Sonia Nagi, coach at The Healthy Conscience, tells us about her vegan journey.
How long have you been vegan?
I’ve been vegetarian since childhood. I became vegan around seven years ago.
What made you decide to adopt this lifestyle?
When I was 12 I went to the slaughterhouse in India with my father. There I saw a hen being killed. That was very traumatising and I could not see any meat as food again. Over the past few years, as I entered into the health and fitness profession, the benefits of a plant-based diet became obvious.
Have you found it difficult in Bahrain?
Being vegetarian is relatively easy. My husband and I decided to go vegan when we were living in Dubai. It was initially difficult because we were eating out a lot and were always looking for specifically vegan options. Eventually we found a large vegan community there and quite a variety of vegan products.
Bahrain has a lot less options, especially when it comes to grocery shopping ,as well as eating out for vegans. Also there is a lot less awareness about veganism here. Avoiding dairy is the toughest. We cook all our meals now and I have a lot of fun experimenting with vegan recipes. Fortunately the vegan awareness here is growing and I can see new products and menu items popping up regularly.
Are there any particular foodstuffs you particularly enjoy or would recommend?
I realised that there is a whole universe of vegan recipes out there. I believe in eating as diversely as possible. Half of my daily nutrition comes from fruits and raw salads. Introducing raw foods into our diets seems to be the key to unlock our health’s potential. Focusing on plant-based foods revealed a lot of things that we were missing, like sprouts, seeds, raw oils, exotic fruits and ancient grains. Quinoa, tofu, chickpeas, kidney beans and soya protein are some of our staples.
Is your diet part of an overall lifestyle? What other things do you do?
My husband, who is from Bahrain, and I run our private coaching business called The Healthy Conscience where
we teach nutrition, yoga, fitness, and corrective exercise.
I teach yoga and provide yoga therapy, including pre-natal and post-natal yoga.
I decided to quit my job as cabin crew and learn yoga. I wanted to work on my health. As I progressed in my teacher training, the benefits of being vegan became clearer. My intention is to lead a life that does the least harm to others. This involves being conscious about the impact of all my actions. We try to use eco-friendly products, avoid plastics, reuse and repair as much as we can, reduce consumption by sharing and borrowing rather than buying new, growing food in our garden, we don’t kill insects or use leather. It’s about accepting the fact that we are completely dependent on nature and all its creatures must be respected
Are your family supportive?
My husband is vegan as well and is a strong advocate of a cruelty-free lifestyle. My parents and siblings live in India and have always been supportive of anything I do. They are all vegetarians now. They follow my advice keenly and are always doing their best to improve their health.
Anything else you would like to add?
We are at very critical point as far as the future of our health and the health of our planet is concerned. Helping each other become better through awareness and education must be our collective responsibility.