Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Vegan in India - Vegetarian Paradise

For the last couple of months I was in India. While it
is very easy to thrive on a vegetarian fare, it was
really very challenging for me, to be a vegan in

In India , vegetarian diet is synonymous with
lacto vegetarian diet. For thousands of years, Indians
have consumed milk and milk products such as
buttermilk, yogurt and ghee(clarified butter)
regularly. These days supermarkets across India are
not only flooded with traditional milk
products such as ghee, and buttermilk but also cheeses
and flavored milks.

My parents tried to convince me that "cow's milk" is
nutritious. They were shocked when I told them I don't
eat anything that has milk and milk products. They
were curious to know why I avoid milk and milk
products. I tried explaining about how cows are
treated as "milking machines". They just could not
understand the cruelty involved in producing diary milk. Everyone from my parents to siblings and friends to relatives considered me weird for not
including milk or milk based products in my diet.

My parents were worried and concerned about my health.
People in India believe that to lead a
healthy lifestyle, everyone should include some milk
or milk products such as buttermilk, yogurt or ghee in
their diet. I really wish if everyone could read, The
China Study
to know about the negative impact of milk and milk
products on our health.

Once my mom made crispy dosa(rice and lentil
pancakes), which was laced with copious amounts of
ghee(clarified butter). She was so mad at me when I
refused to touch the dosas. My father once bought my
favorite sweet, mysore pak, from a popular sweet
store, in Bangalore. Of course, I could not eat that
sweet because the package said, "made with pure ghee".
In India, people shower you with milk based items if
they like you.

I gave my mom some tips to veganize some recipes. My
mom made Badam burfi and Mysore pak
Well, my parents were thrilled that I got to indulge
some delicious vegan sweets. They were also so
surprised by the fact that it is pretty easy to
veganize some Indian sweets.

Many people in India thrive on lacto-vegetarian fare,
because they associate only meat with cruelty.
An article about the modern production of milk in India.

I used to see old cows and bulls roaming about the
crowded streets in search of food in Bangalore. The
result of numerous bulls, is the result of the
thriving diary industry in India. I wonder why people
still don't associate "cow's milk" with cruelty.

Decades ago male cows or bulls were used to plough the
fields. But, these days tractors have replaced bulls
to plough the fields. Most of the bulls have no use in
Indian society these days.

People in India assume that milk producing cows
are well taken care by the farmers. As the demand for milk
is growing every day, farmers inject cows with oxytocin harmone,
so that they produce more milk.

Along with Peta, there are only a handful of animal
welfare organizations in India. So, people are not aware of the
cruelty involved in production of milk. The
consumption of milk and milk products by everyone from
children to adults has increased by many fold in the
past decade. In short, cow's milk is considered to be
gift to mankind.

For days I explained to my father about the cruelty involved in diary industry and the negative impact of livestock on our environment. I also discusses about
the positive health benefits of the vegan diet.

While I tried to convince my father that vegan diet is best for our health
,my father tried to convince me that diary milk is indeed good for our health.
He felt that if baby cows are allowed to drink all the milk the cow produces,
the baby cow will die by drinking huge amount of milk.
My father, who comes from an agricultural background,
felt that human beings were indeed saving the lives of
baby cows, by consuming some of the milk. The milkman
who gives milk to my parent's home, also told that
baby cows will fall sick if they drink more milk. I was
shocked to hear this new "theory".

I asked the milkman about the oxytocin harmone injected
to cows. He told that he injects his cows with
oxytocin harmone rarely. An article about usage of oxytocin harmone in cows.

My father somehow wanted me to get rid of my vegan
diet. He read some passages from hindu
scriptures, where cows are considered as mother.
Infact Hindu religious rituals often call for milk and
milk products such as ghee and yogurt. Even the
ancient art of Indian medicine -Ayurveda, considers
milk, ghee, butter and yogurt to be of great
nutritional value. In a nutshell, Indian culture
deeply revolves around milk and milk products.

The word "vegan" is not common in India. Pure
vegetarian, means a person who consumes milk and milk
products, but not meat and eggs. Visit these websites ;Hinduonnet
, Hinduonet1 , and Hindustantimes

India is a goldmine for vegetarian food. And millions of
recipes can be easily veganized .It is possible to thrive on a vegan diet in India.
But, you can't find dairy-free icecream and
chocolates. Most of the Indian sweets in upscale
stores will be drenched with either milk or ghee.

To know more the horrible conditions of cows in India,
read article1 and article2.