You hear this Veganism stuff a lot these days. You get to read about Vegan diet or Vegan recipes so many times. It feels like the Google’s algorithm is telling you to become vegan. This is not in general applicable to all, but I do get suggestions on vegan content. Do you also get it or I am alone here? So I started scratching the surface of it on the eve of World Vegan Day. I found out many things about this veganism theory that quite moved me. No I didn’t become vegan but my thought process has certainly altered.
- Veganism a glimpse into the History
- Experience a day in Veganism
- Vegan Economics
- Celebrities and Sportsmen who follow Vegan Diet
- Addressing Most Common Challenges in Vegan Diet
- Vegan Recipes
- Veganism and few fun and serious facts
It is said to be a choice that an individual makes and sticks to it for a lifetime. You call it a trend, a fad, or anything else to mock it down but you know it is here to stay. You will be more convinced when I tell you that it is officially around us since 1944. A trend never lasts that much, but veganism is gaining popularity amidst the chaos and hype of the food habits of modern world.
It starts with a simple decision, and that includes to stay away from animal products. Then gradually is seeps through the mind that what need to be given up forever. Animal meat, milk, eggs, milk products, honey, and gelatin these things are the startup cost of this new lifestyle. The bargain doesn’t stop here, few people do give up materialistic things as well. It includes pearls, leather, wool, silk, and ivory. Anything coming from harming the animals is given up. Are you thinking how tough this is? The feeling is mutual, so let us explore together what else lies beneath the layers of veganism.
Veganism a glimpse into the History
Let’s start with a simple fact that the term ‘vegan’ was born from ‘vegetarian’ and the world knows how much vegetarian, ancient India have been. So the seeds for it were sown millennia ago in Indus valley civilization but the refinement towards veganism came less than a century ago. Earlier there was this Vegetarian society established in 1843 that was in UK. It had a small group who were willing to abstain from any form of animal products but were not taken seriously.
It happened in 1944 that the group asked the vegetarian society to include a non-dairy vegetarianism section in its newsletter. This request was rejected and this triggered the vegan movement. As Donald Watson the secretary of Leicester branch of vegetarian society started a new newsletter called ‘The Vegan News’. He coined the term ‘Vegan’ which literally was “the beginning and end of vegetarian”. The term itself was formed by adding the first three and last two letters from the word ‘vegetarian’.
The response that first edition garnered was more than enough to convince everyone that, this is a potential way of good lifestyle which will be beneficial for the planet as whole. The responses received in written included letters from legends like George Bernard Shaw who agreed to give up on dairy and eggs. Over the years they convinced many people to follow this path which believed in a principle of “Advocating living without exploitation”. This in short yet crisp manner explains the start of official veganism culture.
Experience a day in Veganism
If you ask me personally, I am more of a person who is in for either all or nothing. There is no in between for me. So I respect people who are strictly vegan and do not use any products which have been produced by harming or abusing animals. Veganism is not only about following vegan diet, it is a way to end animal suffering in every way possible. So right now I will help you imagine if you can manage becoming vegan and adopt veganism as your lifestyle.
You wake up early in the morning, decide to shower and today is your hair wash day as well. You take the bottles of shampoo and conditioner and realize it has components like lecithin or sodium caseinate which are sourced from animal or dairy products. Now you are in a fix, and are stuck on thinking of an alternative. Then you realize that you forgot to brush and take the toothpaste on your brush but luckily in time, manage to check the labels and find that, this too has some or other ingredients which has animal source of origin.
This might have been the toughest start to your day in years. You ready yourself for a bright sunny yet cooler day. The next thing on your mind is either a hot cup of coffee or chai. Now you know that you don’t have just one challenge to deal here. Milk is definitely something you will have to avoid, but how are you going to sweeten your beverage? Honey comes from bees and common sugar is made white using charred animal bones. Are you sure about the sugar in your house? How are you going to deal with this? Probably a glass of fresh juice or a smoothie will save you for now.
Now you decide to step out and you know it is very much cold outside. You will need a protective gear like a sweater or a shawl but then it clicks for you that you have woolen winter wears which obviously was made from wool extorted from the sheep either forcefully or peacefully, you can’t be sure. So you decided to stay at home and give up on this idea of being vegan. Now tell me how that felt? I guess, very much frustrating.
