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'The future is vegan'

Friday, November 30, 2018

The vegan movement is one of the fastest growing movements in the world, and India is not far behind

Imagine spending your life eating meals that exclude meat, eggs, dairy products and all other animal-derived ingredients—no milk in your tea, no quick scrambled eggs for a rushed breakfast on a working day… It wasn’t so long ago that if you told someone you were a vegan, they would find it strange. Not any longer.

Donald Watson in England coined the word ‘vegan’ way back in 1944 to mean ‘non-dairy vegetarians’’ who also ate no eggs. The Vegan Society was founded in the same year, and the society now defines veganism as “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."

Veganism may have taken a while to catch on in India, but the world over, it has been growing. A July 2018 report from market intelligence agency Mintel notes that the total number of global vegan food launches has more than doubled in the past five years; it has grown by 175% from July 2013 to June 2018, with 5% of all food and drink products released in this time being vegan. Germany, in particular, has taken to it enthusiastically; the report says that 14% of all food and drink launches appearing on the market between July 2017 and June 2018 carried vegan claims. Now in India as well, vegan products are becoming more easily available and restaurants have begun catering to the trend. Dr Bubbles, the chain that serves Bubble Tea and Coffee, says that all of the brand’s drinks are vegan; the drinks are specially put together using non-dairy cream, which they say is a new concept in India. Papacream, which recently launched a new healthy range of ice creams, also has offerings for vegans. There’s dairy-free Vegan Chocolate and Vegan Mango that uses almond milk and coconut cream. Vegan Peanut Butter and Jelly and Vegan Raspberry Sorbet.

In fact, there are so many vegan products in the market now that the upcoming One Earth Festival on December 2, described as “India’s biggest annual vegan festival” will have over 40 food stalls offering vegan vegan snacks and dessert at the Ahimsa Cafe. It should be an event worth attending!

Head to the The One Earth Festival this Sunday...

Where JVPD Grounds, 30, Devle Road, Juhu

When December 2, 10AM – 10PM

Free entry for all

Here’s what some of the experts have to say about veganism.

Ingrid Newkirk
Founder and President, PETA  

“All vegetarian dishes are vegan so long as you leave out paneer, cream and ghee! Cow’s milk can be replaced with delicious plant-based milks like soya milk (try Silk, Godrej Sofit, or Staeta brands, for instance), oat milk, almond milk, or coconut milk. These days, you can also find vegan buttermilk from Nutriva and peanut curd from GoodMylk. Butter can be replaced with olive oil or vegan margarine or sandwich spreads. Ghee can be replaced with vegetable oil or olive oil. Tofu is available in all supermarkets, and it can be used to replace paneer, while mock meats such as those from Good Dot are delicious in curries. Healthy fruit sorbets can be had instead of fatty ice cream. If you read food labels, you will find that a large percentage of the foods that you already eat are vegan... One can easily find options like non-dairy milk, vegan mayonnaise, tofu, and many other vegan products in most grocery stores.

Seventy percent of the world population reportedly is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether. This is from a report at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company that works with 4,000 of the world’s largest companies.

According to one figure, there are now 375 million vegetarians worldwide. A 2016 poll by Ipsos MORI, global market and opinion research specialists, showed the number of vegans has risen in the UK by 360% in just a decade. In the United States, there were 600% more vegans in 2017 than there were in 2014, just three years before. In 2003, a survey commissioned by grocer chain Safeway revealed that so many people in Britain go vegetarian each week that the whole country could be vegetarian by 2047. In India, the response is tremendous. While there hasn’t been an official survey of the number of vegans in India, the number of vegetarians above the age of 15 rose by 5% between 2004 and 2014.

Numerous vegan groups are popping up. They include:

Indian Vegan:

Mumbai Vegans: 

Delhi Vegans:

Chennai Vegan Drinks:

Vegan Bengaluru:

Most restaurants serve vegan food, and if you ask, most vegetarian dishes can be made vegan with minor and easy modifications...“People in the food production business, environmental protection and animal welfare know that the future is vegan, and the future is now.”

