For those who are confused about the difference between veganism, vegetarianism, raw foodists etc. here is some data. Read this before you meet the vegans who will inspire you to think about a plant-based diet that they are sure will help the mind, body, and soul. While you are at it check out these vegan food delivery options available in Mumbai and these restaurants that serve delicious vegan food
Let’s just make it clear once and for all, shall we?
Non-Vegetarians: Omnivorous for the most part, these people consume dairy and vegetarian, but primarily meat and seafood. A.k.a. Punjabis.
Vegetarians: No meat or seafood for these guys, they love their vegetables, fruits, dairy and heaps of paneer.
Lacto-Vegetarians: The classification most Indians don’t recognize they are - these people consume dairy products but do not include eggs in their wholly-vegetarian diet.
Vegans: In addition to no meat, seafood or any animal products, Vegans do not consume milk products and eggs. Lifestyle Vegans also exclude consumption of honey, silk, wool, fur, leather and all other animal by-products. While some people are Vegan for ethical reasons, some due to lactose intolerance – i.e. the inability of their body to digest lactose (a sugar found in dairy products).
Raw Foodists: Turning the figurative heat up, raw foodists live off food that is completely uncooked and unprocessed.
Additional to all the above options, common diet types are also fruitarian (self-explanatory, i.e. only fruits), pescetarian (vegetarian + dairy + only fish) and if you’re into celeb diets - Atkins. But we’re not here to talk about those dozen other lifestyle choices. The people listed below are some exemplary Vegans from across cities, and we’re here to understand their way of living and like we’re all wondering, why they do it.
Susmitha Sabbaraju, an ethical vegan
Her Story- In early 2003, long before veganism became the trend it is now, this vegetarian from Bangalore became aware of the cruelties in the dairy industry. With barely any information around on veganism, its benefits or nutritional values, Susmitha decided to take the bold leap into a lifestyle change. An ethical vegan now, she gradually observed positive physical changes like a steady decrease in her frequency to get the common cold and a rise in energy levels. Besides physical benefits, Susmitha is also pleased about the environmental difference her choices make – the livestock industry being the biggest contributor to climate change.
While her cooking skills had always been born of necessity, she found herself enjoying cooking vegan food. In 2006, she took to blogging and sharing her recipes and experiences, wanting to spread the awareness. With gradual cooking demonstrations and tastings in restaurants, her blog, Veganosauras, moved to co-owning Bangalore’s very first vegan restaurant, Carrots. She finds veganism quite comfortable and easy to execute, living in a vegan-friendly city. Besides, she says, 80% of the times, vegetarian food is already vegan.
She recommends: Watching Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio
Ranga Rajan, a fitness trainer who is vegan
His Story- A vegan fitness model and trainer, Ranga is a plant-based nutritionist based in Bengaluru. His successes in life include reversing high cholesterol levels and obesity for two of his trainees, and also himself – going from a cholesterol level of 389 to 140 within three months. Ranga believes that good health is a basic requisite for any sort of successful achievement, and that a vegan lifestyle will help people achieve that. “There is a positive physical, psychological, and environmental change for the better”, he said, when asked about the benefits of this lifestyle.
He recommends: Philosophy by Dr.Fuhrman - “Convenience is a problem. Our work is convenient, so we sit in comfort that ruins our bodies. Our food is convenient, so we eat too much processed food. Our entertainment is convenient, so we zone out and our brains become dull. Convenience is a problem. It throws our lives out of balance.”
Anjali Sanghi, holistic healer and advocate of raw vegan lifestyle
A Delhite based in Bengaluru, Anjali is the President and Founder Trustee of the Indian Raw Vegan Foundation. She is also a nationally and internationally certified holistic healer, author, and speaker of Natural Raw Vegan Foods, Living, Education and Parenting. Since 2003, she has successfully served innumerable people as a renowned Holistic and Energy Healer, and has been following a fruit-based raw vegan lifestyle since 2012. Originally converting when her 3-year-old son became very sick, Anjali observed a significant change in her body – she became free of varicose veins, sciatica pain, tennis elbow, high cholesterol, recurring alopecia, and excessive weight.
