Veganism is being defined as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty across everything, from food to clothing. Many celebrities including Benedict Cumberbatch, Zac Efron, Beyonce, Bill Clinton have gone vegan.
Earlier, the question used to be veg or non-veg? Now, it’s a threesome phrase. Veg, non-veg, or vegan?
Yes, vegan is the new word the world is being acquainted with, in the 21st century. Though many people are still haven’t heard about it. But, there are people who are bearing the flag of this new culinary movement, especially in the urban areas.
However, there is a strong debate across the world. To be vegan or not to be?
What is veganism?
Many people mistakes veganism for vegetarianism. But, they are completely different. Both literally and culturally as well.
The term ‘Veganism’ simply means, completely abstaining from consumption and use of animal products in any format. Basically, it’s a step towards stopping the cruel treatment made to animals in various sectors.
The nationwide lockdowns due to the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 witnessed many rising trends among people all around the globe, especially the Indians, and adopting a plant-based healthy diet was top amongst them. Many people who were previously vegetarians or trying to be one, took up the challenge, and successfully converted themselves into vegan. This was really an interesting trend to witness.
What does it means to be a vegan?
Being vegan might sound interesting and exciting for many, but there is a cultural root behind this trend, which one needs to be connected to, in order to adopt this. Or else, it would hurt the person’s taste buds. Well, not literally though.
Let us simplify the concept for you through some examples.
●It is the practice of abstaining from the consumption and use of animal products and switching to plant-based alternatives. For example, it may be like in place of cow milk, we will have soya milk or almond milk.
●Vegans also don’t consume any other animal products like meat or eggs. They substitute it with its synthetic or plant alternatives. For example, in place of honey, one may use maple syrup.
● It’s not only about food, but not using any animal products. For example, in place of wearing sweaters made of natural wool, they will switch to synthetic wool.
● It is not only restricted to human beings but also the followers can choose to opt for such foods and diet for their pets. In that case, they have to opt for vegan pet foods.
Rich or poor, who the veganism is for?
“Is veganism cheap or costly?” It’s a widely asked question from the curious souls.
No wonder, this is justified in a country that is obsessively price-sensitive about everything, from food to cars, from flower to mobile.
Well, the answer to the question is, “Yes, it is. No, it is not.” Let’s not put much pressure on brain and simplify it.
The answer is yes, because, such foods are costly considering the regularly available ones. These foods are not easily available always, especially in the suburbs, small towns, or villages. According to research, vegans could end up paying up to 65% more on an average meal, as compared to those without any dietary specifications.
Veganism in 2020
- Canada announced a $100 million investment in the plant-based industry.
- Vegan actor Joaquin Phoenix condemns the dairy industry in his Oscars speech.
- Zhuhai became the second Chinese city to ban dog and cat meat consumption.
- Around 33% of Israel’s population watch the first pro-vegan TV advertisement.
- Fast-food giant McDonald’s announced the launch of vegan burger ‘McPlant’ in the U.S.
- Pizza Hut launched vegan meat sausage toppings in the US and UK.
On the other hand, if you know about vegan alternatives and live in a metropolitan city, it’s easier to find those alternative foods there. Also, veggie staples such as rice, pasta, tofu, and beans are way much cheaper than meat and in some cases, fish also.
The money you save from not buying meat or fish can be spent toward paying just a little extra for non-dairy milk and other staples, which include fruits and vegetables. Also, if we count the health benefits in the long run, vegan foods are truly benefitting and save a lot of money as they keep you healthy in long run, as compared to non-veg and dairy-based foods.
To be or not to be vegan?
That’s something we should decide after considering the pros and cons of becoming a vegan. I am a religious non-vegetarian and die-hard meat lover. Hence, I would prefer to convince you not to become a vegan by stating the practical reasons against it and then the pros.
Why not to be a vegan?
● Lack of knowledge: Many of us know about the rising trend of veganism thanks to the internet. But, do we really know what it actually is?
I remember, once one of my friends was saying proudly that she’s a vegan while eating 100% milk ice cream! On questioning, she said by veganism, she means not consuming meat, fish, and eggs. I voluntarily took the pain to explain to her the difference between being vegetarian and vegan.
The above example is the true face of veganism in India. Only a few people know what it truly is. So, there is certainly a dearth of knowledge about being vegan.
● Poor availability and expensive: As this new trend is slowly getting its ground in India along with the rest of the world, there are very few places where such foods are available except a few online marketplaces. Also, in a place like India, these foods are mostly available on online sites only. Not many people can access that.
The reason for this lack of availability is clear. Very few people are vegan, considering the living standards of the majority of Indians are below average. It is difficult for most people to present simple meals such as rice and fish on plates, leave alone vegan foods.
● Little options in family gatherings or restaurants: As people are less aware of such plant-based foods, a lovely gathering with friends can easily turn into a disaster. Also, in such cases, the food budgets would become sky-high.
Also, think about going to the restaurant for lunch or dinner with family, friends, or even if a date it is, and what if there are no plant-based food options available for you there?
Top 10 cities with most vegan-friendly restaurants:
Why you should be a vegan?
● Rich in plant-based nutrients: Several studies have reported that such plant-based foods are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant nutrients, which improves health. These come with folate, magnesium, potassium along with Vitamin A, C, and E.
● You go vegan, you save animals: If you believe that killing animals for food is against your policy, then it is certainly the right option for you. Also, if you’re a Buddhist, or believe in the policy of Ahimsa, it is the right path to choose.
● Be a vegan for lower blood sugar and better kidney functions: Going vegan also has benefits for type 2 diabetes and declining kidney function. According to research conducted by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Heart Association (AHA), and National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity, and up to a 50–78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Some other reports claim that a vegan diet can lead to less susceptibility towards cancer, but again more research needs to be conducted regarding this matter. Research also claims that people who consume plant-based food are 32% less likely to die from heart diseases. According to a study, the vegan diet helps people to shed around 4.21 kg of weight than a controlled diet during an 18 week period.
My 21 days of vegan venture
I myself tried my hands with veganism, despite being a die-hard non-vegetarian. I took a 21 days vegan challenge. Trust me, those were the hardest 21 days of my life, or for my taste buds!
The First 2 to 3 days were good enough with liquor tea for breakfast and rice and dal for lunch or dinner. But as days passed, finding plant-based alternative foods and ordering them became very difficult. I couldn’t eat panner or milk, as they are not animal-based. Soya milk was too costly, so after 1 week I had to leave consuming milk. I couldn’t have meat as well. After asking some of the like-minded people, they also told me about the same problems.
Overall, finding vegan products was a tough job and the process was actually burning a hole in my pocket.
Now, the million-dollar question is should we become vegan?
Veganism is still a gray area when it comes to many people, who want to explore it. But, it is totally your choice as you may not face the same problems as me or many others who try to explore this side of gastronomy.
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