Growing up in a Gujarati household, 95% of our meals consisted of lentils, lots of vegetables, rice, grains and a tiny bit of chicken or fish. Most importantly, we ate what my mom cooked, no debating. As I started hosting dinner parties where I always made sure to have plenty of vegetable dishes on the table, however, I would find that more and more guests were starting to request vegan options! This surprised me at the time because while I had grown up in a vegetarian household, I knew very little about vegan meals.
So I started my research on veganism. I learned that vegan diets exclude all foods produced by or derived from animals: meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, and honey. You can define veganism as a diet based entirely on plants. Eating more fruits and vegetables can potentially reduce risk of chronic diseases and keep farm animals from slaughter, while simultaneously protecting the environment so it started to make sense why so many of my friends and family were starting to opt for more vegan meals in their diet.
There are many cute neologisms like reducetarian, flexitarian, plant-strong, meatless Mondays, and of course veganism and vegetarianism. A couple of years ago, USA Today reported that a large percentage of Americans are trying to cut down on meat. But how do you determine if going vegan is right for you? My thought process was to decide whether going vegan was more of a diet choice or an ethical commitment to impose the least possible harm on Earth, or both? I do love animals and I want to do my part and save the environment and Earth, but I also enjoy butter and honey? I had to decide if I wanted to be a full-time vegan or adopt a flexitarian approach and what my diet would look like. Of course, I knew about plant-based meats and other alternatives but did I want to incorporate them into my diet or focus on whole foods? There is so much to think about but it’s important to consider all of this before going vegan so you can ensure you still have a nutritious diet and avoid deficiencies.
For me, there are a lot of pros and cons of going vegan; and in the end, I have decided for 2022 to continue my preferred neologism – “mindful eating” - while taking the parts of veganism and vegetarianism that best fit into my lifestyle and values. I am going to continue to reduce and remove processed food and packaged meals while increasing my fruits and vegetables, lentils, whole grains, and nuts, and once in a while, eat meat, fish, and sugar. I am going to go back to my traditions when my grandmother and mom used to cook for me – 95% vegetarian. 3 oz of meat will now last me 4 meals vs. one.
At SugarRoti, we have introduced some great recipes to help those of you going vegan, whether fully or if you are starting with a few meals a week. These recipes will help you to add flavor to your meals through pre-measured spice blends, all of which are completely vegan too! As you decide which diet is for you, remember to be mindful of you – what is going to work for you. Pick a diet that offers health benefits – eat more antioxidant-rich and nutrient-dense whole foods, find ways to save the Earth and add flavorful spice to your meals!
Try this Chickpea (Garbanzo) Bread Pudding Recipe, Cauliflower Rice Kichiri Recipe, or Green Beans & Tofu Recipe to get your started on your going vegan journey. We dare you to make them for friends or family at your next get-together and see if anyone missed the meat!
“Let Food be Thy Medicine, Thy Medicine Shall Be Thy Food.” – Hippocrates