FIAPO Vegan Youth
Youth

These Young Activists are changing the Awareness game

  • VeganFirst Dail
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With a huge number of our Indian population being under the age of 25, it’s no surprise that awareness has to start with the youth. We’ve got 3 stories of activists from FIAPO's Living Free programme that are heart-warming and show how even the smallest of steps can lead to a huge impact on our society. Here are their stories

Nandita Das
Age: 23
Vegan since: 1 year 6 months.
Home Town: Kolkata

Nandita Das Vegan Activist

First I am a proud Bunny parent. I turned Vegan for the animals especially seeing the bunnies at roadside pet markets suffer. It affected me a lot. I also run a facebook group named "NomNom India" which specifically helps with emergency solutions for bunny health and care. I watched cruelty videos on facebook and it was very hard for me to relate to it first but slowly I consciously started transitioning into a vegan.

Every night after 11 I would sit in front of the desktop and would watch such videos.
I left meat in October 2015
And the rest in June 2016.
I've been Vegan for 1.5 years.

Honestly, I was never an animal person. So when I go out for outreach I personally put emphasis on the health part of veganism. It is always easy to convince a person when he/she is already an animal lover but to influence a person like the older me and make him/her understand the dietary benefits of it I go for the health part.

I think more people should go vegan just because they need to realise why it's good for them. Most people are scared or remain in dark about the physical and mental health benefits of a vegan diet.

The importance of protein is a new concept specifically from post-independence period where people are westernized and brainwashed to think that meat and eggs are our main sources of protein. Most of our ancestors were naturally vegan or vegetarian and they did not die of protein deficiency or calcium deficiency.

We are robots. We should follow what makes us healthier. We need to live a life without suffering as Buddha says; along with not harming innocent animals to augment ourselves in any way. Making someone suffer is so wrong.

What is your favourite vegan food?

My favourite Vegan food is Vada Pao. It's unparalleled. Though being a true vegan Bengali my favourite is dish is Aloo Sheddo Bhaat with onion.

 

Shishir Shahdeo
Age: 26
Hometown: Bangalore
Vegan Since: 1 year

Shishir Shahdev

I would like to start with this quote “More you open your eyes and know the truth; more cruel the world is”. I was born in a non-vegetarian family and was raised as a non-vegetarian. It was during college days I realized the cruelty involved in the meat industry and I then decided to go vegetarian. Later, I got to know the brutal truth behind dairy industry and how beef and dairy are two sides of the same coin and we are the only species on this entire planet who consume someone else’s milk. After that, I just did some research, accepted the truth and got to know how easy and ethically right it is to lead a cruelty-free life and VEGAN LIFE. Since then, never been happier.

When I go for the outreaches I like to focus on the ethical and moral values. All of us have been brought up in this world by the same moral values such as - live and let live, not to harm anyone; being kind; helping someone in need. However, why have we restricted ourselves to apply these morals only towards our species (humans), doesn’t it make us partial/biased or - does it make us “SPECIESIST”?

If someone discriminates on the basis of RACE – RACIST

If someone discriminates on the basis of SEX – SEXIST

Likewise, If someone discriminates on the basis of SPECIES – SPECIESIST

We all know that being a RACIST or SEXIST is absolutely wrong. Then why follow something which falls exactly on the same ideology? Till now I’ve never found a convincing enough answer.

Also, I try to make people realize that “compassion” is something that doesn’t need to be taught to us, it is something that all of us are born with. All of us inherit this feeling/emotion. But unfortunately, we live in an era where we are taught “not to be compassionate.” But, how much ever anyone tries; “Compassion” in a person never dies. Hence, it’s never too late to make the right change – to go VEGAN.

I think people should turn vegan for the same reason why people think it is wrong if an innocent human gets killed, tortured, separated from their mothers as soon as they are born, etc. If all of these practices are wrong if it happens to humans, then it’s same for animals as well.

