Veganism is a step further than being a vegetarian. But what does that mean? Where do you draw a line between vegan and vegetarian? Are there any deficiencies among vegans? To get you the truth, we head straight to an expert on Veganism. Anuradha Sawhey, the owner of the wellness center Back to the Basics and the author of ‘The Vegan Kitchen’ explains this new food preference.
What is Vegan-ism?
Anuradha Sawhney: Being vegan is a way of life where you follow a path which benefits you the maximum and causes least discomfort to other beings. Vegans do not consume anything that has caused any pain or suffering to another being. As long as vegans consume a healthy nutritious vegan diet, they get the added benefit of good health and they are protected from many ailments!
What is the difference between Vegan and Vegetarian?
Anuradha Sawhney: A vegan is a person who is a PURE vegetarian and does not consume any dairy product either. Vegans are vegetarians who do not consume any cheese, dahi, cream, butter, ghee, milk or paneer. Vegetarians on the other hand may not eat mutton, chicken, pork or seafood but they could eat eggs and consume milk and milk products. Vegans basically do not eat any food that had a face.
What are the health benefits of Vegan-ism?
Anuradha Sawhney: The health advantages of a vegan diet have been confirmed by numerous doctors and nutritionists. A vegan diet strengthens the immune system and promotes longevity, health, intelligence and balance. It has a preventative affect against cancer, as well as coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and diabetes.
What made you shift to vegan-ism?
Anuradha Sawhney: I turned vegan the day I joined PETA India, back in 2000. I was the head of PETA India for over 9 years and won many victories and re-wrote many laws for animals in India. I turned vegan because of the immense cruelty that is inflicted on animals in the dairy industry in India.
In spite of being vegan, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and borderline high sugar in 2010. All doctors I consulted wanted to put me on statins and other medicines immediately. I am averse to taking medicines and decided to heal myself. On taking stock of my food habits, I realized that just because I did not consume any food from an animal – in other words food with cholesterol in it – did not mean I could not develop heart disease. I ate wafers, chidwa, ladoos, samosas and pakodas like they were going out of style. I ate processed foods like my life depended on them.
After a lot of research and in consultation with world renowned cardiologist, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. M.D. along with inputs from internationally acclaimed author of the book ‘Reversing Diabetes’ Neal Barnard M.D., I managed to bring my levels down, only using nutrition and walking. According to both doctors, a plant-based, healthy oil-free diet not only prevents and stops the progression of heart disease and diabetes, but also reverses its effects.
Normally people feel that by turning vegan one must give up all the food they like. I prove to them that that is not so. I make a lot of food which is healthy and tasty, in a vegan avatar! For example, I make yummy yet non dairy cheese. This cheese is firm, can be grated, melted and sliced just like normal cheese, yet because it is not made from milk, it has no cholesterol! I also make very tasty non dairy feta cheese.
Stay tuned for the second part of the Vegan by Choice Series. We let you in on Myths Busted and Recipes for a three course vegan meal.
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