On the occasion of World Vegan Day, we delved into the concept, need, and benefits of veganism. Going vegan is more than just a dietary choice, it represents a choice towards conscious living that is dedicated to minimizing harm to animals and reducing environmental impact. Rooted in a profound ethical stance, vegans abstain from consuming animal products and opt for plant-based foods and cruelty-free alternatives instead.

For a true vegan, this commitment extends beyond the plate, veganism influences clothing choices, beauty products, and even daily routines. Beyond its impact on individuals, veganism is increasingly recognized for its potential to mitigate climate change, conserve natural resources, and promote animal welfare. With a surge in awareness and a growing community of advocates, veganism has emerged as a powerful force driving positive change in the way we relate to animals and the planet we share.

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Veganism has definitely grown on individuals who deeply care about the environment they are living in. We see the emergence of vegan-friendly dishes being added to menus in restaurants as well as full-fledged vegan cafes too. The Social Nation team had quite a few questions regarding veganism, which we assume a lot of you might also have. So, we reached out to seasoned vegan chefs and food creators Purvi Shah, Shweta Dudi and Richa Hingle to help us with our doubts and educate us more on this healthy way of living.

Why Go Vegan

We wanted to know what makes an individual adopt veganism, here’s what Shweta had to say, “I transitioned to a plant-based diet in 2016 primarily for health reasons, as I wanted to make more conscious choices about what I was consuming. However, as I continued to learn more about the ethical and environmental aspects of veganism, I made the decision to fully embrace veganism in 2020.

She further added, “My shift to veganism was motivated by a growing awareness of the ethical concerns surrounding animal agriculture, including the treatment of animals and its impact on the environment. It became clear to me that adopting a vegan lifestyle was a way for me to align my dietary choices with my values, not only in terms of personal health but also in promoting animal welfare and reducing my environmental footprint.

Adopting Veganism

As good a practice it is to adopt veganism, it’s not necessarily easy, or so it seems. Transitioning to a plant-based and vegan diet might not be doable for everyone, especially non-vegetarians. To this, Richa said, “If you eat a vegetable and bean-heavy diet to begin with, then it is easier to eliminate the dairy and one-off non-veg meals. If you start with a very meat-heavy diet then it’s a slower process of finding a meal at a time that works for you, and then ingredients and substitutions etc.” 

We asked Purvi if she could offer some tips to those who wish to go vegan. Check them out to make this transition smoother:

“Transitioning to a vegan diet from a non-vegetarian diet can be challenging initially, but it’s definitely achievable with the right approach.

  1. Gradual Shift: Start by gradually reducing animal products while incorporating more plant-based foods. This slow transition can make the adjustment easier.
  2. Education: Learn about vegan nutrition to ensure you’re meeting your body’s needs. Understanding food sources for nutrients like protein, iron, calcium, and B12 will help plan a balanced diet.
  3. Explore New Foods: Embrace a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Experiment with different recipes to find delicious plant-based alternatives.
  4. Meal Planning: Plan your meals in advance to ensure you get the necessary nutrients. This helps avoid being stuck without vegan options.
  5. Find Substitutes: Discover vegan versions of your favourite non-vegan foods, like plant-based milk, tofu, tempeh, and seitan.
  6. Community Support: Connect with vegan communities or friends who can provide guidance, support, and even share recipes or restaurant recommendations.
  7. Be Kind to Yourself: It’s okay to make mistakes or take time adjusting. Focus on the progress you’re making rather than aiming for perfection from day one.

Remember, everyone’s journey to veganism is different. What matters is making a positive change for yourself, the animals, and the environment.”

Recipe, Please

Now, the next question that was ringing in our heads was, ‘What can you really make under vegan dishes?’ And who better than vegan food creators to guide us? With their feeds filled with stunning-looking vegan dishes, they can surely whip up vegan recipes that are quick and easy to make – both savory and sweet.

Purvi made us realise that Indian food by default is vegan. “A simple roti sabzi dal rice is the easiest to make.

Shweta suggested Tofu scramble, Chickpea salad, Black bean patty, Soy curd raita, Palak tofu, and Masala oats.

Richa‘s kitchen is famous for her Peanut Gochujang ramen, Butter chicken ramen, French onion skillet lasagna, Fajita pasta, Vegan meat skillet lasagna, Spring roll fried rice, Mac & cheese powder, Sheet pan dinner with miso maple dressing, and more.

