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Vegan

Updated on July 15, 2017

The word vegan is used to denote a person who doesn’t eat meat or consume food that is made from animal extracts (animal based food). Animal based foods include water soluble proteins like gelatin which are obtained from boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments or bones of pigs and cattle.

Vegans have a clear, distinct and decisive preference for vegetarian food and some vegans even abstain from consuming eggs but they do supplement their diet with a range of dairy products made from cattle, goat and buffalo milk. Their vegetable intake includes a wide range of greeneries, many of which are rare and do not satisfy the requirements of the modern palate. Hence these greeneries are uncommon in contemporary culinary circles.

Meat includes fish and fish based products, white meat (poultry meat) and red meat (beef, mutton, lamb, and venison). Pork is regarded as white meat in the United States but outside the United States it is considered or regarded as red meat.

Seaweeds are an essential or a crucial part of the vegan diet and these vegetables are a better source of protein and minerals than fish or fish based products.

Seaweeds absorb a wealth of minerals from seabeds but it is necessary to keep the sea and ocean floors clean because if the seabeds are tainted, say for example with toxins like lead, than the seaweeds that grow in the contaminated area will absorb the lead that has seeped into the tainted seabeds and when the seaweeds are consumed and ingested the toxins may enter the digestive tract.

Therefore, when purchasing seaweed it is advisable to know, roughly at least, where it was harvested. Apart from the concerns that have been outlined here seaweeds are a good source of protein and essential nutrients.

It is also worth mentioning that by switching to alternate sea based proteins we can help stop the depletion of other important marine resources.

Well planned vegan diets provide the body with enough iron, calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals including antioxidants (chemicals that prevent cell damage due to internal and external factors). Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants.

Examples of fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants include prunes, raisins, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, oranges, red grapes, cherries, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, broccoli flowers, beets, red bell peppers, onions, corn and eggplants (brinjals).

It is also useful at this stage to touch on livestock exports because excessive exporting of meat in certain countries can have adverse effects. The common presumption is that exporting livestock increases foreign revenue and contributes positively to the GDP (the most important measure of economic activity in a country).

However, in certain countries an increase in meat exports especially cattle, goat and buffalo meat has had a reverse effect. In India for example a rush to meet the offshore demand for meat has led to a depletion in stocks and that in turn has contributed to a decrease in milk production which has a negative impact on growing children.

In 2010 India was registered as the 12th largest beef producer in the world and it produced a total of 1,086,500 tons of beef accounting for 1.74% of global production. It was the 2nd largest beef producer in Asia and accounted for 8.12% of total production (FAO).

India has an annual per capita beef and veal consumption of 0.77 kg, which is relatively small as opposed to Argentina which has a per capita beef and veal consumption of 41.02 kg. Both countries are on the extreme ends of the scale and a benchmark figure or a median figure would be between 20 – 21 kg.

India’s meat production is relatively high while domestic demand is modest at best. It has or had sufficient quantities of livestock because its per capita meat consumption falls well below the median, so there isn’t a great demand for meat. Yet it has in the past failed to produce enough milk. The most obvious reason for the discrepancy would be the rush to meet offshore orders.

In order to satisfy the demand for milk India has had to import milk and because either offshore producers couldn’t fulfill the demand or their prices were not competitive enough there were batches of milk that were tainted and mixed with additives, some of which are extremely toxic, like paint.

Therefore it would not be wrong to say that in some countries, because of the prevailing economic conditions, it is easier to try and inculcate a more vegetarian diet.

© 2016 Kathiresan Ramachanderam and Dyarne Jessica Ward

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