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  • Amit Gambhir

2004 [my Age 17, Weight ~45 kg] – I studied Commercial Artist from a prestigious institution in South Bombay (children of wealthiest people all over the country come to study here). Hence, many organisations visited our college to sell their products (papers, paints, brushes etc.) My first hand learning about Veganism (being kind to animals – is what I like to call it now) was done by PETA in 2005, at college – when they told us the cruelty behind obtaining animal hair for paint brushes we used. We all (students & teachers) replaced our stationary to cruelty free alternatives. Apart from that organisations (like Beauty without Cruelty) also visited they showcased entire range of cruelty against animals. Looking at those visuals I made up my mind to become a vegan, stopped consuming milk and reduced eating sweets. My parents were proud of me, but due to my young age – my cravings for mithai, Ghee, not much say/control in the house (kitchen), some political and not so religious reasons, or be it the fear of loosing out (on not so great) friends [who were meat eaters even before their birth (their mothers consumed meat in pregnancy)] – whatever the reasons, I couldn’t continue being a Vegan, ultimately gave up on the thoughts of Veganism, to become a part of mainstream lifestyle [aka consumption of – Junk food, meat, alcohol & tobacco at casual/occasional/office parties, bad sleeping patterns – these are all very common and an integral part of mainstream lifestyle].

13 years later 2017 [my Age 30, Weight ~76 kg, about to become a father], my body started showing signs (pre-diabetic, high cholesterol, higher triglycerides). Me and my wife both looked pregnant. I always felt a burden of something inside my body, mind and soul. I was about to be bombarded by medicines by best doctors in town (who were prescribing me what the Pharma companies were asking them to sell, not what my body wanted). I bought the medicines, but never consumed any as I read about the side effects. At first, my wife suggested and we approached a family Vaidya (Ayurvedic Dr.) his medicines & churna (powder) helped me a lot, reduced 4 kgs without a single physical exercise. After about a year later again there were no signs of drastic improvement, how would there be?? ultimately medicines (which ever technology) have got their limitations.

2 years later 2019 [my Age 32, Weight ~ 71kg, about to become a father again :-)] My elder daughter – a bundle of joy; and I failed as I couldn’t carry her on my shoulders and climb a mountain in Bhutan! The most cleanest and cool country in the world and I was literally sweating there. There was something terrible within my body which no medicine was going to help me with. Eventually, I did a self reiki to seek answers deep within myself and realised that it was the greed (to Eat, to Earn, other bodily pleasures/desires and even Anger) which was holding me behind and killing me. That was a wake-up call. I decided to give up on things one after other, and listened to my heart.

2020 – I chose to became a Vegan, and since two years there is a complete reversal in my medical conditions. Lost over 6 Kgs of unhealthy weight in just first three months, my waist size reduced in inches. I can carry both the bundles [daughters] of joy and play with them without a drop of sweat. Although its a fact that I turned Vegan due to a selfish reason of my own health, but now after watching so many videos about cruelty of the dairy industry I’m convinced it was the cry of animals that gave me the courage to overcome my desires to eat.

My Learning & Findings
Although we have all been raised by our Parents to believe that using animals for food is very natural and also necessary, be it for nutrition, or even medicinal purposes. We have also been told several stories to justify how animals are being benefited by human intervention and how we decorate them on festivals and worship them during religious events, yet these are just to make us humans feel good instead of feeling guilty. I have discovered that there is a much happier and healthier way to live !

A short conversation with my daughter changed my heart.

I’m born Vegetarian, and genuinely hate the strong odour when people eat / cook fish. Yet, I had a fish tank at my house. When I turned Vegan, I put up all sort of restrictions on myself as well as my family in order to turn their minds towards becoming a Vegan; yet, I still had retained the fish tank.

My 3.5 year old daughter who was trying to understand the concept of Veganism asked me some questions which blew my mind.
We took care of the fishes – maintaining their oxygen pumps, decorating the tank with various colourful stones, feeding them twice a day, cleaning their tank at regular intervals and as per our busy schedules. We even had a medicine that relieves fish stress.

My daughter loved the gold fishes in the tank and spent most of her time looking at them, more than I ever did, but she didnt understand the purpose of fish tank at house. Long ago before I started my journey towards Veganism, I had got this fish tank because I read somewhere.. looking at the fishes movement, help in reducing our blood pressure, keeping them at a certain spot in our house brings us good luck and prosperity. My sister told me once that we should not throw away water from fish tank, instead use it in the garden as it improves fertility of soil and our plants grow healthy. So poop of the fish is also beneficial for us..

” .. but what does it give them?” my daughter asked me; I was speechless and yet happy. Speechless because my daughter had observe some of the things which I had failed to realise, and happy because I have been a better parent in teaching the true value of empathy to my child.

Every month me and my daughter had this routine activity of half an hour, transferring the fishes to a bucket, throughly cleaning the fish tank, cleaning the pump, watching the fishes expression after tank was cleaned. We cleaned the fish tank for one last time. Then carried the fishes to a clean pond nearby and let the fishes free. My daughter even wished them a happy journey ahead.

Think about this:
We humans are also animals and ALL animals want to live, and have a capacity to suffer. When I decided to opt out of the cruel practices of using animals without regard to their needs, my life actually became better! Let’s stop drinking Cow’s milk for “calcium and other nutritional sources” – it’s a LIE which dairy industry has been advertising to us.

I regret each day I lived as a non-vegan and wish to compensate for it! That’s when I thought “I should go beyond just being a Vegan”

Writing a separate post to share updates about my – Life beyond being Vegan