You feel lighter and fitter without dairy products, discovers REENA SINGH who spoke with experts
By turning vegan, you automatically begin appreciating produce from God’s natural world. And by taking a conscious pledge to get off meats, you also start thinking of the mindless way you have so far been eating meat and chicken — just for taste. Because you are taking to a new kind of food, you also read up on the subject. Experts, however, caution you about reading too much on the internet and say that it is very important to find out who has commissioned the study you are reading. For instance, if the dairy industry is sponsoring a study that promotes milk, take the findings with a pinch of salt. The research will present only those facts that suit the industry lobby and talk well of their products.
The dairy industry may say milk is a great source of calcium, but it will never tell you that commercially-run dairies use hormones on cows to jack up milk production. The hormone stays in the milk that you unknowingly feed to your children and drink yourself and play havoc in your system.
Says Nandini Gulati, co-author of the Guilt-Free Vegan Cookbook that advocates cooking without oil, sugar, gluten and dairy: “Some years ago, someone gave me a copy of The China Study that was written based on 37 years of research. The China Study showed how milk was connected to cancer and other diseases. China, Malaysia, and Japan (SE Asian countries) traditionally do not have milk as part of their diet and ghee and butter were not taken there. When western countries saw this region as a major market for their milk produce and began introducing milk products there, diseases too began making an appearance. I was impressed with the research and decided to go vegan. It was difficult at first and I would often feel deprived. I didn’t know substitutes for the things that I was so used to eating. I had to learn how to substitute dairy.”
Adds Mala Barua, her co-author for the vegan cookbook: “We make cheese with cashew. You can flavour it with garlic and pepper — you can find the recipe in the book. You can make milk with cashews or with almonds and flavour it as usual with cardamoms and pistachios and the satisfaction you derive from such a drink is the same. A glass of almond milk, for instance, can even be made with just four almonds.”
They both advocate cooking without oil. Use nuts instead — these have both fibre and oil, they say.
Getting into the flow of being vegan is the tough part, but once you learn to substitute your daily butter and cheese with healthier alternatives, you will feel lighter and fitter. Perhaps the most popular video on the topic is John Mcdougall’s The Starch Solution available on youtube. It might take you an hour to go through the video, but the facts that you will learn about your daily diet will jolt you — and you will begin making those changes in your diet, voluntarily.
“People only find it difficult to turn vegan because there is a huge conditioning in their minds,” adds Mala. “You have to first battle with facts that have been drilled into you over a lifetime — that milk is good for you and is an excellent source of calcium. Our doctors are also taught differently. They have no word about preventing disease, but concentrate on cures after you have eaten all the wrong foods.”
They also suggest alternatives to tea and coffee. This is especially for people habituated to tea and coffee who use this as an excuse to say ‘no’ to veganism. They recommend an infusion of water with ginger, or cinnamon with water. Alternatively, have herbal green tea. Change your mindset and you will get used to healthier alternatives.
Spiritual master Nithya Shanti has been a vegan since 10 years. He says, “Veganism is a step beyond vegetarianism. I don’t go out to convert people, but in my programmes, they get only vegan food. There are health benefits that have been clearly proven, besides benefits to the planet — the sheer resources that it takes to grow livestock makes it the most environmentally destructive industry on the planet. By turning vegan, your values are also now in line with your life. People may say they are animal lovers, but then they go right out and eat an animal….” Can that ever be right?
Both Mala and Nandini recommend connecting to your own intuition — it always tells you what is right. So, when your conscience tells you that deep-fried goodies, off-the-shelf snacks and drinks are bad, listen to that inner voice. But we often choose to ignore that voice and give in to the demands of our tastebuds, instead