Now you chuck all these experiences and indulge in eating a piece of chocolate from your refrigerator. While eating you say to yourself, “I know it has milk solids but so what? I am not a vegan anymore”. You start pondering on the things that we use daily but have animal connection. You make a list and find that, silk, make up brushes, wax, gelatin, sodas, and plastic bags do contain substances derived from animals. It doesn’t end there, your medicines are tested on animals which you find difficult to digest.
These events make you think about your entire life and the choices you have made. This entire being a vegan for a day changes your perspective on life. I don’t know whether you chose to become vegan and embrace veganism. I also don’t know if you altered your approach towards eating habits. That is something I will leave for you to decide and comment down below. I won’t judge you and nobody else should. Veganism is a personal choice.
To understand this concept in simple way you must have a context. So let us start with meat industry and put things in perspective. Even if you agree or disagree but the fact is, the rate at which the meat consumption is increasing, it is not sustainable. At the current rate of demand and consumption, I am not sure if we as a human race will survive for another century. Please do not take it personally as I know India is far behind in terms of meat demand and supply, but I am writing this from a global perspective.
The personal per head carbon emission from food production can be cut to half if the food choices become more vegan or vegetarian. A detailed paper by Joseph Poore from Oxford University has published a detailed account from 570 studies to support these claims. You can check and download the pdf from this link. It says that 80% of global agricultural land is involved in rearing animals for human consumption. If this stops then there will be more vegetarian and vegan food available which can feed 4 billion people in excess.
The economic benefits of dietary change could be as much as $700bn-$1trn per year in terms of savings on healthcare costs and lost working days due to ill health. This huge sum of money far outweighs any profit that comes from animal husbandry. This is all because there will be less diseases which will be life-threatening. Plus low cost involved in food production and processing, as compared to animal based products which are very costly by every means.
It is said that a pound of meat requires 9400 liters of water before it is being served on a plate. On the other hand, any grain requires only 25 liters per pound. Can you see the massive difference here? This is just one aspect, when you calculate all things together then you can gauge how much stark the difference is and what kind of impact it will have on global economy. As the void is created by abstinence from meat, the opportunity for vegan economy will become stronger by each passing day.
Celebrities and Sportsmen who follow Vegan Diet
I know it is bit overrated to mention celebrities and famous people to put a point across, but I do it because these people have a mass reach and their choices can have a relatively greater impact on food choices. In the west the big names who follow a vegan diet include Serena Williams, Meghan Markle, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady, Sia, Madonna, Joaquin Phoenix, Peter Dinklage, James Cameron, Lewis Hamilton, and Benedict Cumberbatch.
In India the vegan diet culture is in its infancy and only few celebrities follow it. Then too the famous people who follow this vegan diet are Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, Akshay Kumar, R. Madhavan, Vidyut Jammwal, Shahid Kapoor and Aamir Khan. I am not sure how much they practice principles of veganism but for now they at least follow the vegan diet. It would be great to know if you are a fan of any of these celebrities and have thought upon becoming vegan someday.
Addressing Most Common Challenges in Vegan Diet
Veganism is fulfilling in its own way, but it has many challenges attached to it. If you make a choice then these challenges are yours to solve. The world will make them look bigger than they really are and it your responsibility to take a forward stride and face them with conviction. It is like the universe will keep testing you, only to ensure if you are really meant to walk this path. I am addressing the most common ones here but the real list is never ending.
1) Maintaining Protein intake
This is something that is often asked to the vegan people. It has a good reason to it, as we are taught since childhood that we can have enough protein only via dairy or meat or poultry. The real thing is, there are many plant based sources for meeting the protein requirement of the diet. From broccoli to spinach, from almonds to chickpea you can explore many options and decide what suits your palate and pocket. Whole grains, Nuts & seeds and legumes can help solving the protein puzzle for you.
2) Vitamin D balance
It is hard to obtain vitamin D if you do not eat fleshy fishes or liver oils from meat. Vegans can counter this issue with appropriate exposure to early morning sunlight. Soy milk, rice milk, and cereals fortified with vitamin D can be few of the sources. Apart from this, Vitamin D supplements can be consumed in 5–10 μg quantities.
