Veganism has become a way of life for many a Bengalurean. With today being ‘World Vegan Day’, those who have embraced veganism say that they will not trade it for anything. Being a vegan has not only given them a chance to stand by what they believe is ethically right, but has also made them stronger and healthier individuals.
Those who have chosen to turn vegan say that it is not an overnight process but the result of a lot of thought and contemplation. Susmitha Subbaraju, a vegan and a restaurateur, says that she was shocked when she heard about the cruelty against animals.
“I would like to call veganism a social justice movement to fight cruelty against animals. I turned vegan for ethical reasons,” says Susmitha. She also says that she doesn’t miss eating whatever she used to earlier because she has found interesting alternatives. “I use the existing ingredients and turn them around to make vegan dishes which could be anything from cake, biscuits, curries to more exotic variations,” she adds.
Sujani Koya, a software professional, was a non-vegetarian before she turned vegan three years ago. “I have always had a soft spot for cows and when I discovered the process used to extract dairy products, I decided to turn vegan. I joined a vegan group on Facebook and that helped me in my journey,” says Sujani.
Roshni Sanghvi, a certified fitness expert and social media influencer, says turning vegan was the best decision she made.
“I was a hard-core dairy eater before I took the plunge. But after I started the plant-based diet, I realised that my stamina has improved. My sleep pattern improved and my energy and endurance levels doubled,” explains Roshni.
She adds that a plant-based diet removes toxins from the body and improves the quality of life. Ethical reasons and health benefits are what inspired vegetarians like Lakshmi Ananth and her husband Ananth Krishnan, to embrace veganism. “It is an Indian culture to consume dairy products. But when I got an insight into the process behind making these products, I decided to give it up altogether,” says Ananth.
Lakshmi pitches in, “I followed Ananth and I realised that it was not as hard as I thought it would be. Our children too are vegans. I have found alternatives to the food products we used to consume earlier. For instance, for cheese, we use cashew cheese and milk has been substituted with cashew milk. We also use peanut curd instead of plain curd.”
But nutritionists have a different take on veganism, which they feel is still in its nascent stages in India. Sheela Krishnaswamy, nutritionist and wellness consultant, says “It makes sense for people in the West to turn vegans because they are primarily meat eaters, but Indians are traditionally lacto vegetarians. So it doesn’t make sense to be a vegan here.”
Sheela feels veganism works well if people consume all the food groups in the required quantities. “The problem with turning vegan is that you don’t get vitamin B-12 which is found only in animals. The deficiency of vitamin B-12 leads to a disorder called Pernicious Anemia. It is a condition where not enough red blood cells are present in the body,” explains Sheela. She advises vegans to take vitamin B-12 supplement.
“The success of veganism lies in a well-balanced diet,” she says.