Why I Turned Vegan – And What It Means for My Travel Lifestyle.

Gujarati thali, Gujarat food

This is my ‘why turn vegan’ story.

I had no idea that an ordinary ‘chicken bus’ ride in Nicaragua was (sort of) going to transform my life. But that’s how it is with the road; it changes you when you least expect it.

I no longer remember what our destination was, only that the chicken bus – so called because people are crammed in like chickens – was far more crowded than usual because it was the day before New Year. Locals were heading home to the rural countryside. An old Nicaraguan lady kept her sack next to my feet, and I felt it move! When staring didn’t work, I asked her in polite Spanish to move it. Minutes later, I felt something poking my back. Much to my horror, inside were three little squeaking chicks trying to survive in a sack without a hole to breathe.

I breathed a sigh of relief when the lady got off at her stop. Clearly she had taken the ‘chicken bus’ literally.

Read: Isla de Ometepe: Where the Streets Have No Name

ometepe nicaragua, nicaragua blog, isla de ometepe
Why turn vegan | If only I had stuck to this mode of transport in Nicaragua!

A month or so later, while making myself an egg in my friend’s apartment, the incident came back to haunt me. I know the eggs we eat wouldn’t become chicks, but I wanted to know what eggs really were, and what conditions they came from.

Some hard-hitting facts about eggs and dairy

(Warning: Read at your own risk)

  • Just like women have periods, hens have periods. In the wild, jungle fowl would produce eggs every 15 or so days till their nest is full, and try to hatch them. Selective breeding has led domesticated hens to increase the frequency with which they lay eggs, but they say that if the eggs weren’t taken by humans, hens would continue laying them only till their nest is full. Hens are often starved (forced molting) to increase egg production.
  • Hens lose a lot of their body calcium in these eggs, in the outer white layers we throw away. In nature, when a hen feels malnourished, it tends to eat its own eggs to refurbish its calcium.

If you’re a woman, you probably know how much energy a monthly period can sap out of you (if you’re not, ask one or take my word for it). I couldn’t help imagining what it would be like to have to bear it again and again, for every day of my life.

  • If you’ve been on the road in India, you’ve probably seen a truck full of caged hens at some point. The egg industry is known to keep hens in battery cages with almost no space to stand, and sometimes even cut beaks to create more space.
  • Also, since male chicks consume a lot more food and space and don’t produce eggs, it is said that the egg industry grinds them alive by bucket loads…

So anyway, at first, I decided to only eat eggs that were cage free or certified humane, but sifting through their definitions and what companies could get away with in their labels didn’t convince me for long.

Gradually, in early 2015, I decided to stop eating eggs and egg products.

vegan nyc, vegan travel, why go vegan, vegan new york
Why turn vegan | Eating vegan in NYC.

But here’s the thing about reading about the egg industry – you inevitably slip into the dairy industry and more horrifying facts. Gradually, you find answers to why do people turn vegan. Ready?

  • Just like women lactate when they have a baby, so do cows and buffaloes. The milk is meant for the kid, and the female only produces enough for the kids’ needs.
  • So how do we get so much milk from farm cows? Hormones to make them lactate artificially, for the rest of their lives. When their glands become sore, they are fed antibiotics – and as I recently heard in Gujarat, the antibiotics poison their bodies slowly, leading to the mass death of vultures who feed on their carcass.

I toyed with the idea of veganism for a while, not sure how I could live without milk, cheese, chocolates, and all the foods that contain dairy and eggs. I read blogs and watched videos, but it was meeting a college friend in Germany who had gone from being a meat eater to being vegan that tipped me over. If she could do it, surely I, a vegetarian of over 12 years, could cut out all animal products from my life.

Read: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

vegan travel, why turn vegan, why should i turn vegan
Why turn vegan | Moments of introspection.

The transition from eating vegetarian to vegan 

It’s been almost 5 months since I’ve eaten dairy or eggs (or honey or ghee or any animal products)! And I’ll tell you the truth – the transition wasn’t as hard as I had thought. I’ve found substitutes for everything I cut out, I feel healthier, and well, I appreciate my food a lot more now than I did before. Believe me, I’m still a foodie.

Read: Tasting Romania: A Vegetarian’s Guide to Romanian Food

vegan sri lanka, sri lankan food, upalis colombo
Why turn vegan | Can’t have enough of these (vegan) Sri Lankan curries!

I’ve already been a vegan in 5 countries!

