BENGALURU: Bengalureans are health-conscious more than ever with fears over the Covid-19 pandemic and bird flu gripping many. The inclination over going vegan has also moved on from just foods, to include cosmetics, toiletries and even musical instruments. Dr K Varadarangan, the founder of Karunya Musicals, says there is an increasing demand for plant-based musical instruments. “There’s a very slight difference in tones but otherwise it’s pretty much the same. Many times, regular instruments need a lot of maintenance and repair, but these last longer since they are made using natural products,” says Varadarangan, who is himself vegan. The vegan instruments that are assembled and sold in his Baiyappanahalli workshop include the mridangam, tabla, maddale, khol and dholak.
For software engineer Ranjana Prakash (30), the bird flu was one of the starting reasons to turn vegan. “I abruptly stopped chicken and eggs; and started eating more vegetables. During this time, one of my friends informed me about the chemicals and unethical practices used for generating milk and I started to research for alternatives and non-animal sources,” she says, adding that the shift to a vegan diet is “easy” for Indians. “A majority of Indian recipes are vegan. Ever since I found vegan jam, I have never put any animal products on my plate. I have been healthier than ever before and this is why I have not looked back,” she says.
Also being shunned are cosmetics containing products of animal origin. Sabrina Suhail, founder of the makeup brand Tinge, finds an average growth of 30 per cent month-on-month for the products sold. “The sheer number of queries coming in over the last six months is an indicator of the rapid increase in awareness. Consumers have been becoming more conscious of their choices, especially towards animal cruelty. There is also a growing need for healthier options like going organic, which inadvertently brings them in the fold of conscious and green beauty,” she opines.
Turning vegan is considered an expensive affair, but Deep Lalvani, founder, Sublime life, curators of clean beauty, says that the rising demand has resulted in introduction of more affordable food substitutes and vegan restaurants, making it more accessible for a larger audience. “Women are more aware about how cosmetic ingredients affect their skin, and they make sure they read the label on the back of the product, and look them up online for information on safety and ethics. Vegan products, by virtue of being developed more recently, tend to have modern formulations that do not use some of the traditionally unsafe toxins,” he says.
Sagar N Mehta, founder and partner, Vegandukan, an online vegan store, points out that the fear of contracting any infection is the topmost reason for people to turn vegan. “People are now more conscious about the type of food they consume, how and where it is prepared, processed and stored,” he says, adding that in 2014, Bengaluru became the first Indian city to be named the most vegan-friendly city by PETA, and he hopes that the city will soon regain the status. “We have witnessed 50 per cent hike in the demand for our vegan products in the past few months. Overall, sale of the plant-based products has increased three fold recently due to awareness about zoonotic diseases,” he explains.