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Veganism | Conversation with Heena Malhotra

Q: Why to go vegan?

A: -For the animals: Globally, 70 billion land animals are killed each year for food. This figure is exclusive of the 2 trillion fish killed each year. You don’t have to love animals to not eat them, you just have to respect them to have an undisturbed life.

(Sources available at )

- For the planet: Animal Agriculture is responsible for 18% greenhouse gases which is more than the combined emissions from the transportation.

- For your health: Animal products have been officially classified as class 1 carcinogenics now. (Sources available at )

- For ending world hunger: The resources (such as grains like soy & corn & water) fed to 70 billion animals could have been directly fed to starving population of the world.

Q: Where does veganism draw the line, as in, you do kill ants unintentionally, don’t you?

A: Yes, our unintentional existence does harm some living beings, but isn’t killing animals for food intentional harm? Moreover, we’d be comfortable watching an ant/mosquito being killed by an unintentional act, but would you be comfortable watching a lamb/pig/cow/chicken being killed intentionally without being mildly uncomfortable? It’s the reason why we don’t let children out to a slaughterhouse for picnics but sanctuaries.

Q: If you were on a deserted island with a pig, would you eat it?

A: No, I’d look into eating what is keeping the pig alive. The pig would want to live just as much as I would.

Q: But lions eat meat, so we can too?

A: Lions do eat meat, but they do it by hunting their prey, and after catching it, they eat their prey raw (without cooking unlike us) and eat all parts of their prey including the head, blood, feet, etc. unlike us).

Q: But didn’t our early ancestors hunt animals?

A: Yes they did, but at the time, did they have much options? Now, due to globalisation, we have access to more foods than ever, so why not choose plant based food sources. Also, our ancestors discriminated women, justified slavery and denied rights to trans people, haven’t we evolved morally too?

Q: But what about the economy, the livelihoods dependent on animal agriculture?

A: When the 13th amendment was released in America (abolition of slavery), did we think about the economy or did we focus on the freedom and dignity of the black population and the moral evolution of humanity. When they banned child trafficking, drugs, sex and organ trafficking, did we once worry about the livelihoods dependent on them? When we look at it from the victim’s point of view, all questions are answered and the perspectives fall into place.

Yet, the question of livelihoods is an important one, but it is determined by the forces of the market. If one does not help the market in anyway, they are out. Market forces of demand and supply will apply if we show to mass corporations that our preferences have changed. They’d have no choice but to change as well. Hence, just like in a democracy, our next purchase is our vote.

In the England, there has been a movement to help shift traditional dairy farmers from dairy to plant based milk as they are finding it hard to survive in the wake of the awareness generated towards the cruelties of the dairy industry.

In India, there is one example too. Peepal farm (can be found on YouTube and Instagram) is an animal sanctuary and a social entrepreneurship model run by duo Robin Singh and his wife, where they take care of abused and harmed animals by generating revenue from selling vegan products (by employing local women in their production) and donations.

Q: Ok, ok, but what if the animals would overpopulate the earth?

A: Currently, the animals that are slaughtered or raised for food are artificially bred (you must have heard of broiler chicken) and fed with multiple injections in factory farms to slaughter them in just 6 months (they are babies!). If we end artificial insemination of these animals, their population would significantly reduce too. In fact, the population of wild animals (like the tiger) is reducing much more as Animal agriculture uses 80% of farmland generated mostly from deforestation, thereby wiping out habitats of these wild animals.

Q: Isn’t veganism just a western movement?

A: No, aren’t concerns like animal cruelty, climate change, public health, food security concerns that transcend boundaries. India, in fact, is more conscious of animal cruelty- a host to the world’s largest vegetarian population. As for veganism, Gandhiji advocated that we don’t partake in commercial dairy farming after witnessing the conventional and standard practices that take place within the industry.

Our vedas have something to say on veganism too- “Jab gai ke thhun par haath hue mandit, gau garima hui khandit”, meaning- whenever a cow’s udder is touched by human hands, her dignity is compromised.

