Veggie is the way
Make the most of the sheer abundance of variety and nutrition available in an Indian plant-based diet, says Naini Setalvad
Warning: This article may overturn all previous information you have about a plant-based diet.
I have worked in the field of nutrition for over 21 years, and I have advised every client to eat a plant-based diet without putting fear in their mind. This World Vegetarian Month, you will be surprised to learn that following a vegetarian diet can actually save your life!
When my clients make the switch to a plant-based diet, the one feedback I always get is that they have never felt or looked better. I always tell my clients and everyone else to act now because it is so simple and easy to make the switch. Our bodies were made to run perfectly on a plant-based diet, and they definitely do so. So, just make this shift, and see the immediate improvement in your health and well-being.
I am sharing below a guide to explain what comes under plant-based Indian foods. Unlike the West, we have a wide variety in this domain and innumerable methods to incorporate these foods into our daily eating habits:
• Fruits: We are blessed with different fruits for each season: the king of fruits—mango—the ruby-like pomegranate, the cooling watermelon, and the luscious strawberries. Some other local seasonal Indian fruits are jackfruit, litchi, cherry, plum, pineapple, grapes, ice apple, gooseberry, Indian grapefruit, etc.
• Vegetables: Indians have the best access to a repertoire of vegetables: the entire gourd family, from bottle gourd to pumpkin, and other vegetables like ladies’ fingers, capsicum, onion, tomato, and cucumber, to name a few.
• Leafy greens: Best consumed in the winter months are these green leafy vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, fenugreek leaves, amaranth leaves, and colocasia leaves.
• Root vegetables: Under these, you find potato, carrot, beetroot, purple and orange yam, and elephant foot yam (suran).
• Mushrooms: These earthy plants are an excellent addition to your plant-based diet.
• Sprouts: You can sprout almost anything from grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes, and toss them into your food.
• Whole pulses: Chickpeas, red kidney beans, black-eyed beans—you name it, we have it. These whole pulses form a large part of the vegetarian diet.
• Lentils and peas: Another easy source of protein are lentils that are found in the form of dals, sambhars, varans, etc.
• Whole grains: We are lucky to have a large variety of whole wheat and rice options.
• Millets: Finger millet, little millet, pearl millet, sorghum, and barley are just a few grain millets that commonly feature in many plant-based Indian diets.
• Seed grains: One of the most common seed grains is amaranth. Seed grains are most commonly used during fasting.
• Nuts: Walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, and pistachios. We have these and many more nuts in our Indian plant-based diet.
• Seeds: The 5000-year old flaxseed has always been a part of the Indian plant-based diet. Along with this, other seeds like sesame, pumpkin, cucumber, watermelon, and sunflower are also available.
• Herbs and Spices: Healing herbs like coriander leaves, tulsi, and mint leaves, and protective spices like ginger, garlic, turmeric, red chilli, green chilli, asafoetida, carom seeds, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds are just a few plant-based foods that impart taste and health to your food.
• Cold-pressed nut and seed oils: Food preparations are often done in various cold-pressed nut and seed oils such as mustard oil, sesame oil, and coconut oil, to name a few.
When the above are consumed in the correct combination, you will have a balanced, wholesome diet.
Is a vegetarian diet sufficient?
However, I’m always asked whether a vegetarian diet will lead to protein and omega-3 deficiency. Is it more carbohydrate-based? Stop worrying about all this and read below to understand why a plant-based diet is perfect for you.
It is a common myth that a vegetarian diet lacks protein, but let me bust this myth for you. Plant foods contain plenty of protein, and a combination of a grain and a dal is the way to go. It is not only pulses, lentils, nuts, and seeds but also certain vegetables and grains which contain protein.
Walnuts and flax seeds are a great way of adding in the brain-boosting omega-3 while keeping cholesterol levels in check, as no plant food can increase them.
Go for the carbs
Just stop stressing about carbohydrates. I know it is fashionable to eat a low carbohydrate diet. If you cut carbohydrates, your mood will go for a toss and gloom will set in. I say choose the right carbohydrate. Fruits, especially mango, banana, and papaya will make your body sing for joy. Whole grains will give you energy and your essential B vitamins. Bonus? These foods are high in fibre, thus increasing the feeling of fullness and reducing the number of calories you eat, which assists in weight loss. Let’s not forget to add vegetables to get the magical antioxidants that have protective powers.
Avoid a diet of fried foods, refined white sugar and white flour, processed foods, and aerated drinks.
At my centre, I regularly prescribe well-planned vegetarian diets that meet all your caloric and nutritional needs of carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. It is a stress-free way of living. This simple shift can save you from obesity, PCOS, insulin resistance, diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, and even multiple degenerative disorders. Remember to eat sustainably by opting for local seasonal and regional produce. Trust me when I say a plant-based diet makes you reach optimum weight, reverses and retards diseases, and improves moods, performance, and memory.
Tangy Tamarind Rice
Serves 3; preparation time: 30 minutes
One bite of this sweet and sour rice will take you directly to the beautiful ancient temples of South India.
150 grams raw rice
2 tbsp thick imli (tamarind) pulp
½ tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
2 tbsp til (sesame) seeds
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
¼ tsp hing (asafoetida) powder
¼ tsp haldi (turmeric)
Salt to taste
Ingredients for the tempering
1 tbsp chana dal (Bengal gram)
1 tbsp urad dal (split black gram)
1 tbsp rai (mustard seeds)
1 green chilli, slit down its length
8–10 kadi patta (curry leaves)
2 tsp ghee
• Boil the rice with haldi powder.
• Roast the methi seeds and grind them into a fine powder.
• Roast the til seeds on a low flame until golden and grind to a coarse powder.
• Heat ghee. Add chana dal, urad dal, and peanuts. As they turn golden, pop the rai.
• Add the chilli and curry leaves.
• Add imli pulp, hing, methi powder, and til powder to the kadai (wok). Cook for 2 minutes.
• Add cooked rice and salt to the kadai, mix well, and remove from the flame.
• Serve hot.
Curry Leaf Chutney
Serves 4; preparation time: 10 minutes
Delay the signs of premature ageing! Postpone the onset of white hair with curry leaves, which are aplenty in every dollop of this bottle-green delight.
2 cups curry leaves
20 gm thick tamarind pulp (See basic recipe)
1 tbsp jaggery
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1½ tbsp urad dal (split black gram)
2 tsp rai (mustard seeds)
1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
3–4 dry red chillies
1 cup coriander leaves
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 pinch of hing (asafoetida)
Salt to taste
• Heat ½ tbsp oil in a kadai (wok) and roast the curry leaves until crisp.
• Heat the remaining oil and roast the urad dal
• Once the urad dal turns golden, add rai and jeera seeds to the kadai.
• Add the dry red chillies to the kadai.
• Grind the above with curry leaves, tamarind pulp, jaggery, and salt into a coarse paste.
Life Positive follows a stringent review publishing mechanism. Every review received undergoes -
Only after we're satisfied about the authenticity of a review is it allowed to go live on our website
Our award winning customer care team is available from 9 a.m to 9 p.m everyday
All our healers and therapists undergo training and/or certification from authorized bodies before becoming professionals. They have a minimum professional experience of one year
All our healers and therapists are genuinely passionate about doing service. They do their very best to help seekers (patients) live better lives.
All payments made to our healers are secure up to the point wherein if any session is paid for, it will be honoured dutifully and delivered promptly
Every seekers (patients) details will always remain 100% confidential and will never be disclosed