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Changing food trends in India: Vegetarianism and veganism

India, the land of spices, has a culinary heritage that’s as diverse as its people and cultures. Food here isn’t merely a means of sustenance; it’s a vibrant celebration of traditions, rituals, and the very essence of life itself. For generations, the sizzle of a pan and the aroma of spices have woven stories of identity into every meal. However, the plate on an Indian dining table is changing. Slowly but surely, there’s a revolution taking place in the way Indians approach food. This change is manifesting in the growing embrace of vegetarianism and veganism. This shift isn’t just a dietary preference; it’s also a reflection of evolving health consciousness, environmental awareness, and ethical considerations among Indians.

According to a report by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), India currently exhibits the lowest rate of meat consumption in the world mainly due to 44 percent of its 1.3 billion population being Hindus.

What’s the reason behind the transition?

People nowadays are shifting to vegetarianism or veganism due to various reasons such as environmental awareness, better health consciousness, global influence, etc.

Himanshu, a recently turned vegetarian, spoke to TTL, “I called myself an animal lover and then proceeded to eat meat. How much of a hypocrite it made me? I don’t consume meat at all now and I am slowly trying to turn into a vegan.”

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The most important driving factor behind this change is ethical and animal welfare concerns. The vegan and vegetarian advocates are stressing on the point that no animal deserves to suffer and no animal’s life is more important than our taste buds. Through social media and documentaries, the conditions in factory farms and the treatment of animals have raised the truth about industrialized meat and dairy production.

Joaquin Pheonix, an American actor, said, “It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal.” Increasing health consciousness is also a key driver behind the shift towards plant-based diets. As India faces rising cases of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and heart disease, more people are recognizing the health benefits of reducing meat and dairy consumption. Scientific studies showcasing the advantages of plant-based diets in lowering the risk of chronic illnesses have contributed to this shift.

It’s an era of Instagram trends, and the recent visibility of celebrities and influencers adopting plant-based diets has further popularized the movement in India.

Celebrities like Kangana Ranaut, Shraddha Kapoor, Aamir Khan, John Abraham, and Jacqueline Fernandez are supporters of a plant-based diet. In 2011, Shahid Kapoor was named “Asia’s sexiest vegetarian” by PETA.

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Challenges in transitioning to a plant-based diet

Shifting to a vegan or vegetarian diet may not be easy in a culture like India where meat is heavily consumed.

Locating vegan-friendly products and substitutes can be challenging. In some of the developed places, the a more sustainable plant diet may be available, but in most parts of India this is still a challenge. Dining out can be difficult too for those following a strict plant-based diets. Social situations and peer pressure can be a challenge too, particularly in environments where meat and dairy products are consumed in large quantities.

When TTL asked Himanshu that why has he not switched to veganism yet, he replied, “Vegan products are generally expensive and are not always available everywhere. Switching entirely to veganism needs commitment and I am not ready yet.”

Vegans are also concerned with meeting their nutritional requirements without animal products. A well-planned vegan diet can provide all essential nutrients, but food choices must be made carefully.

Where to find the motivation and inspiration?

If you want to switch to a plant-based diet or are thinking and researching about it, here are a few places where you can find out what you are looking for. 1.Radhi Devlukia (@radhidevlukia): With 2.2M followers on Instagram, she is one of the best vegan influencers in India. In her Instagram profile, you would find easy and interesting plant-based recipes that emphasizes on conscious cooking. 2.Richa Hingle (@veganricha): With 362K Instagram followers, veganricha shares easy vegan recipes from savoury dishes to baked deserts, including ladoos, burfis, pizzas, etc. 3.Maya (@fitgreenmind): Maya is an international vegan influencer with 3.1M followers. She promotes veganism by sharing quick and easy plant-based meals. 4.Nisha Vora (@rainbowplantlife): having 781K followers on Instagram, Nisha Vora encourages her audience by making Indian comfort foods and showing how vegan recipes can be highly flavourful and delicious. An individual’s food preference is their personal choice. As important it is to be respectful to all animals and have compassion for their pain, we should equally respect someone’s choice if they choose not to go on a plant-based diet. Change starts from within. So, change yourself and the world would follow along. By: freelance journalist, reporting for true to life

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