Vegan eye surgeons, Dr Rohit Modi, Dr Sharang Wartikar and Dr Anuradha Ayyar, all turned vegan for different reasons. But the benefits they experienced after, surprised them and their family members. Since then, there was no looking back. During the Global Vegan Business Expo 2020, the three eye surgeons shares their experiences in a panel discussion with event founder, Dr Rupa Shah.
“A plant-based diet is the biggest inheritance we can give to our children.” Dr Rohit Modi, Ophthalmologist
Ophthalmologist, Dr Rohit Modi, shares his journey to veganism at the Global Vegan Business Expo 2020. He discusses the benefits he and his family and his patients have experienced in the last one year.
Last year, I was introduced to the concept of whole food plant based diet (wfpbd) by my fellow retina specialist, Dr Anand Kumta in a conference. I tried it for a few days and decided to give up dairy permanently. I grew up in a lacto-vegetarian family and was surprised when I lost a few kilos in the initial few days. Occasionally, I would have ghee, but during the lockdown I did a lot of reading by eminent doctors like Dr Michael Greger and I decided to follow the wfpbd seriously. Since then, I have lost 17kg and wife has lost 12-13kg, my mother has lost 8kg and my father has lost 10kg.
Slowly, I started implementing wfpbd in my practice also. A lot of my patients who adopted wfpbd have experienced tremendous results. Many diabetic patients call me within a week and have reported reduced sugar levels and said that their doctors have cut down on their medications. A doctor patient of mine was suffering from vitiligo and his condition is reversing after turning to a plant-based diet. Another patient has reversed psoriasis with this diet. Also a patient on dialysis has said that his activity level has increased after turning to a plant-based diet.
When I started watching videos, I realized there was an ethical and environmental aspect to it. I would request everybody to go for wfpb diet, for not only ourselves but for our children as well and our planet as well. It is the biggest inheritance we can give to our children.
Dr Rupa Shah, the first step to becoming healthy is what we eat and that is missed by our educational system. Just eating right, not even exercising, just taking care of your food and the transformation will happen effortlessly.
WATCH THE DISCUSSION HERE: https://dashboard.hubilo.com/#/492308/2723/details/schedule
‘Animal agriculture is a criminal waste of resources.” Dr Sharang Wartikar, Retinal Surgeon
Medical professionals are waking up to the benefits of a healthy and humane plant-based lifestyle. Dr. Sharang Wartikar, Retinal Surgeon, turned vegan when he saw documentaries about animal agriculture and shocked to learn about the hidden truth. And since he experienced amazing fitness benefits, there has been no looking back.
Formally a non-vegetarian, he turned vegan in 2018 for ethical and environmental reasons. He said, “As a child, you don’t think much, you assume whatever is kept on your plate is normal.” He realized the level of hypocrisy in perception of cruelty in everyday life. “We don’t see the actual killing in front of us. We just see the well prepared chicken dishes, but nobody will want to actually kill the chicken.” He gave up non-veg initially, though he continued eating eggs for a while.
One day, he saw a video that showed the reality behind the dairy and poultry industries. He was shocked with the revelations and turned vegan the very next day. “The industry ensures that the reality behind the abattoirs and slaughterhouses is never brought out. For me, it was very simple, I can’t be a part of this kind of cruelty, and that’s it. And incidentally, I happened to give up on 1 November, which was World Vegan Day!”
He continued, “And I realized that there were other benefits as well. The environmental benefits struck me quite a lot. Animal agriculture is a criminal waste of resources. And I am thinking about what kind of world will I be leaving behind for the next generation. And certainly, going vegan is one of the best things you can do for the planet.”
There are immense personal benefits as well, stated Dr Sharang, but they were secondary for him. “My fitness level had increased. Also, my mother who is now 73 years, has turned vegan after noticing improvements in my health. My children are aspiring to be vegan as well. Being vegan has turned me adventurous as well, and I have now started cooking.”
“On the fitness front as well, during the lockdown, I have climbed 156 floors (in one stretch) by climbing up and down my building stairwell.
I am not a foodie, but for my children I have shifted to making desserts without sugar and food with no oil. Today, many people mistake me to be a decade younger than my age,” he signed off with a laugh.
“At an individual level, you can make a significant change for the planet and the animals with just your shopping list.”Dr Anuradha Ayyar, Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Anuradha Ayyar, Ophthalmic Plastic Surgeon, based in Thane, Mumbai, talks about the empowering changes she experienced after she chose to become vegan in a discussion at the Global Vegan Business Expo 2020.
