Veganism

Vegans (pronounced vee-gn) do not consume (eat or use in any other way) any animal products whatsoever. These include abstinence from eggs, dairy, honey, leather, silk, wool, etc. which are often consumed and used by ovo- and lacto- vegetarians. The practice is called veganism.

Although a fruitarian (one who exclusively eats raw or uncooked foods such as fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and sprouts) is a vegan, a vegan diet does not mean abstinence from sugar, sweet drinks, processed and fried foods, white rice, white bread, oil, and so on, even though such items may not be wholesome.


As per the UN FAO study conducted in 2020, India can boast of having 5 million vegans but the good news is that their numbers are fast increasing and many more young persons are becoming vegans. Also, the 2020 data from Google AdWords states that vegan-related searches shot up by 47%. Unfortunately there are hundreds of articles that accuse vegans of being self-righteous and some that shame them, but the good news is that such resistance (from meat eaters) is generally ignored by vegans because they firmly believe in their choice of an ahinsak lifestyle.

Many celebrities, and others, who proudly claim to be vegan, unfortunately aren’t continuously vegan. One could turn vegan for a particular day (or days) of the week like “Meatless Monday” (widely observed, even by the Norwegian Army) but that can not justify calling oneself a vegan. Either one is a vegan every day, or one is not a vegan. Lapses should make people try harder to achieve the goal, not excuse themselves and carry on claiming to be a vegan as is seen to be happening frequently as publicity stunts with the connivance of animal welfarists.

 

Mondays are popular abroad, but BWC feels “Sundays without Meat” is more appropriate for India and has been urging non-vegetarians to observe it.


Imposition by Humans upon Animals
For some people, the mere presence of an animal ingredient seems insufficient evidence of cruelty having taken place. They point to things like milk, wool and honey as examples of animal-derived substances whose production they feel involve no cruelty. While the cruelties involved in the production of these substances may compare favourably to those present in the production of meat and fur, they are undeniably present. The ‘big deal’ about animal ingredients is that they are always representative of an imposition by humans upon animals. It is only the degree and nature of harm caused that varies from substance to substance.

All members of the animal kingdom possess a pain-causing mechanism that aids them in their survival instinct by signalling the presence of a harmful organism. It is impossible to obtain any substance from their bodies without causing pain or harming them. They do not wish to part with their body materials that readily. Animals sense such impending intrusions and immediately seek to flee. Therefore, it is very unlikely that any substance that has been derived from an animal was derived without using force upon it and without drawing any protests from it. For example, to obtain milk, we inflict the pain of starvation or under-nourishment on the calf (the rightful owner of the milk) which has to be forcibly tied away from the cow, its mother; to obtain wool we impose the discomfort of insufficient insulation upon the sheep (nature’s intended user of the wool) which has to be forcibly held while being sheared; to obtain honey (the bees’ food) we steal it out of their hives. Some may debate about the magnitude of the suffering caused in such cases, but the point remains that an unsolicited and usually painful intrusion and imposition is made by humans upon animals every time we obtain any substance from them.

No Animal Consent
Another point, but one which is of paramount importance, is that of animal consent. We do not take their consent for any of our interactions with them. Their answer to the question of willingness of participation should, however, be obvious from their physical struggles in resisting the treatment and their tendency of flight in situations where they suspect impending human intrusion. Not even the most artful of persons engaged in any activity dealing with animals would argue that the animal would willingly subject itself to the treatment if it had a choice. Their distaste of human treatment is obvious.

In this context Shri K Sankara Menon’s statement is relevant:
Animals are weaker than human beings and we should sacrifice ourselves for them and not them for us, for this reason that in them the question of consent does not arise at all. They are sacrificed, they do not sacrifice themselves.

The cow does not give us milk, we take it from her; the bees don’t make honey for us, we steal it from them; and if we needed protection from the elements, nature would have provided us with a woolly skin we wouldn’t have to cut it off the sheep.

