VEGAN & PROUD
@fit.indian.vegan, a.k.a Ajitesh, has proved with his fitness journey that age is indeed nothing but a number. His commitment to fitness is an inspiration to many including the team at Slicc and encourages us to achieve our very best. He really puts the phrase “don’t give up” to practice and this very determination of his is what made us want to reach out to him and learn more about his journey uptil now. We were eager to set up an interview with Ajitesh and finally in the month of October we got the chance to virtually meet him. He was exactly as we expected him to be – humble and genuine – and his inspiring persona was even more so discernible.
FIT INDIAN VEGAN. The name says it all.
Ajitesh is a 42 year old vegan who in his own way, maybe without even realizing it, is helping many individuals realize that veganism and fitness can go hand in hand. He first decided to become vegan in 2011 and has been one ever since. He has never found it difficult to stay true to this lifestyle because his motivation to choose veganism was very strongly/deeply-embedded.
Without further ado, let’s dive right into our conversation with Ajitesh!
A GLIMPSE INTO THE INTERVIEW.
Can you describe how you became vegan?
I became vegan around 2011 solely for ethical reasons concerning animal rights issues. At that time I didn’t even know that veganism came with many health benefits, it was only until later that I learnt about it. In 2009, I adopted my dog Rambo and at that time I was completely unaware about the horrors of the breeding industry. But within 6 months of taking care of Rambo and spending time with him, my wife and I started seeing him in all animals. Shortly after, my wife and I decided to become vegetarian because we didn’t know there was such a thing as veganism that existed but thanks to the internet I learnt all about it and transitioned to being a full/pure vegan in 2011.
How would you describe your transition from non-vegan to vegan products? Did you face any challenges during that phase?
Yes and no. Back then there were almost close to no meat or dairy alternatives so in that way it was a challenge. But no because it didn’t matter. My reasons to become vegan weren’t health driven or to be “trendy”, it was purely for what I thought was right so it didn’t matter whether vegan alternatives were available or not.
How do you keep yourself motivated to remain consistent and follow through your fitness regime?
I guess everybody has something that they look forward to during the day. For someone it could be painting, for someone it could be gardening, for me it’s that 1-1.5 hours of working out. That is my time to do what I like and it has a very meditative and soothing effect on me. So when you genuinely like something, it’s not too difficult to stay consistent. I wouldn’t say that I’m a disciplined or regimented person and with fitness, it is the enjoyment of the activity that makes me remain motivated and consistent. The same goes for veganism. Since veganism is much
more than a diet for me, there’s no “I can’t do this” for me. I have chosen to be vegan and I will continue being one.
Since following a vegan diet, what changes have you noticed in yourself? Have there been any negative effects or downsides?
No, I didn’t face any negative impacts. Everything has been positive. I kind of restarted or resumed my fitness routine around the same time I became vegan without intending to have both of those coincide. Around 2009-2010, I was in the worst shape of my life for reasons outside my control but when I began my vegan journey along with my fitness journey, I realized that I was achieving my goals more easily and quickly. I didn’t immediately understand why and only after I started studying about the science behind plant-based nutrition did I understand how this diet was helping fuel my body. To sum it all in one line, now at the age of 42 I can do stuff that I wouldn’t even think about doing 10 years back.
What goals did you have in mind when you started sharing your vegan and fitness journey on social media?
I have always enjoyed working out and staying fit so I thought why not create a social media page where I can share my journey with people. In the process, I also hoped to prove to people that a plant-based lifestyle is not only possible but you can also thrive on it. It is very much possible to be an athlete on a plant-based diet and I have been fortunate enough to influence quite a few people to go on a plant-based journey after they came across my profile.
Do you think it’s easier to switch to veganism today because of the wide variety of substitutes and alternatives available?
Definitely. In 2021, any person who is not dying from poverty can be vegan. We often hear people say that they can’t go vegan because they don’t have access to this alternative or that alternative but veganism is not about replacing your current diet with something else. It is about rejecting the stuff that is already on your plate. So you’re not simply adding stuff, but rather removing it entirely and by removing meat and dairy products you’re also spending less which makes veganism all the more possible. All these alternatives are definitely good to have and are great for transitioning from a non-vegan to vegan diet but are not at all necessary for health or nutrition purposes. You can see them as tools you can use to transition. So even if you don’t have access to mock meats, plant-based milks, vegan butter or cheese, it doesn’t matter. Stick to lentils, rice, beans, chickpeas, seeds, fruits, greens and you’re good to go! In conclusion I would say that in India it is difficult NOT to be a vegan if you really strive for it.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I don’t think that far. I’m more of a live in the moment kind of person. I just know that 5 years down the line I’ll still be vegan, fighting for animal rights. Regarding my fitness journey, maybe I’ll continue doing calisthenics or maybe I’ll switch to something else. I see myself as a walking billboard to promote or rather clarify that staying fit is not an excuse not to be vegan. Both can very much co-exist and I’m living proof of it.
If there was ONE thing you could say to someone to help someone transition into a vegan lifestyle – what would that be?
Be clear about your motivation – why are you doing what you are doing. I see many people “experimenting” with a plant-based lifestyle but their motivation might be to lose weight or come across as modish but these are the people who surrender very quickly because their motivations are not rooted on a deeper, personal level, i.e., in something bigger than themselves.
SLICC’S FAVOURITE HIGHLIGHTS.
- Veganism can be a fun journey – Whether you choose to become vegan for health-related reasons or ethical reasons, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the journey and your commitment to it.
- Don’t just survive, thrive! – Don’t have a one-sided mindset when choosing to be vegan. Focus more on enjoying the process and savouring all the positive changes it brings to your overall lifestyle.
Fitness & Veganism can go hand-in-hand – A vegan diet is fulfilling enough to allow for intense physical fitness and training in your daily life so don’t let anyone
tell you otherwise!
- Find your motivation – It’s important to start your vegan journey with the right motivation. When you begin with a strong base, there’s no chance you’d want to give up before attaining your goals, whatever they may be.
We hope you were inspired by Ajitesh’s vegan and fitness journey and took some pointers down about transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, if you haven’t already done so! We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article so feel free to comment below…