  • The US: New York City gets half the credit for a painless transition. At Whole Foods Market, they sells everything from vegan cheese to vegan chocolate; I’ve sampled vegan cafes that even my meat eating friends love; almost every cuisine has a vegan-friendly restaurant.
  • The Dominican Republic: Beans and rice rock! The trick to being vegan in the DR was about being creative – studying the menu, mixing and matching vegan ingredients and asking for a customized dish. I loved many a wholesome meals, especially in the mountains.
  • Trinidad and TobagoWith Creole, Caribbean and Indian influences, Trini introduced me to some exquisite flavors – dishes like Bus Ab Shut and doubles – that are traditionally meat and dairy free.
  • Gujarat, India: Traveling in India’s dairy capital without eating dairy – who would’ve thought? But once I identified buttermilk and ghee as my culprits (both feature heavily in Gujarati food), my quest became easier. My taste buds still exploded with the sweet and sour flavors of Gujarati thalis and traditional Saurashtrian recipes!
  • Sri Lanka: People in Sri Lanka were the most shocked when I said I didn’t eat animal products, yet ironically, Sri Lankan food is super easy and super delicious as a vegan; the only thing to look out for is dried Maldivian fish that some locals like to add to their vegetable curries and sambhol.

But guess what? I had the hardest time visiting my own parents in Dehradun, simply because my mom insisted I was being stupid and even slipped a bit of yoghurt in my breakfast. UGH.

Read: How to Travel as a Vegan and Find Delicious Food Anywhere in the World

vegan travel, vegan traveler, vegan dominican republic, vegan caribbean
Why turn vegan | Vegan in the Caribbean and can’t complain.

But being vegan is not just about food

Being vegan is about cutting out animal cruelty from my life – and unfortunately, that goes far beyond eating animal parts. Take my Loreal shampoo for instance, a brand I’ve used (and loved, gulp): among other things, it contains silk protein, to obtain which silk worms are boiled alive. I’m still learning how to decipher labels and pick natural products that aren’t derived from animals. I’m also wondering how one draws the line… where do you stop?

Read: 11 Tips to Ease Your Transition Into Veganism

gir gujarat
Why turn vegan | Psst… ignorance was bliss, but that boat has sailed.

What being vegan means for my travel lifestyle

Changing the way I travel: Veganism has become an important factor in how I travel. It means changing my packing habits to less clothes and more food – both vegan substitutes as well as emergency rations like energy bars. I’m pouring more research into where I stay, looking for access to a kitchen, alerting my hosts in advance, even changing plans to keep the foodie in me happy. Will I miss out on local food experiences? Maybe. But in Sri Lanka, my hostess went from being ‘stressed’ about preparing vegan food for me, to remembering her forgotten dark chocolate recipe, and deciding to experiment with vegan ice cream after I left.

Getting enough nutrition: That’s the number one concern about going vegan – but believe it or not, I’m eating much healthier than before. Now that I’m more selective about what I eat, I consciously ensure that I get my proteins and vitamins; I eat less junk food, simply because much of it has dairy or eggs; vegan substitutes for cholesterol laden things like egg yolk and cheese are made of healthy soya or almonds. I have a family history of cholesterol and my bad cholesterol was off the charts in mid 2015; 8 months later (of which 5 months I’ve been vegan), it’s back to normal.

Human-animal conflict: I know there will be conflicting times. Like when I serendipitously came across a nomadic camel-herding tribe who live deep inside the Banni Grasslands of Gujarat. With no land and no source of income, these traditional nomads rely entirely on camel milk to feed themselves and sell the remaining for not-so-much money. They don’t afford hormones, so it’s only when a calf is born that they take the milk from the lactating mother, while the calf learns to fend for itself. Save the animals, or save the tribe?

Carbon emissions: Incidentally, both The Guardian and Independent recently published pieces on the one thing that would make a real impact on climate change – going vegetarian or vegan! If everyone in the UK went vegan, they say the country’s carbon footprint would fall by a whopping 25%. I’ve been thinking about my travel footprint much lately, and I feel like going vegan has been an incidental step in the right direction.

Read: Simple Ways to Travel More Responsibly in Ladakh

Gujarat tribe, banni grasslands, nomads india
Why turn vegan | The Fakiranis, a nomadic camel-herding tribe in Gujarat.

Food for thought

After researching, and on occasion, witnessing the treatment of the majority of farm animals, I’m of the opinion that it’s better to kill a wild animal for meat than enslave it all its life for milk and eggs. As a free soul, I would pick death over life imprisonment every time.

Read: 10 Life Lessons From 2 Years of Travelling

homemade dark chocolate
Why turn vegan | I made these dark, nutty vegan chocolates with the recipe learnt from my Airbnb host in Sri Lanka!

