our series of email interviews with leaders of IVU member societies,
here is an interview with Mr Nitin Metha, leader of
Young Indian Vegetarians -
www.youngindianvegetarians.co.uk – a UK-based organisation. Nitin is
the recipient of numerous awards, including The ‘Glory of India’ award
presented by the India International Friendship Society. Recipients are
honoured for their outstanding leadership in the field of promoting
India and Indian culture in the United Kingdom, thereby making Mother
India proud. Previous recipients of the award include: Mother Teresa,
cricketer Sunil Gavaskar and film star Dev Anand.
What made you decide to become/remain a
vegetarian? When did that happen? How old were you at the time?
I was born
vegetarian, being Jain.
You are a leader of a member society of
IVU. How long have you been a leader of this organisation?
What made you decide to become active in
I was born in Kenya.
One day aged around age 7, I threw a stone at a dog, who screamed in
pain. Instantly, I knew I had hurt him, and I was determined to
never again harm any animal.
around the same age, I witnessed a group of older boys in Kisumu,
Kenya, my home town, who came across a tortoise and started hitting
the tortoise’s shell with a hammer. A few years later, it hit me as
to what they had been doing, and I was determined to stop any human
violence towards animals.
What sustains your desire to be active?
The movement has
taken over my life in the best possible way. I have gained so much
in every way, even though I have no desire to gain. It is like some
spiritual force is guiding me.
What messages do you use to encourage
young Indians to remain vegetarians, if they have been vegetarian since
birth, or to become vegetarians, if they currently are not?
I am constantly
changing strategy as circumstances require. In the 80's we used to
organise huge rallies in Hyde Park (London) and other outdoor
venues. Nowadays, we often give Mahaveer Awards to famous
celebrities. Our award is considered very prestigious, but we do not
give the award only to the famous. We also give the award to
individuals who work behind the scenes for animal welfare and
How is the situation of Indian
vegetarians different outside of India compared to inside India? What
are the advantages and disadvantages of each context?
The advantage is
that the Indians abroad are vegetarian by conviction and as such
unlikely to revert to meat eating. The disadvantage for Indians
abroad is that unless the parents instil vegetarian values from
childhood, the children will grow into meat eaters.
What is one of your organisation’s
accomplishments that makes you especially proud?
internationally known, and we have persuaded thousands of people to
move towards vegetarianism. We are considered experts in the field,
and our Mahaveer awards are sought after!
How do you try to maintain good
relations and enthusiasm amongst your organisation’s members?
We do not have a
formal structure; we come together for projects and go away till the
next project. By being innovative, our supporters are kept
What is one way that your organisation
cooperates with other veg organisations?
We have excellent
relations with all like-minded groups. It is simple: praise them,
appreciate them, whenever they need you, you support them. In
return, all organisations have a lot of goodwill for us.
Do you have any fundraising tips for
Do good work and
blow your trumpet! We send our newsletters to hundreds of people
free of charge. The goodwill created helps in getting donations. For
example, our Mahaveer awards are given to well known individuals.
They feel honoured, and don’t mind supporting us when needed.
What is one thing that other veg
organisations might be able to learn from your organisation?
Be completely honest
with yourself. Are you making an impact? Measure it. For example, we
have as many as 20 individuals who pledge to go vegetarian every
year. For me, that is a measure of success. How much media exposure
are you getting? If you are not setting and meeting achievable
goals, then be brutally honest and change!