India is a spiritual land with Godliness in the deep recess of the Indian heart. Hence every activity in India has a predominance of religion in it. Indian food habits are also governed by religion and the notion of purity. Food and the way it is prepared have great relevance in the aesthetic and pious Indian culture.
Vegetarianism is the belief in and the practice of consuming vegetable diet and abstaining from animal food. The etymological word ‘vegetari’ means ‘to enliven’. Vegetarians refrain from eating any kind of meat, seafood and eggs. For some, even dairy products and honey are taboo.
Though the concept of vegetarianism has its root in religion and morality, other concerns like health, ethics or society also contribute to it. Vegans manifest their strong ethics by avoiding any kind of animal product in their life and by upholding animal rights. In India, a good majority of people are vegetarians who do not cook or eat animal flesh.
But is modern India with its rich legacy witnessing a slow disappearance of vegetarianism?
Yes, vegetarians are reducing in number because of various and interesting reasons. The impact of western culture in everyday life in India is not slight. The appetizing and sizzling western food has conquered the wealthy and the healthy youngsters of India.
Often due to peer pressure people cultivate non vegetarian food habits. Another group of people would consider non-vegetarianism on account of a balanced diet. A balanced diet certainly would contain milk, meat, fish and eggs. But, let me put down some surprising facts about the Vegetarian diet.
It is proven that vegetarians often have a lower incidence of some forms of cancer, coronary artery disease, obesity and hypertension. It is because of their low fat and high fibre content food habits.
India has been rebuked and scorned by many for the Indian beliefs and way of life. But a recent study conducted in Britain proved that vegetarians have a stronger IQ and a healthier life than a regular meat-eater.
Even without eating meat and fish a vegetarian maintains a balanced diet. A staple Veg diet would include fruits, seeds, nuts, grains and legumes.
Soy products, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lentils and seeds are sources of protein.
Low fat dairy foods, tofu and dark green vegetables, such as spinach, turnip, broccoli etc, gives a vegetarian calcium.
Cereals, fortified soy products and vitamin supplements can give vegetarians Vitamin B-12, which facilitates red blood cell production and prevents anaemia.
Dried peas and beans, fortified cereals, lentils, whole grain products, dried fruits and dark leafy green vegetables provide the human body with iron.
Zinc plays a major role in cell division and in the formation of enzymes and proteins. Whole grains, nuts and soy products have a good zinc content in them.
Split peas, kidney beans, soya beans and lentils are rich in fibre and protein. Among the nuts are the almonds, cashews and sesame seeds. These can prevent cholesterol and the growth of cancerous cells to an extent.
Fruits and vegetables of all kinds can be welcomed to the daily diet. For those who do not prefer cow’s milk, they can find the dietary supplements in almond milk, soy milk or rice milk. Soy cheese can take place of cheese and butter can be replaced with canola oil while baking and olive oil while frying.