Veganism is not a trend but rather a lifestyle choice that many people are adopting for better health and animal welfare. A vegan diet is entirely plant-based, which avoids animal-based products such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products whereas according to the Indian National Family Health Survey, 75% of Indians are non-vegetarian.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Shreya Goel, Nutritionist at Continental Greenbird, shared, “Animal-based products are frequently thought to be high in protein. However, this is not true because many plant-based foods are high in protein, such as chickpeas (1 cup provides 14.5 g of protein), lentils, beans, tofu, hemp seeds, and so on. A non-vegetarian diet is not necessarily bad but it is not ideal either because most people are unaware that meat, specifically ‘industrial meat,’ is harmful to the environment.”
She explained, “Meat consumption contributes to the emission of greenhouse gases such as methane, CO2, and nitrous oxide. Climate change, such as global warming, is exacerbated by these gases. According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation, the meat and dairy industries account for approximately 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, meat production requires large amounts of water; a whopping four times when compared to producing other forms of protein e.g. lentils. Meat consumption is a major cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss. The consumption of meat also leads to deforestation and the destruction of natural habitats. The industrial meat industry is contributing to the extinction of thousands of species, many of which haven’t even been discovered yet.”
The health expert asserted that these things are having a huge impact on the environment but when we talk about meat consumption’s impact on human health, the case is no different. Shreya Goel elaborated, “Although meat is indeed a great source of protein but a diet high in red and processed meats, high-fat dairy foods, and processed foods lead to diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. However, the good news is that a plant-based diet can be a solution to meet one’s protein needs.”
She highlighted, “Products made from peas and chickpeas provide more fibre and are high in protein. Chickpeas have a low glycemic index which helps to control blood sugar levels, helps lower cholesterol, are low in saturated fat and calories and are a great source of calcium and magnesium. Switching to an all-vegetable diet gives your body a chance to absorb all the nutrients it needs for optimal functioning. The environment is not the only thing that benefits when consumers switch to plant-based meats, your body benefits immensely too.”
Studies show that a plant-based diet boosts our immune system by increasing the levels of vitamins and minerals in our system. Shreya Goel suggested, “People who crave the taste and flavour of meat can opt for plant-based meat brands. They look like meat but are purely plant-based. So they can enjoy the taste and experience of meat, without affecting the environment, animals or their health. So make a responsible choice and opt for plant-based foods to improve your health and protect animals and the planet as a whole.”