The vegan debate

I think it’s time to emphasize that going vegan is a very personal choice for me – and I’m not living under any ‘making a difference’ illusion. It’s my way of choosing not to participate in animal cruelty as far as I can help it, eating healthier and incidentally lowering a bit of my enormous carbon footprint as a nomad.

Just so we are clear, I do oppose the beef ban in India for curtailing freedom of choice and expression. The people closest to me are either meat-eaters or vegetarian, and while I’d love for them to reconsider their choices, I wouldn’t impose mine.

Also read: 15 Responsible Travel Tips for Authentic, Meaningful Experiences on the Road

gal oya lodge sri lanka
Why turn vegan | A new era in my traveling life?

What’s your ‘why turn vegan’ story?

I’m sure you have questions, thoughts and opinions, and I’m always up for a well rounded argument. Bring it on. 

My story featured on Nat Geo Traveller: How a “Chicken Bus” in Nicaragua Transformed the Way I Travel

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PIN this ‘why turn vegan’ story.

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  1. Gunjan Sharma says:

    Beautiful thoughts Shivya
    You are an inspiration !

    1. Stacy Stevens says:

      I wholeheartedly agree! Very inspirational thinking. I went vegan about a year ago after reading many books about our food supply chain. Most people who know me I thought it was because I’m such an animal lover but that was not the main reason initially. I love trying new recipes and using a lot of spices. My husband is not a vegan but supports me and I do not criticize him for his choices. I do also love cheese but after reading articles of so-called “organic” cheese and away some goats were treated in Germany I cannot even eat cheese anymore. I will say I occasionally eat eggs but I pick them up at the farm and see how the chickens are treated, (Very well!) One of the best parts for me now is how this is carried over into my choices in fashion with materials, fair trade, working conditions etc. Love your blog!

  2. Tales of a Globetrotter says:

    wow……….this is quite a bit to take in. Though in theory aware of this, but putting it in practice is difficult. Hats off to you for being so responsible !

    1. I’m still wrapping my head around it too, to be honest. But it feels good to be more conscious of just what I’m eating!

  3. This is really a hard hitting article. Also, knowing how difficult it is to stay true to your dietary choices while traveling, I’m amazed at your perseverance! I’m not sure if you’ve already written it but I’d love to hear what you ate and where in the last 5 months.

    1. I know – maybe I should’ve started with that warning 😉 I plan to write my ‘being vegan’ experiences from every country I visit. The first one’s coming soon!

  4. Nice thoughts and bold step to transform to a 100 PER CENT VEGGIE. Your ideas sounds a bit radical but the intention behind it deserves a loud applause. I would love to undergo this transformation to a complete veggie, perhaps it required a bit time, determination and commitment. Happy VEGGIE days.

    1. Haha, thanks Sunil. I think it just requires a bit more conscious and planned eating – and well, fighting temptations initially. But these are hardly my ideas – some people think veganism is a trend, but there are many who’ve been living this way of life for years. Some inspiring stories out there 🙂

  5. Inspiring read Shivya. Very well thought out and makes one think. Thanks for sharing.

    On Thu, Feb 4, 2016, 10:43 AM The Shooting Star wrote:

    > Shivya Nath posted: “I had no idea that an ordinary ‘chicken bus’ ride in > Nicaragua was (sort of) going to transform my life. But that’s how it is > with the road; it changes you when you least expect it. I no longer > remember what our destination was, only that the chicken b” >

  6. This is a wonderful step taken by you. I have been a vegan forever according to my upbringing and culture. So I never had to make a conscious effort in this regard. And hence I appreciate people who decide to go total vegan and change their lifestyle so as to avoid cruelty towards animals. Great post.

    1. That’s a first to hear Pratham. Can you share more – where did you grow up and why / howcome your upbringing was vegan? Eager to hear it.

  7. Good Old Boots says:

    Great read. But isn’t this how nature maintains its balance? Deer eats grass and lion eats deers.. Food chain? I’m all for treating animals in a humane way but animal products have always been are a source of nutrition for us, humans. (Also, they are super delicious! No amount of saag can match a plate of butter chicken :P)

    Also, by the same logic, shouldn’t we stop eating vegetables and fruits also? They also come from trees and plants which are living organisms.

    1. Thanks for asking these important questions. Nature’s balance would be something like what early man did – going into the forest and hunting WILD animals with bow and arrow. Unfortunately after evolving to our level of intelligence, man has really taken advantage. Now we enslave animals in small cages and control their lives, we grind new born animals to death because they cost too much to keep alive, we alter their reproductive systems and body functions with artificial medicines. That’s not nature’s balance – that’s man’s cruelty. In my eyes anyway.

