While most of us have heard of the term 'veganism', only a few really know the exact essence of the regime. During my previous stint, I learned everything I know about this lifestyle while giving Goa its very first vegan cafe.
Veganism is an ethical lifestyle choice that excludes as far as possible all forms of cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. It involves abstaining from the use of animal products and by-products, including meat, dairy, eggs and honey. It is a way of living that is driven by the motive of reducing harm to animals and the environment.
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With the rise of veganism in recent years, it is important to be informed on various aspects of the lifestyle before diving in. Not only does switching to a vegan diet have a positive impact on the environment, but it has also been associated with a plethora of health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, an enhanced gut performance, and a lessened risk of heart disease. Furthermore, animal husbandry has been a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution, and adopting a vegan diet can help minimise these problems by lowering the number of animals used for food production. In addition, it has been aforementioned; veganism has its ethical benefits as well. It helps reduce animal cruelty and exploitation.
However, the guests frequenting my vegan cafe as well brought to my notice that adapting to veganism has its own side effects. Due to the sudden rise in the fibre content from fruits and vegetables, a lot of them complained of experiencing frequent stools and gas. Headaches, fatigue and acne too are commonly observed side effects. By understanding the nature of this plant-based diet, individuals can make an informed decision about whether veganism is or is not right for them.
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Moreover, even though the diet may still seem straightforward on what goes and what does not, there are actually two types of it: restrictive veganism and plant-based veganism. Restrictive veganism involves following a more rigorous adherence to vegan principles. This includes no consumption of everything that comes from animals, be it food, leather products or any animal sourced produce. This means no steaks, no meat burgers, no chicken, bacon, turkey, or other kinds of meat or fish. Plus, no cheese, milk, eggs or honey.
Whereas plant-based veganism is not as rigid and allows for the occasional consumption of animal products. Understanding the differences between these two types of veganism is important for those who wish to make the switch to veganism in an ethical and informed way. Moreover, adopting a plant-based vegan diet can be easier for those who are transitioning from a non-vegan diet. If it gets very challenging, we nowadays do have mock meats or meat imitations, which are 100% plant sourced but taste and feel like meat. Tofu is the most known and used vegan ingredient in the market because of its versatility.
There are many notions about how the diet can be extremely tough to follow. Which is why it is even stereotyped to be a passing fad, instead of a way of life. However, with the right education and support, making the switch to veganism can be easy and rewarding.
It is important to understand the benefits as well as the challenges of being vegan. It is also essential to be mindful of the nutritional needs including protein, iron, vitamin B12, and calcium that may need to be supplemented if certain foods are not regularly included in the diet. With the right guidance and support, anyone can successfully adopt a vegan lifestyle and enjoy its benefits. Plus remember, there is no pressure to do it overnight. Instead, you should transition in the most convenient way for you. This will ensure your sustenance and consistency to the diet.
About the Author: Chef Jerson Fernandes is the Culinary Director at Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach