Think eating vegan is a Western concept? Think again. Here’s why vegan eating is an Indian concept that has influenced the world.
- The term “vegan” was coined only in 1944, but a Himalayan tribe was vegan 5,000 years ago.
- Vegetarianism also originated in India and started influencing the Western world’s eating habits as early as the fourth century BCE. Today, India has the largest population of vegetarians in the world and has seen an astounding 360% increase in vegans in 10 years.
- Ahimsa is an ancient Indian concept that is at the heart of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, and many practitioners of these faiths are vegan because of their belief in this principle of nonviolence, which has also influenced people of many other faiths to become vegan.
- Vegan spiritual leaders are numerous in India’s past and present – including Dada JP Vaswani, Brahmarishi Mohanji, Nithya Shanti, Gurudev Chitrabhanu, among several others.
- If Gandhi were alive today, he would likely have been vegan. In his book The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, he wrote, “In my opinion there are definite drawbacks in taking milk or meat. In order to get meat we have to kill. And we are certainly not entitled to any other milk except the mother’s milk in our infancy. Over and above the moral drawback, there are others, purely from the point of view of health.”
- Acknowledging that cows and buffaloes are treated cruelly in the dairy industry, Ankur Bhatia, the co-founder of wellcure.com, notes, “Ayurveda says that milk is satvik in its properties. But we can say that it gets tamasic when we factor in how animals are treated to extract the milk.” Meanwhile, Sadhu Mukundcharandas, author of various books on Hinduism, says, “Milk from milch cows is not sattvic. It is tamasic and therefore not edible.”
- Seventy-five per cent of the world’s population, including three out of four Indians, are lactose intolerant. Those who can digest cows’ milk are mostly of European descent and are only able to do so because of a genetic mutation.
- The Sanskrit phrase “vasudhaiva kutumbakam” means the world is one family.
- Although the Constitution of India requires respect for animals and the environment, factory farm abuses – such as cutting off newborn chickens’ beaks with hot blades, ramming iron rods into pigs’ hearts, and tearing calves away from their mothers shortly after birth – still abound.
- A United Nations report says a global move towards vegan eating is necessary to combat climate change. India is among the nations that will be most harmed by the climate catastrophe if the current trends don’t change.
So, what are you waiting for? Be Indian, go vegan!