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New Delhi: A lot of Hollywood actors were already doing it but when, closer to home, Bollywood icon Aamir Khan recently announced his plans of turning vegan, many became curious. While some may express doubts, a doctors’ group from the US has initiated an India tour to propagate the benefits of a vegan life.

In a country which is all too familiar with vegetarianism, promoting this seems an easy task but is actually tricky. Because, apart from not eating any meat product, going vegan means avoiding meat-based products too, like milk and eggs. So there goes your paneer and curd!

Zeeshan Ali of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a non-profit health organisation in the US, a body of 12,000 physicians-both of Indian origin and from around the world but working in the US – that was established in 1985 and promotes veganism, says that a plant-based diet has been clinically proven to reduce the risk of chronic diseases along with reducing your metabolic risks.

“A low-fat vegan diet, combined with a nutrition education programme, is clinically proven to boost weight loss, lower blood pressure, improve total cholesterol, restore insulin function, alleviate chronic pain, particularly headaches, migraines, and joint pain,” Ali told a news portal.

“It also boosts your mood and combats chronic fatigue. Plant-based dietary patterns are associated with a reduced risk for certain forms of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, he added.

But what about adequate nutrition? Meat, we know, is a good source of protein. Also when it comes to iron, all that we understand are brilliant sources – meat, eggs, poultry, fish, dairy products – which are missing from a vegan diet.

Ali however chalks out alternatives. “A plant-based vegan diet provides an abundance of micro-nutrients we often fall short on while ensuring adequate intake of the three macro nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and fat. We recommend 80 percent of calories come from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat and 10 percent from protein.”

“Choosing colourful, low-fat, plant-based foods often ensures this ratio, or a comparable one that will leave you feeling great. Especially good protein sources include whole-wheat pasta, ancient grains, beans, peas and lentils, and even leafy greens like spinach and broccoli,” he added.

Where milk consumption is considered essential for children’s development, Ali says that kids should also be encouraged to take up veganism and thereby a healthier lifestyle.

Talking of vegan diets in children, Dr. Munish Kumar Raizada- a Chicago based neonatologist said that it can affect nutrition if due precautions are not taken. Compared to lacto-vegetarian diets (where milk and dairy products are also consumed), vegan diets may put kids at additional risk of developing deficiency of iron, proteins, vitamin B12, zinc and calcium. Dr. Raizada recommends that the parents should consult a doctor or a dietitian before starting children on vegan diets.

A diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes provides one with stable energy throughout the day and boosts the immune system.

(With inputs from IANS)


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