Kuntal Joisher
Vegan mountaineer, who believes a vegan offers enough nutrition to support the most difficult physical challenges

“Contrary to what people perceive, there's no such thing as ‘types’ of vegan food. Regular home-cooked vegetarian food is almost always vegan. The most common lunch in India is always some flavour of  Roti / Sabji / Dal / Rice. Roti is almost always vegan unless you put ghee on top. The majority of India does a tadka of a sabji in oil. If you look at the basic composition of a sabji, it's vegetables mixed with spices and some oil. That's already vegan. Similarly dal is a combination of various kinds of pressure-cooked lentils mixed with spices and oil. That’s vegan. The majority of India eats pressure-cooked white rice. Unless you add ghee or some animal product to it, pressure-cooked rice is vegan. So many dishes are vegan already—vada paav, idli, dosa, poha, upma and sabudana khichdi...  Most vegetarian food in India is already vegan, and if ghee / butter or paneer has been used, it's very easy to make the food without it. So many breads, biscuits and snacks are vegan. For example, Oreo cookies are vegan, Wibs bread is vVegan, most Haldiram and other big company snacks are vegan. Vegan food is everywhere.

What is the response to veganism in India? The word ‘vegan’ has been one of the most ‘viral’ search words and trends of 2017 and 2018. Several huge startup investments have happened in the food technology scene with focus on creating sustainable, environment friendly, and cruelty-free meat, egg and dairy alternatives.

At a recent sports nutrition and performance conference I attended, one key takeaway from the keynote speech was—"For sports, where longevity is important, a healthy vegan diet is very much suited". Our India team captain has been following a vegan diet since the last six months or so. Today restaurants and grocery stores across India and the world have items such as soya milk and tofu in stock. There are vegan ice-creams, cakes, mithais, food, shoes, belts, wallets, purses, bags, toothpastes, soaps, and so many other daily use items.

The vegan movement is one of the fastest growing in the world, and India is not far behind. Consumers are realising it's important to purchase items that are sustainable, environment friendly, and also cruelty free and don't harm animals.

Standing on top of the world with a vegan flag in my hand is my very small contribution to the cause that changed my life. However, let me make it clear. I climbed Everest to prove that the vegan diet does not lack nutrition and can support the most difficult physical endurance endeavours of the planet. I am not saying that the vegan diet is superior to any other. If I can climb Everest as a vegan, then anyone who's looking to try out the vegan diet, I can assure that there are no problems with it.

Dr Rupa Shah
MBBS, Lifestyle Medicine Consultant There are several types of vegan foods in India.

1 Dairy alternatives. We get soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk now. Small stores are selling also cheese, curd, ice cream, tofu and butters which are dairy-free.

2 Meat alternatives are available. There are two companies selling mock meat.

3. Roti, sabji, dal, chawal is already vegan, plant based.

4 All veggies, fruits, lentils, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds are vegan, freely available. Dosa and idli are vegan.

With Captain Virat Kohli announcing recently that he has gone vegan and his performance has improved after that, this is now a new trend among youth. More athletes are turning vegan and showing the way to youth. Many people are reversing type 2 diabetes with a vegan diet and are now strong followers. There are more than 300 vegan events in Mumbai alone every year.

The response to veganism in India is good. Vegan for animals and compassion is an international trend, now even India, home of the Ahimsa way of living, is embracing it. However, we do have a major block in giving up dairy as we have been consuming it for thousands of years—though with commercialisation of the dairy industry, and cruelty in the same has inspired people to start questioning the vegetarian tag of dairy. It is indeed an animal product and an animal has to go through much pain to become our food.

Most Indian food is vegan, it is so easy to spot it. Even humble coconut water or sugarcane juice sold on the roadside is vegan, so also pani puri or bhel. All fruits are available. Packaged soy milk is easy to carry. It is a growing demand that is driving the force. There are many restaurants now labelling food as vegan or are vegan friendly. Some are completely vegan.

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