Vegan products are inspired from the west, but so are practices like raising chickens in broilers and factory farms. In the era of globalisation, we cannot pin ideas to any one particular origin.

Q: But isn’t this personal choice?

A: Personal choice is personal when there isn’t a victim involved. In this case, animals are the victims and their personal choice is to live which can be witnessed by the way they act in their last moments of slaughter. So many pigs, cows and other animals have escaped slaughter. You may search the internet for it by typing “cows escaping slaughter stories” and such.

Q: What’s wrong with eggs and milk though?

A: Eggs and milk are not “by products” of meat but rather the most unfeminist practices of the industry. Chickens and cows are artificially inseminated to “make more milk or eggs” reducing them to egg and milk making machines. Artificial insemination is a practice in which the males of the animals are abused to release semen forcibly to inject them to the female. The female then gives birth and milk or egg are the by product of child birth. Then, if the cow has a male child, they are forcibly detached from their mothers and sent to slaughter (for veal) as they cannot grow up to make milk as they can’t give birth. If the hen has a male chick, they are ground or drowned alive (most “economical” practise to get rid of them) on the day they are born as they cannot grow up to lay eggs. Switzerland emerged as the only country to ban this practice but they couldn’t keep up and had to reintroduce this.

Q: But plants feel pain too?

A: If you were driving on a road and a dog appeared in front of your car, would you ram your car on the dog or a bed of flowers? If you answered, you’d save the dog, then I think you understand that plants are living but not sentient as a dog and animals’ lives take precedence over plants.

Q: Isn’t going vegan expensive or a privilege?

A: In the Indian diet, our roti, sabji, dal, chawal, salad, papad and pickle are vegan if we don't add the expensive ghee and dahi. Those trying to save money end up eating more vegetables and grain anyway and if the government removed the subsidy from the chicken and milk and subsidized fruit and vegetables it would become even more economical than it already is.

Vegan should be, and mostly is, the less expensive food, unless someone wants to splurge on alternative meat or vegan pastries from speciality bakeries. Milk used to be a fixed budget item, so were cheeses and shrikhand/paneer and other sweets made with ghee. They are out. My family now uses coconut/cashewnut/soymilk for the occasional coffee or kheer. Visitors cannot even figure it out and the budget hasn't changed. What's changed, is a few kilos of more fruit/week, mixed dough roti servings to charge up on the right proteins and calcium. Small changes here & there.

Regarding privilege, for all the labour and construction workers in India- their job is physically taxing yet they seldom take ghee, paneer or chicken in their diet and rather eat dal, sprouts etc. as they are least expensive.

Q: Can one be a vegan sportsmen?

A: Absolutely. There have been many people who are involved in vegan fitness ranging from calisthenics, body building, athletics, etc. These people have been covered by the documentary “The Game Changers” which can be found on Netlflix and Youtube. Examples include Nimai Delgado (1st Vegan IFBP bodybuilder), Kuntal A. Joisher (1st Vegan to climb the Himalayas) (he is Indian), Patrick Boboumian (World Strongman), Novak Djockovic, Serena Williams, etc. to name a few.

Here are some Indian Vegan Athletes/body builders:

& many more!

Q: Still not convinced or have more unanswered questions/arguments to offer?

A: Read the 30 Non Vegan Questions and How to Respond to them on


Documentaries: Animals: Earthlings (narrated by Joaquin Phoenix- 43 years vegan): , Dominion: Environment: Cowspiracy: , Seaspiracy: Health: The Game Changers:, WhatTheHealth , Milked: . Turning Vegan: Vegucated: Vegan Transition Guide India (free): Tips to eat out as a vegan: Eating vegan at popular food joints: Free Indian vegan recipes e-book: Vegan alternatives on eCommerce websites (like Amazon, bigbasket, nature's basket, etc.) : Vegan off-the shelf products: Vegan recipe videos (uses cheap and easily available ingredients): Starting out as a vegan (instagram guide): Vegan cruelty free and planet friendly makeup and personal products: . Vegan breakfast ideas: Vegan ecommerce sites: Vegan food innovation: Vegan milks available in India: By default vegan Indian dishes:


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