Veganism in India: Is Vegan healthy?

21 Mar 2023  Read 5614 Views

Vegetarianism in India dates back to the 5th Century BCE. During that time, the ancient religion of Jainism promoted a meat-free diet. Jain vegetarianism is one of the most strict and rigorous religiously motivated diets in the entire nation. However, vegetarianism was not only restricted to Jainism; Hinduism and Buddhism also incorporated a vegetarian diet. 

The crux of vegetarianism is based on the ideology of non-violence or ahiṃsā, which is strictly followed in Jainism but also supported by Hinduism and Buddhism. Jainism believes that all living beings have a spark of divine energy, so to hurt others would mean hurting oneself. Therefore, they support the vegetarian diet. But in recent years, a new ideology has also flourished: Veganism, a stricter form of vegetarianism. 

So, this article discusses What is Veganism? What is the vegan diet? What are its pros and cons? What are its impacts on the economy and many more? So, let’s get started.

Is vegan a scam?

Vegan is not a scam per se; it is a plant-based diet that many people follow today. However, the diet is subjected to several pros and cons, but ultimately, it’s a personal choice to follow it. Government surveys say that around 23-37% of the Indian population is vegetarian, while some suggest that it's 20%. However, meat consumption by people is still under-reported. Few people associate vegetarianism with conservatism and restrictive religious tradition, and eating meat is considered liberal & modern. But this thinking fluctuates with time, and attitudes towards meat and animal products are changing, thus, leading to an increased demand for modern vegan products.

History testifies that every modern idea or ideology initially faces socio-political and economic resistance. Still, with time, society keeps getting open-minded and adapting these new ideas and ideologies. Hence, one such idea and ideology that has recently gained immense adoption worldwide is Veganism.

  • Veganism is based on the ideology that humans must not exploit animals to fulfil their needs.

  • Vegans prohibit using any animal products for food, clothing, entertainment, etc. 

  • Veganism has gained importance in recent years not just because of animal cruelty but also due to impacts on the environment, zoonotic diseases and health etc.

How does vegan impact economy?

  • Veganism not only has environmental and humanitarian benefits because of a plant-based agricultural system, but it also has economic benefits as well. 

  • Consider the USA’s example: The additional food produced as an outcome of a shift to a vegan diet alone could feed 350 million additional people.

  • When surplus food is available (due to a vegan diet), it is obvious that it will prevent losses from decreased livestock production. 

  • Economic studies stated that animal agriculture in several western countries accounts for less than 2% of GDP. Few studies suggest that US witnessed a potential reduction in GDP of about 1%, so this decline can be combated by a vegan diet. 

Which country started veganism?

  • England is where the first vegetarian society was formed in 1847. After there years, Rev. Sylvester Graham, the inventor of Graham crackers, co-founded the American Vegetarian Society. 

  • Graham was a Presbyterian minister & his followers, called Grahamites, followed his instructions for a righteous life that is;  vegetarianism, temperance, frequent bathing. 

  • In 1944, a British woodworker named Donald Watson stated that as vegetarians ate dairy and eggs, he was going to create a new term called “vegan” to describe people who did not feed on these products.

  • Tuberculosis had been found in 40% of Britain’s dairy cows. So, Watson used this to his advantage, stating that veganism will protect people from such kinds of foodstuffs 

  • After coining the term ‘vegan’, he formally explained how the word should be pronounced: “Veegan, not Veejan,” he wrote in his new Vegan Society newsletter. 

  • Watson died at age 95 in 2005, but by then, there were 250,000 self-identifying vegans in Britain and 2 million in the U.S. 

Pros and cons of veganism

Pros

Cons

Positive health effects

Various nutrients & vitamins deficiency (Lack of Vitamin B12, calcium etc.)

