Vegetarian, Vegan, Paleo, all-natural, Atkins, South-beach, weight-watchers… What are these diets? What’s the difference?
Vegetarian diet doesn’t include meat, poultry or seafood.
Vegan diet is total vegetarian which does not include meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products, honey and gelatin.
The paleo diet is eating natural food with little or no processing. In other words, the paleo diet focuses on eating foods nature gave us to eat. This diet typically includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, meat, and organ meats. Foods such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt, alcohol, coffee, pasta, cereal, candy etc are not included.
All-natural diet is eating all-natural aka unprocessed ingredients. It is similar to Paleo but includes legumes, grains, coffee.
The Atkins diet is a low-carbohydrate diet, eat as much protein and fat as you want. It is usually recommended for weight loss.
South Beach Diet is about choosing the right carbs and the right fats. There are 3 phases in South beach diet. Phase 1 restricts carbohydrates, phase 2 introduces a few restricted foods are introduced. Phase 3 is maintenance to keep weight-loss last long.
Weight watchers diet – The Weight Watchers eat foods which have assigned points and calculate points of food they eat every day. Points System is the key to lose or control weight.
So…where does Indian Cuisine fit?
Indian cuisine is most friendly for vegetarians. There are several rich dishes for vegans, paleo, gluten-free and nut-free that no other cuisine can offer. Around 40% of Indians are strict vegetarians. As well there are several renowned meat dishes as kebab, tandoori chicken, butter chicken, biryani. There are around 50 spices used in Indian Cuisine. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, caraway seeds, mace, dried ginger, saffron, tamarind to name a few—and there are an infinite number of ways of using them. Even meat lovers will start loving Indian vegetarian dishes. Each state and region has its own cuisine and style of cooking. According to ancient Indians, there are six different tastes: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent, Astringent. An Indian meal is a well-balanced combination of all the six tastes.
With low-carbohydrate diet, can Atkins diet be achieved with Indian food? Absolutely. Indian cuisine is always eaten either with rice or roti. But all roasted, sauce based curries, chutneys, rasam, sambar, dal (lentils) can be consumed by themselves, with out rice or roti. A mind shift is necessary to start eating with out rice and roti. When you eat curries with rice and roti, they need more salt and spices. To eat with out rice or roti, you should cut salt and spices than you add in regular recipe. A perfect example is baked chicken, fish marinated in Indian spices, with side of navarathna kurma, Potato roast with rasam. These are an excellent combinations to eat without rice or roti. This is not an end, there are infinite number of combinations to make.
What about South beach and weight watchers diet? Yes absolutely.
As many westerns think, Indian cuisine is not just curries. For westerns, “curry” has become a catch-all name for any sauce based Indian dish. There are lentils, stir-fry’s, soups, pickles, chutneys etc. It is famously known as rice based cuisine. That’s partly true. Indian cuisine has different flavors in North and South India. North Indian cuisine is wheat based. Wheat roti, naan (wheat tortillas) is their staple food. Paratha – a vegetable or meat stuffed roti is a popular North Indian dish. South Indian cuisine is rice based. Both do have roasted, fried and sauce based vegetables curries. South Indian breakfasts as Idly, Dosa, Vada, utappam are extremely popular. You can choose rice based or wheat based based on your diet preference.
In 21st century, people have started eating Indian food in wrong way. Ancient way of eating is with whole grains. In modern world whole grains diminished, so is physical activity. If you make it whole-grain, and adjust grain amount based on your physical activity, then freshly made Indian cuisine offers you tongue tingling flavors yet a very healthy diet.
There are easy ways to introduce Indian tastes into your kitchen. Start with vegetarian dish which includes less number of spices. Cumin, ginger garlic paste, chili peppers are common spices. Majority of spices are inexpensive and have a lot of shelf life. Keep few ready at home. In-fact, adding them to any dish of any cuisine will instantly enhance the flavor.
Ancient Indians have discovered most flavorful, healthy cooking, preservation techniques, and a balanced meal with right proportions of protein, calcium and vitamins. Many generations since 3300 BCE which is almost 5000 years, Dravidians/Harappan who are native Indus valley residents have blindly followed ancestors recipe judgement and have been successful. Dravidians/Harappans discovered a lot of spices, seasonings, efficient preserving techniques, naturally fermented foods, medicinal quality foods. With Aryan migration, India was divided between Indo-European and Dravidian. Since then moghalai, Sindi, Parsi, goan cuisines evolved. Myself as a food blogger, my mission is to preserve ancient cooking techniques and spread to the world especially to Westerners. From medicinal perspective, Indian cuisine offers a number of balanced dishes. Like turmeric offering anti-inflamatory, cancer treating, arthritis treating benefits. Cloves prevent cancers, and joint inflammation.. Ginger and cloves help digestion. Pepper is great remedy for throat infections.
For Indians, cow is goddess. Killing a cow is considered a sin. So beef availability in India is very low. With muslim population, pork is not widely available either. Those who eat chicken, do have lot of restrictions on when to eat. Non-vegetarian food is not cooked at home on most of the festivals and holy occasions. Family members are restricted from eating on festivals, holy occasions and before visiting temples.