The state-wise percentage of average farming household income from animal husbandry (mainly sale of milk) is given below, the all India average for which is 11.87%:


Kerala  

4.84

West Bengal

5.65
Telangana 5.93
Jammu & Kashmir 6.32
Karnataka 6.79
Maharashtra 7.30
Bihar 7.84
Punjab 9.18
Uttar Pradesh 11.03
Madhya Pradesh 11.79
Assam 11.93
Rajasthan 13.16
Tamil Nadu 15.76
Haryana 18.32
Gujarat 24.35
Jharkhand

25.27

Odisha

26.41


By-products
People know that meat and leather are two sides of the same coin. However, some feel that the animal is killed any way for meat so why not use its other body parts. They need to know that when the live animal is sold to the butcher a list is made of each and every body part stating its value (meat, skin, blood, bones, etc.) and the total is paid for, so there is no such thing as by-products of slaughter.

Quantity
The question of quantity is when people ask if it is Okay to use ‘just a little’? Whether one uses a square inch or a square foot from an animal’s skin, the animal was killed for it. Similarly, a hen cannot lay a fraction of one egg: to use a quarter teaspoon of egg white, one has to start with a full egg, just like for the omelette. Therefore, the only logically consistent stand is that which avoids the use of animal products in whatever quantity they might be present. The person who feels very strongly about the immorality of causing pain to animals usually avoids all animal substances ranging from flesh, eggs, dairy, honey, silk, wool, gelatine, egg-lecithin, leather-patch jeans or any thing else.

Cultured Meat


Cultured meat (also known as shmeat, vitro, in vitro, hydroponic, test-tube, vat-grown, victimless and synthetic meat) begins as flesh taken from a living (via biopsy) or slaughtered animal (or even human stem-cells) and grown in a laboratory. The so-called small quantity taken once, and whether or not a stem-cell bank is created and used to go on producing the cultured meat, or whether it requires any more animal derived substances, is irrelevant. The fact is that the initial meat cells are taken from animals and it would be unethical for vegans (and vegetarians) to eat, condone and promote it since it is positively of animal origin. Moreover, India’s religious beliefs and culture would probably never accept it being consumed.


No Meat - No Heat

Some non-vegetarians have been convinced by BWC to support Sundays without Meat for Climate Change. Shifting the world’s reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is no doubt important, but, according to a recent report in World Watch magazine, the world’s best chance for achieving timely, disaster-averting climate change will actually be by eating less meat. Meatless Mondays are quite popular abroad (and moving towards meat once a week) but Beauty Without Cruelty feels Sundays without Meat are appropriate for India. (It would hopefully be one step closer to turning vegetarian, and eventually vegan.)


BWC thanks every one who is spreading the word and appeals to their non-vegetarian friends to give up eating meat every Sunday. (Every day would of course be best.)


Those who eat no animals were thrilled to know that the 2016 UN Climate Change Report says meat should be taxed until no one eats it anymore. The recommendation is to save the environment and prevent global warming.


Since the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with the goal of reducing global warming has become international law and India ratified it in October 2016, let us hope one of the actions taken will be to discourage meat-eating.

According to a report entitled “Appetite for Destruction” launched at The Extinction and Livestock International Conference (October 2017) organised by Compassion in World Farming and WWF, the consumption of animal products was leading to a vast and increasing amount of land being used for crops. The report warned that this was threatening areas including the Amazon, the Congo Basin and the Himalayas, where water and land resources were already under significant pressure, and went on to say that excessive animal product consumption was responsible for 60% of all biodiversity loss, but few were aware that the crop based feed the animals ate was the biggest cause.

In March 2019 the UN Sixth Global Environmental Outlook report comprising advisories on food production and consumption was released at the UN Environment Assembly at Nairobi, Kenya. The comprehensive UN report advised the world to adopt less meat intensive diets and opt for climate smart agriculture to produce food grains so that the planet degraded resources can be protected for future generations. The following statements were put out by them:
Meat production currently uses 77% of agricultural land.

To produce Litres of water required
1 kg beef

15,000

1 kg pork              

4,844
1 kg chicken 3,900
1 kg cheese 5,000
1 litre milk 1,000
1 kg rice 3,700
1 kg maize/wheat 1,250


WWF’s 2020 report on the impact of dietary choices on the plant found that if the whole of India were to adopt a vegetarian diet, water use would drop from 411 cubic-kilometres to 260 cubic-kilometres, and if veganism was adopted it would cut water use by half to 209 cubic-kilometres, moreover mortality would go down 23%. The report also stated that at the current for and rate of consumption India would lose a species every 5 years because it was loosing biodiversity to food production. (The fastest was Brazil followed by Madagascar, China, Indonesia, Mexico and then India.)

