Think of vegans as a step ahead of vegetarians – not only do they not eat meat and eggs, they also do not eat any animal product, including all dairy products and other processed foods that use animal derived ingredients.
Considering the love for dairy products in India, how practical is the vegan diet?
Veganism is a kind of vegetarian diet which not only excludes mutton, chicken, lamb, fish and eggs, it also excludes all dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients.
Some vegans don’t eat foods that use animal based ingredients either, eliminating all processed foods and wines from their diet as well.
As a result, the food choices for vegans become quite limited and includes only:
- Grains and Cereals
- Beans and Legumes
- Fruits and Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds
Why it can be hard to be a vegan in India?
Looking at the list of foods mentioned above, one might think that it’s pretty easy for an Indian to be a vegan. After all, our basic diet comprises of all kinds of fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, pulses and legumes.
But think about it harder and you’d understand the limitations of being a vegan in India – our love for dairy!
When a vegetarian thinks of eating something indulgent, the most common options are Dal Makhani, Shahi Paneer or Malai Kofta. And what all these foods have in common is that they include dairy products like milk, cream and cottage cheese.
In fact, if you take a closer look, most recipes in the North Indian cuisine or Moghlai cuisine will add dairy products in one form or the other to make a dish richer and more flavourful. And that is why as a vegan, your options of eating out become quite limited.
The same holds true for most other cuisines as well. The use of cheese and mayonnaise in Continental, Italian and even Fast food makes it hard for a vegan to find edible options at such restaurants.
There might be a few options, but eating the same thing over and over could get repetitive and boring soon. After all, how often can you eat baked beans or Channa Masala when ordering food outside?!
Eating well as a Vegan
Make sure that you eat a lot of lentils, chickpeas, peas, tofu, nuts, soy milk, spinach, rice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, potatoes and broccoli to get some healthy proteins.
If you are find it hard to eat out because of the many food restrictions you must follow, try out these recommendations:
Eat at good restaurants that offer Indian vegetarian food. These restaurants will be happy to cater to your needs by customizing their recipe and will remove all dairy products from the dish to suit your taste.
Most will also offer indulgent recipes suited for vegans that make use of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts in interesting ways to tantalize your taste buds
South Indian restaurants are a great place to eat. This is because most dishes here are made creamier using coconut milk rather than dairy products, making them perfect for you as a vegan
Chinese cuisine also has many options. But as long as you make your food choices clear while ordering your meal. Remember to tell them you are a vegan, because most restaurants will otherwise serve you egg noodles with veggies in it, trying to pass that off as a ‘vegetarian option’!
Related Article: Is It Better To Be A Vegetarian?