It’s simple - if you do good, good will come to you. If more people will become vegan, it is good for the Mother Earth. And, Mother Earth has always been kind, not only to us but for each and every species. It provides us all with same air to breathe and same water to drink. It never discriminates, but unfortunately, we (humans) do and because of our lifestyle, it has lost a lot and is still losing.

It is a proven fact that Animal Agriculture is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions, which ultimately leads to global warming. So, if all of us follow a Vegan Lifestyle it will be more good to our Mother Earth/Nature.

What is your favourite vegan food?

I am a very much of an Indian food guy. For me, nothing can beat Rajma Chawal, Chole Chawal.

For a beverage, I love smoothies. Cashew/Almond Milk with Apple/Strawberries/Frozen Bananas (basically any fruit I could get my hands on!!). But, if I have to choose one – it will be Banana Smoothie.

Apart from these, I love South Indian food and most of the South Indian food especially breakfast items are traditionally Vegan; Idli, Vada, Sambar, Masala Dosa, Uttapam, Bisi Bele Bath, Idiyappam, Pongal, etc.

And, that’s the best part most of the vegetarian dishes which people eat on daily basis are VEGAN (even if they don’t know). Still, they ask “What do VEGANS eat?”.

Gunwanth Theegala
Age: 17
Hometown: Visakhapatnam
vegan Since: 7 months
 


 

A 17-year-old introvert, a first bencher only because I love learning new things and the one who always spent his time on social media. I had my own little world where I learnt to survive all the troubles I’ve faced.

One day, I was browsing the internet and then I saw something called “Veganism” and that’s when I started learning about it. It took me just a few minutes to take one of the biggest decisions of my life that I ever made and from that night till this day I’ve been doing better than I ever was. Just a little realisation of some unbelievable facts changed my whole belief of something I was taught all my life and that’s how powerful Veganism is. It has not only taught me the importance of animals, environment and the earth but also love and empathy, pure compassion, hard work and focus. Social Anxiety was my biggest drawback, due to depression I couldn’t show my face in public and a broken family, loneliness and also failing grades at school but Veganism turned me into a Social activist, a head boy at my school, motivational speaker and everything I owe today. I've been chasing my dreams from my 4th grade of being a chef and starting a restaurant totally different from any others. The ideas I had over the years could not satisfy me and that’s when I got to know that I was meant to start my own Vegan restaurant one day.

When I turned vegan I never knew anyone who was a vegan in my city and I had no one to support me about Veganism and that’s  when FIAPO came to my rescue. I've got the motivation from there and that’s when  I formed our Vegan society with my dearest vegan friend. I’ve never let any chance miss where I have to preach Veganism. I started to reach out to people through rallies, social media and face to face conversations and seminars, etc and I will always be vegan-ucating the world about the truth.

Veganism is a vast concept as it requires pure heart and practicality to decode it and perceive our future. Its just one life that we’ve got, just like us every one wants to make a survival, we have a big land and let's share it and embrace nature and forget to endure and cause pain and suffering to any being.

51% of  Green house gas emissions are from livestock, 56 billion land animals alone killed every year for consumption, life expectancy drops from 100 to 68, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reportedly mentioned meat products as one of the major carcinogens under their list along with cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption. All it would take is a few hours of your life to learn about something real.

I would recommend to start with watching a documentary like  - What the health, Earthlings and Eating you alive. They show what is Veganism and all that’s required from you is a little time and understanding. It's time to change our ways and achieve peace. It's not only about the Animals, the Earth and Environment, it's about you and all that the world has taken from you and had put you in a race where we are in a virtual world of money, health issues, negativity, pride, hatred and ego.

What is your favourite vegan food?

One of the best Vegan food that everyone should try would be Rigatoni with roasted red pepper sauce. Most of the dishes in the Indian cuisine are designed to be Vegan-friendly and one of the ultimate leading vegan foods in the world are Indian. Many startups and vegan businesses are developing these days in order to help non-vegans to adopt a vegan diet and still enjoy meat foods. They have redesigned non-vegan foods with vegan plant-based meat and dairy products in all forms from milk to cheese and chicken to bacon.

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