The report flagged how 33% of the global edible food is wasted and 56% of it being wasted by developed countries and went on to state “We need a global food transformation in the next 12 years in which food waste is halved an diets and health are improved through decreased animal protein intake.” At the end of the assembly countries pledge to promote sustainable food systems by “encouraging resilient agricultural practices” across the globe.

Earlier research undertaken by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food has established that over two-thirds of food-related green house gas emissions come from meat production. The study states that if everyone in the world became vegetarian, annual deaths would fall by 7.3 million. The way we eat must therefore change – to preserve a liveable climate on earth and ourselves.


Avoidance of Dairy in Diet

Practically all vegetarians in India, including those who call themselves “pure” vegetarians, include milk and dairy products in their diets. Very few are able to consistently avoid dairy products, but sincerely wanting to do so, is half the battle won. The information below, on eliminating dairy products should benefit those who are struggling, whether on compassionate/ethical or health grounds, to give up milk products.

There is a misconception that milk and calcium intake is synonymous. The fact is that milk is not the best source of calcium:

Item Calcium content in mg
Sesame seeds/til   1470
Agathi leaves 1130
Curry leaves/patta 830
Moringa/drumstick tree leaves 420
Fenugreek/methi bhaji  395
Finger millet/ragi  344
Horse gram/kulathi  287
Kidney beans/rajma  260
Betel leaves/paan ke patte 230
Almonds/badam 230
Chickpeas/channa  202
Coriander/kuthmir  184
Urad dal 154
Jackfruit seeds 133
Green gram/moong 124
Cow’s milk 120 ONLY!























Eating a til or ragi ladoo provides almost the entire daily calcium required. Also remember, all greens, not just curry-patta and moringa, but palak, broccoli, sagvoy cabbage, cauliflower leaves, turnip greens, etc are packed with calcium.

It is clear that by choosing to get one’s nutrients from plant sources, one is not a party to exploitation of milch cattle and can stay away from the disadvantages of milk as well – the basic health disadvantage of consumption being that like all animal derived products, dairy contains harmful saturated fat. And in a study by the University of Michigan, cheese due to high casein content was found to be as addictive as drugs since it triggered the same part of the brain as crack cocaine.


Research papers and study after study in different parts of the world are consistently coming up with evidence that milk consumption may not only be unhelpful, but also detrimental for health. The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research that followed more than 45,000 men and 61,000 women (aged 39 and above) of Sweden stated in 2014 that milk consumption as adults was associated with no protection for men, and an increased risk of fractures in women – and an increased risk of death for both sexes.


The China Study was undertaken by the governments of China and America with the help of the Oxford and Cornell Universities that covered 35-40 years of human nutrition and which showed up that cow’s milk and animal protein were the main cause of today’s lifestyle diseases.


German researchers have found that the relaxing effect of a cup of ordinary black tea on the arteries is completely wiped out if milk (even a splash of it) is added. In other words, milk wrecks the health benefits of tea when added to the brew. Similarly, a study published in The European Heart Journal stated that researchers had 16 healthy adults drink cups of freshly brewed black tea, black tea mixed with a small amount of skim milk, or boiled water, and measured the effects on vascular function. Compared with water, black tea “significantly improved” arterial function the researchers found, “whereas addition of milk completely blunted the effects of tea”. In fact, green tea without milk originated in China as a medicinal drink and is considered as one of the world’s healthiest drinks. Adding lemon, not milk to it enhances its health benefits.

Researchers say hormones (not fat) found in dairy products consumed by teenagers are responsible for acne vulgaris or pimples. It has also been observed that particular communities like the Canadian Inuits who shifted to a westernised diet of sweet colas, beef, dairy produce and processed foods, began suffering especially from acne, and also auto-immune disturbances, high insulin levels and cardio-vascular disease.

The consumption of milk and milk products is completely non-existent among the Korku tribes of Melghat, a remote region in Maharashtra. They believe that just as a mother’s milk is meant for her child, the same is true of animals.

Similarly, tribals of Bagmara village (south of Agartala) in Tripura, hold on to their age-old custom that forbids consumption of cow milk, though nearly each household has at least one milch cow. They consider the cow a god, so no milking. They also feel that depriving the calf of its mother’s milk is a sin, and that the gods will not exonerate the sinner.


