Contrary to popular belief, veganism does not just finish at being a vegan through diet. It means discarding everything tangible made of animal products, right from leather and silk to fur. It is a dietary choice, that is definitely an extreme form of vegetarianism. People are taking to veganism for many reasons including weight loss among the other health benefits it has to offer. In fact, the month of January is promoted as Veganuary to encourage people to adopt this lifestyle or at least try it for a month.
Speaking about its rising popularity, Pavan Chennam, executive chef, says, “As an increasing number of people adopt plant-based diets around the world, restaurants and chefs are eager to cater to the growing trend by creating vegan menus. Chefs have started introducing vegan dishes on their menu. Pop-up events are also done with vegan dishes on the menu.”
But jumping on the fad diet bandwagon may have its consequences and veganism is not devoid of its share of downsides. According to Munmun Ganeriwal, nutritionist, veganism as a concept is better suited for non-Indians. She gives a simple example of milk. “Milk from the European breeds contains the A1 variant of beta casein protein, which has been related to allergies and serious health conditions. Milk from indigenous breeds is of superior quality and carries the crucial A2 beta casein protein. Veganism works for Western countries because when they avoid milk, they avoid the inferior A1 milk. For us, it is foolish to give up milk, ghee, curd, etc,” she says.
Recognising one of the biggest criticisms of a non-vegetarian diet, she insists that non-vegetarians exercise caution and avoid meat from factory farms. “Only thing is you need to ensure that you are having meat or eggs from animals raised in sustainable and cage-free farms,” she says. Those looking forward to trying out veganism can do so in a safe manner by following these guidelines, suggested by Neha Shetty, nutrition expert.
- Ingredients:2 cups shredded coconut, 1 cup coconut cream, 60gm sugar, 1tbsp coconut flour, 1tbsp almond meal or almond flour, 1tsp vanilla essence
- Method: In a bowl, heat coconut milk and sugar until warm. Add coconut flour and almond flour and whisk. Make sure there are no lumps. Heat for a few minutes till it slightly thickens. Remove from heat and add vanilla essence and the desiccated coconut. Mix well. Using a spoon, drop roundels of dough on a baking tray that is greased and lined with parchment. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius and bake for about 14 to 15 minutes till golden brown. Once cool dip the roundels individually in melted chocolate and let the chocolate set . Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, these will last for about 15 days.
- Health benefits: “Coconut is a great source of fibre. It also contains vitamin B6, iron and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. It has saturated fats from lauric acid which helps raise the heart’s protective good cholesterol. So it’s overall not only a vegan but also a healthy recipe,” says chef Manish Khanna.
Balance it out: Make sure to gorge on veggies, fruits, grains, lentils, nuts and healthy fats. A well-balanced diet would provide the right nutrients that your body needs. Macronutrients and fibres are essential to keep you full of energy, and plant foods are loaded with it
Get the protein: Animal-based foods are high in good quality proteins and your supply might go down when you turn vegan. So, proper alternative sources of proteins such as tofu, soy beans, etc. should be consumed in regular intervals throughout the day.
Stay hydrated: A vegan diet is rich in fibre and hence consuming sufficient water is crucial to improve the digestion. So, make sure you consciously sip on water.
Vitamin B12/D3 and iron: Animal products are rich in B12 and hence their levels in your body may go down when you abstain from it. When you turn vegan, it is crucial to supplement your body with vitamin B12 . And replacing milk with a calcium-rich diet is also essential. apart from including iron-rich veggies and fruits, and soaking up some sun.
Include probiotics: Dairy products contain good bacteria that help in our digestion. So it’s important to find a vegan friendly probiotic source such as coconut yoghurt or groundnut yoghurt.
Limit your processed food intake: Meat and dairy are more calorie-dense. So after switching to your vegan diet, to satiate your hunger pangs, do not buy those vegan processed or preserved foods.
Right ways: Keep an expert in the loop while you follow the diet to be sure it suits your body.