Why Vegan? And answers to some FAQ

Not many in India are aware that ‘guilt free diet’ (Plant based diet) is a dietary option.  Some assume it is the same as the Indian version of ‘pure vegetarian’ which translates as lacto-vegetarian.  The Hindi equivalent of ‘vegetarian’ – ‘shaakahari – is itself contradictory.  Shaakahari implies one who thrives on plants and yet it includes dairy and honey!

I am often asked why I am vegan or what is the meaning of being vegan.

There are no short and sweet replies. I have tried to address most queries raised by friends, relatives and strangers. Most of what follows is my answer to a fellow blogger who wanted to know the answer to the above question. If you are looking for a scientific opinion, this is not the place. I approached the subject scientifically as well, once I decided to become vegan, but the reasons I turned towards a vegan diet as an option were ethical. I have however provided links for the skeptics and the curious.  I am not a nutritionist or doctor.  That said, I have read enough to know that plant based diet is the best diet for the human species.

What is ‘vegan’?
Vegan (pronounced as ‘vee-gun’, not ‘vay-gun’) diet is a plant-based diet that excludes all animal and animal derived products such as dairy products (including milk and milk derived products), honey and meat (eggs, poultry, fish). Hence a vegan eats only plants and plant derivatives with or without the exception of yeast and mushrooms.

Being vegan is an extension of being human

The ‘vegan diet’ is only a small facet of a cruelty-free lifestyle. The diet is a step towards conscious or compassionate living which is a lifestyle choice. Being vegan by choice includes being harmonious with Nature. One following the vegan lifestyle does not use any product that makes use of animal products such as buttons or ornaments made of shells and bones, natural silk made from silk worms (there is no such thing as ‘ahimsa’ silk), leather goods or accessories.

Compassionate living includes minimising/eliminating the use of ecologically damaging products and using products that are eco-friendly as these measures help in assuring quality life for other creatures and assure longevity of the planet.

For instance, I do not accept plastic covers as a rule while shopping. I always have at least 2-3 cloth bags with me whenever I step out.  If I forget my bags I simply do not shop. This is my choice for a greener world and has nothing to do with what the civic bodies dictate.  I try and procure organic ingredients for my cooking as much as possible.

Why am I vegan?

I believe that every human act has far reaching results. I started moving towards conscious living sometime in the late nineties. I believe that progress should bring peace and harmony in Nature. I believe that as human beings each one of us can bring about a positive change in the world, if only we make a few lifestyle changes. In 1999, I stopped using plastic bags and leather bags, belts and shoes. I stopped using natural silk around 2002-03 and moved towards a vegan diet sometime in mid 2007.

I chose not to be part of the chain of cruelty that takes away the natural right of animals to freedom or space in this world.

We have been taught that cows give milk but it was conveniently excluded that ‘cows give milk for calves’ just as women lactate for the baby after its birth. Science in general also excluded the fact that milk given by species other than human beings is not suitable for human consumption.

Think of what happens when babies are fed milk other than breast milk for the first few times? They puke because their stomachs cannot ingest milk other than mother’s milk.  A sure indication that the human body cannot accept any milk other than human milk. Why persevere and adapt when there is no necessity to do so?  In nature you will never find one species drinking the milk of another species unless as an exception to the rule, perhaps due to some strange circumstances.  Why deviate from the natural way of life?

Cow’s milk is meant for baby calves. Goat’s milk for kid goats. Period.

Honey is the extra food made by bees from nectar of flowers. When we use honey we are actually using the stored food made by bees for themselves.  Besides, honey is nothing but regurgitated spit produced by bees.  Do we consume the spit of another human being?  Does it feel natural? Then, why honey?

Meat, is not meant for human consumption. Our bodies have evolved since the prehistoric hunting man’s times and it is no longer designed to hunt or tear meat anymore. Please read this article titled “the comparative anatomy of eating” by Milton R. Mills, MD, for a scientific analysis. You might also like to watch the video on youtube here.

Extracts from other sites:

If you have been in India you must have seen how hens are carried off for slaughter from ‘farms’. All chickens raised for eggs have had large portions of their sensitive beaks cut off when they grow. They spend their entire lives in a filthy, cramped wire cage. Each hen has an area smaller than a sheet of notebook paper in which to stand and doesn’t have enough space to spread even one wing. The cages are stacked on top of one another, so excrement from hens in higher cages often falls on those below. Ammonia and the stench of feces hang heavy in the air, and disease is rampant in these filthy, cramped conditions. (from here). Is an egg in our diet such an important thing when the same nutrition can be procured from other green sources?

“Fish on aquafarms spend their entire lives in cramped, filthy enclosures, and many suffer from parasitic infections, diseases, and debilitating injuries. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that 40 percent of the fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food. In short, fish farms bring suffering and ecological devastation everywhere they go.” Do you think the fish you eat is any different? Is it necessary to succumb to taste of caviar and roe eggs at such a cost? Read more here.