Dairy Products

Besides milk from cows and buffaloes, milk derived from yaks, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses and reindeer are also known to be consumed by humans.


The following are a number of common milk and dairy products found around the world and which vegans do not consume:

Colostrums
Raw milk
Whole/full milk
Low-fat milk
Skimmed milk
Pasteurised milk
Standardised milk
Condensed milk
Evaporated milk
Crema/Foam/Steamed milk
Baked milk
Boiled milk
Buttermilk
Lassi
Dahi/Curd/Yoghurt
Mishti Doi
Yogurt

Kefir/Fermented milk
Kumis/Airag
Viili

Skyr
Skimmed milk powder (SMP)

Whole (Full Cream) milk powder (WMP)

Milk protein
Milk solids
Dried milk
Dairy creamer
Dairy whitener
Cream
Clotted Cream
Kaymak
Filmjolk
Smetana

Crème fraiche


Sour cream
Sour milk
Infant formulas
Milk/Butter fat
Anhydrous
Table Butter
White Butter
Butter
Ghee
Smen
Cheese
Cream cheese
Quark/Fromage frais
Paneer/Cottage cheese
Whey
Clabber

Khava
Khoa
Mithai
Burfi
Pedas
Shrikhand
Ice cream
Frozen desserts
Gelato
Milk Puddings
Custards
Vla
Bakery and confectionery
Biscuits/Pastries/Cakes
Milk Chocolates
Dulce de leche

Edible Casein

Whey that is mentioned above is the “water” that is produced during making cheese or paneer. Most people are aware that it has been commercially exploited and that today it is dried and sold as an expensive supplement. However, few may be aware that some places in the world use skimmed whey to produce electricity. The whey is converted into biogas by adding bacteria, which in turn is used to generate electricity. Twenty small scale plants have been built (till end 2015) in France, other European countries as well as Canada, and more planned in Australia, Italy and Brazil.

It has been observed that Skimmed Milk Powder or SMP as it is commonly known is manufactured in large quantities (mainly for export) whenever there is an excess or glut of raw milk that no one is buying – supply more than demand. SMP is obtained by removing water from pasteurised skim milk by spray-drying; whereas WMP (Whole Milk Powder) is the product of partial removal of water from pasteurised milk.

Words such as whitener are used for both dairy and non-dairy products. For example several branded dairy whiteners (they contain sugar in addition to milk fat) are utilised for making tea and coffee.


Non-Dairy Milks and Milk Products

The good news is that the rise of packaged substitutes like almond and soy milks are threatening the dairy industry. Soy milk costs only about one-third the price of dairy milk. In addition, even big manufacturers mix vegetable oil with milk fat/solids and pass off their products as pure dairy. For example, look alike frozen dessert ice creams made from vegetable oils contain little milk derivatives.


BWC feels in a way it is good that the dairy industry in India is clamouring for labelling regulations to differentiate dairy analogues from pure dairy products. For example, milk powder is made by drum- freeze- or spray-drying processes. The latter is made by concentrating pasteurized milk in an evaporator to approximately 50% milk solids and then spraying it into a heated chamber where the water almost instantly evaporates leaving fine particles of powdered milk solids. However, skimmed milk powder, commonly referred to as SMP, is more often than not made from maltodextrin, a white powder derived from corn, rice or potato starch, plus sugar. But not all analogues are totally free of dairy, and if some are, the ingredients may not all be healthy like if they contain hydrogenated oil or GM corn or soy. Just being marked vegan is not good enough. No different to being marked sugar-free or gluten-free. One must check the ingredients because such labels only indicate what is not in the product, not what is.

However, when in 2020 the FSSAI (Food Safety Standards Authority of India) came out with draft amendment regulations restraining plant-based milk from using the word “milk” on their labels and stated that the “dairy term or phonetically similar or spell alike terms” shall not be used, it resulted in a great number of objections because it was obviously in the sole interest of protecting the dairy industry whose sales and prices had plummeted. Eventually, in September 2021, FSSAI issued a Press Release saying that Soybean Curd, Coconut Milk, Peanut Butter, etc. do not violate the use of dairy terminology for non-dairy or plant based products. 

