Embracing the vegan life

Bengalureans who took to quitting dairy and meat talk about the switch and how it is easier to choose this lifestyle if you love South Indian food.

Published: 29th April 2017 05:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th April 2017 05:36 AM   |  A+A-

Vegans gather around for a potluck last Saturday of every month in Cubbon Park

Express News Service

BENGALURU:What do you do on the last Saturday of the month? Vegans in Bengaluru meet up for a potluck and spend hours discussing ideas, political issues, recipes over a hearty vegan lunch at Cubbon Park.

They have been meeting up since 2009 and the vegan community in the city has only been increasing. According to the vegans, there are roughly about 400 vegans in the city and majority have turned to veganism for reasons such as animal abuse.  

Veganism is a practice of abstaining from animal products and is also an underlining philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.

Milesh Kumar, a software engineer decided to turn vegan in 2003 and had been living in the city for years. He read up on the plight of dairy industry and decided to make a concrete decision of turning vegan. His friends and family were not able to understand his decision but he was adamant. Realising the importance of keeping oneself driven in the choice made, he decided to look up for other people following the same practice.

In 2009 it was easier to connect because of Facebook and soon enough an informal group was formed, ready to meet up and share a vegan lunch. The vegans have now started meeting regularly on the last Saturday of every month between January and November. December is the only month they don’t meet because people enjoy vacations then.

The upcoming vegan potluck will be held this coming Saturday on April 29 between 2 pm and 5pm. It is not important that only vegans should attend the potluck. Anybody who is curious can. Aakriti Gupta, attended a potluck two years ago when she was not a vegan. It took her almost half a year and a lot of contemplation before she decided to guarantee her path.

There are only two criteria on attending the potluck. First of all the person should get his/her own vegan meal which can be shared with at least five people. The second point is that the person should take care of the utensils.
Southie Food Can Easily Be Made Vegan

Vegans will agree that most of the time people look at them in awe and question what do they really eat. Milesh Kumar has an answer for that. South India cuisines such as idly, sambar, rice, rasam are almost all vegan, it is just that it has not been identified as one. “If you separate the dairy products from the South Indian food, everything is easily vegan,” he says.

He also argues that being vegan is not being deprived as most people believe it to be. “We can enjoy the same food with different ingredients and now there are many options open. We don’t drink cow’s milk but there are options such as soy milk, coconut milk, peanut milk etc. Last potluck I made rosogulla. I also ensure to take curd rice every potluck, the curd is from peanut milk,” he adds.

What being vegan means

“Being vegan means being compassionately driven to be responsible not just to avoid cruelty,” shares Milesh who further adds how the animal industry contributes the most to greenhouse effect.

Akriti learned about veganism and explored the subject with her husband. She was not so much of a cook at home but after she turned vegan she started cooking at home and enjoying recipes her friends gave her at potluck. “It obviously takes more than one try to nail the dish though,” she laughs.

One of her favourite dishes is the pasta she makes by using potato, onion and cashews as the sauce. “I add a lot of mushrooms because I love it and season it with the usual spices and herbs,” she shares. Aakriti became a vegan strictly from the environment point of view. “We constantly blame and question what the politicians are doing about the environment but we ourselves don’t do anything. I wanted to change that about myself,” she adds.

As of today, we will find majority of vegans as adults who have made a choice by themselves.
A countable number of vegans are children, because of their vegan parents. About one per cent of the vegans choose to the path because of the health benefits veganism is said to have. “Personally, when it comes to health benefits, I have only realised that I don’t catch cold as much but besides that I haven’t figured other benefits,” shares Milesh, who says he turned vegan for “ethical” reasons.

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