What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘vegan?’ Someone who swaps regular milk for almond, paneer for tofu and meat for soybean, perhaps. While this isn’t incorrect, it’s also not a full picture of what veganism truly stands for.
By definition, veganism refers to a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. Thus, it goes beyond simple dietary changes -- extending to nearly every part of a person’s life. It is at its core, a choice based on morals. Animals deserve to live a life of dignity, just as humans. Just one individual going vegan could save up to 200 animals a year. What’s more, livestock and their by-products account for 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, making veganism an environment-friendly choice as well.
However, since it’s still not considered a mainstream lifestyle, there are several misconceptions that surround veganism. Our Health Coach, Rekha Prabhu, breaks down the misconceptions surrounding veganism.
10 myths around veganism (that we’re busting)
Vegans don’t get enough protein:
Vegans can meet their daily protein needs through a variety of plant-based protein sources such as lentils, quinoa, tofu, nuts ,seeds and more. If in doubt, consult a nutritionist to plan a balanced nourishment program which will eliminate the need for extra supplements.
Vegan diets are expensive:
It may seem like that since soy milk and tofu are touted as mainstays of the vegan diet, and are relatively high in price. The truth is though, that the vegan diet consists mostly of fresh and non-processed food items such as lentils, vegetables, and grains -- all easily accessible and light on the pocket!
Soy milk is the only alternative to animal milk:
Now, taking from the previous point -- soy milk is only one alternative to animal milk. Rice,oats, coconut, almond, and walnut are some other options to choose from, depending on taste and budget. These can also be made at home using simple recipes if store-bought alternatives are out of your budget.
Pregnant women shouldn’t be vegans:
There is no research to support this belief. Women who follow a vegan diet can have a perfectly healthy pregnancy, as long as they include a variety of iron, calcium, and protein-rich items in their diet. This includes green, leafy vegetables, dried apricots, whole grain bread, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, and oats.
Vegan food isn’t filling:
Contrary to popular belief, salads are only a small part of the vegan diet. Food items that are high in fibre or protein are extremely filling, and most of them are vegan! These range from potatoes and oatmeal to vegetables and legumes. So as long as you’re consuming a balanced vegan diet, you should feel satiated and full after every meal!
Vegans always feel tired and weak:
Tiredness usually arises due to a lack of Vitamin B12. The addition of certain fortified cereals and fermented foods will ensure sufficient levels of this vitamin in a vegan diet. Including plant-based sources of iron such as dark leafy vegetables and beans will also keep fatigue at bay. If still in doubt, here’s a reassuring fact -- some of the world’s top athletes, including Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic, are vegans!
Veganism is impossible since animal products are in everything:
It is true that animal products have found their way into a number of food items, all it takes is a little bit of reading to realize the vast variety of plant-based items available. Make it a habit to read the labels of the products you buy, and you’ll easily be able to distinguish between non-vegetarian, vegetarian, and vegan foods.
Following a vegan lifestyle is too hard:
It is simply a lifestyle. It may take some getting used to for those who are habituated to a meat-based diet, but it is achievable. After all, meal planning and balanced nutrition are things that we should all be mindful of -- no matter our dietary preferences!
Veganism is only about food:
As mentioned earlier, veganism is about much more than dietary choices. An individual following a vegan lifestyle would stay away from anything animal-based -- such as leather clothing items, jewelry made of elephant tusks, and even woollen clothes. It’s a lifestyle based on overall concerns around animal welfare.
People become vegan to feel superior to others:
Veganism is a choice that impacts almost every aspect of a person's life. It is born of ethical and moral considerations around environment and animal welfare. While vegans may speak about their choices in order to make them more mainstream, it is highly unlikely that they would make such a life-altering adaptation simply to feel like they are better than others.
Recipe: Vegan kulfi
Now, we’ll leave you with a delicious vegan dessert recipe to get your veganism journey started, perhaps? Or maybe to add to your existing repertoire of sweet recipes.
- ¼ cup of cashew nuts
- Water as required
- 10-12 seedless dates
- 2 tbsp steel-cut oats
- 2-3 green cardamom pods
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- Soak the cashews for 3-4 hours
- Soak the seedless dates (separately) for 30 minutes
- Blend oats and cardamom to a fine powder
- Now, grind the soaked cashews and dates to form a paste
- Once ready, add the oats powder and coconut milk to the mixer and blend again till smooth
- Pour the mixture into a kulfi mould
- Refrigerate for an hour and freeze for seven to eight hours
Your kulfi is ready to serve!
Now that you have the full picture, what is your thought on veganism? Are you already on your vegan journey, or is it something you’ve been considering for a while? Well, whatever your food preferences, remember it’s not the rules that are important -- it’s what works best for you. Focus on your needs and do what feels right for your body.