I practised being vegan for a short while just out of curiosity. I wanted to know how difficult or easy it was and how this lifestyle shift would benefit my health. I am a vegetarian and so the only things I needed to cut out of my diet were honey and diary products. It the beginning I found it difficult to cut out yogurt but after a few days, it didn’t matter. Did I feel any different health -wise? I certainly felt my bloating had reduced but other than that I didn’t see any major change. I even tried vegan meals from a home -based vegan meals set up and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I felt I needed to know more about being vegan means and embarked on a research around the same. This is what I found-
Veganism is being practiced widely these days and there is always a debate about whether it is just another food fad or whether opting for veganism has its own benefits. Before getting into whether it is fad or not, it is important to understand what being a vegan means.
“Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
As per this definition, being vegan is not just about changing diet habits but is a major lifestyle change. More and more people are opting to be vegan due to dietary and health concerns than moral reasons because they are either lactose intolerant or as a weight loss measure. Turning vegan means shifting into a lifestyle where shopping for cosmetics, clothes, holidaying, dining out should be vegan-friendly.
Generally, a proper vegan diet is considered healthy because it is plant based and omits meat, sea food, eggs, honey and all dairy products. But there is a chance that newly converted vegans may take time to adjust to quitting meat by replacing it with refined carbohydrates like pasta, rice, breads etc. In that case, vegan diet may not necessarily mean a healthier lifestyle. Before going vegan there are few things to keep in mind –
- You may need a vitamin B12 supplement and an iron supplement. These nutrients are more easily available in animal foods and cannot be obtained from plant –based diets.
- In a community that craves meat for every meal, it can be quite challenging to follow a plant based diet. People around will ask all kinds of questions which may be annoying or amusing and they won’t stop anytime soon.
- Sources of protein will diminish and soy and soy products become the go-to source. But there are health concerns related to soy based “vegan- meat “products and they should be used sparingly in the diet.
- You will have to take time out to read all the food labels, cosmetic labels and clothing labels.
But all the above reasons should in no way deter anyone from trying this lifestyle because people who have switched to this kinder and healthier way of living life, swear by the benefits.
- The average vegan diet is higher in vitamin C and fibre, and lower in saturated fat than the one containing meat
- Vegans have a lower BMI (height-to-weight ratio) than meat eaters, which means they are skinnier
- Vegans have lower cholesterol levels and lesser risk of heart diseases because the diet is lower in saturated fat.
- Turning vegan is an opportunity to discover food flavours and recipes that you may not have tried before.
- A vegan lifestyle is a kinder way to live on this earth.
In Bahrain, being vegan means you are certainly in the minority and it is bound to raise many eye brows. However, there is a small yet strong vegan community that supports and strongly advocates the choice of being vegan. What’s more, many restaurants and hypermarkets have changed their outlook and have more vegan-friendly food and ingredients making life easier for this community. Here are some of the sources that may prove useful if you are planning to adopt the vegan way of life –
- Vegan meals at your doorstep – @veganmealsbh delivers healthy, homemade vegan meals at your doorstep. Follow them on Instagram and you would know the menu which changes week after week. Having tried this diet for a week by ordering vegan meals from Vegan Meals Bahrain, here are a few observations –
- Felt lighter
- No bloating
- Portions are just enough to feel full and on more.
- Vegan take on classic dishes like shepherd’s pie were refreshing to taste.
- Vegans in Bahrain community – @veganbahrain is a community that provides all the necessary information about being vegan and where to find products and ingredients that are vegan – friendly.
- Vegan Blog – One Arab Vegan ( onearabvegan) is a blog you must follow, in case you are planning to try the vegan lifestyle. All information about how to tackle unfriendly questions about your vegan lifestyle to the most sumptuous vegan recipes grace this blog penned by Nada. Be sure to subscribe to this one!
- Vegan products – Lulu Hypermarket and Al Jazeera house vegan- friendly products. All it takes is some effort to read labels to ensure you are picking the right product.
- Eating out – Initially, eating out may feel daunting but there are many restaurants in Bahrain that offer vegan- friendly menus. Café Amsterdam, Orangery, Pauls Bakery offer many vegan choices to diners.
Adopting a vegan lifestyle does not have to be an overnight shift. It can be done in baby steps, allowing the body and mind the time to accept the change by first cutting out refined, in-organic and processed foods and including more vegetables, fruits and whole grains in the diet.