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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014
Eat shoots and leaves
Dr Shikha Sharma, Hindustan Times
June 29, 2012
First Published: 19:18 IST(29/6/2012)
Last Updated: 18:30 IST(30/6/2012)

Vegetarianism is not new to India. And yet, the true vegetarian ethos is something very few people appreciate. Abstaining from meat and fish is not just a food choice – it’s a philosophy. As man evolved from caveman hunter to one who preferred a settled community, his relationship with food changed.

With new systems like farming, finding nourishment was not difficult and food scarcity wasn’t an issue. Man realised he was at the top of the food chain and understood complex ideas of compassion and non-violence. One of the ideas born out of this evolution was that all life should be treated as sacred, and it paved the path for vegetarianism.

Now, after years of civilisation, mankind’s attitude to ethical consumption has taken a step ahead with veganism. Vegans steer away from all products that have emerged from the exploitation of any sentient being. This means no meat, no fish and no eggs, no milk or milk products (because it exploits the animals and deprives its young of nourishment), no silk, no leather, no wool and no honey. This hasn’t made vegans weaker. In fact, there are several successful vegan or vegetarian athletes like the ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek, pro triathlete Brendan Brazier, US Masters running champion Tim Van Orden, and award-winning athlete Rich Roll.

Vegan eating patterns are safe for all ages, including pregnant and lactating mothers, though all vegan diet plans advise using supplements like vitamin B12, zinc, choline and omega 3 fatty acids.

Veggies

A vegan diet’s most important USP is its capacity to make the body alkaline and lower its oxidative stress. An overly acidic body has been known to be the root of most diseases. In athletes, overly acidic muscles lower their peak performance. The alkaline body is less likely to burn out easily.

A non-vegetarian diet argues that meals are higher in protein, iron and calcium. But those can be compensated with a combination of sprouts, tofu and quinoa grain for proteins and minerals; kelp, seaweed, spirulina and Himalayan herbs for super-oxidants, iron and vitamins. Turning vegan, it seems, is a good philosophy, good for the environment (fewer animals are reared to feed on the earth just so that they can be consumed by humans), and good for your health.

From HT Brunch, July 1

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