Veganism has also helped her develop a certain sensitivity towards nature. She aims to plant a variety of indigenous fruit trees everywhere, for the future generations.
She recommends: The philosophy of “You can start by adding some fresh, ripe, organic fruits and greens in your food today, by changing your breakfast to raw. It is that simple.”
Sandhyashree Rajiv- going vegan made her calmer
Her Story-Born and raised in Chennai, Sandhyashree is a healer who currently resides in Mumbai. She found veganism through meditation, always being highly energy-sensitive. She turned vegetarian at a young age, being able to sense food prana (the life force in food) and feeling, for example, the trauma energy in fish when it is caught. This 39-year-old believes that going vegan was the greatest gift she could give herself, and that it has made her look younger and feel calmer than ever before. “Clarity brings focus”, she says.
She has reliable vendors who deliver her provisions, and she feels extremely confident about what she puts into her mouth. She undertakes problem-solving and karmic healing, conducting workshops in Bach remedies, Reiki, and travelling inwards at her healing centre called Catharsis.
She recommends: The philosophy of “Anything that takes very long to cook is not meant to be eaten. Eat simple and stay simple.”
Shhivpriya Harlalka- reversed diabetes by going vegan
Her Story- At the age of 31, Shhivpriya was diagnosed with diabetes (detected 450). Within 15 days of a vegan diet, her sugar levels came down to 180. While doctors encouraged insulin shots, Shhivpriya believed that she had found a wiser path - veganism. It has been four years since, and she has successfully reversed her diabetes.
As hard as it is to be vegan in a country where relatives reason that Lord Krishna is a role model, our ancient Indian food contains milk/ ghee, and friends follow the khao-piyo-jiyo motto, Shhivpriya strongly believes "You are what you eat". Though reversing diabetes has been her greatest achievement, she has also felt a much stronger spiritual connection after converting to veganism. The future, to her, looks 100% raw vegan.
She recommends: The philosophy of "I am vegan for myself, and also for animals, for Planet Earth, and for humanity. While being vegan, you not only work on yourself, but on the universe too. It's selfless and satisfactory work."
Dr. Rashmi Menon, a vegan marathoner
Her Story- A homeopath from Aamchi Mumbai, Rashmi also took up psychotherapy and clinical hypnotherapy in 2010, and augments the healing process using whole plant-based food since 2014. A native of Kerala, she was exposed to a traumatic skinning at a young age – an event that altered her forever. Although her initial eggetarian days were on the sly, she let go completely at 18, post her first Vipassana camp. Curing her osteopenia through veganism might sound shocking to many, considering that the disease requires one to consume Calcium and Vitamin D, but this is a true story for her.
Adulteration in milk and ethical consciousness were her primary reasons for weaning herself off milk. In 2012, she managed to run the half-marathon (21 km) – proof of the success of her compassionate diet. Today, not only does she consult patients in dietary, mind therapy and totally drug-free treatments, but also trains doctors.
She recommends: Watching Forks Over Knives and the philosophy of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates - "Let food be thy medicine".
Roxanne Irani, a raw vegan
Her Story- It isn’t every day that you come across a raw vegan Parsi, but Roxanne Irani is an exception. A healthy eater for over 22 years now, this Bombay-based homemaker isn’t a believer in blood tests or medication. For mostly health reasons, Roxanne started off on a vegan diet. She has been a raw foodist since August this year, with her diet comprising mostly of fruits, salads, and vegetable juices.
This Bawi believes that "Your body tells you what to do", and while she found the detox challenging initially, her physical changes (no bloating, less irritability, more calmness and peace, weight loss) have only motivated her. She understands that most people might find a raw food diet extremely hard, and for them, there’s the 80:10:10 philosophy (that would mean 80% raw, and 1 cooked meal a day).
She recommends: “While you do need willpower, you also need to train your mind.”
Malvika Kathpal, an ethical vegan
Her Story- Although she is currently traveling all over the world, this vegan’s home planet is Mumbai. A conscientious person for years before the change, Malvika took to the transition wisely. For a year, she tested her ability to go vegan – asking herself every time she ate a dish if she was okay with never eating it again. It has been over five years since, and this ethical vegan lives a life of abundance – happy about all the fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouts, and millets in the world.