It is the treatment of the ‘holy’ cow that startles me the most. We, in India, are taught to revere even the ‘gomutra’ (the urine of the cow). We consider the cow so sacred that we use ‘ghee’ made of cow’s milk for poojas (rituals). And yet we do not bother to find out what happens in our farms and slaughter houses. It does not seem to matter that the cows live in pens that leave no room for them to manoeuvre themselves around. Cows are gentle, social, intelligent animals that do not even expect much, yet human beings make use of them from birth till their death. “Like all animals, cows form strong maternal bonds with their children, and on dairy farms and cattle ranches, mother cows can be heard crying out for their calves for days after they are separated.” Read more here. Despite the awareness how do we manage to crush our conscience and go on feeding on their milk?

What made me vegan?

Some years back I attended a training session at work. It was related to smuggling of banned goods. We were shown samples that had been recovered and what I saw was devastating and revolting. Deer skin and snake skin purses, and a purse made of a single layer of a baby crocodile that had been slit horizontally and relieved off its ‘stuffings’! It made me recoil at the thought of the barbarism involved. We were told that most animals are skinned alive because a dead animal’s hide can not retain the softness or flexibility that live skin can. How gruesome can that be? Try pinching your skin – it answers both the tests – softness and flexibility.  Would you like to be ‘leather’? How does the thought of becoming ‘leather’ make you feel?

Later that year Mumbai faced a massive flood during the rainy season on 26th July, 2005. Many people died and many houses were washed away. Mumbaiites were heralded for their heroism on helping fellow citizens without caring for their own safety. It was also reported in one leading daily in a small piece of news that many animals died in a leading dairy factory as they were left tethered in their sheds so that they would not cause chaos to escaping humans.  It dawned on me that day, how cruel we human beings can be. We use animals for our benefits, robbing them of their natural life, terminating their life at our choice for our convenience. It still took me three years to change myself, one moment to change my attitude. You too can.  Better late than never.

Jeevo jeevasya jeevanam

Often people argue, “jeevo jeevasya jeevanam.” These words in Sanskrit, mean “life is sustained by life only.” People have conveniently contorted the implication of these words to mean that it does not matter if we inflict pain on other creatures, as we do this only to survive, which is the natural law. Unfortunately, that is not what the words meant. The natural law never speaks of storage, of farms, of greed or of making money by killing other lives.

Coming from a country that produced a leader (Gandhi) who showed the world that ‘ahimsa’ is the only way to establish peace and freedom, this form of cruelty angers me to the core. But then again, Lincoln famously said, “Nothing is right or wrong, but thinking makes it so.”

Think!

The environmental impact of a non-vegan world:

“A 400-page United Nations report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that cattle farming is “responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases”.  The production of cattle to feed and clothe humans stresses ecosystems around the world, and is assessed to be one of the top three environmental problems in the world on a local to global scale. The report was made in 2006. Four years later, not much has been done to reduce livestock. If anything the number of cattle breeders, violent and unhygienic means of rearing has only multiplied. As long as we treat animals as ‘livestock’ instead of ‘live’ the problem will only increase. What if there were no consumers for these ‘farm products’? We would not only have cleaner and greener earth but also enough space for agricultural produce. Read about the worsening impact here.

Choosing less, and moving towards simplicity

It is surprising but most of us do not make choices in life unless it has monetary motivation or promises more luxuries. The very idea of making a choice pushes us out of our comfort zones. We resist awareness rather than confront truth because the truth is generally harsh and scary.  It can destroy conventional beliefs.

We are vegetarian or non-vegetarian by birth. Sometimes we may change to a different diet due to dietary restrictions caused by diseases or age or religion. But unless there is a strong cause we prefer to continue the way we have been brought up.  I was brought up a vegetarian but my parents allowed me to have bakery products with eggs in them simply because they felt they were giving me more choice. Many of my relatives are non-vegetarians because they feel it is an advantage when they go to foreign countries where vegetarian dishes are few. They feel strengthened by having included ‘more‘ to choose from.

Somehow, ‘choice’ has always meant including more. Truth is, we have a choice, at every step of our lives and we choose what we want to be. Once you start to reason and eliminate the excuses, the truth becomes clearly visible. In a world that aims at having excess of everything, minimising your options may strike as an odd choice, but then, is it not the idea of progress to breakdown complexities and move towards simplicity?

Being vegan is a step towards simplified living. A step closer to Nature.  A step to green living.  A step to longevity.  A step towards increasing stamina, increasing the quality of your life, building a strong immune system.  A step towards your increased well-being. All this without the aid of chemicals in the form of medication.  Are you not looking forward to add quality to your life?

Is not a vegan diet imbalanced? Without milk how can one get calcium?

One of the many wrong ideas that have been drilled into our minds since childhood is the the importance of milk for strengthening bones. On the contrary, many of our physical problems are linked with consumption of milk.

Childhood tooth decay is often due to frequent residue of milk in the mouth than sweets! Milk consumption often worsens asthma and lung disorders. Please click here for a more comprehensive article. In India we do not check children for lactose intolerance. We prefer to force the child to adapt. Unfortunately even doctors submit to the myths propounded by lobbyists of the dairy industry.

If you are a milk user check whether you are calcium deficient because drinking milk can do that.