There is no doubt that dairy milk can be easily substituted with soy milk or a variety of homemade nut milks, not only for drinking, but also as ingredients of recipes. Please see Nut/Seed Milk recipe at www.bwcindia.org/Web/Recipes/NutSeedMilk.html


Coconut milk and rice milk are additional alternatives.


In place of paneer tofu can easily be used.


Nutritional yeast can be sprinkled instead of cheese on dishes. Almond cheese can be used in place of ricotta cheese, cashew cheese instead of brie, and seed crumbles instead of Parmesan.


Margarine is an old non-dairy butter substitute but one must be aware of it containing hydrogenated oil which is unhealthy. But nut butters made from hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, cashew nuts, pistachio, walnuts, macadamia and even coconut are great alternatives especially for desserts.


Commonly utilised non-dairy milks described by a clinical nutritionist Ishi Khosla:


Soy Milk: Its popularity has grown over the last two decades due to the rising number of people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy. Soy milk provides a nutritious alternative and is low in fat, cholesterol-free and higher in protein than other plant-derived milks. It is also rich in phyto-estrogens and heart-friendly poly unsaturated fats. However, many people who are gluten or dairy intolerant may also be intolerant to soy. Excessive amounts of soy in any form can also be counter-productive. Choose organic or non-GMO varieties of soy milk.


Almond Milk: A great source of calcium, almost double of cow milk, and high in vitamin E. It is lower in calories and proteins. One cup of unsweetened almost milk provides only 30 calories and nearly double the amount of calcium in cow milk. Almond milk can be bought or made at home by blending one part raw soaked almonds to three parts water and straining. Commercial almost milks may contain additives and emulsifiers.


Cashew Milk: Cashew milk is very similar to almond milk and is a great choice for those looking to avoid dairy or soy. A cup of cashew milk provides about 40 calories and 3.5 grams of fat per serving and is low in protein compared to one cup of soy or cow milk.


Coconut Milk: Traditionally used to add thickness and body to soups, it is difficult to drink undiluted. Lower in protein and calcium, coconut milk is higher in saturated fat and calories. Its fat is in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are beneficial for digestion and immune function.


Rice Milk: Rice milk is a highly hypoallergenic form of milk suitable for those who are allergic to cow milk, soy milk, nuts and vegan. It is high in carbohydrates, B vitamins, iron, copper and magnesium. There are however concerns around arsenic in rice.


Oat Milk: Oat milk is another good option just like rice milk for those who are allergic to all other forms. It is more nutritious than rice milk, and is rich in calcium and vitamin A and low in fat.

A comprehensive list of Plant-based Milks is given below:
Grains: Rye, Rice, Millet, Wheat, Oat
Pseudocerials: Amaranth, Buckwheat, Quinoa
Legumes: Lupin, Pea, Peanut, Soy
Nuts: Almond, Cashew, Hazelnut, Macadamia, Pistachio
Seeds: Chia, Flax, Pumpkin, Sesame, Hemp
Others: Coconut, Potato, Tiger nut (tuber)


Indian Vegan Weddings

More and more wedding caterers in India are being requested to serve vegan feasts and they charge considerably more because the ingredients used are costlier (pure and healthy) and they need to come up with appropriate alternatives to milk products in particular. They find it difficult to cook without milk and curd/dahi/yoghurt, but have after lots of testing managed to figure out what should be used instead. Plant milks are mixed in different proportions to get the same taste and texture as dishes containing milk products. For example, yoghurt/curd/dahi is made with rice and cashew milks, buttermilk/chaas is made from coconut milk, and dahi-vada has a mixture of almond and coconut/soy milk, almond or cashew milk is put in tea and coffee, and equal quantities of coconut and soy milks mixed together are utilised for some other items.


Chicken and Cheese as bad as Smoking!

In a 2014 study from the University of Southern California that tracked a large sample of adults for nearly two decades, researchers found that those who ate a diet rich in animal proteins during middle age were four times more likely to die to cancer than those who consumed a low-protein diet – a mortality risk factor comparable to smoking.


Caution in Action

Indian cuisines commonly utilise lots of dairy products like paneer, yoghurt/dahi/curd, ghee, milk and cream.

Bakery items including certain breads may contain milk and butter – even eggs, either as an ingredient mixed into the batter or as egg-white brushed on top before baking. Nougat is a Middle Eastern candy containing honey and egg.

