Bengaluru’s vegans show the way

GET MORE CREATIVE With your food, like Milesh and Susmitha Photo: Sudhakara jain  


Yesterday was World Vegan Day. So it is a good time to meet some of the city’s growing gung-ho community of vegans, see how they live their lives, and what they eat

“But what do you eat?!” is apparently the question vegans get asked the most in various degrees of shock and disbelief. And it’s a question vegans are heartily answering, showing people the delights of cashew butter, no-cheese pizza, tofu stir fries, soy buttermilk, peanut curd, almond bell pepper sauce, vegan pasta, and more.

“Even vegetarians ask us this question!” says an amused Yasmine Claire, who, along with hubby Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, has been vegan since 2011, when he watched a video on the cruelties in the dairy industry. They are among the growing vibrant community of vegans in Bengaluru — people who do not consume animal products in any form. Yasmine was non-vegetarian till she was 10, when she gave up meat because of her love for animals. Through her teens and 20s she enjoyed cheese and couldn’t imagine life without it. “There are a lot of alternatives. It’s just a transition of mindset,” is how she explains the leap. “At home I use soy or almond milk. I have learnt to make cashew butter. People fear that if you’re vegan, you can’t have cakes and cookies. But there are many vegan substitutes to make these dishes more delicious! I personally believe you become more creative in your cooking when you go vegan.” Carrots and Paradigm Shift (both in Koramangala) are the two vegan restaurants they eat out at, and then there’s always Chinese! “Indian Chinese is by default vegan. We ask them not to put any paneer or butter, and even at Dominos we order pizza without cheese. It simply brings out the flavour of the vegetables, which you otherwise can never taste.”

Anubha Kothari, a health coach at Sanctuary for Health and Reconnection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN) talks of the two reasons why people take to veganism — those who feel compassionate about animals, and those who do it for better health. “In India being vegan is complex because of cow worship and the extensive use of milk. But almost 60 per cent of Indian food is naturally vegan. The vegan diet may be difficult to stick to only because of temptation, a bombardment of products, or because of social pressures.” She cites two reasons why people continue to consume animals and their products — lack of awareness about the mistreatment of cows, chickens and other animals, and a lack of knowledge about alternatives — mainly plant-based calcium and protein sources.

Susmitha Subbaraju, along with husband Milesh Kumar are on the forefront of Bengaluru’s vegan community — she co-owns Carrots restaurant, and he is the administrator for the online community “Vegan Bengaluru” and steers a group that meets for a vegan potluck on the last Saturday every month. They also used to host vegan fairs in the city way back in 2013.

“Bengaluru is the best place to be vegan because there is awareness, many vegan-friendly places, and two completely vegan restaurants. At our restaurant we make products, sell, door deliver. But we want people to make them their own, so we regularly have workshops, demos and cooking classes as well,” says Susmitha.

The monthly potluck draws in about 15 people who share their meal. While the Facebook group has over 2,300 people, not all are vegan, Susmitha clarifies.


Common vegan ingredients

* Grains

* Pulses and beans

* Tofu (instead of paneer/egg)

* Dried/fresh fruits

* Raw vegetables

* Coconut milk/soy milk/peanut milk (animal milk substitutes)

* Nut butters (almond/cashew) – instead of dairy butters

* Plant seeds and greens (to make sure you get enough protein and calcium)

* Tapioca/soy flour (egg replacements)

* Nutritional yeast


Why vegan?

* Not consuming animal/animal-derived products to show compassion to animals – ethical reasons

* To get long-term health benefits of eliminating disease-accelerating animal products from their lives

* As part of the transition to a sustainable eco-friendly lifestyle that doesn’t harm and exploit the environment



Vegan Boursin Cheese

Cashews - 1 Cup

Tofu - 250 gms

Nutritional yeast

Lime juice

White wine vinegar (or apple cider/synthetic Vinegar)

Onion (small piece)


Black salt (or regular salt)

Pinch of black pepper powder

Herbs - celery (just leaves, no stalk), thyme, mint, cilantro

Grind the cashews into a fine powder in a dry blender jar.

Add everything, except the herbs, into the jar and blend into a smooth, creamy paste using a little water if required.

Taste and adjust the quantity of the salt and lime juice. Roughly chop the herbs and add them into the blender jar. Pulse 2 or 3 times.

The herbs should get incorporated but not blended completely.

Place in a glass bowl, cover and keep in the fridge for at least one to two hours.

Slather onto slices of bread and serve. (This keeps in the fridge for a week to ten days)

Recipe courtesy: http://blog.veganosaurus.


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Printable version | Sep 22, 2017 12:57:21 PM |