How to include calcium in your diet if not through milk?
The easiest and the best way is to have a bowlful of ‘red millet porridge’ daily. The content of calcium in millet is considerably high with about 350mg for every 100g of millet (Source:Outlook). This grain can be used to make several tasty as well as nutritious and easy dishes. I shall try and post a few recipes that I have incorporated in my diet soon. Two ragi rotis (millet flatbreads) a day provides enough calcium required by the body.  White sesame seeds are the best source of calcium, then why do we settle for less than the best?  Two til laddoos a day, some powdered til in our daily diet can make a world of difference.  How about adding til to flatbreads, to tadkas, to breads?  Why not add tahini spread rather than mayonnaise on bread/toast?

Advantages of a healthy vegan diet:

While I am not a health buff, I do not belong to the other end of the spectrum and eat junk food.  A normal, healthy vegan diet will help in maintaining weight.  Workout along with diet will bring in healthy results faster than any other diet. This shows up on your skin too.

A vegan diet comes closest to our physical make up and also reduces threats of diseases caused by non-vegetarian or vegetarian diet.  The inner environment of the human body is alkaline.  Only plant based diet can preserve that balance.  An alkaline diet can reverse and restore health disorders caused due to bad eating habits and lifestyle.  A vegan diet is one that can lead you to optimal health conditions.

Life without milk? That is difficult!

It is actually pretty easy!  There are plenty of alternatives to milk available these days; soy milk, coconut milk, almond or any nut milk and rice milk to name a few. You can get them off shelves or prepare your own.  Nut and seed milks are actually more flavourful and delicious, apart from healthy.  You can flavour it with your favourites – saffron, rose, vanilla etc.

Do I have to fore-go cakes and ice creams?

Why? Vegan cakes and ice creams are as satisfying to the palate as eggless or egg based cakes and ice-creams, while also being guilt free. Vegan cooking and baking is definitely not rocket science.

As a vegan do I hate non-vegans?

The whole idea of compassionate living is to love and respect other creatures so why should vegans hate non-vegans? I wasn’t a vegan a few years back. I regret many of the things I have done and I would like to undo many former actions. Hate is never a solution. However, every vegan is an activist for animal rights as well as human rights.  If you expect a vegan to sit quiet while you go on and on about how good meat tastes, you are wrong.  When a vegan stands up for his beliefs, it is not an insult to yours.

Have you ever wondered?

  • Some meat eaters also call themselves animal lovers or pet lovers. The two loves seem very contradictory to me. How can you love your pet while you eat many others who are just like them?
  • How can one be objective about cutting up/exploiting animals when the very same thing done to humans is termed as ‘barbaric’?
  • Are we still in the barbaric mode of thinking and consider all other creatures inferior to the human race? And if so, do we have the right to exercise our superiority by torturing them?
  • If we as humans are superior in any way (development of brain) then should it not translate itself as progress?
  • If that is so, then should progress not soften our attitude rather than build up hatred and cruelty?
  • If one thinks of Hitler as an annihilator then are we not the same since we mete out the same treatment to animals, just because they do not have a voice of their own? What is the difference?

Where does one go from here?

I chose to be a vegan because I love my planet and its creatures. I am vegan because I am compassionate.  I hope you will make your choice too. It takes only a thought to make the change happen. Once the first step has been taken you can also think of better health, of organic living in the true sense, and of savouring food in its most natural form.

Give it a thought today and make the best choice.

If you would like to know more about compassionate living please go through the following links:

http://www.indianvegan.com/
http://www.sharan-india.org/
http://www.veganhealth.org/
http://www.vegansociety.com/
http://www.petaindia.org/

If you are aware of any shop in India that sells/stocks only vegan items please leave a comment with the address or phone no. of the shop, along with the name of the city so that it may help other vegans.

[I thank Mr. Manish Jain of Indianvegan.com for his inputs, and acknowledge GoVeg.com for many of the excerpts I have used from their site to drive home my point.]

This post is subject to changes due to constant updation.

Some questions I have been asked after this article was originally written:

Why do you even eat plants?  They are living beings too.  They have sap which is their life line just like blood.  How do you justify cutting them off? 

I am a herbivore.  I am supposed to eat plants.  I am doing what is natural for my well-being, causing the least damage I can, to nature. Ideally, I would like to eat raw, but at this point of time in my life, I am not able to do that.  Someday, I hope to get there.

I get this often: “Since you kill plants you are in no way better than us.”

Vegans are susceptible to prejudices, temptations and other vices as much as any one else.  I am proposing a way to live as cruelty-free as possible. I know it feels better to bash those who do something rather than doing anything at all.  Take a deep breathe, calm down.  Think objectively. Read again.  It is natural to get agitated when ideas are contrary to established/conventional norms.

The links you have given have not been proven.

Please visit a good library, read books, look up some of the sites suggested above, and study the subject since you are one who needs conviction. And think of the other scientific theories that are took time to prove.  Look at the vegans around you and compare their health to non-vegans.  You will see the difference.  Whether you accept the truth is up to you.

What about the ecological imbalance that will be created when all human beings turn vegetarian?  What about the animals that will overpower us?  Will agriculture sustain us?

Yes, agriculture can sustain the entire human race.

