Making a switch to a vegan diet
Veganism is having a moment right now. Three Delhi-NCR citizens mention their reasons behind adopting this trend
A recent survey by YouGov, a UK-based marketing research and data analysis firm, mentions that 65 per cent of Indians have decided to shift to a vegan diet in 2022. According to the survey, India ranked third on the list, and is only behind the US and the UK. In fact, many Indians celebrated ‘Veganuary’—a portmanteau word formed from ‘vegan’ and ‘January’—this year, highlighting the emerging trend in the country.
The term ‘vegan’ was coined by Britisher Donald Watson in 1944, and it refers to a person who consumes food that is not derived from any animal or animal products. While many like Watson made a shift to such a diet in order to prevent animal cruelty, there are others who emphasise the health benefits associated with veganism. A few people from Delhi-NCR discuss with us their journey in embracing a vegan lifestyle.
The no-meat challenge
It was Amar Chandel’s book Perfect Health in 20 Weeks that inspired Pratibha Jadon from Greater Noida West to shift to a vegan diet. A former vegetarian, Jadon left dairy products five years ago and hasn’t looked back since. “For me, the shift was not because of any trend. I had been meaning to bring about a change in my lifestyle and this seemed like a healthy alternative,” shares Jadon. Similar to Jadon, Shruti Vashist from South Delhi adopted veganism in 2013.
For Vashist, this change in lifestyle was part of a spiritual awakening that she had. “Everything had started feeling very heavy to me. I love desserts and I used to eat a lot of dairy before. After eating dairy products, I would just start feeling extremely uncomfortable. So I was happy to quit; I became vegan overnight,” mentions Vashist. “Our spiritual texts mention ‘jaisa ann, waisa mann’ [What you eat is what you are]. One has to think about the quality of food coming from a mother cow grieving for her child or from an animal that has been slaughtered,” shares Nandini Gulati from Gurugram, who has been on a vegan diet since 2011. A former non-vegetarian, Gulati elaborates that the difficult part about the change was giving up meat and fish. “To get out of the grip of all the food that we are used to having is quite hard. Quitting meat was the difficult part. Once I did that, it took me only 15 days to quit dairy products,” she adds.
A rejuvenating lifestyle
The three women we spoke to also mention how they saw a significant change in their health after their shift. Jadon was able to reach her weight goal easily, while Gulati—earlier, she was suffering from high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis—shares how she had never felt better. “I made the shift to try out something new; it was not a conscious attempt. However, once I turned vegan, I liked it so much that I have not looked back,” Gulati says. Vashist mentions how adopting veganism helped her feel more energetic. “I felt much more alive. It is hard to explain if one has not experienced it, but I feel I have more control over my body, and in control of my emotions as well.”
A balanced diet
Nutritionist Ishi Khosla from New Friends Colony mentions that eliminating certain types of food for the sake of turning vegan is not the right way to go about this diet. “A healthy vegan diet with loads of vegetables, fruits, a variety of beans, and healthy fats is desirable. So, there must be substitutes and alternatives to ensure that there isn’t a lack of nutrition.”
Jadon has homemade oats milk instead of regular milk. Vashist, who is also a dessert lover, shares how she has developed a new-found love for coconut milk. “When I shifted to a vegan diet, there were barely any alternatives to choose from, so I learnt to make peanut milk, and cheese out of cashew at home. What I love about this diet is that there are so many options to choose from. Nowadays, I eat a lot of fresh fruits and salads,” says Gulati.
Talking about how a vegan diet is nature balancing, something that an individual should go through after many years of chemically-enriched food, Vashist concludes, “I do think veganism is here to stay.”