Is Being Vegan Costly?

Turning to veganism requires a shift in many of the daily ingredients, some of which could be heavy on the pocket and probably tough to find in the market. Is the fact that ‘turning vegan is a costly affair’ a myth?

Purvi says that the cost of ingredients for vegan dishes can vary, but they’re generally not significantly higher than non-vegan ingredients. Many basic vegan staples like beans, lentils, rice, pasta, fruits, and vegetables are often quite affordable and widely available. “Specialty or processed vegan products, such as plant-based meat substitutes or dairy alternatives, might be a bit more expensive than their animal-based counterparts. However, as the demand for vegan products has increased, many markets and stores now stock a wide range of affordable vegan options, making them more accessible,” she says.

That does sound relieving. Shweta also mentioned that the cost of ingredients for vegan dishes is generally reasonable, especially if you prepare them at home. Additionally, the availability of vegan products in the market has been steadily increasing, with a wide range of alternatives for various non-vegan ingredients making it cheaper.

The Health Benefits

Following a vegan diet has proven to bring about several notable health benefits. Shweta experienced improvements in her skin quality and digestion. This change has also contributed to weight management and having consistent energy levels throughout the day. Veganism has helped Richa with her sinus issues.

Purvi deep-dived into the overall health benefits of this diet:

1. Heart Health: Vegan diets tend to be low in saturated fats and cholesterol, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure.

2. Improved Blood Sugar Control: Some research suggests that vegan diets can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

3. Better Digestive Health: Higher intake of fiber from plant-based foods can improve digestive health and reduce the risk of constipation.

4. Nutrient Intake: A well-balanced vegan diet provides essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, promoting overall health.

Chef’s Special

We asked our chefs if they created a particularly innovative or unique vegan dish recently. Here’s what each one made:

Purvi: Recently I made vegan yogurt, vegan kadhi and dahi bhalle at home, they turned out to be really really good.

Shweta: I made a Kadhai tofu recipe – an alternative to kadhai panner, which is a family favourite.

Richa: My butter chicken series. The sauce is a vegan butter chicken sauce that I use in various ways like for my butter chicken ramen, butter chicken lasagna bake, butter chicken bao buns, and butter chicken enchiladas. 

Creating A Balanced Meal

When going vegan, it is essential to ensure your meal is well-balanced and nutrient-rich. We asked Richa how to achieve that and she said, “Like any diet, vegan or not, you have to be mindful of the carbs, protein, vitamins etc. Just make sure to add different vegetables, 2-3 types of protein (beans, seeds, grains), and less processed Whole Foods to your plate. If unsure about the amounts, use free nutrition calculator tools to figure out your daily intake and accordingly adjust the amounts by adding more or less of foods. You can also consult a nutritionist to get you started in the initial phase.”

As per Shweta, it’s important to include nuts and seeds for specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and calcium. Vegans should pay close attention to critical nutrients, such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D, either through fortified foods or supplements. Iron intake should be monitored, and plant-based iron sources can be paired with vitamin C-rich foods to enhance absorption. Complementary plant-based proteins, like beans and lentils, should be considered, while minimizing processed foods and focusing on whole, unprocessed ingredients helps ensure a healthful and well-rounded vegan diet.

The Future Of Vegan Food

With the awareness and growing adoption of veganism, the future does look bright. We asked the chefs what trends they anticipate in the plant-based culinary world.

Richa hopes to see more dairy-free versions of milk, cheeses, paneer, Indian sweets, etc. in India.

Shweta says that the future of vegan food is undoubtedly promising, with a continuous evolution towards more sustainable and diverse options. “As people increasingly recognize the environmental and health benefits of plant-based diets, the plant-based culinary world is expected to expand and innovate. Anticipated trends include a wider range of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives that closely mimic their animal-based counterparts in taste and texture. Sustainability will remain a key theme, with an emphasis on reducing food waste and utilizing locally sourced ingredients,” she says.

Well, wasn’t that super insightful and enlightening? Veganism definitely is the way to ensure a more sustainable life going forward. And it isn’t as tough as it seemed to be. Vegan food can be unique, innovative, and above all, delicious too. We hope this article equips you with enough knowledge to consider transitioning to a vegan way of life.