I hope you’ve had a great Diwali with all your loved ones besides you! Now that festivities are over, many of you must have gotten back to your original diet regimes or some of you would want to go on a diet because you’ve put on a lot of weight. In the recent times, there is a lot of buzz going on about Veganism and how you can lose weight naturally through it. 1st of November is celebrated as the “World Vegan Day” all across the world. So let’s have a sneak peak on what exactly Veganism is and how do we go about it!
What is Veganism All About?
The Vegan Society defines “Veganism as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”. This basically means excluding meat and its products, dairy products, fish and other seafoods, eggs from your routine diet. Now that I have given you a list of what all to exclude, lets have a look at what is eaten in a vegan diet. A vegan diet is richly diverse and comprises all kinds of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans and pulses – all of which can be prepared in endless combinations that will ensure you’re never bored. From curry to cake, pastries to pizzas, all your favorite things can be suitable for a vegan diet if they’re made with plant-based ingredients.
Preventing the exploitation of animals is one of the main reasons behind Veganism. However, veganism is also beneficial for improved health and a good environment. More and more people are turning to a vegan diet for the health benefits like increased energy, younger looking skin and a healthy well-being are just some of the claims from enthusiastic plant eaters. A well-planned plant-based diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential vitamins and minerals. The plant-based sources of these nutrients tend to be low in saturated fat, high in fibre and packed with antioxidants, helping mitigate some of the modern world’s biggest health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Also for a healthy environment, one of the most effective things an individual can do to lower their carbon footprint is to avoid all animal products.
And the Downsides…
Unfortunately, a diet that excludes all animal products does have some nutritional drawbacks. Rodriguez cites that calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12 and folate—all of which are present in meat and dairy as key nutrients are lacking in a vegan diet. Over the time, inadequate consumption of these can result in a host of problems, including loss of bone and muscle mass is what she says. However, vitamin B-12 is present in fortified foods, including cereals and plant milk (soy and other), in tofu, and in nutritional yeast & also “there is a sound rationale for supplements,” for vitamin B-12 and other key nutrients, which many vegans do take.
Some Notable Distinctions…
Honey is probably the product most frequently mistaken as vegan-friendly. There is a common misconception that honey bees make their honey especially for us, but this is not the truth. Honey is made by the bees for the bees, and their health is sacrificed when it is harvested by humans. Importantly, harvesting honey does not correlate with the definition of veganism, which seeks to exclude not just cruelty, but exploitation. Hence, Honey is also a big NO for vegans!
Vegetarian ≠ Vegan
Also, many people get confused between Vegetarianism & Veganism. These are two are not one and the same. A vegetarian diet can be flexible and is most often personalized. There is Lacto-Vegetarianism that allows milk and milk products (which is what most strict vegetarian Indians follow). Then there are Ovo-Vegetarians, they do eat eggs. There are Pesco-Vegetarians that eat fish (think vegetarians that have been living in coastal areas from generations!). And there are also Ovo-Lacto (Milk and eggs allowed). But, Veganism is not flexible at all! Vegan people do not consume milk and mike products which even strictest of vegetarians do.
The Taste Test…
Want to try a Vegan dish? Try this amazing Vegan bowl –
Ingredients – (Serves for 2)
1/4 cup Boiled sprouts
1/4 cup Boiled corn
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup diced bell peppers
1/4 cup sauted Tofu
Oregano, chilli flakes, tomato ketchup, lemon juice and salt for taste.
Procedure – Mix all the above ingredients and serve cold!
So, that was Veganism! If you wish to make transition into veganism, my advice would be to take it slow and not to change overnight. Start by eliminating 1-1 product and gradually you’ll get used to not eating it! It might be a bit difficult initially to change your eating habits, but remember – “Change is the only constant!”. And also remember – there is no right or wrong way, the only right way is the one that suits you the best.
Veganism is so much more than just a diet or trend… It is a way of life! And if it is not for you, that is ok too 🙂
Stay healthy, stay fit & Happy World Vegan Day!
Abha is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate and currently pursuing M.Sc. in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics. She calls herself an amateur Food and Health Blogger and an extremely big foodie at heart. For her food is not just about calories, carbohydrates and fats; it is a way of life! Abha truly believes that no food is unhealthy, what can be unhealthy is our attitude towards it. So if we correct our attitude, we can enjoy all those yummy foods! 🙂