She recommends: Philosophy by Gary L. Francione - “Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing non-violence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable”. She also recommends watching this video.
Reyna Rupani, going vegan helped with weight loss
Her Story- Born and raised in the UAE, Reyna is a writer and teacher who moved to Mumbai at the start of the millennium. Having always dreaded old age and being keen on a medicine-free lifestyle, her first brush with veganism occurred in 2013 when she attended the screening of Forks Over Knives by SHARAN. Being a vegetarian helped her go off dairy initially, but it took no more than three days for her to feel the difference in her body and health. She went on to lose 17 kg in 10 months – and that’s only a side effect. Reyna found herself looking younger and feeling more energetic.
Her primary reasons for being vegan are purely ethical – environmental and dietary benefits are a plus. She considers switching to a vegan diet as basic as every other transition in life – it is hard at first, but gets easier with time. Veganism is magic to her, having given her life new direction.
She recommends: “The United Nations recommends veganism, if we are to save the planet and ourselves!”
Dr. R Saravanan, veganism helps reverse ailments
His Story- A homeopath based in Tamil Nadu, Dr. Saravanan is also a medical nutrition consultant with SHARAN – the Vegan NGO based in Auroville. He would frequently experience health issues since childhood, and was looking for natural health solutions instead of allopathy. His life transformed in December 2011 when he underwent a Peas VS. Pills workshop at SHARAN. Within a month of being vegan, he found that his eczema had disappeared. He is now also free from asthma, all allergies and IBS. He attempts to recreate the miracle by reversing his clients’ diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and even auto-immune disease via a vegan diet.
It’s quite easy being vegan in South India, he muses, as most South Indian food is made with coconut milk and is already vegan!
He recommends: Reading Rethink Food: 100+ Doctors Can’t Be Wrong
And now vegan recipes to satiate the mind, body and soul
We also had a quick word with Upasana Parasrampuria - an ex-vegan who has completed a Chef’s training program in plant-based eating from the National Gourmet Insititute, New York, and Vanderbilt University – on some easy-to-make vegan recipes. Give them a go!
Raw Vegan Fudge Balls
Yield: 12-15 balls
Time: 40 minutes
For fudge balls:
• ½ cup almonds, unsalted
• ½ cup cashews, unsalted
• ¾ cup tightly packed medjool dates (seedless), around 8-10 dates depending on size
• 2 teaspoon liquid coconut oil
• ¼ cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder, but that will not be raw)
• Pinch of salt
• A dash of cinnamon
To roll the balls in:
• ¼ cup cacao powder (or cocoa powder, but that will not be raw)
• ¼ cup shredded coconut
• White sesame seeds (toasted, but they will not be raw)
Soak the dates in 1-½ cup water for 10 minutes. Remove from water when done.
Put all the ingredients for the fudge balls in a food processor until a thick sticky dough is obtained. Add a maximum of 1 teaspoon of the water left over from soaking, if needed, to bind it all together.
Form into balls and place on parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, so that it hardens a little.
Roll some balls in coconut, some in cacao powder, and some in the sesame seeds.
Store in the refrigerator. Serve cold.
Tea- Infused Oats Porridge
Yield: 1 serving
• 1 cup non-dairy milk of preference - you can use almond milk, soy milk or coconut milk (You can also use 2/3 cup non-dairy milk and 1/3 cup water to thin it down).
• 1/3 cup rolled oats (if gluten-free, use certified gluten-free)
• 1 ripe banana, ½ cut into slices for garnish and ½ mashed
• 1 tea bag of choice, such as Earl Grey, Darjeeling, or any other
• 1 tablespoon goji berries, optional
• 1 tablespoon chia seeds, optional
• 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts, optional
• Agave nectar or sweetener of choice to drizzle, if required
Bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepot, and add the tea bag. Let it steep for a few minutes.
Remove teabag and add the oats. Cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until done.
Add the ½ mashed banana and fold it in.
Place the mixture in a bowl, and add toppings. Serve hot.
For garnishing, you can add other fruits, nuts, seeds, dates, or cacao nibs. The options are endless!
Did you find the stories of these vegans inspiring? Would you think about going vegan, if so why? Tell us, in your comments!