If you were faced in a situation where a wild beast was going to kill you or prey on you, you obviously have the right to protect yourself.  You come before the beast, but how many times has it happened in organised society that wild beasts come running out of the jungle to prey on human beings unless instigated, or forced to leave their natural habitat?  Has it been higher than poaching levels?

As for imbalance, the amount of imbalance we have created is so lop-sided, that it will take ages for the scenario to change!  And if there really was an imbalance, it would be a case of ‘survival of the fittest’, which does not exist now.

So far the only real ecological imbalance is that we use more land for animal farming than actual farming.  Animal farms are what have caused serious ecological damage.

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  1. Well said, Harini.

    It is very good and clear too.

    Thanks.

    • In transitioning from a meat and dairy diet to veganism, I am not going
      out and getting rid of all the animal products in my house. I will wear my
      leather shoes in honor of the animal that was sacrificed. When these shoes are
      worn out, I will then wear shoes made from a non-animal source. I will think about the animal
      and thank him for keeping me warm and tell him or her that I will not buy leather in the future.
      It does not make sense to waste this life just to prove that now one has reformed his life. Also
      I will not impose a vegan way of life on my dogs and cats. They are carnivores. I shall not make them sick to prove a point.
      Those points being made, I do feel good about not eating meat or buying products coming from animals.

    • Very well said… very impressive statements on use of ‘honey’.. it’s a spit… eye opener… thanks. I have posted one para on ‘honey’ on my face book page. thanks

  2. What a fantastic post, Harini! Brilliant, brilliant stuff. Clear, well written and inspiring 🙂 Thank you so much for this one, I really hope lots and lots of people will be reading it and allowing its message to really sink in.

  3. Thank you, Manish and Maya. This post has been on my mind for a very long time. Only I had to draft and clarify each aspect to myself without being unnecessarily verbose, and that took some time. Am glad you both feel the same way as I do about it. I also hope it will make someone aware just like something made me aware!

  4. That was a very beautiful and thorough and enlightening post to read. I often think about the cruelty that goes into animal products as well, but I unfortunately have been so ensconced in the American lifestyle that becoming vegan is a difficult thing, personally and socially. My parents and all of my relatives are heavily against me not eating meat, so it is hard. Although I must admit I do not want to become vegan, I do want to make better food choices for the environment and those that support humane farm-raising of animals and eggs, but I still have a long way to go before I overcome the lure of cheap industrial agriculture foods. Thank you for providing your views on the choice on being vegan and I hope that others take your words to heart.

  5. Pauline, I can very well imagine your dilemma. But reading your thought process itself is so encouraging and see how far you have come! From a non-veg to being veg despite resistance! That is a big step! Maybe someday you will also take the next leap. You never know. But you can always encourage others to follow your way.

  6. What a Informative post!, well said and well delivered, I wish I could turn into a vegan reading your post!, It's going to be very hard as I love drinking milk and all milk products!, I have become more and more cautious these days checking all the labels, but turning into a vegan is going to be a tough step, reading your post, I feel I should start somewhere!, well, I know it's going to be a hard work!, wonderful post though!, BM'ed it, keep it reading now and then and hoping it will completely sink into my head one day!, and might turn into a vegan. Thanks for a enlightening post.

  7. Very well thought out and informative post, Harini.

  8. i like the idea of simplified living but unfortunately there's no such thing as a guilt free lunch. billions of hectares of forests, animals and their natural habitats have been cleared to make way for humans and our large-scale crop and farming methods. even the most idealistic vegan diet detracts from an animal's life somewhere. i think the best thing we can do now is make better use of the land we already have and encourage people to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home rather than supporting the farming and agricultural practices that have caused untold chaos through deforestation and non-organic "conventional" chemical use. i don't entirely agree with veganism but i commend you for your efforts all the same.

  9. Cathy, I see your point. But you are thinking of a large scale whereas I am thinking of changes that can be made on a personal level. Anything is difficult to tackle on a large scale because we only see numerous hurdles then and come to the conclusion that there is no 'absolute solution' because that is possible only with a unified stance. Even then there never will be a 'land without troubles or abuses'. But instead of the ideal situation if you concentrate on 'smaller areas', there are solutions that are feasible and executable. Those smaller areas begin with each person. That is what I am talking about. Like growing your own herbs, if you stay in a small flat like I do. Reducing waste at home. Being vegan so as to reduce abuse of animals as a single person.

  10. By this same logic, one can be made to quit eating all the vegetables as well.

  11. xyzandme, you did not even read completely! Did you bother to check out why humans are not meant to be meat eaters any more? The comparative study of physiology shows that we are meant to be herbivores. So your logic doesn't apply here.

  12. The links you provide about humans not being carnivores are not research articles.

    Monkeys and baboons were thought to be staunch vegetarians .. by those psychological and all kinds of measurements one can provide, until someone saw them killing other smaller animals and eating them.

    Going on a completely "vegan" diet may lead you to supplement the many important chemicals found only in animals and animal products via tablets.

    And when you take medicines, you would never have any idea how they were made to begin with.. from a plant source or animal source.