Bhaturas, naans, kulchas and rumali rotis doughs usually contain curd/dahi/yoghurt or butter-milk. Eggs are more often than not mixed in the dough used for making Kerala porottas, North Indian naans and some times for the others. Most “pure vegetarian” restaurants buy fresh ready-made dough, but rarely admit it. (Rotis and phulkas made in-house are vegan.)

Confectionery and dried fruits are some times coated with shellac (insect derived).

Cochineal (of insect origin as well) used as a “natural food colouring” has been banned in India for foods, but ironically is used for coating pills and colouring medicines & ointments.


Isinglass (processed from bladders of fish) is often used as an ingredient in the manufacture of drinks for clarification or fining of beer and wine. In foods it could be utilised in the form of gelatine.


Crystallized fruit, orange zest, and rinds like those of lemon and grapefruit, as also pineapple, cherries and apricots could have been candied with sugar and honey.

Dhokla, haandvo, rava idli/dosa and upma and similar fermented items usually contain buttermilk.

Festive sweets like payasma/seviya, gujiya/karanjee, lovanglatika (khoya), malpua, anarsaa, barfis and halwas like those made from badam, gajar, sooji, doodhi and moong dal usually contain milk and/or ghee. Malpua could have a tinge of egg and some times rasmalai also contains eggs. Other sweets like aflatoon and orange pedha contain eggs and khoya. And of course ande-ki-mithai (egg-halwa) contains eggs.

Frozen desserts are not ice creams (they look and taste like them) because they are made with vegetable fat, not milk fat, and, they do contain milk solids.

Jalebis may have buttermilk or whey as an ingredient of their batter. And, they are very likely to have been fried in a mixture of oil and ghee, or only ghee. However, jaangiri/imarti/omriti is usually vegan – the base is split black gram/urad dal without skin and rice and they are fried in oil, whereas the jalebi base is made of refined flour/maida and contains curd/yogurt/dahi or its derivatives.

Non-dairy creamers could contain casein which is the principle protein of milk derived by adding the enzyme rennin (from the stomachs of animals) or an acid. The creamer could therefore be either non-veg or lacto-veg; whereas the crema or foam put on coffee is derived by steaming milk.

Parboiled/siddha chaal/sela chawal/ushna chawal/pulungal arisi/ukara rice is some times manufactured with a small quantity of milk to prevent the grain from over-hardening.

Petha sweetmeat made from firm/ash- or white-gourd requires choona/edible lime/calcium hydroxide of shell origin. (In addition fitkari/alum powder is used but its origin is non-animal.)

India is famous for its pickles and chutneys. While non-veg pickles are quite appropriately named and thus can be avoided, it is not always so with chutneys. Few non-veg chutneys are:
• Karuvadu Takaali (Puducherry) containing fish.
• Molagai Podi (Tamil Nadu) containing ghee.
• Yetti (Karnataka) containing prawn/shrimp.

• Chapra (Chhatisgarh & Odisha) containing red ants and their eggs.


It is important to remember that nothing can be done to avoid the particular ingredients mentioned in the items above at the time of ordering, since the items are kept semi-prepared.

However, since the following items use dairy products as topping or garnish, or are prepared just before serving, it is possible to ask for the dish to be vegan:

A wad of butter or ghee is often placed on soups, dosa, uthappam, some dals and roti.

Cheese is always one of the toppings of pizza. Cream or grated cheese could be toppings on vegetable dishes too.

Pav-bhaji contains butter as it is always applied to the pav and the bhaji too is cooked in butter. Similarly, a lot of butter is utilised for Dabeli.

Paan wrapped into a gilouree can have choona/edible lime (shell origin), varkh, musk/kasturi, pearl/moti pishti, gulkhand containing honey, milk chocolate, etc.

When ordering a dish, it is advisable not only to clearly indicate the ingredients not wanted to be used, but to also indicate the desired ingredients.


