The world has changed and people follow various ideologies to live by or believe in. While many of us have certain values, lifestyles and attitudes towards the life we chose and the choices we make, others are seen as extreme. Extreme, I say, because they do not conform to societal norms that are usually expected. One such form of lifestyle is the followers of vegan diet. As humans, we are built to be omnivores. But many people choose to stick to eating only a certain diet, which is in alignment with their moral principles. While no one can question a person’s conscious decision about one’s diet, there are always certain pros and cons associated with any form of extreme diet.
What is a Vegan Diet?
A food habit, practice or a diet in which a person abstains from the use of any animal products or animal produce in their daily diet is called Veganism. A person who follows such a food intake practice is commonly referred to as a Vegan. The followers of this diet believe that animals should not be treated like commodities and bred in captivity to fulfil the needs of humans.
- As Indians, this concept is not new to us as we have mostly been vegetarians and non-veg food habits became a part of our diet much later. There are primarily two types of vegans:
- Dietary Vegans who do not eat anything or consume any animal products at all, be it meat, eggs or even products that have any animal product at all like cakes made with egg.
- On the other hand, we have ethical vegans who will refrain from anything that is animal produce, starting from their diet to leather products, or anything that has used animals in any manner.
- Also, there are many people who turn vegan to support their crusade to end cruelty to animals.
What is the Underlying Belief of a Vegan Diet?
The simple belief that each animal, plant or living organism has an equal right to life drives the people who follow Veganism. While, as humans, we are omnivores, but given the availability of food in abundance today, not many support the cause of killing animals for food. This cause has become a crusade today, because across the globe, many animals—be it poultry, pigs, cows, buffaloes are reared in captivity in horrendous conditions to for their meat or for their produce.
All are Created Equal:
Vegans believe in equality and the right to life for all. Many calves and piglets are put into small cages that do not even have enough space for them to move, to keep the muscle tender and once the animal dies, it is packaged for human consumption. Many people have turned vegan to show their contempt for such inhuman treatment of animals.
Vegan diet plan is considered a healthy way of life and vegans feel that all kinds of minerals and proteins that are essentially derived from animal products can be complemented from other foods that exist naturally. The bottom line of a vegan person’s diet choice is not to cause harm, whether intended or unintended, to another life form for the satiation of human needs.
What is the difference between a Vegan and a Vegetarian?
Many people often confuse a vegan and a vegetarian. India is a country with the largest population that follows a strict vegetarian diet. Vegetarians do not refrain from the use of animal products like milk, eggs, honey or silk. Vegans, on the other hand, refrain from direct use of animal produce in their diet as well as any product that comes directly from animals like leather.
What is a Normal Vegan Diet like?
The vegan diet includes, but is not limited to, soups, ratatouille, rice, beans, hummus, falafel, soy milk, tofu and burritos to name a few. Soya and its associated products are an integral part of any vegan diet since they compensate for the lack of animal protein in their daily diet intake. Soybeans are a rich source of protein and have been adapted to provide nutrition. Soy is now available as soy milk, soy cheese- tofu, and curd as well. Many soy ready made products are now available in the market for the vegans to use.
Instead of milk, a vegan’s diet is complemented by the use of almond milk, grain milk, coconut water and coconut milk. Soy provides for all the vital nutrients, amino acids, and above all healthy proteins as well. Vegan diet replaces eggs by the use of flax seeds and baking powder replaces eggs in most of the bakery items where the fluff is needed.
The Good about the Vegan Diet:
Vegan diet is supposed to be good since it reduces the risk of heart disease, the chances of cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, dementia and osteoporosis. This has been attributed to the fact that a vegan diet is rich in fiber, natural minerals and vitamins, while at the same time, the diet has a relatively lower content of saturated fat and lower calories.
Earlier, it was believed that vegan diet is not good for expecting mothers and old people. But now it is accepted that a vegan mother is as healthy as any other women and will have a normal pregnancy. In fact, doctors and studies have now established that vegans have a reduced chance of type 2 diabetes, reduced level of harmful cholesterol, and reduced chances of cancer of the colon and prostate. It also reduces the chances of having any appendix troubles by almost a 50%.
The Bad about the Vegan Diet:
People and doctors have advocated that vegans suffer from a deficiency of Vitamin D, zinc and vitamins B12 as they are not as easily provided through the natural food forms or grains that are a part of the vegan diet. Today, doctors often advice vegans to eat supplements, to make up for the deficiency of the above stated minerals in the body. Also, it has been seen that vegans have higher chances of contracting eye problems when compared with vegetarians or non-vegetarians.
The Ugly Truth about Meats on the Table:
While many people believe in a balanced approach towards one’s food habit, the vegan diet has seen itself in the middle of many a controversies. Many vegan diet followers are against the unethical and inhuman treatment of animals. Many animal activists have taken to the road and started campaigns to promote the healthy diet form and convert people to a healthy vegan diet. The vegan followers have taken to roads to tell industry and its people to shut down the inhuman treatment of animals, many a times seeking and asking for government intervention to ensure equal treatment for animals
Many vegan diet followers also aim to bring to light the plight of animals as they are bred in captivity and are forced to produce more to fulfill the needs of us humans. It has caused many people to change their heart. But on the other side, there is a segment of population that ponders about the loss of employment in case of an entire industry shutting down.
Is Being a Vegan Good?
Many studies have now provided enough study material and analysis that puts the diet at par with any other diet people follow. It is equally healthy and provides various minerals and vitamins through a variety of naturally existing foods. A successful and healthy vegan diet is the one that allows a variety of foods and ensures that all essential nutrients are supplied to the body. A few of the nutrients that are not as easily available in the daily food of the vegan diet can be supplied through supplements based on a dietician’s recommendations.
The answer to the question is open to all. If one finds being a vegan fulfilling, you should go right ahead. The diet is proven to be healthy with reduced chances of many diseases. However, timely check ups should be done to ensure you’re healthy inside, rather than just looking healthy on the outside since many diseases related to deficiency could surge later and cause trouble. A simple Vegan diet plan is definitely healthy, safe and a way to a better life along with a healthy heart, body, mind and soul.
The last word:
Vegans are free to choose what they consume, and their demand for equitable and humane treatment of animals is justified. But to propose to shut down entire industries or factories would be going to extremes and likely to put many people on the road by causing them their employment. The point is that no one should be forced or coerced into following a certain way living. As people and vegan followers, they can show us what is happening to put the meat on our plates, but not expect a ban on food for people since everyone is free to make a living of choice.
Live and let live—that is the key to accepting differences. We are all different. Though the cruelty meted out to animals is in no form acceptable, the solution is difficult. Be a proud vegan and keep spreading the message but let meat eaters make their own informed decision about what they want to eat!
Hope you found this article helpful. Do share your views with is in the comments section below.