IrfindingVegan: Refinding Senses

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“You will become weak.”

“You will feel constantly deprived of energy.”

“You will suffer from severe calcium deficiency.”

“You will lose weight.” (Smiley.)

When you tell people you are turning vegan, you will hear a lot of grim things about your physical future, and the odd positive thing (such as that smiley-inducing one above). Well, I took 1.25 years to go vegan and have been vegan for almost seven months now (and have been vegetarian for over 19 years), and none of that has happened. (Sigh, not even that positive one – proving yet again that weight loss is the result of a combination and complex interaction of multiple factors.)

Illustration of the story, The Princess and the PeaWhat no one tells you though, or at least I didn’t come across in these 1.5 years, is that turning vegan turns on (heightens) your taste-buds and even other senses such as smell and sight/perception. Or this could just be me. But I have been steadily noticing that I am no longer able to tolerate even the slightest excess of sweet, salt, sour, spice and masala in my food (the last three being the most “hit”). I’ve kinda become like the princess in that tale about her and the pea.

Even more, I’m able to easily figure out whether someone has added some special flavouring/seasoning to a food item and what this seasoning/flavouring is. A couple of months ago, the friendly neighbour lady sent my mom a dish as part of the daily exchange of Ramzan iftaar items. One sampling, and – even while noting it was delicious – I was able to identify why: she had added special taste-maker (probably Maggi) to enhance the drool-worthiness of the dish.

But things got sealed last week. I had gone to this new restaurant – new even concept-wise, as it’s a weigh-and-pay restaurant, where you pay for food not by the menu but by the amount/weight you eat. (Read the review here.) Seal # 1: while it’s not a vegan eatery, I could correctly sense which of the vegetarian items were not vegan, having only the slightest of cream. (Of course, this could be from the knowledge gained from 1.5 years of vegan research.) But it gets better. After round 1, I knew the food, the taste was different (from Chennai standards; it’s a multi-cuisine restaurant, having Indian, Chinese and Continental), but wasn’t right then able to figure out what was different about it. So, decided to try out the taste-bending items (nutty pulao, baingan wedges, veg biryani) once more to determine the cause. (Of course, I didn’t repeat the spicy peas, as they were, well, too spicy.) Along with the three mentioned items, there was a new item, the daal, which the owner had made specially vegan (without cream) for me. I wiped these four items clean, and by then the cause was as clear as my plate: Their chef had to be Bengali; no one makes food such a delectable combination of sweet, salty, oily, spicy and tasty. I went up to the owner to confirm this. Not sure, she in turn asked her husband, who, not sure, in turn asked the manager, who, sure, responded: “Yes.”

With the way things are going, I think I’m heading to becoming a sniffer dog. Or if it gets more pronounced, I will soon become a cow, not being able to tolerate anything else along with my greens. And then, someone will yoke me and use me to plough the fields or pull a cart, or in a worse case, send me to the abattoir… sigh, perpetuating the animal-cruelty cycle.

I actually wrote this as a guest post for the site, Bleed Green, in the ‘Green Living’ section (but with a pic and a title more appropriate for that site). Bleed Green, as the name suggests, is a site for all things green: sustainable energy, organic products, and of course, the vegan life. Find the post here: Turning Vegan, Turning on Senses

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