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Ban or Sham?

The following is a column I have contributed in Business Bhutan (Saturday 27 February 2016 issue). Thank you, Ms. Peky Samal, the news editor of Business Bhutan for the apt title: 

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forest had issued a circular requesting all government and other agencies to avoid serving meat during the workshops and conferences. The Ministry’s rationale was that the Year of Monkey is the birth year of Guru Rinpoche and it also coincides with the meat bans in the country. It is a welcome move.   

In Bhutan, every year the first and fourth months of Bhutanese calendar, the sale of meat is banned.

I think the content of the circular should stand even beyond Guru Rinpoche’s birth year. Since we are putting a strict ban on the sale of meat during the holy months, it should not be available in the first place. But sadly, some hotels continue to serve their customers meat. But should we allow this to happen? It is said, that a month prior to the ban, demand for meat skyrockets. That says it all. Should we allow hoteliers to store meat to be used during the ban? Doesn’t it defeat the whole purpose of the ban?  

Our meat ban should go beyond any regulations or restrictions for it is not every time that we have such bans. Two months in a year! I think it is a rare occasion to spread our compassion to many animals that have to give up their lives to feed us all. I really feel that we should go strong with our commitments. Again, we are not asking everyone to turn vegetarians, are we? But at least during the holy months, can we be put a small brake on our uncontrolled appetites?

Most Bhutanese eat meat at home, but during conference lunches more meat items find their ways on our platter. So, the Ministry’s circular is a big relief.

Last month, a group of hoteliers in Bumthang came together and agreed that they will not serve their customers meat during the holy months. It is truly remarkable for businessmen to agree on something like that. Can we convince some more hoteliers in other parts of the country to do the same? They did not wait for the Ministry to issue a circular.

That’s a simple logic, says my high school niece. If hotels, provided all agree to serve only vegetables during the holy months, then their customers would not complain about the meatless menu. But the problem comes when meat is not served in a particular hotel while it is freely available in some other hotels. That’s why I think we must seek the support of the business establishments to put in place effective meat bans in the country.

We applaud the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest for its bold and noble initiative. It is one way of promoting compassionate society. 


  1. This is interesting topic. I am surprised to know that Year of Monkey is the birth year of Guru Rinpoche. Do you all know his exact birth date and year? Thank you


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