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Plant-based diets contribute to good health and a greener world

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Millions of children across India are nourished with Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals every day. These meals are purely vegetarian, including a plethora of vegetables, pulses, legumes and nuts, calibrated to provide adequate amount of nutrition to children. The Foundation’s commitment to vegetarianism stands firm, as the world discovers the many benefits of plant-based diets. These include the obvious health benefits (since the foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants, among other nutrients), along with a positive impact on the environment.

So, what are these benefits that come with consuming food items from the plant kingdom? The base of good health is laid in childhood, with a robust diet and adhering to plant-based eating habits can be richly rewarding. Firstly, a vegetarian diet has been proven to reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. It also aids weight loss and metabolic control. Another significant advantage of including food items sourced from plants is its positive effect on cardiovascular health and prevention, reduction and even reversion of heart disease. Vegetables with high fibre content, along with minerals and vitamins, help prevent the clogging of arteries and reduce stress.

Plant-based diets also score high on the impact they have on the environment. A study published in the science journal Nature by scientists from the University of Minnesota in the United States of America stated that plant-based diets could reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions across the world and lessen the impacts of climate change driven by food production. The Akshaya Patra Foundation recognises this and has always gone the extra mile to be greener – it has undertaken the task of installing biogas plants and solar panels at its kitchens across India, making use of renewable energy to prepare its meals. Additionally, vegetarian diets are more sustainable compared to its alternatives because plant-based agriculture isn’t as resource-intensive as other forms of agriculture.

The world is embracing vegetarianism with renewed vigour and as more benefits of plant-based diets are revealed, it is becoming a movement that gathers momentum with every successive year. Akshaya Patra’s beneficiaries love the tasty, healthy vegetarian fare served by the Foundation, which fuels their dreams each school day. To make sure that they receive these nutritious mid-day meals every day, contribute to the cause of Food for Education here.

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Celebrate for a Cause

This Dussehra, Let’s Defeat Classroom Hunger

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The festive season has gathered momentum and it is now time to celebrate the victory of good over evil on Dussehra. Also known as Vijayadashami, Dussehra commemorates the victory of Lord Ram over the ten-headed demon king Ravana and of Goddess Durga over the asura Mahishasura.

If there is one lesson that history has taught us, it is that good always trumps evil, eventually. One evil that Akshaya Patra is trying to defeat is that of classroom hunger. Why is classroom hunger an evil, you ask? Here’s why:

Robs children of concentration
An empty stomach is a menace that gnaws at the mind and eats away at its ability to focus. In school, children need a full stomach to be able to pay attention in class and excel in academics. Classroom hunger pangs reduce the ability to concentrate, affecting children’s academic performance. This results in lower scores, affecting the academic along with children, which hampers their long-term educational prospects.

Health Issues – Lack of proper nutrition
Classroom hunger also means skewed nutrition levels of children. A well-balanced diet is of paramount importance, especially during childhood, when the child is in his or her formative years. Lack of proper nutrition and balanced diet during childhood results in health problems and also has long-term effects on the physical, mental and psychological well-being of the kids.

High drop-out rate
Classroom hunger often results in children dropping out of school to assist their families financially. Thus, young children are not only robbed of their childhood, but they are also burdened with responsibilities. A byproduct of this evil is that it encourages gender inequality, as young girls are forced to stay at home since their brothers are thought more deserving of an education. Worse still, they are married off to ease the financial strain on the family.

Behavioral issues
Classroom hunger also frequently results in behavioural issues among children. These include constant irritability and volatile behaviour. Various studies prove that childhood hunger causes anxiety, depression, internalising behaviour and leads to them experiencing more stressful life events. Hunger is also known to lead to issues with self-control and problematic interpersonal skills.

On this auspicious day, let us join hands and fight this evil together. Let us ensure that no child goes hungry; that he or she triumphs in life with good education.

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