Substitutes
Some times substitutes are not healthy (e.g. margarine in place of butter) in which case it may be better for vegans to omit consumption or use either frozen coconut oil or nut butters, e.g. almond butter which is very healthy. See http://www.bwcindia.org/Web/Recipes/AlmondButter.html


Milk
can be substituted with milk derived from soy beans, almonds, cashews, rice, or oats depending on the application, ghee substituted with oil, paneer with tofu. See http://www.bwcindia.org/Web/Recipes/NutSeedMilk.html


Honey
can be easily substituted with jaggery in Indian cooking. Furthermore, one cup of honey can be substituted with one-and-a-quarter cups of white sugar dissolved in one-third cup of water. Molasses, treacle, golden, corn, maple, date, grape, and other syrups such as agave nectar (derived from a plant and sweeter than honey but tends to be less viscous) can also be easily used in place of honey. However, the ingredients of these products should be carefully checked to rule out processing with pork fat, milk products or glycerine of animal origin.


Eggs
find their way into many dishes. Unlike in direct egg dishes like omelettes, fried eggs, boiled eggs, etc., the purpose of adding eggs to other dishes like cakes, kneaded flours, and batters is to impart some properties to the dish to aid its preparation or to affect its final appearance and texture. These, and some alternatives for each purpose, are discussed below:


Leavening: Eggs are added to baked products for their leavening property, they cause the dough to rise, making the product fluffy. Soda water, baking soda, soda bicarbonate can be used in place of eggs for baking cakes. An egg can even be substituted with 2 tablespoons lemon juice mixed with 1 teaspoon baking soda. A mixture of vinegar and baking soda also acts as a leavening agent as their reaction generates the carbon dioxide gas that leavens the cake.


Thickening: Eggs are often added to thicken gravies. Corn flour or arrowroot flour can be used as a thickening agent to replace eggs in gravies and soups.


Glazing: Oil mixed in a little water can be used to replace eggs used for coating and glazing breads, biscuits, tarts, buns, etc.

Texturising: For every egg to be replaced in baked items use ½ a mashed banana or a mixture of 2 tablespoons corn flour and 2 tablespoons water. 1 tablespoon flax seeds and ½ a cup of water blended together until the mixture is thick can replace egg white in several items. Similarly amaranth/rajgira grain could be used since it is healthier than any refined flour.

The texture of egg in certain dishes can be approximated by other ingredients. For example, gram flour (besan/channa atta) can be used instead of eggs to make “omelettes” with tomatoes, onions and green chillies. Such a dish is enjoyable in its own right without comparing it to the taste of egg. It also does away with the objectionable smell associated with egg.


Food and Flavours

One of the common arguments non-vegetarians give for eating animals is that they are addicted to the taste of mutton, chicken or sea food. It is moreishness, a food craving – not just eating to satisfy hunger.


First and foremost, they rarely associate what is on their plate with a living creature. There is a mental block as far as this is concerned. In fact, they rarely want to talk about it.


Enjoying eating something begins with one’s senses, other than taste. Sight and smell, texture and expectation, even hearing contributes towards it. It has been established that flavour is derived from a combination of these multi-sensory feelings that register in the brain, not from taste buds alone.


True, the tongue detects tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent, pungent, harsh, and umami – but, the nose smells the food before eating, when chewing and swallowing. Together with other senses, they trigger a flavour memory. So it’s a combination of movement, sight, smell, sound, touch and taste that merge to create an enjoyable food flavour in the brain.


A child’s food preferences are inborn, usually influenced by the mother’s diet during pregnancy. However, children prefer sweet foods because human milk, that contains lactose, is sweet. Interestingly, our tongues have two dozen receptors to detect bitter tastes. This proves we instinctively know what is harmful or poisonous and so we spit it out. No wonder toddlers initially refuse to eat flesh. It is only after much cajoling that they finally agree, and usually continue to do so. Again this is because they are conditioned in their minds not to associate meat with slaughter of animals.


Our response to tastes is mostly inborn but our perceptions of smells are learnt. The food industry is therefore increasingly using ingredients such as oil, fat, sugar and salt which we have evolved to crave. Humans have probably lost their ancestral receptors except for starch and sugar preferences. And, unfortunately they have been conditioned into eating animals, something they do not need for survival.


Meat or flesh in itself is not flavoursome. It is the manner in which it is prepared, that gives it its flavour, even if just boiled and eaten with side dishes containing vegetables. The mode of cooking, the spices utilised, and the presentation is what results in a flavour memory as mentioned above.