  13. I agree with some of your contentions here, xyzandme. But is it not better to take a step to damage control rather than think of all the negative things and not take any step at all? I can go to extremes too but then I will have to become totally independent and that is not possible in the present scenario. I mean I should have land at my disposal and stuff like that. Economically not viable. If I am in a hospital bed I can only control the medicines administered to some extent. But at least I am making a start. It is better than saying – "Damage is anyway happening so what is the whole point in trying to do something." Besides I do not believe that vegetables suffer like animals do. That is again taking the analogy to extremes. If you do please go ahead and stop that. Talking about extremes does not provide any excuse to meat eaters. Which research article says meat eating is extremely good for health? And is it something a carnivore wrote? If so, how far is the stance justified?

    Perceptions differ. I will do what I can rather stand back with arms folded. Your perspective is interesting.

  14. Be a Vegan is a really a tough task excluding all dairy products oh god,wat a pity..

  15. Not between meats and plants, am concerned about you eliminating milk products and honey from your diet, which seems extreme.

    Being a vegetarian is good, vegan seems too extreme and doesnt seem to be have any point.

    Eliminating milk products from your diet may cause several deficiencies in your body.Making you eat vitamins, minerals etc externally, which are any way sourced from milk and milk products.

    Have you stopped eating salt too? After all most of the salt in the sea has passed through the bodies of some
    fish/some marine animal or the other.

    Most pharmaceuticals are made from fossil fuels, and their name itself explains where they came from..

    And its not about perception, its about logic.

    Calling it a perception is like,
    " one observes a man hitting a child real bad , and say its for getting him disciplined.. and the other say its inhumane to hit kids"

    logic states the first perception is just wrong.

  16. x…e, thanks for your concern. It is unfounded. Milk and honey do not cause any problems if eliminated. Being vegan might seem pointless to you. I can understand that too because I have been in that frame of mind and now I know I was wrong. This is a personal choice. I don't force it on others but I am just sharing what I know is right. If your logic does not agree, I won't try to convince you because this is not a debate. You seem to be intent upon proving something to yourself. Go and do a self check on all the points you raised. I have nothing to prove to you. I am experiencing benefits you will never know until you try going vegan. I had chronic back ache. I do not take medicines now and I no longer suffer from it. Even my doctor is happy with my diet. Funny thing is, most doctors have agreed with my diet. It is the layman who argues and that too without any basis! You are still talking about extremes and not getting the point at all. Make a start, experience and then talk about logic. On what is your logic based? What you have read? Science is ever changing. A theory is good only till another theory breaks it.

    Navsingh, It is a pity you do not know the benefits!

  17. I completely agree with you. Your article is simply superb.

    I recently saw pics and videos of animals being skinned alive and it pained me to the core. I could not even think that human beings have fallen so much. No compassion, no sensitivity towards the innocent and trusting animals. To be very honest, I cried too. In fact I was going to write about these facts on my blog but just couldn't do so. It was too much for me to bear. After reading your article, I will make an effort at least to write. I just hope I am able to write as it pains me too much, when writing about these inhuman barbaric facts.

    I am a vegetarian and slowly moving towards being a vegan. Thanks for writing such an inspiring and brilliant article.

    dassana

  18. Dassana, thanks! I think you should write about these issues even if it pains you because your voice will definitely reach out to some if not all.

  19. Thanks for this article that can inspire many souls at this point in Earth to move towards purifying themselves further and ascending the ladder in the evolution of their bodies, minds, and spirits!

    Veganism is a cleansing process indeed and I love it when you say that, "the whole idea of compassionate living is to love and respect other creatures". Of course as vegans we are not perfect but we aspire in that direction. The perfect Yogi sustains himself/herself only on Universal Energy thereby causing minimal harm to anything that is living.

    On another note, our mass conditioning has been such that we only think within the boundaries of the box, we are simply not trained to think and reason out of it! That's THE pity, the lack of ingenuity is the pity, the loss of ingenuity is the pity! For example, how many people know that certain plant based foods have more calcium and proteins than that contained in cow's milk! Or, how many people even have the creativity to think and reason that if there is calcium in cow's milk, where does it come from! Of course, from the grass that the cow eats! Like brainless zombies we follow a stereotype without questioning without reasoning and conveniently glossing over the fact that in taking away the milk from the cow, we are responsible for starving the calf who is the rightful beneficiary of that milk!!

    Amrit

  20. Thanks Sun, you have put your thoughts so well here!

  21. I recommend the book “Eating Animals’ by Jonathon Safran Foer.

    • Thank you, Seraphina. I just googled to find out what it is about and I think yes, you are right. It must be a good book. Will definitely try to get a copy.

  22. That was an amazing and inspiring read! I admire your perseverance and courage to follow your heart. I feel vegans lead a truly compassionate life

  23. Hi,

    Its really nice to read about your philosophy regarding the diet. If this could be adopted by at-least a small percentage of people around, this could have bring a great differences in terms of healthy and ‘guilt-free’ diet and living.

  24. I found ur blog, in December while looking for dairy alternatives. I had a feeling dairy is messing up with my health n a experiment confirmed it. But I found it really hard to quit dairy completely until recently when my doc asked me to completely eliminate dairy from my diet.

    I read this why vegan section a while ago, it completely shook me up. I start my day with honey in green tea, and since I read this post i can’t get myself to use it. I’m not yet fully vegan coz I’m just starting to realise that almost everything processed contains animal products.

    I am glad to have found ur website, opened my eyes… 🙂

    • Anisha, I am so glad you found out the cause of your problem. That’s good. None of us cause cruelty intentionally. We have been conditioned to ignore it and sometimes things need to be pointed out. I am also glad the post helped you. 🙂

  25. Nice to see some good soul!

  26. Hi Harini you mentioned calcium but what about B12. Do you take supplements for that?

    • Sushma, I used to take B 12 tabs regularly but on my own accord I have chosen to stop it for sometime. Vit B-12 is however recommended by many vegan doctors.

  27. I am a mother of a 10 going on 16 year old boy who is allergic to gluten and dairy and found it quite interesting that there is yet another mother who has a full recipe menu around vegan diet.

    My quest for gluten and dairy free diet stems due to food allergies and my question is how to shop for these things in India. There are times when i consider moving back from US to India but what stops me is sustainability of this diet without giving up too many things for my son.

    would like to connect with you offline if possible.

    thanks, Lalima

  28. So informative, how come I missed reading this section, you clarified lots of things out here and the myth of milk, truly we all have grown up with it and I still follow the same for my kids. Hope will try and change to start with in small things to make a big difference later for my loved ones…thank you!

  29. Hi Harini,

    Your write up is very interesting and truly thought provoking.
    I am a vegetarian (oops eggetarian) but I do refrain from buying bags/accessories made from animal products.
    My keeping away from non-veg food is by choice and as I have witnessed some very horrific acts done to animals in the butcher shops etc when I was quite young, which has kept me away from them till date. Also since its was not cooked for long at home was a major encouragement I guess, else who knows the young mind would have swayed!
    As you have mentioned its a very difficult choice to make especially because we have been brought up to accept that milk and its products are essential to one’s overall well being.
    Not to mention that once you have been introduced to them early on , you fall in love with them (milk, paneer ,thick cured etc.) and it seems that the every day menu at home somehow revolves around them.
    But its definitely a laudable effort wherein you try to make the world a better place not only for yourself but also for the other species of mammals around.
    Thanks a lot

    Regards,
    Manju

  30. Hi,

    I was moved so mush after reading your writing. I also watched a documentry about how they kill animal for food. I am pure vegetarian and decided to start not to take diary products.Here in USA many people are becoming vegan. I will put up this article (URL) so that those who visit my site they read your article. Very informative article.Thanks Harini.

  31. Hi Harini,

    It’s a beautiful post. I really appreciate your courage to be vegan. It takes a lot of changes and determination I suppose. Being born and grown up in Bengal, we never thought about a meal without fish. I live in the US now and do not get access to good Indian fish. The meat found in the cheap grocery stores is almost inedible (at least to me). My husband and I are gradually moving toward more meat free diet but couldn’t be compeletly vegetarian. I have to confess that we didn’t want to eat vegetarian food to stop the cruelty on animals but for a compeletely different reason. After reading your article, I think I’ll try to push myself harder and see how far I can go. I think I can never be a vegan but at least try to be more reasonable. I try to be green as much as possible, but don’t think I try too hard. Your post is truly inspiring.

    Thanks,

    Soma

    • Hi Soma,

      Thank you so much! I am glad the article appealed to you. I understand what you mean but I am sure you will think twice when you have non-veg now. Changes do not happen unless we force ourselves, and I am sure you are taking the right step. Its great to know that you live green and its obvious you think about it too. All the best! 🙂

  32. Anita Chandramouli

    Thanks for this informative article.

  33. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Fantastic work!

  34. Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and as a fellow vegan I have to say, you’re doing an awesome job on the blog. I read somewhere about plants not having a Central Nervous System, so you can research that point and add it to the answer for “Why do you even eat plants?  They are living beings too.  They have sap which is their life line just like blood.  How do you justify cutting them off? ” and for the question after that.

    • Thanks, Ankita. There are always questions thrown by people but I maintain that being vegan is by far the most eco-friendly, and practical diet I know for a safer and peaceful world. I agree that sceptics have a field day with silly questions, but don’t you think it comes more out of a complex? Instead of doing something constructive sceptics try to bog down activists. It is natural. One must simply live with it. I don’t justify cutting plants. I simply say that the human body is meant for a herbivorous diet, not carnivorous. Sceptics must simply make an informed choice.

  35. Brilliant post.
    I have been a vegetarian all my life, first by force and then by choice and that’s only because I’ve realized how cruel we can be to animals. I also get all these questions that you’ve answered… btw, for the first one about how we are no different from meat-eaters, my answer is – atleast I dont eat something which has a mother and a father or a face.
    I’ve been considering turning vegan all these years, but the only thing that stopped me is the question of milk. Now that I’ve read this, am going to do more research, and incorporate the non-milk calcium-rich items in my diet… may be follow a 30-60-90 plan to turn complete vegan.

  36. Well written and very informative. As for “plants have life too” – I read a scientific article somewhere where this is explained quite clearly. The composition of plants versus animals. Plants (if i’m not mistaken are made up of only two elements) and animals are made up of 4 (again please check on this)and humans are at the top of the evolutionary ladder, they comprise of 5 elements (check on this). Why this needs to be explained. To live a simple life, and take only what we need is to tread lightly on this earth which is what conscious living is about as well. And the more complex a being, the heightened their senses and pain and suffering. Just by observing nature: plants do not have the same choices that animals have – they cannot move from one spot to another, they don’t run away when they face danger (cannot move), nor can they make sounds. Animals express their love, they run for shelter from the rain, danger etc. When an animal/fish head is cut off, they bleed to death. Plants when pruned provide more fruits and grow more branches, etc….We do not observe these things as most of us are too busy in our worldly activities. As for imbalance if we do no eat animals: Humans population has increased over the ages, have we started killing each other because there are too many humans. (nature has its own way of keeping things right) . It is we humans with our thoughtless actions who destroy nature and go against the “laws of nature”. thanks so much for your write up.

  37. I have been searching for a vegan food blog…This one is so apt. Thanks a bunch! This post iss very helpful for me to answer the same question “Why I am vegan?”. Thanks again. Thanks for your efforts in compiling such a great post.

  38. I would love to share your page to everybody I know. Thanks again 🙂

  39. I am very inspired from being vegan campaign and finally I have joined this campaign. I changed my diet and included only plants and vegetables in the diet. I found a lot of improvements in my health. Really, its a miracle. Now, i am suggesting to my friends and realtives to be vegans.

  40. hi harini
    we stay in thane and our 13 year old son has celiac disease and hence cannot tolerate gluten. even 20 ppm causes trouble for him we were wondering whether you could cater to uor need of gluten free diet
    thanks pritam

  41. That was an excellent , inspiring and informative post!!!

  42. Harini,

    What an amazing article !! In our house we eat organic vegetarian food. My son has only yogurt and does not drink milk . My husband and I use milk only for making tea.

    Can you please post some recipes for making yogurt with almonds or cashews.

    Thnks

  43. Harini,

    My husband turned a vegan a year ago and i have been trying for the past 6 months. Last night i went to my SIL’s house and she had made Kadhi. I just tasted it and i thought how great it would be if i could make a vegan kadhi.

    I just searched for vegan kadhi and i landed on your site by chance. I just love your site and your page on ‘Why Vegan’ is simply superb.

    Thanks
    Lavanya

    • Thank you, Lavanya! Your comment is one of those that keep me going. 🙂 I am happy to know that your husband is vegan and that you love my site! Do try some of my recipes and leave me a feedback. If you have a problem following any of them you can leave a comment and I will get back asap.

  44. Hi Harini

    Once an argument took place. why should we eat non veg? during the argument, it was stated that god has created everything in such a way to complete the circle, so there is no harm in eating non veg.

    some people say while walking, be careful as you are likely to harm the ants and small creatures under your feet.

    People do understand everything but do not want to take the initiative. many will follow you in due course of time definitely.

    Great write up.

    god bless

  45. Hi Harini
    Folks like you are Godsent, period. I was an omnivore until I saw the truth and when I read your blog and your passion and compassion for the welfare of other earthlings, it touches a chord since I feel along the same lines as well . Have you seen this videos titles”Gary Yourofsky why Vegan” ? Please do take a look at that if you have not and may I recommend you other titles namely Earthlings,Forks over knives,Food Inc,Super size me,Fat sick and nearly dead. Thank you so much for your creative and delicious recipes. I am a fan .

    • Hi Katie, thank you. I haven’t watched the first video you have mentioned but most of the others, I have. I will catch up on this one. I hope you enjoy making the recipes on the blog.

  46. Hi Harini, Glad I found your site. I am a vegetarian and often think of turning Vegan. I think I’ll face a huge opposition from my family. Please tell me, apart from all the ethical reasons, do you feel any different healthwise? A lot of non-vegetarian people who turned Vegan seem to mention better energy and digestion.

    I would like to know do you feel any differently turning into a Vegan from Lacto-vegatarian?

    • Hi Deeksha, yes, I do feel different in many ways. One of the things I noticed is that my back pain totally disappeared. Not that it was acute but I used to have aches during the rainy season and towards November, and the first time I experienced no pain November was the year I turned vegan. I was already into it since June that year. I would get migraines while walking in the afternoon sun before. When I stopped tea and coffee (dairy based) I found that my migraines had gone. Yes, I did go through withdrawal pains for about 15-20 days but after that – nada! I was always energetic but I am told my skin looks clean now. I must mention that I walk regularly and am fit though I am not slim or figure perfect. I am not fat either.

      I suggest you try being vegan for a month and see the changes and decide for yourself.

  47. Hi harini, nice to read such a clear cut article on veganism. We are a family of vegans,
    Since 8 years. Another question usually asked by meat eaters is, if lions can eat
    Herbivores, why can’t we? :))

  48. Hi Harini
    I do agree with a lot of things you have mentioned in this article. I am a vegetarian transitioning to vegan, and I am doing it for ethical reasons in our currently corporate-blinded society. My idea of living in harmony with nature is a very different perspective, because for me, harmony means maintaining balance. And to maintain balance, Nature herself is not always harmonious. I think you understand that.

