As a vegan that owns a vegetarian restaurant, people constantly ask me how I chose this lifestyle or more importantly WHY? Punjab Sweets has always been a vegetarian restaurant only carrying items void of animal products.
It’s made me actually think of my reasons for maintaining vegan food options considering the difficulties I encounter when going out to eat with friends and family. First of all many don’t even know the differences between the various types of vegetarianism:
Vegan – No animal products including honey, milk, and eggs, even clothing from animals.
Fruitarianism – Allows only fruits, nuts, seeds, and other plants without harming the plant.
Ovo-lacto vegetarianism – Includes animal and dairy products such as milk, honey, and eggs. Lacto vegetarianism – Includes dairy products but not eggs
As you can see there are lots of variations of vegetarianism. People generally choose what to follow depending on various reasons but they tend to be: health concerns, personal preference, cultural reasons, animal rights, and religious restrictions.
Interestingly, India actually comprises the largest vegetarian population in the world. Many people choose to be vegetarian for various reasons but mainly religious and cultural. Almost 35% of India’s 1 billion people are lacto vegetarian, so many of the foods sold in India are labeled vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Considering the social and religious ramifications, many of the religions in India such as Jain, Hindu, and Sikh promote vegetarianism and even go as far as restricting any consumption of meat products including eggs but excluding milk products. It is widely believed that food affects the personality, mood, and state of the mind and lends to the spiritual state of a person. Therefore, meat in some of these religions is considered to “promote ignorance and create negative desires and wants while a vegetarian diet is said to promote desirable qualities for spiritual progress”.
Food definitely does play a role in one’s health and how optimal it is, however many in the world also believe it goes one step further and attributes to their level of spirituality. It is up to each of us to make the choice that is most appropriate for ourselves and what feels right. I always find it interesting to know the reasons why people choose certain lifestyles, however for now I think I am happy with my vegan diet.