We are a big FAT punjabi family, and we love our food. What we also love in our food is oodles of desi ghee. I am obsessed with the flavour freshly churned homemade ghee adds to my food. A lot of Punjabi gravies, dals and other dishes we prepare in our home are tempered with ghee. I’d prefer ghee over oil any given day.
The Punjabi food had it’s roots in wheat, makai, mustard, lentils, and rich dairy products. The ample availability of milk and milk products like paneer, butter and ghee is a hallmark of our cuisine. Tall glasses of lassi or chhaas are a mandate with every meal.
As a punjabi mother, I am also raising my son by adding generous amount of desi ghee and incorporating different kinds dairy products in my preschooler’s diet.
Now, while I have been gobbling down glasses of lassi and butter chicken with butter naan, a dear friend of mine turned vegan. I know I should have just joined the bandwagon and said “hum toh bachpan se yahi kha rahe hai, aage bhi Khate chalenge”. I was amused by how she made this lifestyle shift with joy and enthusiasm and not guilt and sacrifice.
I was curious, I have known of more and more people turning vegan, but she was the closest to me who decided to take this path. There was a fire ignited to learn more about the reasons and benefits of avoiding dairy. And I decided to tag along with her to a workshop organised by a renowned Doctor who is known to have treated cancer with raw diet.
The two hour long talk by thr doctor left me baffled. The crucial points that struck a chord with me were :
– Being kind and compassionate towards sentient beings
– Preserving the environment
– How we end up consuming a host of bacteria and hormones when we sit with a meal with meat or dairy in it. Not only does our body not need them but they could cause serious illnesses
– It is a way of becoming and staying slim ( I wouldn’t say effortlessly though )
– leads to better digestion and overall body functioning
– can save a lot of money
There could be a lot of other reasons why turning vegan is good for you, but these were my taking away points from that session.
Imagine a pure punjabi soul being feed this food for thought. I went into a zone where I would constantly keep thinking about what the doctor had said. I tried discussing it with my spouse and other family members only to receive contradictory reasoning for all the points I mentioned.
I am not sure if they are right or is the doctor. I am not sure if turning completely vegan is feasible or not. I am not sure if the arguments against vegan diet are justified or not. All I know is that the mother in me had now got thinking. I’d think twice before I’d pour spoonfuls of ghee in my son’s meal.
As a mother, I could not simply rule out what I learnt the other day and continued to read online thereafter.
But, what I also know as of today is that turning vegan or choosing a vegan diet for my child requires a deep understanding of food and nutrients. I can not eliminate foods from his diet until I find equivalent alternatives.
No, neither I nor my son are 100% vegan yet.
But we are more accepting of the choices vegans are making. We are more aware of the reasons why this lifestyle crept up. We are making small shifts towards better choices in food, not just health-wise but environment-wise.
Coming back to where we started, what happened to my favourite GHEE. Nope! We haven’t given it up completely.
But I have other alternatives ready at home at all times. when the Maa ki Mamata is at it’s peak, in goes two spoons of almond butter on my baby’s paratha.
I have been using almond butter and a butter like paste made by grinding roasted almonds and walnuts together. Apart from that coconut oil is an option I consider too.
The bottom is line is, when I became aware of a lifestyle that is not just better for our health but for the environment too, the conscious choice we make everyday matter. I am not trying to live up to any standards but hoping that every small step I take towards cutting down meat and dairy will add up.