When non-vegetarian recipes are cleverly tweaked to be vegan, the result is quite satisfactory and acceptable for meat eaters. For example, tehmpeh (fermented soybeans compressed into a firm chewy texture that originated in Jawa, Indonesia), soy meat or unripe jackfruit can replace mutton, mushrooms can replace prawns, brinjal and yam can replace fish, an omelette can be made with chickpea flour/besan and contain no egg, and so on. The other ingredients and basic method of preparation of recipes should not be changed and you can’t go wrong.


According to a survey by the Good Food Institute approximately 63% of Indians are expected to switch to a plant based meat diet. Popular alternatives have so far been in the form of nuggets, burger patties, meatballs & minces, kebabs & tikkis, and steaks for curries.

Plant Alternative Calories Protein
Jackfruit 93 2 gms
Peas 81 5 gms
Soyabean 33 45 gms
Mushrooms 22 3.1 gms


Lastly, non-vegetarians can always learn to love new flavours and tastes of vegan dishes. It is a matter of introducing them to such delectable fare.


Vegilicious
The world’s first, exclusive vegan supermarket called Vegilicious was opened in February 2011 in Dortmund (Germany). Meeting the needs of a growing vegan population that feel there is no need to eat any animal derived products, the successful store which began with about 150 customers per day, is stacked with over 1500 products ranging from chocolate and cheese to fake meats and fish, and nutritious foods for dogs and cats.

Although India doesn’t have such an outlet yet, BWC is pleased to report that a growing number of restaurants are specially adding vegan dishes to their menus. We have been approached to learn exactly what vegans do not consume, and also asked where to find particular “healthy” ingredients.


Interestingly the Academy Awards 2020 post-Oscars’ party menu was 70% vegan. The last minute desire of the organisers to please every one was easily adapted to by the celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck (he has been catering for the past 26 years) who has restaurants in different parts of the world where vegan dishes are also served.


Draft Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2021

BWC heartily congratulated the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India for issuing the Draft Food Safety and Standards (Vegan Foods) Regulations, 2021 which were notified on 6th September 2021. During the sixty day period open for suggestions, BWC suggested a different user-friendly symbol to the one FSSAI has asked for display as a mark on vegan foods.


Vegan Food was defined as follows in the draft regulations:
“Vegan Food” means those foods or food ingredients that have not made use of any ingredients, additives, and processing aids of animal origin including milk and milk products, fish, poultry and meat, egg or egg products, honey or honey bee products, materials or insect origin like silk, dyes, chitin/chitosan, etc. or ingredients that are clarified using animal sourced products e.g. bone char used in sugar bleaching, isinglass in clarifying beer, etc.”


Taking it a Step Further
Vegans are those whose entire life styles are based on no animal substances whatsoever. They do not eat, drink, clothe, or use any thing that has been derived from an animal. They do not gain from businesses that use animals and do not support or participate in any form of animal exploitation directly or indirectly. They care for the environment and think before they act as to what they do or do not do that could affect any form of life.


In short, vegans consciously and consistently strive to cause no harm to any living creature. And since a vegan lifestyle is now the in thing here, manufacturers and marketers have begun targeting vegans and aspiring vegans, not only with new exclusive vegan restaurants, but with good quality non-leather accessories and products under different brands.


Being Vegan, Staying Vegan


Veganism is a way of life that is as much ethical as healthy. That a vegan lifestyle is not a fad has at last dawned on the meat, leather and other trades who ill or exploit animals. Lower sales have made them desperate enough to begin planting article associating meat-eating with celebrations, and surreptitiously sponsoring research that concludes to their advantage that a vegan diet is deficient. Their aim now is to falsely scare people on health grounds.


The fact is that if a person eats an imbalanced diet and takes no nutritional supplements, deficiencies occur even in non-vegetarians.


While a vegan diet is based on not eating any thing that is of animal origin, care needs to be taken that healthy food is consumed, not junk foods that contain harmful high quantities of salt (sodium), fat and sugar. When the intake has unfortunately been nutritionally poor, and people have fallen ill, doctors have blamed their new vegan diets saying they lack in vitamins such as B12, as a result of which some persons have even gone back to their old unhealthy carnivorous habits.


In order to avoid this one needs to find out and consume different alternate food sources and vegan supplements to make sure that one’s vegan diet is nutritionally adequate.

Click here for the Vegan Food chart.
Page last updated on 28/12/21