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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 09 March 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 MARCH 2019 23 OPINION To meat or not to meat? ELLIE PRODROMOU More and more Greek Australians are choosing a cruelty-free lifestyle, abstaining not only from eating meat but all animal products. Paul Collaros has taken his ideology one step further by advocating for animal rights in the political arena. I am the founder of the Macedonia Square, Skopje, features a giant statue of Alexander the Great as its centrepiece. Macedonia from Alexander the Great to Alexis Tsipras MARY SINANIDIS To the uninitiated, the name dispute between Greece and FYROM seemed like a triviality – a curiosity at best. In the decades-long tug of war, the devil was always hidden in the details. What seemed like a matter of principle (at best) or foolish pride (at worst) to outsiders raised numerous implications. The reinvention of the Slavic state using borrowed symbols and text books teaching the children of Skopje that they are descendants of Alexander the Great constituted “identity theft” for most Greeks. Of course, were it possible to conjure the great king from the dead to ask him how he felt about the issue, he may have begged a different approach. He may even have enjoyed the statues commissioned in his honour to beautify Skopjian squares. As a master of propaganda, he’d have used the works to solidify his myth. Let’s not forget that the great warrior king known for his military genius was recognised for allowing Greek culture to be loosely adapted by various peoples. Alexander’s controversial gestures, included the mass wedding at Susa in 324 BC where he declared himself a Persian king, adopted a non-Greek style of dress and encouraged his officers to marry noble Persian wives to unite the two cultures. If anything, he was more focused on the goal than on accuracy in the way in which a tale is told or an identity is sold. The warrior king may not be here to find a magical solution to Greece’s woes, but the engineers of the Prespes Agreement would have us believe that the name dispute that for three decades stood as a Gordian knot in Balkan diplomacy is now behind us. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras addressed an international audience at the 4th Delphi Economic Forum and referred to the accord struck as a “diplomatic masterpiece.” He surveyed his new friends of North Macedonia much like Alexander may have eyed the Persian wives. In a Davos-like atmosphere, he told guests at Delphi that benefits of the agreement include trade relations. Of course, he was preaching to the converted as he explained that “Greece and North Macedonia are no longer two sides of an unsolved puzzle”. He described two neighbours that have “invested in friendship, cooperation and solidarity and who provide an example, not only in the Balkans but for Europe and for a better world.” This banter may get him that Nobel Prize he has been nominated for but it won’t guarantee his reelection in October. The prevailing view is that Syriza will lose a huge chunk of votes. There are fears that Greek products using the product name Macedonia won’t be protected, and reports such as the BBC’s recent spotlight on an alleged “invisible Macedonian Slav minority” have not been reassuring in regards to the geopolitical landscape. And what is Greece getting in return? Greece already had cross-border investments. In fact, since the end of the Greek embargo from February 1994 to September 1995, Greece had risen to become one of the most important business partners of North Macedonia with 12.1 per cent of total foreign direct investments pouring into FYROM. So Greeks are left unsure why the agreement was needed. Greece’s interlocutors are well aware that the average Greek is not happy, and this could be seen by their movements on the sidelines of the forum that focused less on Mr Tsipras and more on Greek opposition leaders who will ultimately be the ones to ensure the implementation of the accord. They are aware that Syri- za’s days may be numbered. All things – good and bad – come to an end, even Syriza, even the reign of Alexander the Great. All that is left behind is a legacy. All too aware of this, Mr Tsipras took the podium and said: “We were thinking about the future and the people who will benefit from this (Prespes Agreement) and not about a moment of political glory.” And it is Susa we remember – not the state of the marriages left behind in its aftermath. Penny Marathon [pennymarathon.com], an animal welfare charity that raises awareness of the plight of suffering animals by hosting an annual marathon in cities around the world. For me, my awareness started early, when, at the age of about eight or nine, I decided to stop eating meat. My family accommodated the decision, and now, at the age of 45, I have been a vegan for many years. I met Paul Collaros as a participant of the Penny Marathon in Sydney in 2018. It is not every day you meet a Greek-Australian vegan, particularly a man who has made that choice. "I realise I don't fit the stereotype," he says, "but it's a changing world, and veganism will one day become the new normal." Footballer Chris Mayne, NBA basketballer Kyrie Irving, martial artist Nate Diaz, triathlete Rich Roll, even Patrik Baboumian, Germany's strongest man – all plantbased athletes. And that's just the men. You've got Olympian sprinter Morgan Mitchell, surfer Tia Blanco, professional ballerina Juliet Burnet… too many to list; all female vegans at their physical best, advocating for cruelty-free lifestyles . Paul is running for the Animal Justice Party in Sydney's Rockdale electorate in the forthcoming NSW state elections of 23 March. In 2015, the party secured a seat in the NSW Parliament for the first time in history, and is expecting to rattle the cages further. This year, more than 60 AJP candidates are running; not bad for a party that was formed only 10 years ago. "We've got to face facts. Regardless of what you think about animal rights, this unhealthy planet of ours can no longer — just from an environmental perspective — sustain the practice of animal production as a food source," says Paul. "Water resource, for example; a lot of water is required for meat and dairy production. The global average water footprint of beef is over 15,000 litres per kilogram. That means it takes huge volumes of water to grow a cow, pig, and Paul Collaros, a participant of the Penny Marathon. so forth, for slaughter. For a country constantly threatened by drought – it makes no sense but to look for smarter ways of keeping us fed." Step into Coles and Wool- worths supermarkets these days and you will find vegan alternatives for almost any food you can think of. Vegan sausages, cheese, ice cream, yoghurt, mayonnaise... my local supermarket carries eight varieties of soy, almond and rice milk these days. It is one of the fastest grow- ing food sectors globally. The value of packaged vegan food in Australia alone is forecast to exceed $200 million in 2020; almost double what it was four years ago. In conversations with people, it's not the practical issues that people fixate on; it's the ethical. People are often ready to challenge a vegan but not willing to hear their response. "It's about compassion and I challenge anyone to take a look at footage of an animal dying from the use of the government-endorsed poison 1080 or dying a slow and painful death on a ship being exported out of Australia, and not be affected," Paul adds. Abstaining from eating meat is not a fad. It is not a new phenomenon. And it's not new to Greeks, either. Pythagoras famously wrote that as long as man continues to massacre animals he is unable to reap joy and love. The exchange below is a translation from the 5th century BC in Plato's The Republic: Socrates: Would this habit of eating animals not require that we slaughter animals that we knew as individuals, and in whose eyes we could gaze and see ourselves reflected, only a few hours before our meal? Glaucon: This habit would require that of us. Socrates: Wouldn't this [knowledge] hinder us in achieving happiness? Glaucon: It could so hinder us in our quest for happiness. Socrates: And, if we pursue this way of living, will we not have need to visit the doctor more often? Glaucon: We would have such need. Socrates: If we pursue our habit of eating animals, and if our neighbour follows a similar path, will we not have need to go to war against our neighbour to secure greater pasturage, because ours will not be enough to sustain us, and our neighbour will have a similar need to wage war on us for the same reason? Glaucon: We would be so compelled. Socrates: Would not these facts prevent us from achieving happiness, and therefore the conditions necessary to the building of a just society, if we pursue a desire to eat animals? Glaucon: Yes, they would so prevent us. More information on the Animal Justice Party is available at animaljusticeparty.org. To learn more about living a cruelty-free life visit Animals Australia at animalsaustralia. org. The Penny Marathon will take place on Sunday, 21 July.
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