I came across this notion almost a year ago. At that time, I was going to this accupressure specialist (who's really awesome, and I'm planning to start going again) and everytime we were there he'd tell us about something or the other. It was a great atmosphere and because it was his living room where all the people used to wait, general discussions had a way of happening. One such discussion revolved around being vegetarian and not eating meat. The usual stuff, and some very powerful ideas came up...like the fact that we're consuming 'carcasses' when we eat meat, etc. Then, Dr. Parthasarathy (the accupressure specialist) narrated a very interesting experience to us.
He had been invited to a sugar refinery (plant/refinining center???) and was shown around the facility (just outside of Bangalore, for those of you who're interested). One his exit, he passed a truck which belonged to this company. However, there was an awful stench that surrounded the truck...so bad that it could have made dung beetles gag! He asked one of the people why there was such a foul odor. After all, he reasoned, this was a sugar refinery and not a alughter house or anything. So what was the cause of this unholy, nose-hair-curling, eye-watering stench? The answer he got was dead animals. WHAT? Yes, dead animals...well, dead dogs, to be exact? What ever for??? Because, and for those of you who don't know, charred animal bones are used in the sugar refining process. WTF??!?!?! That's what's used to 'decolorize' the sugar...so that when you buy it at the supermarket or open up that sachet at the coffee shop you're greeted with the 'white stuff' that pours neatly into your cup. Now, this being India, the land of the "Holy Cow", they cannot use cow bones as is done in other parts of the world. So what do they use? Wait for it...Dog bones. Wow... Something to think about. I have yet to hear about how these dogs are acquired...but I can't imagine it's a positive image.
And some people act on this information. Dr. Parthasarathy, for example...who gave up consuming sugar and now uses jaggery for everything. It's a choice, eh? Ever stop to look around and wonder where half the stuff around you originated from? The furniture, the paper, the clothes you wear... So, there you have it. And here are a few links I thought may be of interest.
1) Is sugar vegan? An essay by Jo Stepaniak
2) Sugar Filtration Through Bone Ash Filters from Google Answers
3) The Great Sugar Debate: Is it Vegan? from Vegfamily.com
4) Ingredients and Chemicals that May Contain Meat Products
Non-veg tea/coffee anyone?
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