Author: Juhi Fadia
Veganism in India: A Long-Held Tradition and Growing Trend
On the first of this month, we launched In The Garden magazine on World Vegan Day. As a vegan for my entire life, born, raised, and living in India, I am grateful for this opportunity to share the many facets of veganism, in countries around the world.
Every nation has their own history with vegetarian and vegan diets, and we will be covering many of these nations as we continue to enrich this educational community platform.
India has a rich and long-standing history in the realm of not harming or eating animals or consuming diary-based products.
Millions of followers of Ancient Dharmic traditions including Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, along with some followers of Abrahamic religions such as Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, adhere to a meat-free lifestyle as part of their religious doctrine. These beliefs have contributed to the continually growing adoption of vegan principles, including for those who are “non-believers” but conscious regarding cruelty to animals, the impact of ranching on the environment, and the many health consequences associated with certain proteins.
India is considered by most as home to the earliest record of a meat-free, vegetarian diet. This dates to the 5th Century when the ancient religion of Jainism promoted a meat-free diet.
Hinduism and Buddhism also incorporate a vegetarian diet and originate in approximately 1500 BC and the 5th century, respectively.
In our culture, the practice of nonviolence (ahiṃsā) has inspired meat-free living. To those who follow, all living beings, including animals, have a spark of divine energy in them. According to my faith, the universality of divine energy means that to hurt others is to hurt oneself.
The use of social media has led to more awareness of the ethical and sustainability issues surrounding the consumption of meat, and as in every other country, awareness is growing fastest among young people.
The meat substitute market in the United States alone has generated $1.88 billion in 2022 and experts project an annual growth of 23.47% which is very encouraging when it comes to population health and the business of vegan, plant-based foods.
In India we are far ahead of the growth trends. According to a recent study:
- 24% of the Indian population are vegan
- 574 million Indians follow a meat-free diet
- India has the highest number of vegans in the world
What greatly distinguishes veganism in India, which inspires vegan living around the world, is simply how delicious our dishes are!
We have proven that eating vegan does not mean a diet is unexciting or bland – rather it is colorful, tasty, and beautiful to the eye.
I love cooking vegan and grew up learning from my parents our traditional family recipes, which I will be sharing along the way.
There are many Indian celebrity chefs, and hundreds of thousands of Indian groceries and restaurants in India and around the world which carry ingredients that make it possible for any home chef to create their own vegan creations.
Food brings people together, and our aim here In The Garden, is to bring people together virtually, to explore the many benefits of vegan food, and plant-based food innovations so that millions more people can experience new ways to live and grow.