We know that the value of nutrition and how it affects your health extends beyond calorie counting and weight management.
It affects your physical and mental wellness, and following a healthy diet can lead to positive changes in your everyday life.
In this blog, we dwell upon the effects of plant-based nutrition and adapting to a plant-based lifestyle.
And to introduce our guest… Her journey towards plant-based advocacy isn’t just rooted in ideology or moral compunction, but more towards hard science matched with self-experimentation.
She is a pilot working with Indigo Airlines. She is also a plant-based food consultant, a holistic nutritionist & health coach, and goes by the name of Aashti Sindhu.
We are grateful for this opportunity to have Aashti guide us and take us through the subject of plant-based nutrition.
We’re thrilled to share her wisdom, charm and experience with you today.
May you be equally entertained and enlightened by her exchange on nutrition.
1. Could you give us a brief insight to your career and how nutrition became a pivotal factor in your life?
I became a pilot at the age of 22, because that was my childhood dream. I was always a heavy meat eater growing up, but turning vegan in 2015 was a pivotal point in my journey. I was shocked to see the horrific treatment of the animals in the meat and dairy industries and knew I couldn’t support them further.
I also learned about the nutritional aspect of a plant based diet and how most chronic diseases can be avoided and even reversed on a plant-based diet.
2. What drew you to the concept of a plant-based lifestyle?
A friend of mine who was vegan at the time asked me if I had ever looked into the eyes of a cow, when I was trying to explain to her how much I loved beef.
I think that one statement kind of stayed with me and that evening I watched a few slaughterhouse videos and realized that these animals I was eating were sentient beings just like my dog. I felt like a hypocrite because all my life I claimed to love animals, but I was paying for this unnecessary torture in the name of taste.
I decided to try this lifestyle for a few weeks. As the days passed, I learned so much and knew this was the right decision for me.
3. You probably encounter a lot of misconceptions regarding plant-based nutrition, like the idea that we can’t get enough just by fruits and vegetables alone. What can someone do to ensure that they are getting what their body needs by eating plant-based foods?
I think the first step on this journey is doing some research and unlearning all the myths we’ve learned.
Once you have the knowledge, it’s easy to incorporate it into your life and speak about it to your friends and family so they don’t think you will die of a protein deficiency.
4. There’s an idea that a plant-based diet is only accessible for those with a better socio-economic background, or that it’s not adaptable to different cultures. What are your thoughts about this and how can we make plant-based eating more accessible to everyone?
I think a healthy plant-based diet that focuses of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and pulses can be adopted by anyone regardless of their socio-economic background.
Rice, beans, dal, roti, sabzi are some the most basic foods that can be found all over the country.
5. “Where’s the protein? Won’t I be hungry all the time? How will I get calcium? What about iron?”
Protein is found in all plants in varying degrees. In fact, the animals we eat are all herbivores and get their protein from plants.
The largest, strongest land animals can get their protein from plants, so why can’t we?
Calcium and iron is abundant in dark leafy greens and beans. Both of these are easily met on a plant-based diet.
6. What is the best way one can lose weight on a plant-based diet?
I think the best way is if you focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Focus on plant proteins like tofu, tempeh, dals and pulses. Reducing oil to minimum and keeping your plant fats to less than 20% of your diet will help you lose weight if that’s your goal.
7. Are there any supplements or vitamins that are required when it comes to a plant-based diet?
B12, Vitamin D3 and a plant-based Omega 3 is what I would recommend on a plant-based diet.
But always get tested before to see your numbers and then supplement only if needed.
8. What are some of the staples you incorporate in your everyday meals?
My diet is centered around lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. I also love adding tofu and tempeh for a great protein source. Right now, mushrooms are my favourite thing to eat because I love their meaty texture.
9. What do you think is the future of the food system and the plant-based movement in the next 10 years?
I hope that lab grown meat and dairy becomes ubiquitous as well as plant-based meats.
I would love to see a just food system where every single human has enough food for themselves instead of the system that exists now where millions of humans go hungry while we have enough food to feed 70 billion animals.
10. Who are your inspirations? Are there online sources to find credible info on nutrition & everything plant-based?
I am inspired by anyone who speaks for the animals in a kind and compassionate way. While I love animals, I also think it’s important to be kind to humans.
The only way to change people is by relating to them and understanding them.
11. Is there anything you are working on currently in relation to the plant-based movement?
I am currently focusing on helping clients as a nutritionist and a plant-based food consultant.
I help restaurants and businesses add more plant based options to their menu, keeping in mind the changing customer demands and making sure that vegans are treated, as well as a traditional customer in the hospitality industry.
12. Few words/tips that you can leave us with for anyone looking to transition towards a healthy plant-based lifestyle?
Give it a try for a few weeks and see how you feel.
Watch some documentaries like Cowspiracy, Forks over Knives and Earthlings.
Once you start this journey, you will be surprised to see deeply rooted veganism is. If you care about climate change, human rights, feminism, animal rights, speciesism or even your own health- veganism is related to all of these pressing issues.
These are some of the simple changes you can make with a plant-based lifestyle to sustain and improve your well-being for the long-term.
Even for anyone that still gets the craving for meat, there are many plant-based meat brands in India that have been blooming, brands that look towards the betterment for our environment, our health, and animal welfare.
If they eventually lead you to more whole plant-based foods in your diet (ie: beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruits), then they’re certainly a good choice for you.
This conversation with Aashti was an honor, and a powerful reminder of the indelible influence of the individual to create positive change and awaken a movement.
We hope that her words offer you a perspective that is significant and hopeful, but more than anything, our hope is that it inspires you to do something.