Bhutan does not have slaughterhouse but is the highest per capita meat consumer in South Asia, with about 13.5kg of meat per capita annually. Bhutan imports more than 10,000 metric tons of meat products, from India and Thailand, worth Nu. 1.5 billion a year.
At the same time, there are people who promote vegetarianism for the sake of individual health, health of the planet and innocent animals that are killed for food. It’s not easy to compile all the lists as there are many. Following are some I complied.
1. His Holiness the Trulku, Jigme Choeda
His Holiness the 70th Jekhenpo (The Chief Abbot of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan), Trulku Jigme Choeda prohibited meat-serving during religious ceremonies held in temples, dzongs and government-owned religious institutions. His Holiness also issued decree prohibiting meat serving during religious ceremonies especially annual rituals in 2008.
HH banned serving meat to the clergy during cremation ceremonies in 2000 and since 2002, HH banned the import and sale of meat on auspicious days and months.
His Holiness is also the patron of Jangsa Animal Saving Trust.
2. Lama Kunzang Dorji
Lama Kunzang Dorji, abbot of the Jangsa Goenpa in Kalimpong and 2 monasteries in Bhutan is a strict vegetarian and animals saver. Lama set up the Jangsa Animal Saving Trust in 2000 and saves animals from being killed in slaughter houses by buying them.
The trust rescues sick and injured animals, provide medical intervention and care, and maintains animals in shelters in Bhutan and India.
In 2008, together with the Royal Society for Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA), Lama started a project to save stray dogs.
3. Karma Dhendup
Jangsem Monday, the Bhutanese version of Meatless Monday was initiated by a producer at the Bhutan Broadcasting Service, Karma Dhendup along with Vidhya Dendup and Namgay Wangchuk in 2014.
Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet.
Jamgsem Monday inspires an Eco-friendly “enlightened” diet and lifestyle; a lifestyle that is both passionate and compassionate. Office goers and students across the country has pledged to refrain from including meat in packed lunch.
4. Kezang Dorji
Kezang Dorji is a rapper, social worker, and a youth icon. He does not eat meat and use animal parts in the form of wallets, bag, shoes and belts. He does not wear silk and clothes made from animal fiber.
He works for Druk Holding and Investment and is the recipient of the prestigious South Asian Youth Award, 2018.
5. Tshering Dorji
A lead in Jamyang Khentse’s film, ‘Hema Hema, Sing me a song while I wait,’ Tshering Dorji is the Executive Director at the Jangsa Animal Saving Trust. He has been volunteering with Jangsa Animal Saving Trust for many years in taking care of the injured animals.
6. Tandin Sonam
Another youth icon in Bhutan is Tandin Sonam. He is a lawyer by degree and actor, singer and songwriter by passion. He has acted as lead in super hit films such as Sleeping Beauty, Singlem, Say You Love Me, Choelo Dorji and many more.
He promotes vegetarianism through music and films. He often wears shirts with a slogan ‘Go Vegetarian’.
Another rapper from Bhutan, Nala has inspired and influenced many to quit meat. He is a recovered drug addict and a former gang leader. He has performed within and outside Bhutan promoting vegetarian food. He conveys other social messages too.