Anyone from India knows that being vegetarian is not a new concept. But it seems eating vegan (vegans are vegetarians who refrain from consuming eggs, dairy products and other animal-derived foods) has also been around in India for thousands of years. The Brokpa tribe of Ladakh, for example, has thrived eating vegan for more than 5,000 years – all while living in harsh Himalayan terrain.
Plant-based foods provide all the nutrients and vitamins the Brokpa need to live healthy, active lives at 15,000 feet. The tribe’s staple food is barley, which they harvest on steep mountainsides. In addition to barley, a traditional Brokpa meal might include roti baked in an earthen oven, lettuce leaves, roasted potato, spring onion, boiled cauliflower and wild mint. Almond, apricot and walnut are other essential foods, as well as large amounts of black tea fortified with barley flour.
Fuelled by this healthy vegan fare, the Brokpa trek long distances and many tribe members are active even into their 90s. Visitors have also marvelled at the Brokpa’s seemingly flawless skin, which is no surprise since they consume healthy vegan foods: fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins and antioxidants, which are the building blocks for radiant skin.
The proof is in the (vegan) pudding.