Unless you have lived underground for at least a decade now, you are probably aware of the idea of Veganism, the lifestyle that renounces all products derived directly or indirectly from animals. Vegans leave meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs and honey off the plate. A large segment of vegans also refrains from the use of animal tested products or animal based entertainments.
When I first met a practicing Vegan, I was dismissive of the lifestyle choice as unsustainable and restrictive. I have fought with the ideologists, finding loopholes in their efforts, instead of attempting to understand their premise. And, I am clearly not alone in my cynicism. India is, in fact, a land of many staunch vegetarians – hence, a diet devoid of animal flesh should have found great resonance in the country. But, Indian food is so heavily influenced by dairy and poultry products, that the ideology has not found a firm footing in the country yet.
This article is an attempt to understand Veganism better, from those who have made the decision to practice the philosophy in earnest.
You can choose to be Vegan for many reasons: Health, inherent Herbivorous Human biology and Environment ,to list a few. But, the three people I had the chance of speaking with, were all Ethical Vegans, meaning that they had chosen the lifestyle out of compassion for other sentient lifeforms.
Supriya Mimani is a 28-year old health freak from Delhi with an extremely active lifestyle and crazy work hours.
Anand Siva is a 50-year old anti-theist and “an earth-loving maverick” residing in Mumbai. Anand is a name in the world of Advertising and Communication, and is also a motivational speaker on healthy living and veganism.
Ramaa Ramesh is a 29-year old career woman living in Leeds, England. She is fond of music, reading and writing.
All the three are vociferous animal activists.
In fact, last September, Anand and Ramaa actively led and participated in the India Unites for Animals movement in various cities of the world, a movement that has garnered enormous interest and energy among thinking individuals.
It was sincerely eye-opening to have this conversation with these passionate minds.
So, when did they decide to go Vegan?
Supriya and Ramaa have always had a vegetarian diet. But, both had horrific personal brushes with animal abuse that led them to take the next step, of quitting dairy products and adopting veganism.
“In the US, I happened to pass a dairy farm where I saw calves kept in confinement, away from their lactating mothers, in small, dark cages. I heard the mothers and the calves crying for each other. It was impossible not to be upset,” said Supriya. That is when she took the call.
“It was in 2012 that I came to face the fact that essentially we are stealing breast milk of a mother from her baby. The artificial insemination of a cow by shoving a hand up her private parts to ensure she is continually pregnant, exhausted and scarred, all so that I could have a glass of milk or a slice of cheese, hurt my sense of basic human decency. The feminist in me could not make peace with the rape and exploitation of cows,” said Ramaa.
Anand is a man of strong principles. He happened to see a PETA video and then visited a dairy farm, an experience that ensured that he became a life-long vegan and an aggressive advocate of the lifestyle.
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