If you think being a vegan is difficult, imagine being a factory farmed animal!
Veganism is a way of life that alters diet, clothing, and other lifestyle necessities with the goal of ending the exploitation of animals. A vegan diet is free of all animal products such as meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. “Ethical vegans” also avoid the use of products made from animal skin such as leather or fur, feathers, and other things that cause suffering to animals during production.
Vegan living often reduces the intake of saturated fats, animal hormones, and cholesterol while increasing the intake of foods that originate from plants such as fruits, beans, cereals, and vegetables. A vegan diet has the potential to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Here is an excerpt of interview discussion with three youngsters who have completely switched to a vegan diet and are loving it!
Tell us about yourself and your path to veganism
Adishree Ram, Student, Kolkata: I was a hardcore non-vegetarian. Yes, I was but then I came across PETA (People supporting Ethical Treatment of Animals). I felt guilty for being selfish toward certain animals. That is when I decided to be a vegan. I had to console my family and my boyfriend too! At last, I was capable of getting the support of my father.
Anonymous, Student, Chandigarh: I was a vegetarian but it was my love for the animals that I decided to switch to veganism. Dog lovers don’t eat dogs. Just like that animal lovers should not be eating any animal. It is a big change and it is a little expensive. I cannot eat food anywhere I wish and I had never been a good cook. But for the sake of vegan diet, I joined a few vegan groups. They held workshops for vegan recipes and I started attending them. At first, it was a little difficult for me but gradually I learnt. Now I can proudly say I am a better cook than any of my family members and I cook the healthiest dishes.
Kiratee Vayeda, Working, Ahmedabad: I am from a Hindu-Brahmin family and non-vegetarian food has never been allowed in our house. So, it wasn’t that difficult for me to switch to vegan diet. Solely plant based food had never been a problem for me. I enjoy Vegan food as I enjoyed my earlier diet.
Advantages of a well-planned vegan diet
Adishree Ram, Student, Kolkata: Veganism helped me get in shape. I feel better than before. Previously, I was a lazy teenager but now I am more active. It helped me control my thyroid. I was an anaemic and Vegan diet fixed it to a large extent. My skin is clearer and I feel stronger.
Anonymous, Student, Chandigarh: This is a healthful choice. It is possible for a purely plant-based diet to provide the key nutrients necessary for health, and a vegan diet eliminates the risk of any intake of potentially harmful animal fats. Meat eaters are at a higher risk of colorectal and prostate cancers.
Kiratee Vayeda, Working, Ahmedabad: Vegan diet is less toxic than our everyday junk food. Even the junk food of vegan diet is healthy. It is more fibrous and it is good for the stomach. It reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and increases your life.
What changes have you seen in your life after switching to veganism?
Adishree Ram, Student, Kolkata: I am healthier. I know what to eat and how to make dishes healthier. Avoiding processed food was difficult but I soon started the intake of vegetables and fruits. I have managed my weight because of the vegan diet I follow. When you become a vegan, everyone around acts like an idiot. They will ask you questions for which I can’t find answers even on Google! But if you eat non-vegetarian food, no one bats an eye.
Anonymous, Student, Chandigarh: I truly feel better than before. I have felt the change from within. The healthy diet has helped my immune system become stronger and fight diseases. It is quite difficult to explain veganism to some people. I guess the most noticeable result would be how much weight I’ve lost since being vegan. I still eat vegan junk food but I just feel so much lighter and energised after eating, which I never did before.
Kiratee Vayeda, Working, Ahmedabad: Nothing serious. Earlier my diet was vegetarian and now it is vegan. Small differences had been there. I started avoiding outside food and dairy products. Yes, I do feel healthy and better.
How do you define your animal rights philosophy?
Adishree Ram, Student, Kolkata: I love animals and they are like us. They feel the same pain that we go through if touched by a sharp obstacle. They deserve the same happiness that we do. We have no right to hurt them.
Anonymous, Student, Chandigarh: We are hypocrites to call ourselves civilised when we are violent. It is the killing of animals that is to be avoided, not just causing pain. To quote Stephen Clarke, “Those who still eat flesh when they could do otherwise have no claim to be serious moralists.”
Kiratee Vayeda, Working, Ahmedabad: I don’t like it how people pay others to kill animals and eat them. I don’t like animal killing, I mean look at them! They are so cute! After watching the documentary, Cowspiracy, my eyes were opened to the impact animal agriculture has on the planet.
Advice for the young generation about Veganism and Vegan Diet
Adishree Ram, Student, Kolkata: I would advise the young generation to be more compassionate toward animals. They should be vegan too as it feels great. It’s a feeling from within. It keeps you active and going. Not just the young generation but all of us should be humane. If animals show so much love then why can’t we reciprocate it? Veganism will help combat problems. It will reduce the obesity and laziness of the people. Being vegan doesn’t mean you miss treats. There are recipes for vegan ice-cream, vegan cake, vegan pasta and a lot more. It tastes good and that too with minimized calories.
Anonymous, Student, Chandigarh: The number of people switching to a vegan diet has skyrocketed with the growth of social media and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. There are also more vegan products available now than ever before. It’s becoming easier to make the switch. Everything has a vegan alternative. Since going vegan, I actually feel energized after eating a big meal. There are a million reasons to go vegan but you just have to find the reasons that matter most to you and use them to motivate you. There will be many people mocking you but you don’t have to listen to them. If you feel you should contribute toward the environment then that is what you have to do.
Kiratee Vayeda, Working, Ahmedabad: Three steps to follow: Be a vegan, Eat healthily, and Stay healthy.
Vegans get their protein from plant-based foods such as lentils, beans, seeds, nuts, cereals, millets, and soy-based products. Vegans don’t consume dairy products such as milk and cheese. A vegan diet consists of calcium-rich foods such as seeds, broccoli, beans, and nuts. Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium from the digestive tract and incorporate calcium into bones and teeth, but vegans don’t consume much of it in their diet. To compensate, they expose themselves to natural sunlight or a take Vitamin D supplement. Vegans tend to have lower rates of cancer than meat-eaters and vegetarians. For example, vegan women had 34% lower rates of female-specific cancers such as breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer. Similar results were found in men for prostate cancer.