About 12 years ago when I arrived to attend my college induction event in the UK, there at the entrance I was invited by a small group of jolly middle-aged women over to their little kiosk. They were promoting the 5-a-day diet recommendation.
A bit baffled, I listened to what the ladies had to say. Baffled because to me it seemed nothing out of the ordinary. Raised a vegetarian in India, I was probably already eating a lot more than 5 portions of fruits & vegetables a day. Anyway, I gracefully received the handout they wanted to give me, and went on to attend the event.
Quite honestly I don’t remember much of what they said. I think it was background sound for me as I nervously looked forward to the programme. Nevertheless, I remember not ignoring them, and having the inordinate combined feeling of joy & relief seeing fruits & vegetables being promoted as healthy to eat. Joy because animal suffering has traumatised me as far as I can remember life; thereby the happiness when they don’t end up on people’s plates or as wearables. Relief because this promotion was evident that finding food in England was likely going to be easier than I imagined.
For me it was a token of the world waking up to a future where eventually everybody would be meat-free.
Today I woke up to the news that researchers in the UK now suggest that eating 10-a-day may help you live longer. I would not delve deep into this and will instead just leave you with a link to read about 10-a-day below. But before that I do want to highlight a couple of things that I learned after so many years in today’s news article: 1. The fact that the 5-a-day recommendation had indeed come from the WHO, not just the UK government. 2. I always wondered about this one but never brought myself to look it up – a portion counts as 80g of fruit or veggie!
The reason, purpose and the benefits of eating 10 portions of fruits & vegetables a day are well outlined in this BBC article: For a longer life ‘eat 10-a-day’.
I didn’t care much about learning more on 5-a-day back in the days because I was a little complacent about the average Indian meal which contains several portions of fresh fruits & vegetables. That’s an average Indian meal that I grew up on. Most Indians eat that 2-3 times everyday. Essentially, it is based on the principles of Ayurveda which states, “eat a balanced diet; eat everything in moderation”.
The good word is out there now: Eat at least 10 portions of fruits & vegetables everyday for a healthier and longer living. If 10 seems a little far-off, try to do a minimum of 5-a-day anyway. Let no one tell you that you need meat in your life. A vast number of Indians adopted the vegetarian diet thousands of years ago. Today, there are anywhere between 30 and 40 percent Indians who don’t eat meat. That’s a total number of people greater than the entire population of Germany. The whole world still lags far behind India when it comes to vegetarianism. In contrast to four or five eateries not serving anything meat in a mid-sized city like Mainz, you can find tens of eateries in each and every neighbourhood across much of India which advertise as pure vegetarian or 100% vegetarian restaurant. In many cases no word is needed either – the default is vegetarian, and everybody knows it.
My food-finding struggles aside, I have to be nothing but thankful. Over 2 decades ago in school I learned how Europe is a meat-dominated continent. Today, due to the several advancements in technology, transportation, overall awareness among people and globalisation, I can at the very least find and survive on a vegetarian diet.