I was raised as a vegetarian and in my earlier years I always very vocal about opposing animal cruelty with my meat-eating friends. At the time, I was not aware about the ill effects of dairy. It was only in my 30s that I saw some documentaries and was shocked to see what goes on in the animal agriculture industry. Later, I had gone to the US for a few months and for easier access to my preferred food choices (for my convenience), I initially chose vegan food or whole foods during my staying there. But when I returned to India, I reverted to my vegetarian food choices that included dairy.
In 2016-17, my sister had started watching a lot of animal cruelty documentaries and she had turned vegan. So, I was waiting for some signs of protein deficiency (laughs), but she lived a very normal and active life. So one day, I went through some documentaries about the actual happenings in the dairy industry. This was when I confronted my own hypocrisy and gave up dairy as well. I was concerned about vitamin deficiencies, but decided I would rather fall ill than cause harm to the animals. Two years went by, and I was (healthwise) doing better than before.
All members of my family are animal lovers and today, I am an ethical vegan. We all make sure that we do not buy leather or any products that is derived from animals. Eventually, I learnt the health aspects of being vegan. Besides health, turning vegan is the best decision that one can make for the environment as well. At an individual level from your home, by choosing what you want in your kitchen, in your fridge and on your plate, you still have the power. You do not need a high government position or accumulate a lot of wealth to help the planet, the animals or the environment. And you can make such a significant change with just your shopping list–which is very empowering.
Also, despite running so many marathons, there was still some resistant fat in my body–I was chubby earlier. Last year, I got dengue and had stopping running for a year, and could only focus on work and playing my violin, which was not good w.r.t. fitness. Yet, since I was following a whole food plant-based diet, I am at my slimmest today.
Dr Rupa Shah add, “Yes, wfpbd brings us back to our original shape. Initially people think veganism is a cult, a diet or a fad and you will get over it in a while. They wonder how long they will suppress your food cravings.”
Anuradha responded, “Yes, when it comes to cravings, I used to polish off ½ a kilo of Bengali mithai in one shot because I had a strong sugar craving. But since I have shifted to veganism, my sugar cravings have reduced significantly, although I am not sure why. Today, I just eat a small amount and I am done.”
During the lockdown, I had a lot of time and I got into cooking and I realized that there are so many simple healthy vegan desserts you can refer to from the web, and make with ingredients that are available locally. You can use bananas and dates as healthier sweetening agents and I have had my fill of cakes for the rest of the year.
I have observed that my energy levels are not very high. I used to be very mentally exhausted after an operation, and I could only finish one task a day. However, these days, here is my schedule: Every day, I play the violin and I practice the piano. During work, I see patients in the OPD, I operate, when I return home and play with my dogs and still have time for Netflix and everything else, and again I practice the violin. I barely sleep for 5 hours, so veganism is a magical decision I think (laughs). So once you experience such a guilt-free vitality in your being, there is a degree of mental peace and calmness that you experience… a certain burst of creative flow. I can’t explain it, but veganism has freed up the mind. I am not as anxious or as obsessed with a goal-oriented schedule anymore. I have become more free-flowing; for me, I have experienced both, physical as well as mental benefits, and have seen a big difference… and yes, I don’t miss my Bengali mithai now (laughs).
Dr Rupa Shah, added, “It’s a question whether food has power over you, or you have power of food. Food does not call us or make us dependent anymore. We enjoy and relish, and you are satisfied as the food nourishes you. And there are other beautiful pleasures of life that you have energy for.”
“I don’t feel I’m deprived of anything; I don’t miss anything. I love Mysore Pak, and I order it from Vijay Sweets. For other guilt-free cravings, I stick to brands that I am comfortable with. Another area where my sister guided me was buying vegan products, especially when buying soaps and shampoos, and I am very happy about that. I do believe that for people who have addiction to animal-based foods, but want to start somewhere, start by choosing cruelty-free products, which contain fewer toxins. Once you have started there, your motivation to shifting to cruelty-free products and food choices also increase.
Dr Rupa Shah, “Whether we use the work vegan or not, many people are eliminating animal-based foods from their plates. Many non-vegan eaters choose to eat vegan food once a week, which is a great start. Whatever changes you may introduce are good enough for the plant, for the animals and four ourselves as well.