      The second question – I’ll just point you here for now – https://www.quora.com/How-do-vegans-justify-eating-plants-if-their-premise-for-their-lifestyle-is-not-harming-living-organisms

  8. Funny, I’d had a thought the other day about your adventures and thought I wonder if it would be difficult to be a vegan in some of the places you travel and how it would affect the way you connect with people whereby a lot of cultures are often showing their hospitality and graciousness through food and how to navigate the pull between not wanting to create separation or be disrespectful to a person who wants to share their house, their table, their food with you and to also respect the desire to eat a diet that creates less suffering. I had no
    idea you were following a vegan diet so it was interesting reading about your experiences. Thankyou for sharing.

    1. Thanks for reading Sophie! To be honest, I’m still grappling with these thoughts, thinking of that balance between ‘authentic and respectful’ travel and a diet I strongly believe in. I plan to write more food stories (and that struggle) from every country I visit.

  9. Nice post!! Keep it up.
    So I see you not only like the Trini accent but also the Trini food….I’m longing for a “doubles” 😊

  10. Amit Kalsariya says:

    Hey dear shivya ! It’s a really great article of you.. I like that you’ve described based on soo many scientific reasons.. being a pure vegetarian, personally I like soo much about your thoughts for vegetarian and vegan… I’ve been trying hard to become vegan from vegetarian.. I appreciate your clarification about choice of people for veg and non veg… you mentioned Gujarat in your precious post that’s really pleasure for me… I can Say that ‘Delicious and healthy’ post..

    1. You know I loved my time in Gujarat, Amit! Thanks again for coming to meet me in Ahmedabad 🙂 I promise it’s not hard to be vegan in Gujarat, especially when you’re eating at home. My hosts in Gir managed to find ways to replace / remove buttermilk, butter and ghee in traditional Saurashtrian recipes and it still tasted so good! Give it a try!

  11. Way to girl. Have been a vegetarian all my life so that bit is easy for me. Turned vegan for 10 days and was feeling great about it but was pregnant then and my doc scolded me into stopping my little ‘experiment ‘ as she put it. Have been thinking of going vegan after my son’s birth but breast feeding him now so not sure how it will be accepted by family. have to also admit though that the thought of no curd, no milk, no chocolates, no cheese also stops me from going vegan. But I also know since I went vegan for 10 days that it’s not that difficult, especially in Bangalore which is quite vegan friendly. Time to crossover I feel. Thanks for the nudge 🙂

    1. That must have been quite energy sapping for you Mansee, I can imagine. But as I’ve found out, being vegan doesn’t mean giving up on milk, chocolates and cheese. In India, you can easily get plant based alternatives – soya / almond milk fortified with calcium and vitamin B12, dark chocolate (like Lindt and amul dark chocolate), soya cheese, tofu. It takes a little getting used, but I don’t miss dairy cheese / milk anymore!

      Also check this out – https://sharan-india.org/vegan-products/ – some places in Bangalore even make vegan curd! I also stumbled upon a vegan potluck in Bangalore a while back. Discovering a whole new world 😉

  12. krunal shah says:

    Hi Shivya,

    Loved your article about turning into a vegan. I myself is a vegetarian and would love to spread the word about being a vegan as much as possible.

    Thanks for doing that

    PS: I too don’t want to impose my choice to anyone..it’s their choice at the end

    On Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 10:43 AM, The Shooting Star wrote:

    > Shivya Nath posted: “I had no idea that an ordinary ‘chicken bus’ ride in > Nicaragua was (sort of) going to transform my life. But that’s how it is > with the road; it changes you when you least expect it. I no longer > remember what our destination was, only that the chicken b” >

  13. I have been wanting to go vegan since quite some time but all the time some hiccups happen and I probably just end up reducing dairy than being done with it…your B12 supplement, do you have it everyday?

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      My B12 levels are pretty normal now, so I have it once in 2-3 days. It’s actually a sweet treat 😉

  14. Great article, Shivya, and good for you for making the switch. It seems like it’s been quite a smooth transition.

    I’ve been toying with the idea of going from vegetarianism to veganism, but always felt that as a long-term traveller it may be difficult. You’ve definitely given me some food for thought here, though.

  15. Shivya, while I’ve been a silent follower of your blog for years and have enjoyed reading all your stories from different corners of the world, I have not left a comment before or token of my appreciation for reasons unknown.
    This post really triggered something in me and my admiration for you has increased manifold; I just felt compelled to respond.
    Good on you for your journey towards veganism and so glad it’s going well for you.

