Life & Style

The Conscious Market comes to Chennai

If you thought veganism is restricted to food, think again. The lifestyle — for that is what it is — extends to cosmetics, clothes, everyday products and even shoes. Curious? Head over to The Conscious Market this weekend and get all your questions answered.

The two-day market, curated by Dhaval Chandarana of Earth Story and event manager Shweta Agarwal, brings together 40 vegan and eco-friendly entrepreneurs from across the country. Vegan Mysore Pak from Vijay Sweets in Coimbatore, nut butters from Just Amazing in Bengaluru, beauty products and soaps from Bottled Bliss in Mumbai are just some of the highlights.

While the event is 100 per cent vegan, it isn’t quite 100 per cent eco-friendly. “Not yet,” says Dhaval, explaining, “A product can be conscientious and vegan, but there are other things, like plastic packaging, that need to be dealt with.”

The Conscious Market comes to Chennai

He’s working on it, he says, adding that there are some brands who have made the switch to biodegradable plastic, like Auro Soya. Dhaval, who used to work with Auro Soya and now stocks their products in his store in Besant Nagar, takes out a package of tofu to demonstrate. It is wrapped in what looks like a cross between cling wrap and butter paper, but is actually plastic, processed to become much more breakable. “It will degrade in one year’s time,” says Dhaval, “As against regular plastic, which will take hundreds of year.” Auro Soya’s smoked tofu and other products will also be available at the market.

One of the most interesting offerings is on its way from Kolkata. Vegshoes is both a physical shop and an online retail space, that sells formal shoes, slippers, heels, belts and wallets that are free of animal products. Simply put, these shoes are non-leather, made of a synthetic polymer that resembles leather but purportedly lasts longer. The outfit, started by Manish Jain in 2016, will have a stall of its own at The Conscious Market.

And then there’s Unived, a startup that has made a name for itself as a sports nutrition company. Co-founded by Mumbai’s Amit Mehta and US-based Monica Becerril, Unived designs vegan diets according to the needs of athletes and sports persons. It also runs sponsorships with cyclists, athletes and runners. The outfit will have its range of supplements, gels and wellness products on offer at the market.

There are plenty of innovations from Chennai itself, to look forward to. Take, for instance, artisanal homebaker Ekta Surana, whose transparent jelly cakes are reminiscent of balloon artists at their most creative. Her cakes look like hollow, see-through bubbles filled with vivid three-dimensional floral patterns, and Ekta’s creations have been doing the rounds on Instagram for her talent. Two’s Company will also be selling their upcycled products, including pouches and coffee scrubs.

And then there’s food stylist and vegan cook Neelima Sriram. Neelima, who along with food Instagrammer Samyukta Kartik, will be helping city restaurant Entrée design a vegan menu.

The Conscious Market comes to Chennai

“I have been vegan for over two years now,” says Neelima, “This vegan buffet is a great opportunity to curate a menu. It will cost ₹650 per head, and address some concerns that stop people from going vegan. For example, a lot of people are worried that it isn’t healthy, or won’t suit their taste.”

So Neelima will be serving up paneer butter masala, salads with oil-free dressing, roasted pumpkin soup, vegan gulab jamun made of bread crumbs and cashew cream, tacos with jackfruit mock meat, falafel with hummus, tahini and pita bread, biryani with raita, quiche... Her menu is extensive, but she is most excited about the live counter, which will be serving smoked tofu parathas and pasta hot off the pan.

Who says the conscious can’t be indulgent?

The Conscious Market will be held at Express Avenue, Royapettah on January 26 and 27. For details, call 9840060901.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 3:39:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/no-animals-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-market/article26069740.ece

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