How difficult is it to turn vegan? Musician Anushka Manchanda shares her vegan diet plan
It's hard to give up non-vegetarian food, especially if one has been eating meat since childhood. However, there are many fitness enthusiasts who are experimenting with eating clean, and a few are even opting for a vegan lifestyle. But there are also those who are voluntarily giving up meat and milk because they are impacted by the inhuman treatment of animals to procure the produce.
The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) is encouraging more people to turn vegan and has launched the #21DayCompassionChallenge. The challenge helps new vegan converts to adapt this lifestyle change with ease. Musician and artiste Anushka Manchanda who has been a vegan for quite sometime now collaborates with FIAPO and talks about why she chose to be a vegan and how challenging it was to adapt this lifestyle.
How challenging was it to give up meat completely? Was it a conflict between mind and gut?
I started my journey with veganism 4 years ago. I had a hard time emotionally dealing with all the truth I was finding out about the animal agriculture industry, and I felt alone because I didn’t know any other vegans. I didn’t have support, and didn’t know the alternatives. But my mind and heart were clear. I knew why I wanted to do it, and I think once you have that clarity (and now the knowledge of the fact that there are alternatives for almost everything), you’re sorted.
What was the reaction from your family and friends?
My family was first amused, then quickly realized how serious I was about this. I was also made to take charge of the food in the house as my contribution to the household, and so I changed the diet for everyone. It was a bit sharp, I agree. At first I seduced them with fancy vegan dishes that were presented beautifully. Then they realized that I had been serving no meat or dairy! But they felt the difference in their bodies, and so we continued the diet. They order non vegetarian food once in a while, but I have to be cool about that.
Can you tell us in detail what your every day meals look like now?
Morning: I start my morning with spirulina, followed by fruits, and sometimes peanut butter on multigrain toast or oats. I eat Indian food for lunch which includes one vegetable like bhindi (ladies finger), methi aloo or baingan ka bharta, along with one daal (black, yellow, or orange), a salad, rotis made of jowar and bajra. If I eat rice it’s usually red or black.
Evening: I experiment with my dinner. Sometimes I eat Chinese-style horsegram or millet noodles (I like to keep the atta and maida intake low), or I eat combinations of veggies like steamed brocolli, mushrooms, red and yellow capsicum, thinly sliced potatoes, carrots, zucchini and beans sautéed in olive oil (and garlic). I have also tried making moong bean and potato patties on a burger bun with kale leaves, mint chutney with onions and tomatoes and on some occasion’s homemade pav bhaji. I don’t cook in vegetable oil. I use only til ka oil alternated with coconut oil once in a while and olive oil for the nights.
Between workouts: Now that I’m working out quite hard I do take a shake at some point in the day with Unived’s pea protein. I add bananas, coconut milk (or water), hemp seeds, peanut butter or natural vanilla essence for flavor. There’s also Unived’s super green mix!
What are the key ingredients/foods that you use as substitute for protein?
Lentils/daal, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, and natural preservative and additive free pea protein.
What do you have to say to other non-vegetarians who consume ethically sourced meat and milk users who look for similarly sourced milk products?
No animal wants to die. No cow wants to be pregnant her whole life, with her lifespan cut down to 7 years from 25. There is no humane or ethical way to take away someone’s life.
Don't you think somewhere turning vegan is like disturbing the food chain set by nature?
Nature has not set this existing food chain. Humans have. You don’t see us out in the wild hunting animals with our bare hands and teeth. We have to cut, clean, drain blood, season and cook almost all the meat we eat. That’s not natural. By living the way, we have so far we have destroyed so much of what nature has given us on this planet. If we took the food that is grown to feed the animals that are then slaughtered for us, and gave it to people who don’t have food, we would eradicate world hunger. If we took the land we are using to farm animals for meat and dairy, and turned that into land for farming food for humans, or turned it back into forests. We could fight global warming! We would save water, and land, and resources! By turning vegan you are actually correcting course and fixing the destruction we have caused.
What are you working on at the professional front?
My brother Shikhar (RĀKHIS) and I are heading the music at Navzar Eranee and Ranveer Singh’s new music label IncInk. I have an alternative moniker NUKA under which I am now producing music for the label and for myself. My independent release last year was Don’t Be Afraid. This year has been insane. I have edited the music videos coming out of Incink , and been working on the production of our artistes Spitfire, Kaambhari and SloCheeta’s music with Shikhar. I’m also completing work on NUKA’s solo project.
What next for Anushka?
I am becoming more active working on the environment. I want to give back to nature. I want to help to save her. We need her if we want to be happy, and people need to see that. I want to become strong. It may sound strange but in the future the wars will not be between countries and religions but between people fighting for the limited resources ,we need to stay alive! Food, water, clean air, are already threatened. I want to be able to protect myself and my family, and so I have started training in martial arts. I am pushing myself and my body. It has been great for my spirit too and I highly recommend it to everyone, no matter how old you are!