The plant-based food movement is here to stay because it is good for health and cares for the wellness of the environment too.
The festival of lights Diwali is just around the corner. It is best remembered for the gifts that one gives and receives from people on this occasion. How about gifting something to one's self? Veganism as a way of life is the best gift that one can think of. It bodes well for the body and also the environment at large.
Loaded with nutrition
It is commonly believed that animal-based foods and drinks are the healthiest options around because they supplement the diet with nutrients. In reality, it is the most common myth being perpetuated due to ignorance. There is a plethora of plant-based proteins, when included in the diet can do wonders for both personal as well as planetary health. Milk and other dairy products are marketed and consumed for being a good source of calcium and so healthy bones. In reality, milk and other dairy products are rich in saturated fats, which may contribute to heart disease, digestive issues like lactose intolerance, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's disease. Some of the studies have also linked dairy to an increased risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers.
By staying away from meat, dairy, and fish, and choosing a vegan diet comprising fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds, is naturally rich in nutrients and low in saturated fats. Some may claim that these food items lack the necessary vitamins and minerals. The truth is that these vegan foods are not lacking but tend to lose their nutrient value because they are sanitized and processed before being packaged. Else, a bowl full of legumes or pulses can give one ample vitamin and minerals.
Dairy products are not only unhealthy for human consumption but also gruesome for animals and the environment. Veganism is an ecologically sustainable dietary choice and promotes a greener and cleaner way of life.
The pandemic highlighted the link between food and health and encouraged a revaluation of consumer dietary choices. It also exposed the vulnerability of the meat and dairy industry. Animal meat consumption may have an overwhelming impact on those with underlying health conditions. Plant-based products can cater to this growing demand for a healthy substitute.
The shift in the consumer behavior can happen only if there's a growing awareness about the pros of the shift. A vegan diet is a perfect recipe to deal with the threats and effects of climate change. Currently, almost 65 percent of India's greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock. Increasing awareness of the environmental impact of industrialized animal agriculture needs to percolate deep down in the minds of conscientious citizens who need to realize the enormous consequences of their food choices.
In 2019, the global plant-based food market is estimated to be valued at $12.1 billion. Research indicates that it will raise to $74.2 billion, over 6 times that amount, by 2027.
Inspired by the meteoric rise of plant-based food companies abroad, the plant and nut milk sector in India is gaining dominance and increasing its outreach. For the meat and dairy substitutes to become more prevalent, they can't be limited to the privileged sector alone. To pitch the plant-based alternatives as to the future of food, there's a need to make them affordable and accessible by all, and it is likely to happen as more plant-based companies get funding, and consumer demand turns up the volume on veganism, that in turn will lead to a vegan revolution in India. There is a lot of scope for innovation and experimentation in the plant-based food industry. Possibilities are galore indeed.
Be wise, choose the gift of a good, healthy diet this Diwali because caring for humans, animals and the planet should inspire you to turn Vegan.
(Siddharth Kothari is a socially conscious angel investor, chief investment strategist at Om Kothari Group and a vegan for more than ten years)