Slow down climate change

Motivation needed quite often

Increases life expectancy

Muscle mass reduction

Reduces obesity problem

Many health issues

Less death of animals

Imbalanced diet

Water conservation

Not appropriate for people having health issues

Less soil pollution

It can be expensive

Increased awareness of your diet

Problematic for children’s growth

Curbing of hunger issues

Limited food choices

Reduction in use of antibiotics

Social isolation

Types of Vegan Diet

  1. Raw Vegan Diet

Indian cuisine throughout the nation mostly depends on curries, which are gravy-like sauces. However, some people in India follow a diet in which they eat only uncooked vegan foods because of their belief that many vitamins get lost by boiling food at such high temperatures. We are talking about the raw vegan diet. However, this doesn’t mean they will eat frozen food; they can cook it at 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 Celsius). 

Examples: raw fruits, vegetables, nuts or packaged food like raw vegan lasagna etc.

  1. Raw till 4 Vegan Diet

You are thinking right as per its name. It means raw until four o’clock. Vegans on this diet consume a raw vegan diet only till 4 p.m. These people think eating raw food is healthier as many nutrients get lost during cooking at high temperatures. It is also true that such type cannot be practised strictly, so it permits vegans to cook vegan meals in the evening.

  1. Whole Food Vegan Diet

Vegans who accept this form of diet prefer a diet high in whole foods. The idea is to include the least processed and unrefined foods, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, etc. But they tend to avoid packaged vegan foods.

  1. Junk Food Vegan Diet

Vegan junk food refers to vegans who can now enjoy burgers, ice cream & hot dogs. Some vegans can now survive solely on this type of diet. Consequently, these vegans are also called junk-food vegans. In addition, these vegans consume many vegan manufactured foods and fake meats.

  1. 80/10/10 diet

The 80/10/10 diet is a raw vegan diet dependent on raw fruits and soft greens instead of fat-rich vegetables like nuts and avocados. It is also referred to as the fruitarian or low-fat, raw-food vegan diet.

  1. Gluten-Free Vegan Diet

A gluten-free, vegan diet does not include many animal products and gluten-containing substances. But what is gluten? Gluten is a group of proteins in wheat (durum, spelt, wheat, and einkorn), rye, and barley.

Gluten is a glue that binds foods together and helps them keep their structure. Being a vegan and at the same time, gluten-free was thought to be almost impossible. However, many people presently adopt a gluten-free, vegan diet. For example, delectable vegan, gluten-free cookie dough.

Basis

Veganism

Vegetarianism

Comparison

Stricter form of vegetarianism

It is not necessarily vegan

Belief

They believe humans have no right over animals.

They do not consume meat, but they consume products from animals like dairy or eggs. 

 

(Lacto- those who consume dairy and not eggs, Ovo- those who consume eggs and not dairy & Lacto-Ovo- those who consume both eggs and dairy)

Countries and veganism

  1. China

Around 50 million Chinese people follow a vegetarian diet presently. That is less than four per cent of the total population, but still, plant-based foods are an integral part of the national cuisine, including tofu and vegetarian meat consumed in China for more than 2,000 years.

  1. Japan

Plant-based foods form a crucial part of Japanese cuisine too. Being fully vegan can be a challenge in some parts, and some food, like tofu play a key role within Japan’s food-centred culture. Especially in Okinawa, plant-based foods comprise the vast majority of the traditional diet. 

  1. Greece

There is a long history of vegetarianism. Before the word vegetarian was termed, living without meat was mainly described as the Pythagorean Diet. Here, Pythagoras was a philosopher and mathematician who considered the vegetarian diet as healthy for both body and mind.

  1. Jamaica

Jamaica is the birthplace of Rastafari, a religious and social movement that has spread worldwide. Many followers of Rastafarianism follow dietary restrictions specified in the biblical Book of Leviticus, preventing crustaceans and pork.

  1. Israel

Recently, Israel has secured its place as the leading vegan country in the world; that is vegans population there is now more than 5%. Tel Aviv, in particular, features world-renowned more than 400 vegan restaurants.  

About the Author: Kakoli Nath | 275 Post(s)

She is a Legal Content Manager at Finology Legal! With a Masters in Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), a BBA.LL.B from ITM University, and patent analyst training from IIPTA, she truly specializes in her field. Her passion for IPR and Criminal laws is evident from her advanced certification in Forensic Psychology and Criminal Profiling from IFS, Pune.

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