By: Ruchira Hoon*
The pundits have spoken; there’s a shift happening in the world of food and it’s all towards eating things more consciously. Perhaps, that is why you hear words such as ‘local’ and ’sustainable’ in the same breath as ‘gluten-free’ and ‘vegan’, and most recently ‘keto’.
The question really is, why are we hearing these words so often and what are people thinking when they ask for such things? All three – gluten-free, vegan and keto – relate to dietary restrictions in your everyday meal which help you deal with different kinds of medical issues and cope with the changing DNA of food.
For most people, being gluten-intolerant is pretty normal. Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye which several people find hard to digest. Thanks to genetically modified (GM) crops, people are finding it harder and harder to tolerate gluten and are, thus, looking for alternatives. This is why today, you will find several versions of gluten-free flours flooding the market and millets making a resurgence as well.
A lot of people believe that adopting a gluten-free lifestyle means giving up things such as bread, cakes, cookies and rotis. None of this is true. In fact, adopting a gluten-free lifestyle allows you to explore options such as quinoa, amaranth, foxtail, buckwheat and maize. All of these ingredients can be used to bake some amazing delicacies.
The best part? Here in India, there are just so many regional and local gluten-free items to find that even your neighbourhood shops actually stock them; all you need to do is ask.
Grocery stores such as More, Foodhall, Modern Bazaar, Nature’s Basket and Le Marche all stock multiple gluten-free options for people to try. The thing to remember, though, is that going gluten-free does not mean that you have to compromise on taste or texture.
Veganism is considered far more extreme than being vegetarian; it is a lifestyle choice that involves removing all kinds of meat, dairy and eggs from your diet. This means that you are going to never drink a sip of milk, eat a slice of cheese or even slather on some butter on that toast. The choice to go lactose-free stems from several factors, the first being health.
Over the last decade, more and more people have been complaining about how they are just not able to digest milk or its by-products anymore. From indigestion to allergies, to straight up hives, the manifestation of lactose-intolerance is myriad. This is mainly due to the fact that the food industry is pumping animals with hormones to produce more meat, milk or eggs which in turn is changing their DNA and impacting our bodies.
So if you cannot eat butter, ice cream, cheese, paneer or milk, what can you eat as a vegan? The answer is – pretty much everything else. The key to embracing a vegan lifestyle is to know what to substitute in place of the staple items in your diet. For example, curries can be made with coconut milk and stock. You can opt to make tea or coffee with almond milk, and spread cashew cheese on toast for an amazing option. Make bhurji with tofu instead of paneer. The list is endless.
Unfortunately, many people consider going vegan as a fad. The truth is far from it. Most people decided to go lactose-free and egg-free after researching and understanding the impact it makes to the eco-system. Those who have allergies, of course, choose to switch because it helps them stay healthy.
For most Indians, going vegan is absolutely simple. Several dishes from across India are extremely vegan-friendly and now many restaurants, too, are giving their patrons the chance to make that choice based on their dietary preferences.
This gluten-free, sugar-free low carb diet is perhaps the newest kid on the block when it comes to diets. It works on the principle that the body goes into a state of ketosis which helps the body break down fat. The end game of this diet is to reach a certain metabolic state without a low-calorie intake, but rather a low carbohydrate intake.
So what can you eat while on keto – pretty much everything containing fat. From butter to cheese, from cream to all kinds of meat, nuts and seeds; what you cannot eat are grains, sugar and root vegetables. You need to remember that while on a keto diet, you need to eat foods high in fat, moderate amounts of protein and very low carbohydrates.
For most people, this is a quick solution to losing weight as it can jumpstart the weight loss process and make you feel lighter and more motivated. The key to being on keto, however, is to know how much you can eat. For most first-time keto dieters, it is best if it is done under supervision.
In the market, however, the demand for products which are keto-friendly is still nascent. While one can find keto-friendly flours, it’s also important to maintain a 20 to 30 gram cut off on the intake of carbohydrates. There are several places that will help you go on this diet.
The bottom-line for all these three kinds of diets is that the more people know what they are eating and how it impacts their bodies, the easier it is for them to make an informed decision about what they should be eating. All the three diets force you to think about what you are putting in your mouth and how it affects your health, something that people haven’t really given a thought to in the past.
All in all, eat what is good for you and understand the kind of nutrients your body requires. Choose wisely; it’s a change that will impact your body for the rest of your life.
*Bakery Partner and Chef at The Piano Man Bakery