Veganuary: Food FOMO is not IN!
Vegans on what drives them to passionately pursue veganism and how they overcome the fear of missing out
The entire month of January is a celebration of veganism, which is the idea of opting out from consuming or using animal-based products like leather and fur and foods like dairy items, honey, meats, etc. A UK-based NGO began the annual challenge of Veganuary in 2014 to educate and prompt people to incorporate a more plant-based diet into their regular diet. This challenge has now become a global phenomenon.
One of the main reasons people turn to veganism is due to their love for nature, especially after seeing the cruelty that the meat industry inflicts on animals. Religion along with the major impact of this industry has on the world is another deciding factor.
For the love of Nature
For Rahul Tiwari, 38-year-old Sales leader from Mumbai, “Equality, sustainability and compassion made me turn vegan. Who decides which animal is to be loved and which one is to be killed?” Following a plant-based diet for the last eight-years, he has inspired many people to adopt this lifestyle especially his sister-in-law.
New Year resolutions are always our Achilles heels but not for Swati Vajpayee, 33, Cyber Security Specialist, who made up her mind in 2018 to turn vegan after being inspired by her brother-in-law. She says, “He believes in the thought - be the change you want to see in the world and was inspiring. I might be a tiny element in this revolution, but I am doing my bit to give back to nature.”
Mansi Gahlot, 25, and her husband Aatman Kothari, 28, recently tied the knot and the highlight of their wedding was their all-vegan buffet. She says, “I have been vegan for almost three years and my husband has been a practicing veganism for more than eight years. For the two of us, when we got married, being vegan was very important. Our families are pro-veganism as well and are very accepting of it. Most of the time, all the food cooked at home is plant-based only.”
For the sake of good health
Kavya Narayan was 22 years when she turned vegan due to peer pressure combined with her love for nature. “I was only too happy to make this switch six and a half years ago. It was easy,” she says, adding, “I was already vegetarian, I didn’t grow up eating meat the way a lot of my friends did. A lot of the Indian food that I was previously eating was already vegan.”
Majority of the food items in the Indian diet is naturally vegan. The few dishes that use dairy products like butter, cream or ghee can be easily swapped out with oil or plant based alternatives such as coconut milk, cashew cream, pumpkin seeds or almonds.
Another reason that people turn vegan is due to health issues with Lactose intolerance being the most common cause. 26-year-old lawyer, Dhwani Bhinde has been vegan for around seven years now after she found out that she was allergic to dairy.
She says, “It wasn’t an easy decision. But I went cold turkey vegan due to my allergies, in order to get my health back on track. Dairy was starting to have a debilitating effect on my health, from having severe cystic acne to bloating and multiple other painful symptoms. This was beginning to affect my mental health.”
Tiwari is a big fan of “chai and cheese” but since he had to give it up, he has found alternatives to combat his love for these two items. “One should try oat milk chai, it’s amazing and no one can tell the difference. While there are many vegan cheese options, I do not crave it anymore as I have notice an improvement in my overall health.”
“Dahi is just not the same in the vegan world and I still miss my papdi chaat. Good creamy Ice creams are hard to find as a vegan as well,” shares Narayan, adding, “But since I can’t eat it, I opt for the next best thing as I am not very sentimental about food. I am a non-fussy eater and that helps when it comes to food cravings.”
Bhinde misses her Gujarati khadi the most. “cooking is something that i absolutely love, i have managed to veganize almost all my favourite foods. I am now actively working on figuring out how to make vegan kadhi.”
Vajpayee loved anything with paneer and ghee in it but gave it up without a thought. “I never thought I would be able to give them up. Ever! Turning vegan has allowed me to explore many plant-based food options that I was previously unaware about.”
On the other hand, Gahlot and Kothari do not miss anything. She says, “Once we saw the horrors of the dairy industry, we found dairy products unappealing. And if we do crave cheese or butter, there are many alternatives, from vegan ghee, mayonnaise, milk, eggs and even meat.”