Of all the diets available, the Vegan Diet is considered ethical and sustainable. Ethical because it excludes all animal products and sustainable because it creates a low carbon footprint comparatively. In fact, many people consider changing to vegan because they do not want to make more carbon footprint. So, are you curious to know more about veganism?
What better way than to hear from a vegan herself? After a turbulent period in her life, Prathima chose veganism as her lifestyle. Here, she talks about veganism, why she made the change and her personal experiences of being a vegan. She also gives you a delightful vegan recipe at the end of the article.
In her words…
What is veganism?
Veganism is a philosophy that abstains from all kinds of exploitation done to animals, be it in the form of food, clothing etc. Therefore, vegans avoid all meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, and honey. They also avoid using wool, fur, leather, and products with animal-based ingredients.
However, going vegan 100% is not easy considering that many essential products, including medicines, contain animal products or are tested on animals. Veganism is not about aiming for perfection but trying to reduce the exploitation of animals as much as possible.
Why is it a sustainable food habit?
Sustainable food is the one that is healthy for our environment and our body. The amount of land and water needed to grow livestock is very high. Besides, resources needed to grow food to feed these livestock animals are very high too. Veganism eliminates such animal-based foods and hence is much sustainable.
That being said, however, what type of vegan foods you consume significantly affects the carbon footprint. Studies show that when seasonal foods are not chosen, the vegan diet may not be sustainable. Fruits and vegetables that are airlifted produce more greenhouse gas emissions than livestock rearing! Hence, choosing seasonal foods that are locally grown is the most sustainable.
Why is it healthy? What are its benefits?
Studies prove that whole foods plant-based diet (vegan food without any refined products) can reverse chronic diseases and even prevent them.
Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes helps maintain good health. All of these are rich sources of micro and macronutrients, anti-inflammatory, and boosts immune health.
Foods not included in veganism
Vegan diets do not include all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs, milk, butter, ghee, honey, cheese and paneer.
Are there any deficiencies that might arise because of veganism?
Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that you will not get in a vegan diet. Hence, vitamin B12 supplements are highly recommended for vegans. Otherwise, a well planned, whole food plant-based diet can help to get all the necessary nutrients.
Can everyone follow a vegan diet?
Yes, definitely. It is good for your health, animals and the environment. However, before you start on a vegan diet, I would highly recommend doing a lot of research and learning all aspects of it. Also, working with a dietitian or a plant-based doctor initially would work out well.
Can children be vegans? Will the diet hamper their growth physically and mentally?
Yes, children can be vegans.
Any diet, when not planned well and includes consumption of processed food, can cause health issues. The same applies to a vegan diet as well. So, when you provide a well-planned vegan meal to your child, you can rest assured it will provide all the necessary nutrients for the child’s physical and mental health.
My daughter has been vegan since conception and is thriving well on a vegan and whole-food plant-based diet. She is growing well and is reaching her milestones well, and she loves to eat various kinds of fruits and vegetables.
My experiences with veganism
I grew up in a fishermen family, so naturally, seafood was one of our staple foods. Besides, dairy and eggs were part of our everyday diet. Growing up, I frequently fell sick with a cold and runny nose. There used to be days of me waking up and sneezing at least 15-20 times at a stretch.
Despite medications, the problem stuck with me. Once I stopped consuming meat, seafood, and dairy, I observed that my long-term cold and runny nose issue had resolved completely. Now I don’t fall sick often. Even when I get an infection, my immunity is much better that I recover faster.
Hormones worked better
Menstrual cramps on the first day of my cycle used to be severe. Turning vegan has made the pain less severe and quite bearable.
Since my college days, I have had PCOS. For a few reasons, I had to change from a non-vegetarian diet to a vegetarian diet a couple of months before my first pregnancy. Also, during my first pregnancy, I became hypothyroid and suffered from hypertension and preeclampsia. I also ended up delivering a premature baby who could survive only for 42 days. Later, I had a miscarriage as well.
After these two incidents, I decided to take health into my hands. I changed to a healthy, vegan, and whole-food plant-based diet and lost 25+ kgs. Also, delivered a full built baby without facing any thyroid or high BP or gestational diabetes issues.
These are my experiences, and in the course of the few years of being a vegan, I have heard numerous stories that share various benefits.
So, that being said, you might feel you may miss eating what you’ve been used to. Initially, there may be cravings, but believe me, there are plenty of vegan recipes that are extremely delicious. I am sharing one such below.
Here is a recipe that mimics Cheese:
The dish goes well as a dip and as a spread on pizza, pasta etc.
- Cashews 1 cup, soaked
- Garlic, 1-2 clove
- Nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp
- Lemon juice, 2 tsp
- Salt, as per taste
- Pepper powder, 1/4th tsp
- Water, 1/4th cup
- Dried Italian herbs, ½ tsp
- Soak cashews overnight. Discard the water and rinse the cashews once.
- Blend soaked cashews with all other ingredients into a smooth paste.
- Use it like cheese on pasta, pizza and also as a dip.
Note: Nutritional yeast gives a cheesy flavour and is fortified with Vitamin B12.
More kids recipes here.
Edited by love4wellness | Images: Prathima Kharvi & canva.com
Disclaimer: The incidents narrated are based on the writer’s personal experiences and may or may not be suitable for everyone and can also depend on the individual’s health condition. It is better to seek expert advice if you want to try vegan to cure an illness.