    That aside, I’ve seen this in many vegans, and I’m pointing this out to you not because I don’t understand your ethical reasons, but because I feel if we want to spread our word to others and make it reach them, facts are always important (even if the facts might not coincide with what we are trying to say).
    You said in your answer to the question why you eat plants (which are also living beings) that you are a herbivore. Unfortunately, you are not and neither are any of us. We are not herbivores because we do not have cellulase-producing bacteria in our gut to break down cellulase that is the main component of plant cell walls. The appendix in us is a vestigeal organ. We don’t have the multiple stomach system of herbivores or even their enzymatic make-up to extract maximum amount of nutrition from plants. Herbivores will undergo serious consequences if they’re fed even a small amount of meat, which doesn’t happen to us. Our digestive tract is very different from herbivores (and different from carnivores too). Yes, we are omnivores, and our genetic material has evolved to be that way. Our digestive tracts are very similar to that of the Capuchin Monkey, whose diet consists of fruits, leaves, invertebrates and small birds. The copious amounts of hydrochloric acids in our stomachs are the basic design for digesting meat. So no, we are definitely not herbivores.

    But I do feel a plant based diet has a lot more advantages, and the body can thrive without animals or animal products, if we make sure we’re getting sufficient nutrition from plants. In the end, maintaining an alkaline inner environment is the key. So yes, a plant-based diet is healthier. And that’s it. Just healthier food coming from higher energy beings, which a a lot more healing. And if that prevents barbaric idiots from inflicting unnecessary cruelty on animals, why not!

    The food chain is such that we’re always responsible for killing something. So ethical reasons can become very confusing. Using paper that comes from a different phylum of sentient beings is the same as using leather. Using refrigerators that release CFCs that cause ozone depletion, driving cars that cause pollution, using plant extracts in food and cosmetics that have been the cause of many plants becoming endangered, using mobile phones and gadgets (and building phone towers, TV towers,etc.) that hamper with the Earth’s magnetic field such that migratory birds are unable to navigate through the disturbed EM field, paying taxes a part of which invariably goes for the betterment of these ‘developments’…it’s all the same. We can only live in actual harmony with nature if we give up all technology and learn the ways of the natives of our lands. We cannot stick up for just one class of living organisms and abandon the rest. This is what I feel.
    P. S. Thank you for making me aware of the cruelty taking place in our Indian dairy farms.

    • Hi Pari, since I am not equipped to answer the scientific portion of your query I will refrain from commenting on that part – the structure of the digestive tract, and related portions. Whatever, I have written here is from things I have read. Perhaps you know better or more. I can’t dispute that with my limited knowledge.

      As for your last paragraph, I still feel one can take a step. I don’t say ‘we’. I start with ‘me’. I am not planning to change the world and I respect carnivores, vegetarians or omnivores as much as vegans. As I said in my note – we could do nothing about it and not take a step or we could try something in our individual capacities. I know about the refrigerators, the phones and the ozone depletion but I speak about things in which I can make a difference. Maybe one could see it as futile but to me it is a big step.

      I am practical and try to remain as environmental friendly as I can.

      Glad to know your view point and to have contributed in some way. 🙂

  49. How did I find your blog, I don’t know BUT I am so happy to see there are people like me. I have never forced my Veganism on anyone nor have I looked down or judged anyone for not being a Vegan. I turned one after loosing my Second dog & now on my Fourth furry baby.
    The backlash & defensiveness I get from folks who are not Vegan is hard to understand. Live & Let live!
    Thank you, for mentioning Calcium alternatives. Had seen Ragi in Indian stores here . I m definitely adding it to my routine & have signed up for your recipes. :-))
    THANK YOU, for making me feel normal as I sometimes don’t talk about it because I don’t want to listen to the negative comments that follow. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  50. Hi Harini,
    I was always a vegetarian but now I am trying to be a vegan. Its a little difficut since milk or milk products were my comfort food. To crave something which is so ethically wrong puts me in a very uncomfortable place. Hopefully these cravings will not be a part of my life soon.

    Eliminating milk has been great for my stomach. But,since i was already trying to remove sugar from my diet, eliminating milk leaves a big void. Vegan options involve a lot preperation. big question.. what to drink?

    Most vegan sites always mention soya milk as an alternate, but i have come across numerous articles which say soya is bad for you .
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/soy-health_b_1822466.html?section=india

    your thoughts..

    • Hi Sonal, please accept my apologies for being late in replying to your comment. I understand the ‘milk weaning’ thing. Can be painful since we have been conditioned to use it so much. Soya is an easy alternative simply because it is available off shelves, but my view is that oat milk is much tastier and is the easiest of all vegan milks when it comes to preparation. So, if you like the idea, do try my recipe.

      As for my thoughts on soya, I have noticed that regular intake of ‘off the shelf’ soy milk makes me feel bloated. I use it too but I have reduced my cuppa to less than half. Regarding the dangers of soy given in the article, I too, like you, rely on reports and am not a nutritionist, so I cannot say that these dangers are real since they are still research and have not been conclusively proved to be right.

      I would say, since we are still in the process of being informed, why not moderate our intake and switch to oats?

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