The 75 year-old concept of ‘Veganism’ has become a major trend off-lately. Several benefits of going vegan has attracted people of most age groups including children, pregnant women, and the elderly. From fitness freaks to spiritual gurus, people all over are adopting and advocating this philosophy. Let’s dive into the concept and understand why people are going gaga over the vegan way of living.
1. What is Veganism?
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from any animal product, be it dairy or meat. Vegans can be those who follow merely the diet or those who extend it to their lifestyles. A vegan diet limits only to food whereas a vegan lifestyle discards all forms of commodity resourced from animals; which is including but not limited to silk, leather, honey, animal-tested cosmetics and cigarettes. Veganism doesn’t support the idea of using animals for the purpose of entertainment in zoos, aquariums, horse racing and dog shows.
2. Why Veganism?
According to vegans, eating meat back in the days of survival was a matter of obligation. Now, it’s a matter of choice. It has been proven that a vegan diet is healthy for all age groups as it is low in saturated fats and rich in nutrients. A plant-based diet nourishes you just as much a meat-based diet would.
The ethical, environmental and health benefits of going vegan are undeniable.
Vegans believe in the philosophy of co-existence and they stand up against all sorts of animal cruelty. Animal cruelty includes ruthless processes like debeaking, gun-shot killing, iron branding, suffocating in gas chambers, impregnating for milk, etc.
For the environment:
Every individual can decrease the level of CO2 just by choosing their habits. Greenhouse gases including methane can be reduced by 3 quarters if people choose plants over meat. Several resources like water and food which go into feeding the animals could be saved to abolish world hunger.
Going vegan opens a multitude of healthy options for you. A vegan diet lowers cholesterol level, risk of cancer and heart diseases. A vegan diet will help you lose weight, strengthen your bones and improve your kidney function.
3. What do vegans eat?
A vegan diet is high in magnesium, fibre, folic acid, iron and vitamins (C&E) and low in calories, cholesterol, fat, omega-3, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
Vegans mostly consume foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Replace paneer with tofu; milk with soy milk, oat milk, almond milk; cheese with soya cheese; meat with soya chunks, pulses, legumes and mushrooms; ghee with coconut ghee, vanaspati, vegetable oils; honey with agave nectar; butter with cashew butter, almond butter, peanut butter, etc.
Seeds like quinoa, flax and chia, sunflower and pumpkin help increase nutrition intake. Vitamin B12 can be found in seaweed, fortified foods, coconut milk, other plant milk, nutritional yeast, and vitamin supplements.
4. What’s a Vegan lifestyle?
Abstaining from cosmetics, leather products, or anything that is resourced from animals or products tested on animals.
Buying cosmetics can be tricky as ‘Cruelty Free’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it doesn’t have any animal ingredients. Cruelty Free only means that it has not been tested on animals. At the same time, vegetarian cosmetics may not have animal products in it but are tested on animals. Vegan cosmetics are those which neither contain animal products nor are tested on animals. One can replace leather with vegan or faux leather.
5. What are the benefits of going vegan?
A vegan diet is considered as one of the healthiest diets by various health institutions across the world. Plant-based diets include ample of fresh fruits, whole grains, beans, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Since vegan diets are dependent on these healthy staples, they are a powerhouse of fibre, vitamins, & minerals. A plant-based vegan diet can reduce the risk of mortality from conditions such as:
Ischemic heart disease
Type 2 diabetes
Some cancers including prostate and colon cancer
6. How does a vegan meal look like?
If you think breakfast without eggs and meat is a joke, here are some interesting and delectable vegan meals diet you must try.
Recipe credits: Healthline
Sambar with brown rice idli
Chana dal pancakes with mixed vegetables and a glass of milk
Apple cinnamon porridge made with milk and topped with sliced almonds
Yogurt with sliced fruits and sunflower seeds
Vegetable dalia and a glass of milk
Multigrain parathas with avocado and sliced papaya
Buckwheat porridge with sliced mango
Whole-grain roti with mixed-vegetable curry, chickpea curry with brown rice
Whole-grain roti with tofu and mixed vegetables
Whole-grain roti with vegetable subji
Vegetable sambar with brown rice
Large salad with rajma curry and quinoa
Vegetable soup with whole-grain roti
Tofu curry with mixed vegetables and a fresh spinach salad
Khichdi with sprout salad
Tofu curry with potatoes and mixed vegetables
Palak paneer with brown rice and vegetables
Chana masala with basmati rice and green salad
Lentil pancakes with tofu tikka masala
Masala-baked tofu with vegetable curry
7. What’s vegan meat?
For those who find it hard to live without the taste of meat, mock or faux meat is the best alternative. Vegan meat is a cruelty-free substitute for animal-derived meat. It’s healthier than the animal derived meat and tastes exactly the same. So, you can care for the environment without causing any animal killing.
The company, Beyond Meat’s came up with mouth-watering plant-based meat products made with non-GMO, gluten-free pea protein perfect for your meat cravings. Mock meat brands in India offer a vast variety of textured meat. Brands like Veggie Champ, Ahimsa Foods, Good Dot, Vegeta Gold, Vegitein, Nutrela chunks combine the goodness of plants and grains to create healthy and affordable meat substitutes.
8. What is the cost of a vegan diet?
You are sure to come across one question when you talk about veganism, “Isn’t that too expensive?” A vegan diet is rumored to be extremely expensive. Well, the truth is just like any other diet, the cost of a vegan diet depends on the person’s habits of planning, shopping, and eating. Vegans spend a lot at vegan restaurants since they don’t get the time to make their own food. However, eating at home on a budget and shopping in sales can help reduce the cost. Also, potatoes are cheaper than meat anyday.
What are some things you need to be careful about?
It’s important to note that vegans need to pay special attention to their diets to avoid specific nutrient deficiencies. There is a risk of nutrition deficiency if you do not pay attention to the diet. There could be a deficiency of vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. You need to back your diet with proper supplements on a regular basis.
Eating at restaurants can be a task as identifying the ingredients can take a long time for you to decide and restrict you when it comes to options. Shopping for cosmetics and other products that have ingredients with complicated names would initially test your patience and intelligence too.
On the brighter side, you would be spending less at restaurants and unwanted snacks.
10. What are some books or films to get started with?
Here are some books you can start with:
No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution
Becoming Vegan, Express Edition: The Everyday Guide to Plant-based Nutrition
Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry
The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World
Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness and the Future of Life on Earth
Here are some documentaries on YouTube you could begin with:
Earthlings (YouTube link)
Food, Inc. (watch online)
Vegucated (watch online)
Forks Over Knives
Food Matters (watch online)