    I’m personally constantly conflicted between taking a stand against animal cruelty and providing gratification to my tastebuds, that after years of being indulged in all forms of dairy and meat products, are quite a bit spoilt!

    If nothing else, your post triggered an impulse in me to at least give it a go. I’m not the most wilful person in the world, and I’ve never even managed to be vegetarian for any lengthy period of time (except the forced abstinence that the Bird Flu threat caused years ago), but I’m feeling like encouraged to atleast try!

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      I’m glad to hear that. Trust me when I say, being vegan has made me more of a foodie than I ever was before. I’ve had some of the best meals of my life since I turned vegan – and my tastebuds are grateful!

  16. Well-written Shivya. Am a vegetarian and married to someone who follows strict Jain diet. Many a times we come across people who ridicule and fail to understand the rationale behind our food choices. Your thought on animal cruelty is bang-on, something we always feel but not able to express correctly. Will definitely share your post, hope it encourages a conversion.

    “As a free soul, I would pick death over life imprisonment every time” 🙂 Who wouldn’t agree to that !

  17. Congrats and hats off on making the shift! I’m still a dairy lover and am finding it difficult to make that transition but some day soon hopefully. This is inspiring, thanks 🙂

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      There is a saying I swear by – If you think it’s difficult for you to turn vegan, think about difficult it is for the animals that you are not vegan.

  18. prajnadutt says:

    I keep going from no-meat phase back to meat eating. Have done it twice so far. The longest I could keep up was 8 months.
    But I have definitely done a lot of research on cruelty free cosmetic products. There are a lot of Indian brands lately. I did this mainly for my testing lab rescued beagle (read at http://thisandthatifancy.com/2013/04/23/a-new-leash-of-life/). But yes, there are available flying bunny crossed products.
    Checkout http://www.thealternative.in/lifestyle/10-go-brands-cruelty-free-skin-care-products-india/.
    I recommend rustic art and my all time favorite lotus. While there are still chemicals in these, they are cruelty free.
    On the food note, did you notice any changes in your health pattern or energy levels after you went vegan?

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Thanks for sharing these; very helpful! In India, I’ve been using Biotique and when I want to splurge / indulge myself – Body Shop. Overseas, I seek out natural products.

      It’s surprising, but mentally, I feel like I’m in a much better, calmer, stress-free place. Began noticing this a few months after I turned vegan. I certainly feel more energetic when I eat well, but sometimes on the road, when i don’t get enough diverse nutrition, I also feel my body telling me to eat better.

  19. Very thought provoking article. I started searching for a good travel blog and ended up here. Being a vegetarian and residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (past 3 years), I know how much struggle it is to maintain vegetarian lifestyle out of India. This article left me with a serious dilemma on my dairy product use, which was never a contentious issue within me, though I stopped eating eggs long back. I appreciate your perseverance in maintaining the vegan lifestyle even while you travel abroad and inspiring more people into such zen lifestyle. Keep inspiring…

  20. Nice article..I like the part where you talk about how hens eat their eggs.Did not know that! Well your articles are full of surprises Shivya. Thanks for a great write up again…..I have been visiting your blog but commenting for the first time.

  21. Its very inspiring to hear a travellor speak about choosing veganism. I particularly resonate with all your thoughts and why you made this choice. Great going!! You could help a lot of vegan travellers. 🙂 Those chocolates look yum. Would love to have the recipe.

  22. reachlife360degrees says:

    Wow ! I have been contemplating with the idea of turning vegan myself, not for the reasons stated in your article ofcourse. But this is an eye opener. This is my first time on your blog, will definitely follow you.

  23. Welcome to the yummy world of vegan. I’m so gald you wrote about this because as I read your blogs over time, I thought about how I’m vegan and the research and planning I do when I travel related to feeding myself. I try to not make it a big deal, but I do pack extras in case I can’t get to a health food store or find a restaurant that has vegan food right away…or if I’m just too tired from traveling and want to stay in my room to rest. Fortunately, vegan is becoming known throughout the world and people are supportive when I tell them I am vegan. I wondered if I could travel like you, as far and wide as you do being vegan, but it’s nice to see you are doing it fine. Once I became vegan my awareness of different types of food and all the yummy things out there increased tenfold; it’s an ongoing and fun discovery process as vegan becomes more and more mainstream. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      It is a yummy world indeed – contrary to what it seems to non-vegans. It does take some extra research and planning, but I’ve had some of the best meals of my life since I turned vegan. It’s definitely made me more of a foodie too!

