Insights shared by panellists at the Pune Health & Sustainability Conference held on 3 December 2019. 

Pune Health and Sustainability Conference was organized by Climate Healers Pune at Centre For Police Research, Pashan on 30 November to 1 December 2019. This conference was the first of its kind in India, and involved all its participants and leading experts from India and abroad in discussing solutions to reduce escalating global health and climate change crises. The second day included a documentary screening, talks and discussions. (View complete video of panel discussion below).

 

The first day of the conference was led by a panel discussion titled, “India’s Obsession With Dairy” by vegan expert featuring Dr Vidhya Chakravarti, Ayurvedic Doctor, Dr Nandita Shah, Founder, SHARAN, Dr Rupa Shah, Author & Publisher; Mugdha Pradhan, Nutritionist and Vinita Contractor, Holistic Nutritionist & Lifestyle Coach.

Our Roots: Why We Obsess

Dr Rupa Shah open the panel discussion about how some of her patients respond when being asked to eliminate dairy from their diets:

  • Jersey cows are not good for health, but can I try A2 cows?
  • Ghee is good for the joints; may I continue with ghee?
  • Can you include buttermilk in my diet plan?

 

Dr Shah went on to share some humorous excerpts about ethnic dairy preferences of her patients. She summarized about how India’s history of the dairy industry became more organized about 50 years ago, and about how the perception of the cow changed from being a family member to a money-making machine. She continued, “I want us all to continue with our rich traditions, and but with dairy alternatives.”

 

Ayurvedic Founders Recognized that Milk Causes Diabetes

“A2 milk is fantastic for A2 cows only,” stated Dr Nandita Shah. “We need to shift from a milk & meat centred diet to a whole plant-food based diet, which nature has designed for humans.” Dr Vidhya Chakravarti went on to add “Charaka, one of the principal contributors to Ayurveda, has mentioned in Sutrathana that consumption of milk is one of the major causes of diabetes. This was followed by Dr Pradhan who drove the point home by emphasizing that “Dairy compromises the immune system,” and went on to explain how dairy impacts our health. The last speaker, Vinita Contractor concluded the discussion by observations about how dairy affects hormones of growing children. She stressed that all children do better when they are off milk. “Having said that, one cannot ignore nutrition, and provide children with all the natural foods like sesame seeds and good quality dry fruits.” She cited the example of her own children and pointed out that children thrive without milk; her sons appear leaner, but they beat their classmates who may appear stronger in sports.

The panel session ended with an interactive panel session from an audience who were present and were taking in the information. Few audience members who were working in the industry and sceptical about the facts presented by the panel raised questions about health, about research and even Ayurveda. Mugdha Pradhan made a poignant observation towards the conclusion, “People consuming dairy may seem fit when they move around with the help of some meds. But tour health is like a bucket; you keep putting all these things in your body, but it’s only a question of time before it overflows, and that will be the beginning of a disease.”

Overview

The conference was packed with talks by each of the panelists, including Climate Healers Founder, Dr Sailesh Rao with Thomas Wade Jackson and vegan mountaineer Kuntal Joisher. The Chief Guest of event was UK film actor Jerome Flynn who is vegan and was deeply involved with the ongoing efforts to create awareness about climate crisis. The programme includes screening of three internationally acclaimed documentaries, talks and panel discussions by experts such as Dr Sailesh Rao, founder and director of Climate Healers and Luke Marsh, global team director for Sadhana Forest, Auroville.

The event organised by Climate Healers, Pune organized by activists Madhvi Kolte and Julie Wayne is the first such event in India that highlighted the symbiotic relationship between our personal health and that of the planet.