 
This is a video of the web-tv Veggie Channel.
 
Director: Massimo Leopardi
Editor: Julia Ovchinnikova
 

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