  24. Kartik Aruda says:

    Hi Shivya,

    Thanks for such a lovely read. The strength behind the write up is clearly visible and felt. You have taken lot of effort and sensitivity to communicate the same at a very subtle level with all the violence that we are living in.



  25. Nice article ! I have been a veggie all my life (upbringing) and have kinda never thought about that. My time in the US made me think about food choices, organic / inorganic farming etc. While I wouldn’t claim to have converted to a vegan or anything of that sort, I try to be a little more conscious of my decisions about what I eat. Maybe one day make me cut down my carbon footprint further.

    And, please share the recipe of the dark, nutty dark chocolate recipe learnt from your Sri Lankan host 🙂 Thanks !

  26. That was so well written!! Being a vegetarian all my life, I am slowly moving towards being a vegan.
    This write up is inspiring!!

  27. Thankfully you have used the term Vegan, a term that is still new in India. Most foreigners do not realise that in India, owing to culturally embedded eating practices, Vegetarianism is a norm but not Veganism.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Thankfully that’s changing. Atleast the bigger Indian cities are becoming more aware and more vegan friendly.

  28. Shivya..you beautifully wrote the story of my life in the last 4 months!! Admire your compassion for these innocent souls..I totally agree to ur point that life long suffering is worse than death…so just want to share that u may want to hence avoid products tested on animals too ( loreal, Mac, everything from unilever,p&g etc). I cant fathom anything more cruel than animal testing 🙁 You’ll find tons of amazing cruelty free choices ( colorbar, chambor, faces, himalya etc) on Peta’s and Leaping Bunny’s site..
    As for me, I do take animal products in medicines and basically situations when its ‘do or die’. Last week I went to a conference where not a single thing was vegan..I had nothing for breakfast, and by lunch my tummy was growling..this was a 5 star, at least 3km from the main city, and my leg was recovering from a ligament tear which prevented too much movement. The only option was the nearest in-house restaurant where even the starters were above INR 1000..I hate these grey situations 🙁 I ultimately ate the non-vegan food..and the guilt really bothered me..wondering what u would do in such a scenario, which typically crops at least once a month! 🙁 I would also advise u to watch the second story in the movie ‘the ship of theseus’ which shows the exact predicament a compassionate brahmin faces in this situation

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Glad we share this story, Supriya. I was really surprised when I found out how many toiletries / cosmetics contain animal products, and how easy it is to not use them. Besides cruelty free brands, I seek out natural products around the world with only natural ingredients (no beeswax, no honey) and love them.

      I hate those do or die situations – and yes, saw Ship of Theseus long ago and do remember that story. When I go for conferences / events, I prepare by – first, informing the hosts of my dietary needs (though many a time they go ignored) and second, by carrying my own food (a sandwich, or if I have a room, stuff I can store in the refrigerator. When there are buffets, I ask to speak to the chef, and have often found them willing to quickly prepare something small for me. I’ve succumbed to eating non-vegan consciously a couple of times in the last 3 years and I hate the food and the guilt – so worst case scenario, I’d rather fork out money to eat something vegan.

      1. Supriya Mimani says:

        You know its so ironic- yesterday a friend shared one of your posts on FB- and I started reading and thinking “I used to follow this girl years back, I remember liking her stories” so I began reading some of your old posts and following you on Instagram – this was Yesterday, when I woke up in the morning telling my husband that I wanted to quite my corporate life and do something for animals instead- and then later in the day I read your posts again after years and saw all that you did to follow your heart- and today I see your response on my post from 2016! I almost get the feeling that the universe is nudging me to do what I want to..If only I had the courage and the risk-appetite to forego a promising career and a monthly paycheck. Hopefully someday soon. Meanwhile you continue to inspire! 🙂 🙂 My best wishes to you <3

        1. Shivya Nath says:

          This really feels like the universe conspiring for you Supriya! Maybe your someday is today… those animals sure you need you. I’ll be happy to discuss ideas or collaborate on something. It’s a dream to start an animal rescue sanctuary in India…

  29. thenomadicvegan says:

    Congratulations on adopting this compassionate, healthy and delicious vegan lifestyle! I really enjoyed reading about your transformation, and it’s clear from the comments that your story has touched many people. Thanks so much for sharing it! I personally enjoy travel even more as a vegan than I did before. And for that matter, I enjoy food much more now too!

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      That makes two of us – I enjoy travelling and food now so much more than before!

