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Vegan menu gets top billing at Windsor Castle interfaith conference

An international interfaith and environmental conference at Windsor Castle today will see 200 guests from a variety of religions enjoying a vegan banquet.

Posted : 3 November 2009

The “Many Heavens, One Earth: Faith Commitments for a Living Planet” conference from 2-4 November has been organised by the UN Development Programme and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, founded by Prince Philip, who will be hosting the event with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. Faith leaders from nine different faiths will be in attendance to launch and discuss long-term initiatives to protect the planet. The menu for the meatless and dairy-free banquet lunch today [3 November] has been designed to accommodate the various dietary requirements of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Judaism, Daoism, Shintoism and Baha’ism.

Kosher and halal meats are an issue for the Jewish and Muslim delegates, red meat is anathema to Daoists, who are also prohibited from eating endangered animals and plants, Hindus steer clear of beef and onions, and Buddhists and Sikhs are for the most part vegetarian.

The vegan banquet, the first in Windsor Castle’s history, also serves to highlight the importance of a reduced meat diet in light of the recent Worldwatch Institute report that showed livestock and livestock byproducts account for 30 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

The menu, chosen as much for its environmental credentials as to accommodate the various religious dietary requirements, is intended to highlight the difference that choosing a locally sourced, meat-free diet can make to the planet. Free-range, mostly organic, locally sourced and fair trade, this object lesson in low-impact eating will hopefully be passed on by the various delegates to their faith communities.

“This is our opportunity to think globally and act locally,” said conference delegate Naomi Tsur, who is deputy mayor of Jerusalem. She hopes to raise awareness among Jerusalem’s city gardeners about climate change and the benefits of sustainable agriculture. Starters at the banquet will include a salad of roasted English pear, steamed celeriac and oven roasted cobnuts, and mains such as Portobello mushroom stuffed with artichoke, red onion and thyme.

Constructing the menu proved a testing if fun experience for caterers Edible Food Design and adviser, food writer Xanthe Clay. Edible’s head chef Sophie Douglas-Bate said she enjoyed the challenge, though her “heart sank at the thought of cooking without butter and cream”.

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