By For Heaven's Cake

Understanding Veganism

Is it a dietary requirement or a step towards healthy living? It could also be a passing fad for some. Vegetarianism is not new to India but being a vegan is taking it one step further. Let us first understand what comes under the vegan spectrum. All plants and plant-based food come under this term. They are broadly classified into two kinds, whole food based and raw food based.  A diet based on a wide variety of whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is a whole food based vegan diet. Raw-food vegan diet is a vegan diet based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds or plant foods cooked at temperatures below 118°F.

The vegan diet is devoid of all animal products, including meat, eggs and dairy.

People generally adopt this diet for a variety of reasons, primarily a respect for the environment and kindness towards the entire animal kingdom is where all this comes from.  Whether it is ethics or environment, being vegan is not just about the diet. It is the entire thought process which shuns all form of animal products in order to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty towards them. Being a vegan is a lifestyle which reflects in their diet and their clothing too.

There has been a major debate amongst the medical experts about the health benefits of this diet. While some argue the fact that this diet is nutritionally insufficient. Many essential vitamins and proteins and various other micronutrients are not covered by a strictly plant-based diet. A vegan diet would always need supplements to be nutritionally enriching.

One of the other important argument people have is that Vegan diet restricts food choices to such an extent that it is quite challenging to put it in practice. An entire course of the meal like desserts simply vanishes from the picture for a vegan person. This, however, is not true. There are loads of informative sites online which are dedicated to vegan baking. New and innovative ingredients and recipes are developed constantly to make desserts and bakery products more inclusive of dietary choices.  The unconventional ingredients like cocoa butter, apple cider vinegar, unrefined palm sugar and jaggery are making way into a baker’s pantry.  For beginners, it is very important to understand the food science behind a cake to try and veganise a cake recipe. Switching of ingredients won’t do the trick. The main scaffolds of a good cake are structure builders, moisturizing agents and drying agents. Not every recipe can be veganised without understanding the role of each agent in it.  The new bakers are open to such experimentation and are thus reaching a wider client base. The taste, crumb structure and finish are not highly compromised. In fact, in many cases, the vegan products are healthier and tastier than its non-vegan version.

Veganism is a positive step towards respecting all other life forms and is not just limited to the food preferences. It is a complete lifestyle which teaches us to live in this world peacefully with our other co-inhabitants.