  30. Swarnali Mondal says:

    Sometimes i get this feeling your stories are put in front of me by that universe conspiracy we speak about. Everything i think of doing but don’t know the way yet. Voila! You have done it. And there is a way.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      There is a way 🙂 Curious if you’ve found yours yet?

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Thanks for sharing this; doesn’t change much for to be honest. I would really applaud it if cruelty towards cows as a whole was banned – which to me is dairy. Impregnating them forcefully all their lives so they can keep producing milk; their udders remain sore, their stables are full of shit, they are kept on short leases. That’s life imprisonment of the worst kind, and if you ask me, I’d choose death anyday.

  31. Laudable effort.Though I amm a vegetarian,never could think of going vegan. Your concerns about animal cruelty is valid. Kudos to you for your self determination.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      I thought so too at some point – that I could never go vegan. Yet here I am, vegan for nearly 3 years, and REALLY glad everyday that I make this choice.

  32. I was born and raised as a vegetarian and started eating meat about a decade ago. I can easily give up eating meat and eggs as I only Eat it once in a blue moon, But it’s really hard for me to give up curd, butter, ghee, milk, cheese, ice cream, cakes , chocolates. I tried my best substituting soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk and vegetable /sesame oil or coconut oil in place of butter/ghee. I’ve replaced a huge chuck of my consumption with these alternatives like 60-70%of vegan option and only 30-40%dairy) but I’m not able to completely give it up. 🙁

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      It was difficult for me at first too. In fact even now, when I see a non-vegan dessert or say croissant, I can get really tempted. But then I force myself to think of where it comes from – the abuse, the torture than an innocent animal has to endure for my tastebuds. Then it just feels like it’s not worth it.

      On the bright side, the vegan movement is catching up and there are more and more alternatives out there. I’ve also started cooking quite a bit, and it’s amazing how easy a lot of vegan stuff is to make.

    2. I think even if the half the world reduced their dairy consumption by hard, dairy cruelty will end- don’t be too hard on yourself- 70% vegan is good too- everyone has to do their big- my husband is almost vegan but can not live without his morning chai- he still has my respect because he is doing the best he can to make the world less cruel and more compassionate

  33. Prachi bansal says:

    So going vegan means you dont eat any bakery products as well? As they all contain eggs. Yes there are eggless bakery option but with you travelling all the time, different countries and inner parts of them.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Yep, I don’t eat most bakery products because they contain egg, milk, dairy etc. In lots of cities around the world though, veganism is catching up and there are more vegan bakery options (and they are delicious) – when I do find such products, it’s a real treat.

  34. Brilliant article Shivya! I’ve never even considered the idea of giving up non-vegetarian food even though I don’t eat it on a daily basis. But this inspires me to start with a no dairy diet for a start. Baby steps… 🙂

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      That’s great Ankita; how’s it going for you so far?

  35. Dr. Gulab says:

    Now take a step forward and quit taking alcohol as well…

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      This is not a sacrifice contest. It is about making more informed, ethical choices.

  36. Applauds for your brave attempt at being vegan and summing up all the facts of the dairy and egg industry. I saw a video couple days back about the whole process and it was shitty as hell. Although I ain’t a vegan but I have Hypo Thyroid for last 4 years, and I read somewhere these added hormones in eggs or dairy are not good. So I don’t have milk, I rarely have eggs or chicken. I tried to substitute milk with almond milk but store sold almond milk has lot of chemicals including the whole food ones.I am still battling with the food sold in US under numerous labels, atleast in India we didn’t had a lot of choice, here the choices are so much, that it confuses at time. So when I get Tuna to eat sometimes, I have to literally check all the ingredients in it. Most of them have preservatives or chemicals added. The natural ones have less chemicals, the normal ones have more.. I can’t give up on chocolates, I try to eat them less than before. But claps for being vegan 🙂

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      It’s so much easier being vegan in the US. Dairy milk contains plenty of chemicals too. You can make your own almond milk at home – chemical free – once you soak the almonds overnight, it takes just 10 minutes and can be so delicious (google for a simple recipe). Chocolates – I consume plenty – a lot of darker ones don’t contain dairy. Amul has launched a new range of dark chocolates in India – all dairy free, delicious and affordable. Whole Foods ofcourse has plenty of great vegan chocolate options – my favorite was Bark Thins and Quinoa dark chocolate by Alter Eco.