3) Managing Vitamin B12 deficiencies
The biggest challenge the western world’s vegans face is unable to find good alternative for vitamin B12 complex. Though in India this deficiency is very common in the vegetarian population, but they are not vegans. For vegans to compensate for loss of vitamin B12, they need to take vitamin B12 complex tablets which are very cheaply available without prescription.
4) Expensive Vegan Diet
This is one thing that needs to be addressed seriously. Since the demand is less the supply is limited and thus the cost factor is high. Once the demand will increase and reach a threshold, then mass production of vegan supplies will bring down the cost factor. At present you need to do your own research to find cheaper alternatives to expensive vegan foods. You can refer this one page guide on ilovevegan.com which addresses this problem in depth.
5) Meat cravings
It is possible that you might crave for meat when you suddenly become vegan. It happens to most of people who grew up eating meat quite often. As you know that the necessity is the mother of all inventions and mock meat is your answer to this question of meat craving. Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, Textured vegetable protein, Jackfruit, Mushrooms, and few beans or lentils are used to create mock meat which can match the taste of their non-vegetarian counterparts.
This is a blank canvas which can be painted with the best of your culinary imaginations. Unlimited possibilities and so much to uncover. Once a person who loves cooking turns vegan then you get to see some amazing recipes which are fully capable of startling you. Like have you ever imagined how a dairy loaded Gajar ka Halwa can be made vegan? It is simple.
Grate your carrots very fine. Add to a heavy bottom pan and cook till it soften. Then follow it by adding almond milk which you will need to cook for 30 minutes with some cardamom powder. Cook till the milk reduces now add 4-5 heavy tablespoons of dates paste and stir well. Now add 2 tablespoons of cashew paste to give added richness and then cook for 4 minutes. Last but not the list add chopped dry fruits of your choice and serve hot or cold as per the preference. Wasn’t it simple? This is how innovation comes into picture.
There are many recipes which are available on the internet. Some are absolutely new and some are the imitation of famous recipes with vegan alternatives. But the goal of these recipes is only to satiate your taste buds and make you happy. You can watch this short video here to have an idea about how yummy veganism can still be if you are really committed towards it.
Veganism and few fun and serious facts
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that vegetarians are less likely to suffer from hospitalization or death due to heart diseases. This can be credited to the low bad cholesterol levels which is a result of plant based vegan diet.
Israel’s Tel Aviv has 400 vegan and vegan friendly restaurants making it the most vegan friendly country for the modern tourists who have chosen veganism. It also holds the world’s largest vegan festival in the month of September.
Do you know there is a charity called Veganuary? Which encourages people to give the vegan lifestyle a chance for a month in the month of January. You can try it once and you don’t have to become vegan for lifetime. How cool is that?
Not all vegans are in it for consciousness about animal cruelty. Some are in it for weight loss, some are in it for healthy lifestyle and some are here to save planet from larger often ignored consequences.
80% of Antibiotics Sold in the USA are for Livestock, which are given to them to remain healthy and disease free without them having any diseases in first place. These enters the food chain and causes real damage.
A study done by Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn found that a vegan diet caused more than 500 genes to change in three months, turning on genes that prevent disease and turning off genes that cause cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses.
I assume reading this whole thing must have either exhausted you or made you think deeply. Veganism is not limited to vegan diet but the ethicality of staying true to its principles. The mission here is to end animal exploitation in all forms. The movement is gaining momentum and in coming years you will see a major shift in food and lifestyle choices. I know it is hard to even imagine this kind of lifestyle but my dear foodie it is hard only till you convince yourself.
Personally for me, I thought about going vegan few times but then the ethical vegan life would be not my cup of tea. At least for now this is the case with me, so I don’t want to commit something that I can’t fulfill. As I said previously for me it is all or nothing, and there is nothing in between. You tell me, can you live a life which is full of lifestyle challenges? If you are a vegetarian who is reading this or are someone who eats non-vegetarian food only twice a week, then you are doing your bit and you can carry on like that.
Veganism is often a decision that comes after a person self-introspects and decides to change the way of life. It comes with a lot of responsibility but yes the peace of mind and satisfaction must be divine and rewarding. Huge respect to all vegans out there. With this your foodie_khiladi is signing off for the day if you want to suggest or complain about anything then you can always DM me on foodie_khiladi007 or mail me at [email protected]
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