Everything you need to know about adopting a vegan lifestyle
From cruelty-free living to reducing carbon footprint, there are many motivating factors to make the switch to a vegan lifestyle. Before you set forth on this mission, here are some things you should know
I turned vegan 10 years ago. I was born in a family that ate vegetarian food at home. I experimented with meat in college and then turned vegan in 2009.
THE TURNING POINT
From being a vegetarian and then a meat eater, I gave up eating animals altogether a few years later, as a New Year’s resolution. When I learnt about the cruelty in the dairy industry along with all the other ways animals are exploited for human wants, I turned vegan overnight—it was a light bulb moment for me. I haven’t looked back since.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
The biggest and toughest part of turning vegan, especially during the initial stages, is the dietary aspect. We are slaves to our taste buds. There are two ways to go about it. One is to cut out all the foods that do not fit in this category, overnight. The other is to drop one ingredient at a time. I think whichever path you choose, doing a little bit of research before you embark on this journey is important. You can make a list of the different substitutes available for the foods you normally consume and keep trying different ways to incorporate them until you find what you like. For instance, experiment with your tea or coffee by substituting cow’s milk with almond, cashew or coconut milk.
Veganism is a lifestyle and it should never involve food-related choices alone. Along with dropping dairy, eggs and honey, I also consciously avoid silk, leather, pearl, wool and all cosmetics that contain animal-derived ingredients.
When I turned vegan, my family was very supportive. I am a mother of two, living in a nuclear setup. My kitchen is fully vegan and I am raising my kids vegan. It was definitely easier in the initial days as I took an interest in cooking and researched different substitutes that could be easily made at home or found locally.
A CHALLENGING COURSE
If you’d asked me this exact question 10 years ago, my answer would have been quite the opposite of what it is now. In 2009, if I wanted a vegan cheese sandwich I made everything from scratch. In 2019, I can go get a vegan cheese sandwich from any one of the six vegan restaurants in Mumbai or any of the numerous vegan-friendly restaurants in the city. I can even order vegan cheese from one of the many entrepreneurs making vegan cheese in the city. There are also multiple vegan accessory brands and ethnic wear labels that only use vegan fabrics.
Eating out has never been easier in Mumbai. As of May 2019, there are six fully vegan restaurants here. Almost every restaurant will have something that is accidentally vegan. Quite a few of them serve vegan dishes while some even have separate vegan menus. The vegan movement abroad has always been ahead of India, so it has never been hard to find vegan food outside the country. When we travel as a family, we usually rent apartments with kitchens so that we can cook with local ingredients. There are also apps that list vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in different cities; these are especially useful when travelling.
The best part about being vegan is the sense of lightness I feel because every decision I make about what I consume comes from wanting to be kind. The most difficult part, is that once you have opened your eyes and heart, there’s this feeling of guilt that it is never enough, because we are so few in number. It keeps us wondering if it will ever make a difference.
Get your Vitamin B12 levels checked. Always look for healthier alternatives for vegan food. It is very easy to be a junk food vegan, but that will backfire on your health leading to blame being assigned to ‘the crazy vegan diet’.
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