Blogger at Holy Cow!, Vaishali Honawar explains how veganism is more than just a diet…
When and why did you decide to become vegan?
I became a vegetarian in 2005 and a vegan in 2007. I was motivated to stop eating animals by my dog, Lucy. I had always loved animals, but I also enjoyed cooking with meat, so although I had been wanting to go vegan for a long time, I hadn’t taken the leap. Loving Lucy and knowing how smart and sensitive she was made me realize that I was being a hypocrite by continuing to eat some animals while professing to love others.
What did you find the hardest to give up?
More than any specific ingredient, it was the memories associated with foods. My dad’s mutton curry, for instance, had always been a favourite to cook because it brought back good memories. When I found ways to veganize my favourite dishes, including the apple potato pancakes (see left), it became much easier to stick with a plant-based lifestyle.
Have you missed any ingredients, and if so what do you replace them with?
I did miss the texture of meat, initially, but I learned to substitute with vegetables like mushrooms and eggplants, or with vegan ‘meats’.
What is your favourite recipe and why?
My Dad’s not-mutton mushroom curry, because, once again, it brings back happy memories. And my mango cupcakes – I have never met anyone who didn’t love them.
How do you make sure you are getting a good nutritional balance?
It’s important to educate yourself when you embrace a plant-based lifestyle. I make sure I eat plenty of grains, lentils, vegetables and fruits, so I am getting all of the protein, fibre, vitamins and other nutrients I need. After a while, with some practice, it becomes quite easy to know how to strike the right balance.
What’s your best advice for anyone looking to go vegan?
Stay the course, even if others are discouraging and you think it’s difficult. Plant-based meals are better for your health, for the planet and for the animals, so if you put some effort into learning how to cook, you will discover they are extremely delicious. There are so many wonderful vegan recipes out there – in blogs and books – and ingredients are becoming increasingly easy to find.
Have your family gone vegan too?
My husband is mostly vegan, although he will occasionally eat some chicken or fish when we eat out. My son Jay, who we adopted last year, is a vegetarian because that was the diet he followed before he came to us. At home, we exclusively eat vegan meals.
Why did you decide to set up your blog?
I love writing and cooking, so a blog seemed a great way to combine those two interests. The blog started as a place to record my own recipes and to share them with the world so I could get more people thinking about plant-based eating.
How do you decide what to put on there?
I cook a lot, but before I post something on the blog, it has to meet one rule: it has to be truly delicious and good enough to share with friends and family.
Where do you get inspiration for new recipes for the blog?
It’s a mix, really. Sometimes I’ll get an idea on the spur of the moment and cook something up. I also try to make foods that readers or friends request. Then there are times when I see a recipe online or in a cookbook and am totally intrigued and can’t wait until I have tried a version.