      If you set your mind to it, being vegan is not hard at all. Especially if you have access to a supermarket like Whole Foods 😉

      1. Thanks for the nice article sharing your experiences. Do you have the recipe for the Vegan Chocolate?

  37. You take lovely photos. They pull you in like we’re experiencing it in real time. By the way, it takes a lot of strength and courage to walk away. I applaud you. I need to do the same.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      I’ve been taking methylcobalamin – available in most chemist shops in India and around the world.

  38. Hats off to you Shivya.. The word Humanity nowadays is only limited for the human. But to go beyond it and think of all the animals is really appreciating.
    Its easy to perceive such thoughts, buts its way more difficult to follow it in real life.
    You are an inspiration… 🙂

  39. Thank you for sharing this story with the world. I am a vegetarian and I am not sure how to take this. I only drink milk (no chai, no coffee) and this put me in quite a conflict- will I be able to do this?

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Absolutely you will, Shruti. Go to a big supermarket and look for Almond Fresh – vanilla flavored almond milk – it’s my favorite nut milk in India. You can also make you own with almonds at home (google for a simple recipe). When you make the switch to vegan, it’ll be quite horrifying to realise how many products you unknowingly consume that have dairy in them – besides cheese, butter, cream, many biscuits, chocolates, even some chips :O I’m putting together a detailed guide on being vegan in India.

  40. Harshal Agrawal says:

    Another important issue prevailing all over the world is ’buying’ animals like dogs,cats,birds for petting! This has also led to excessive breeding of such animals.Apart from this people are now doing experiments with cross-breeding to create more variety, as if there wasn’t enough. Many of the people I know have ’Huskies’ and ’St. Bernard’ as their pets ,these dogs are meant for cold regions and it is inhuman to keep these animals in such heat of India. Birds are caged,tortoises are kept in small boxes! If one needs a pet simply adopt it from a shelter and stop buying them.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      I completely agree with you Harshal – and glad that someone else echoes the same views about owning pets. Phew. Must write a detailed opinion post on this soon.

  41. I am following your journey since early 2015.since 2015 I was playing with the idea of veganism when I met my Swedish friend. But could not convince myself to go vegan as I am into a traveling Job and due to less availability of vegan products in India. But last year in June, while going through your blog, I got to know that you are vegan. In that split second I decided to go vegan. I thought to myself, if she can manage with her full time travel lifestyle then why can’t I. And since then I am vegan.Thank you for sharing your journey.

    1. Shivya Nath says:

      Hey Himangi, I’m really so happy to read this! How is it going for you so far? I’ve found in the last, nearly 3 years, that even though travelling as a vegan sounds really difficult, it isn’t. All it takes is a little bit of extra research. Thanks for sharing your story – it inspires me to write a lot more about my journey 🙂 x

  42. More power to you ❤️
    I also started my vegan journey by giving up eggs which wasn’t difficult at all. However , dairy is what tests your determination as it’s so ingrained in our food choices. Then , the myths about the benefits of milk and other dairy products , always thrown at you.

    I switched to body shop only for this reason. Cruelty free. Being vegan is about lifestyle choices too. I hope one day very soon , I would be able to a proud vegan too !

  43. This surely is an unending debate and I guess the problem here is more of the greedy corporates , trying inhumane methods to maximise their profit. Non-Vegetarianism in itself is older than maybe human existence. Have we ever really thought of the hypothetical scenario if the whole world turned vegetarian. How the food chain will be screwed up. We might even have our planet dominated by animals. So, while everybody is free to make their choices, I guess the vegetarians of the world should stop trying to look down upon the non-vegetarians. The world needs to balance and who says that plants don’t feel pain when you cut them. Well, that’s another story:)

    1. Humans are naturally herbivores- tons of research online on the teeth structure and so much more- which is why most people can no digest raw meat. Also, if we stopped eating meat the world would NOT be dominated by animals ( and it’s foolish of us to think humans dominate the world now )- the unnaturally large number of poultry animals is because of factory farming- and while we may like to believe that only large corporates use cruel methods, most horrible cruelty occurs in small non regularised places in India- which is the second largest exporter of beef in the world

  44. Kunal Lalwani says:

    Hey Shivya, I am one of your new followers and i must appreciate the fact that you are one hell of an influencer. Be it in the space of solo travelling or being a vegan while hopping countries on a spree. Please keep writing and sharing.

  45. This food looks incredible! I love this post, and I appreciate you sharing your story. I’ve been wanting to write about my thoughts on veganism for a while, but worry about alienating my audience. I think you have done a stellar job here of speaking from your own experience honestly without shaming anyone for their own choices 🙂

  46. It’s amazing how diverse and delicious vegan cuisine can be. Your blog has opened my eyes to so many new flavors and ingredients. Thank you!

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