For most Indians, vegan is an unfamiliar word that is often considered a medical condition or a religious belief. It's neither!
The word vegan (pronounced vee-gun) was coined in 1944 in Great Britain by Donald Watson who wanted a word that described non dairy vegetarians and also suggested an amazing variety of foods provided by nature despite none of animal origin. In 1949, Leslie J Cross broadened the definition of veganism to the principle of emancipation of animals which was later clarified as “to seek an end to the use of animals for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man”.
A vegan is someone who chooses to live by the principle of least harm and eats a plant based diet consisting of grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Vegans keep away from meat, fish, eggs and dairy and also avoid any animal based lifestyle products like leather, honey, wool and silk.
Being vegan does not mean feeling deprived as most cuisines can be easily veganized. Nut milks, cheese and cream are delicious and nutritious dairy alternatives. The variety of vegan foods available is growing and vegan restaurants are opening up all over the world. There are now hundreds of websites that offer recipes, resources and information on vegan nutrition. The world over more and more people are choosing a meat and dairy free diet including some of the best known celebrities, athletes and world leaders.
Why? Because choosing a life free from animal products is better for the people, animals and environment. Medical research indicates that plant based diets not only prevent the occurrence of lifestyle diseases in people, they help reverse them too; the pollution of the planet's air, water and soil by animal agriculture has been labelled as environmentally unsustainable and destructive; and most people would find it unacceptable and unethical if they learnt about the suffering these sentient animals are put through in the food industry.
Animal agriculture is also responsible to a large extent for deforestation, soil degradation, energy consumption, wildlife destruction as well as global hunger. In fact, there are so many good reasons to go vegan and so many individual and collective benefits that the real question is'nt ‘why vegan?’ but ‘why not vegan?’.