My Tryst With Veganism

I didn’t know that I was feeling bad until I started feeling good.

Sometimes in our lives, we face situations that completely change our outlook for something. I was born and brought up in a strictly non-vegetarian family and the issue of veganism never popped in my mind. Never did it occur to me that eating of a ‘hamburger’ can be hurting for someone’s emotions. One fine day, I accepted ‘going vegan for a week’ after losing a bet to a dear friend.

To my surprise, there existed people who follow the philosophies of Buddha, Mahavir Jain and other Indian saints who taught vegetarianism and veganism for spiritual growth. The cause for veganism could be spiritual/religious, ecological, economic or social concerns. When I searched further, I found some interesting facts about the ‘vegan way of life’.

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In a matter of days, as I continued to study this subject, I could feel an inner transformation. In the Holy Bible, Christ has said “Love thy neighbor”.  I began to feel that all creatures are our neighbors. The surroundings in which we are living, that is, the whole universe is our neighbor. When we love anybody, we do not kill that individual, and when we love the whole creation, we cannot kill intentionally nor could we find in our heart to have it done for us by someone else. Eating of an infertile egg is also prohibited in this philosophy. We know that infertile eggs do not have life, and from this standpoint we can justify eating it. But when we start with it, we may start with the other type of eggs also.

I also learnt that each year acres of forests and other wild habitats are burnt to make pastures for grazing animals. This deforestation (and following ecological disturbance) is thought to be an integral part of cattle farming and is being done on such a large scale that it is already affecting the weather of the world.

With a little more time and effort spent on searching about veganism, I inferred that the non-vegetarian diet is unnecessary from a health point of view and is much more expensive than vegetarian food. I also concluded that veganism offers lots of health benefits viz. lowered cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, decreased risk of heart diseases etc. and vegetable foods could fulfill our needs for protein and other nutrients.

Once my intellect was satisfied with the answers for ‘Why veganism?’, I began practicing it. Initially, I found it difficult to restrain myself from my ‘daily food’, but the idea had dropped down to my heart through my brain and I could continue with fruits, nuts and juice for the first day. And before I could make up my mind for the vegan diet for one week, I met my cousin who is an over-weight dribbler and is fond of non-vegetarian junk foods. He had never heard about the concept of veganism and its health benefits. It took me a few minutes to convince him for following a vegan diet plan for a week. After all, it was in my own interest to make him my buddy in the ‘go vegan’ project. Once he agreed, we made a one-week menu excluding all the food preparations involving meat and dairy products.

The real challenge came in the application part of the vegan diet. Both of us found it difficult to thrive on fruits, nuts and juices. Even if we managed to resist our temptations, we were constantly pushed and teased by our family members and peers to eat the ‘prohibited foods’ and items prepared from it. Day one of the ‘vegan week’ was perhaps the most difficult of all days. Not because I was tempted to eat ‘normal food’ but because I did not remember that I was to follow the ‘new diet’. I was frustrated when I chewed a ‘normal’ gum and later found that it contained a prohibited item. I rushed to the bathroom, threw it out and gargled several times to make sure that it was completely out of my system! Anyway, I ate tacos and sesame noodles for my lunch disinterestedly. That day onwards, whenever any friend at school asked me for an outing, I ‘stopped and reflected’ before accepting the offer. I carefully weighed the ‘vegan options’ that would be available at the food outlet we were going to and then only agreed to come. I would silently ask questions to myself like “Is eating this thing really going to serve my purpose? Will I regret my decision of eating this later?”

During this ‘hard time’ of my life, I concluded some of the strangest things. I had never experienced such craving for food any time before. I craved for milk cookies, yogurt and so many other things that I really DID NOT LIKE. I tried to understand the functioning of my brain and came to know that if I gave way to my temptation and took a bite from friend’s hamburger, the craving was harder the next time. I, then, understood the biology my urges & cravings and refused to give into them. I found myself convicted and determined. It felt like power!!!

The second problem that we (me and my cousin) encountered was that of boredom. Since the options available to us were few and we had a chart of our weekly menu, we could not stray away and eat anything. There were limited choices for the ‘in between’ meals menu and we restricted ourselves to fresh fruit juices. Some of our mates were quite impressed with our healthy diet (they did not know about the project vegan!) and commented that we had a kind of glow on our faces. This took us to heavens, and we showed off even more.

We somehow managed to get through those seven days, till the time we realized that both of us were no longer constipated. As we had read on the internet, the vegan diet had started detoxifying our body systems and these systems were now working in accord with the natural laws. We expected this diet to improve our tolerance and immunity in the long run.

This approach worked faster and better than any medication for the relief of chronic migraine my cousin had. Seeing the miraculous effects, my cousin planned to continue with the same diet; he, however, took advice from the doctor. It has been a few weeks since we had begun with the new diet plan, my cousin is still sticking to it and has already lost a few pounds. His childhood companions viz. pain, fatigue, headaches, obesity etc. no longer stay with him. I would like to mention here his experience as he puts it “I didn’t know that I was feeling bad until I started feeling good”. As for me, I returned to the ‘normal’ way of my life after one week of veganism. I am further researching into veganism to be able to totally convince myself to embrace it for life. I’ll keep you guys posted ????

A commoner looking for meaning and greatness in the common phenomenon!

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