Going vegan is almost become like a trend. World Vegan Day – observed annually on 1st November is the best time to discuss about the diet. The day marks the founding day of The Vegan Society in the United Kingdom. World Vegan Day is celebrated to encourage people to follow a vegan lifestyle, which may benefit human health as it is for animal welfare and of course, the natural environment.
Vegan Day is an opportunity to promote the benefits of a vegan diet and veganism in general. The term was coined by Donald Watson and derived from the word Vegetarian. At that time, the differentiation was that Vegans did not consume dairy products. Later this extended to eggs, and by 1951, veganism had become a movement of people who did not partake in the exploitation of animals.
Difference between being Vegan and being Vegetarian
The only common thing between the two is a shared avoidance of meat products. However, the similarity ends here – and there are many differences. Vegan is a person who does not consume or use products derived from animals. A vegan diet contains only plant-based foods. People adopt veganism to avoid exploitation of animals.
To be vegan is to avoid all animal based products (meat is just one animal based product) – including dairy (milk, cheese, ghee, butter) and products like honey. This does not apply to vegetarians as many vegetarians in India have a heavy dairy inclusive diet. Hence, these people are often called Lacto-vegetarians, precisely for this reason.
Eat only Organic? Not Really
Eating only organic is certainly not a requirement to be vegan. To eat organic fruits and vegetables is entirely a preference. Many vegans consume traditionally grown fruits and vegetables as well. And the science on which is ‘better’ is still evolving and mixed, in terms of consensus.
Vegan and Nutrition
A misconception around the diet is that pursuing it leads to overall poorer nutrition. One needs to do a cursory research before committing to a diet change – be it vegan or not. Diet change can often be a significant decision that warrants at least some research. Also, if you are suffering from any kind of ailment like Diabetes, BP, then it is important to consult your doctor regarding the same.
If all animal products are left out, there’s the possibility of a reduced consumption of protein, iodine, calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids. Each of these nutrients has a viable alternative (especially protein) that is either based on food substitutes or simple supplements. If you are a vegan, then consult your nutritionist for alternatives.
Some plant based alternatives are coming up with the growing vegan community in India. There are soya products with lentils and beans being another good source. There’s actually a host of plant-based dairy products to choose from – even a simple staple like milk can be substituted with soya milk, almond milk and cashew milk. A healthy portion of leafy vegetables takes cares of vitamins, and as for Vitamin D – it can be tackled by (socially distant for now) exposure to sunlight.