Vegetarian to vegan! My journey

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It all started at the moment, when Preety and I were reading the acclaimed book Sapiens by Yuvan Noah Harari. It came as an intuition, an elusive gift. It was a spark of intelligence, a flash of insight, an impulse to go for the unexpected, a feeling to follow a hunch. And within no time I decided to become vegan!

I was touched by the miserable story of our so called Cow mother. Who are we to do that? Why do innocent souls suffer because of the evolution of mankind? Why do we drink the milk, when it is not meant for us? So many questions arose. They resided without any answers for many days.

When I ponder over the harassment done to poor animals in dairy industry, my heart aches. As soon as a cow delivers a calf, he is taken away from the mother. The mother is kept in a cell where she can’t even move or stretch her legs. The calf is only brought to the mother, so that with the smell or mere presence of calf, mother starts giving milk. As soon as the milk starts flowing, the calf is taken away from there. Is cruelty or violence different than this? The calf being denied of the milk that was meant for it. The cattle then dispensed away for the meat industry!

My journey to being vegan was not very easy for me. I have survived on milk and milk products since many years. I could even skip meals for them, indian mithai were my favourite! Milk and its products were my go-to for my every mood. My annoying acidity which was inseparable part of me was also relieved by either ice cream or cold milk.

As soon as I left dairy products I felt light, as if I am unburdening the guilt I had all these years. My acidity vanished in few months. I felt I was having milk just because I was missing my mothe’s love in my life.. and this insight stuck me and I was stoned. Having suffered with this annoying and quite unpleasant condition for so long, I was super excited at this discovery – so I kept going. I started enjoying black tea, lunch without butter milk, all sweets were replaced by dairyless desserts but I enjoyed every bit of it.

Coincidently I happen to read an article which mentioned, human beings are the only mammals who drink milk apart from their mothers milk. No animal doesq that. And scientifically proven research says that, you need mothers milk only in first 6 months of the life. If the bond is created, qqthe desire is satisfied then you don’t need it at all. Not even as a source of calcium.

As a doctor, in my profession I come across many concerned mothers, especially vegetarians, who are concerned for their or their children’s calcium requirements in the body. Children who hate milk! And the the struggles to get him or her to drink that glass! But I can confidently ask them to replace it with other rich sources of calcium that are easily available -@@like Raagi, soya, nuts. etc etc. The child’s body knows what it needs I say 😊 So no need to force, let the child decide

I continued with the no-dairy thing for a while longer. I wasn’t 100% strict about it at this stage, I just avoided it where I could and ate it if I couldn’t really avoid it – or sometimes just because I was craving it. Every time I made an exception and ate some dairy, my acidity came back. It made me that little bit less tempted to make any more exceptions.

What happened next was that I got to a stage where I simply didn’t want to eat any of the dairy. I’ve never really eaten eggs or fish, so I didn’t have to cut those out as they weren’t there in the first place. I began to find that I wasn’t craving for milk , milk chocolate or any of the foods I had once missed. Instead, as an enthusiastic cook, I was simply blown away by how exciting plant-based cooking can be. I was using ingredients I never had before, exploring new cuisines, discovering restaurants that catered to my new lifestyle… in short, I was loving this new vegan life. It wasn’t until later that I realized that veganism could be about more than just food – but I was well on my way!

Around this time I also began to learn more about the impact of the meat and dairy industries on the environment, on the animals themselves and on our health. Documentaries like Cowspiracy and What the Health made me even more certain about my decision to stop eating animal products for the sake of my health, the animals that suffer at the hands of the meat and dairy industries, and the planet we live on. I was beginning to see a bigger picture

But for me, I soon began to realize that ‘being vegan’ can mean a lot more than simply what you cook and eat. For me it’s come to be about how I live and interact with the world.

As I became part of vegan groups online and interacted more with the vegan community, I realised that there were animal products in so many things around me. My handcrafted, beautiful leather wallet was made of animal skin. So were pretty much all the shoes I owned.

This last stage is definitely a process. I didn’t throw away all my leather shoes, for example, as that seemed extremely wasteful – but I decided that the next time I bought new ones, they wouldn’t be made from leather. I think everyone has to find a definition of veganism that works for them. For me, though, aside from being a way of living that makes me feel healthy and good in myself, it is also something that constantly challenges how I see the world. It challenges what I think I know about it and how I want to interact with our planet and all the creatures that live on it. Knowing that my impact on the environment is smaller, and that I’m not harming any other living creatures just to satisfy my hunger, gives me a sense of wellbeing and peace that I hadn’t expected to find when I decided to cut out dairy.

So what happens next? For me, veganism has become a lifestyle that I can’t see myself ever turning my back on. Why would I, when I’ve never felt better?! It’s extremely exciting to see the momentum that the vegan movement is gaining at the moment – more and more restaurants have vegan dishes on their menus, more vegan events and fairs are taking place, and increasing numbers of non-vegans are choosing to eat less meat and dairy, too.

Everyone has the right to choose how they live and what they eat, so I certainly don’t want anyone to read this and think I’m trying to ‘convert’ them. I’m not. I’m just sharing my story because my journey to veganism changed my life – and if my story inspires anyone else to explore plant-based cooking or veganism then, well, joyful days!

For continued information on this please follow this space.

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