Food trends worldwide have changed remarkably over the last few years, and there is more than one reason for the same. Starting with health to ethical reasoning, people are cutting back on consuming meat and animal-derived products. Nowadays, two very distinct diets are gaining popularity - Vegan and Plant-Based diets. These terms may not be interchangeable but do share common features.
Dorothy Morgan and Donald Watson coined the term Veganism in 1944 and co-founded the vegan society in the UK. It started with non-dairy vegetarianism, which later proceeded to no egg, honey, meat, butter, cheese, and so on. The vegan society defines this move as – The man should live without harming animals. In addition, the concept of meat avoidance can be traced back to ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean societies. Over time, veganism grew into a movement based not only on ethics and animal welfare but also on environmental and health concerns. Many such societies claim that they have been validated by research.
Veganism is not just limited to food choices but also extends to your daily life. Vegans usually avoid an accessory or object made from animals such as pearls, leather, wool, and ivory. With various animal activists and nutritionists taking a stand on animal rights and exploitation, veganism has become more than a trend. It is a choice that people want to make. It is fascinating to see America, one of the largest meat-eating countries, shifting towards veganism. Popular chains such as Starbucks, McDonald's today have vegan menus available, making this change quite acceptable and accessible.
On the other hand, people use plant-based to indicate that they eat a diet that entirely or mainly comprises plant foods. However, some people may call themselves plant-based and still eat certain animal-derived products. Others use whole foods plant-based to describe their diet as primarily whole plant foods raw or minimally processed. Someone on whole foods, plant-based diet also avoids oils and processed grains, whereas these foods may be consumed on a vegan or otherwise plant-based diet. The 'whole foods' part is an important distinction, as so many processed vegan foods exist. For instance, certain plant-based varieties of boxed mac and cheese, hot dogs (meat alternatives), cheese slices, bacon (meat alternatives), and even chicken (meat alternatives) nuggets are vegan, but they would not fit the whole foods, plant-based diet. According to researches, plant-based options have relatively lower saturated fat and retain proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium, potassium, sodium, and vitamins. Cuisines such a Mediterranean, Indian, Arabic, are gaining global acceptance due to their heavy focus on plants and vegetables.
It is believed that an entirely vegan diet may have a natural tendency to maintain a low daily calorie intake as most of these fiber-rich foods are very satiating while being less caloric. The actual health benefit can be mapped by an individual's body type and needs. People have found greater success by slowly adopting a plant-based diet rather than a sudden change. Eventually, it comes down to personal choice and building a lifestyle that is easy to lead!
Kunal Mutha is founder and managing director of Naturise Consumer Products. The company is headquartered in Singapore and plans to establish its flagship brand Only Earth as a leading player in the plant-based sector.