A recent survey by YouGov, a UK-based marketing research and data analysis company, mentions that 65% of Indians have decided to switch to a vegan diet in 2022. According to the survey, India ranks third on the list and only behind the United States and the United Kingdom. In fact, many Indians celebrated “Veganuary” — a portmanteau of “vegan” and “January” — this year, highlighting the emerging trend in the country.
The term “vegan” was coined by Briton Donald Watson in 1944 and refers to a person who consumes food that is not derived from animals or animal products. While many, like Watson, opted for such a diet to prevent cruelty to animals, others emphasize the health benefits associated with veganism. A few folks from Delhi-NCR chat with us about their journey to a vegan lifestyle.
The Meatless Challenge
It was Amar Chandel’s book Perfect Health in 20 Weeks that inspired Pratibha Jadon from Greater Noida West to switch to a vegan diet. A former vegetarian, Jadon quit dairy five years ago and hasn’t looked back since. “For me, the change was not due to a trend. I intended to change my lifestyle and it seemed like a healthy alternative,” shares Jadon. Similar to Jadon, Shruti Vashist from South Delhi has adopted veganism in 2013.
For Vashist, this lifestyle change was part of a spiritual awakening she had. “Everything had started to feel very heavy to me. I love desserts and I used to eat a lot of dairy products before. After eating dairy products, I started to feel extremely uncomfortable. So I was happy to stop; I became a vegan overnight,” Vashist mentions. “Our spiritual texts mention ‘jaisa ann, waisa mann’ [What you eat is what you are]. You have to think about the quality of food from a mother cow grieving over her child or from an animal that has been slaughtered,” shares Nandini Gulati of Gurugram, who has been on a vegan diet since 2011. Former non-vegetarian Gulati points out that the most difficult part of the change was giving up meat and fish. “It’s quite difficult to get out of the grip of all the food we’re used to. Stopping the meat was the hardest part. Once I did that, it only took me 15 days to quit dairy,” 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 achieve her goal weight with ease, while Gulati – she previously suffered from high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis – shares how she has never felt better. “I decided to try something new; it was not a conscious attempt. However, once I became vegan, I loved it so much that I haven’t looked back,” says Gulati. Vashist mentions how adopting veganism has helped her feel more energetic. “I felt much more alive. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced it, but I feel that I have more control over my body and I also control my emotions.
A balanced diet
New Friends Colony nutritionist Ishi Khosla mentions that eliminating certain types of foods in an effort to go vegan is not the right way to follow this diet. “A healthy vegan diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, a variety of beans and healthy fats is desirable. So there must be substitutes and alternatives to ensure there is no lack of nutrition.
Jadon has homemade oat milk instead of regular milk. Vashist, who is also a dessert lover, shares how she developed a new love for coconut milk. “When I switched to a vegan diet, there were hardly any alternatives to choose from, so I learned how to make peanut milk and cheese from cashews at home. What I love part of this diet is that there are so many options to choose from. Today I eat a lot of fresh fruit and salads,” says Gulati.
Talking about how a vegan diet balances nature, something an individual should go through after many years of chemically fortified foods, Vashist concludes, “I think veganism is here to stay.