Fr. Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila, is an advocate of the plant-based diet. I had already written about this a few years ago. It was the first thing he mentioned when we met.
The advocacy has become more urgent now. In these times when it is imperative for us to boost our immune system, it would be wise for us to consider growing our greens in our own backyard or even on the window sill for those of us who don’t have a backyard.
Gen 129 Movement
Fr. Anton has just launched the Gen 129 Movement, Caritas Manila’s response to the social effects of the pandemic as part of its Post-Quarantine Social Rebuilding Program.
This is inspired by the Bible’s Genesis 1:29: “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’”
While this is a parish-based program, it is certainly something that can apply to all, regardless of religion or the size of your backyard. It envisions a combination of urban and rural farming initiatives in partnership not only with parishes but also with urban communities and cooperatives.
The main thrusts are: (1) addressing food security, (2) curbing poverty, (3) intensifying environmental advocacy, (4) ensuring physical wellness, and (5) caring for God’s creation.
To address food security, Fr. Anton encourages parishes and Caritas partner communities to convert their vacant spaces for “edible landscaping, green riprapping, hydroponics and container (vertical) gardening.” These seek to assure the community of a food source.
The benefits of urban farming cannot be highlighted enough. Aside from the immediate availability of food, it would also enhance the urban microclimate as well as the preservation of biodiversity.
Best of all, with greens all around, you will inevitably feel a sense of calm, helping not only our physical well-being but our mental health as well.
Aside from the practical benefits of growing your own greens, Fr. Anton encourages everyone to switch to a plant-based diet. Even before the pandemic, the health benefits of switching to a plant-based diet have already been discussed.
There have been many testimonies on how even people with cancer or heart conditions got better by merely switching to a plant-based diet. The terrible reports on commercial poultry and other meats being bombarded with hormones and antibiotics are also reasons to give up meat. So if you’ve been wanting to make the switch, start now.
Thankfully, there are now many options for those who would want to switch to a plant-based diet.
Aside from the Veega brand mentioned in last week’s column, you can also get a few vegetarian and even vegan pre-cooked items at Echo Store (visit echostore.ph).
Last week I tried their vegan burger called the Secret Burger. It is made of textured peas, caramel sugar syrup and a thickener. It has no meat at all, not even eggs, so definitely for vegans.
The good news is that while it is clearly vegan, it is delicious, filling and even aromatic. The patty is quite large but after cooking it, the first thing that you will notice is the aroma.
Season of creation
This month up to Oct. 11, Pope Francis wants us to celebrate what has been dubbed “the Season of Creation” to energize us all to care for Mother Earth.
The woke Pope has made the environment one of his advocacies, even penning a whole encyclical on it called “Laudato si’: On the Care of Our Common Home.” (Laudato si means praise be to you)
There, he said, “We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
Maybe this pandemic is Mother Nature’s shout out to all of us to step back and smell the roses again … along with kangkong, spinach, pechay and everything else you can plant in your backyard. Let’s listen and heed this call.
More from the author at margauxlicious.com. Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.
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