Category Archives: Vegans speak

An anti-speciesist Independence Day narrative

One of the great things about our Independence Day is that it puts the spotlight on a critical right – the right to freedom. So, let’s dig a little deep into what it entails.

Freedom’s not for free

Being free essentially means not being made to do anything against one’s consent. But, this is just one side of the coin. What’s perhaps more apt today is the fact that the right to freedom comes with the responsibility of ensuring that you do not infringe upon anyone else’s freedom. For example, I have a right to water, but at the same time, I also am obligated to ensure that I don’t waste or over-consume water, so that the right to water of other beings, including those yet to be born, is not violated. It’s crucial to remember this responsibility aspect of the right to freedom at all times.

What does being a nationalist imply?

The other flagday I was asked what patriotism means to me. Well, obviously, it has many facets to it. But, for me, being a nationalist is, first and foremost, about striving to make sure that no harm comes upon any inhabitant of the country because of me. That means being fair to all Indian residents – being fair to women, being fair to people from other races and castes AND being fair to beings from other species. I want to reiterate that animals – including cows, chickens, fish, pigs, bees, sheep and silk worms – too inhabit our country.

Slavery to the tune of 10s of billions of victims per year

Humanity has ethically evolved a lot and eliminated many deep-rooted unjust traditions such as human slavery. Yet, there are billions who are ruthlessly denied the fundamental right to freedom. They are bred into existence only to be enslaved, tortured and killed. Their only fault is that they are NOT human! Don’t all beings-that-feel-pain deserve to live free from slavery and suffering. I must underscore that freedom – for animals and for that matter humans – means not just freedom from being held captive, but also the right to lead an undictated life, a life in which an animal is not forced into anything against her consent/wishes.

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Though our natural instinct is to be fair, centuries of conditioning have made many of us unmindful of or indifferent to the constant misery of our non-human fellow animals.

One of the most crying social justice issues of our time

The issue of human oppression of animals is one of the most pressing, one of the most vital ethical issues of our time, for two reasons:

1) Sheer magnitude of its victim count: 10s of billions of land animals are forced into this world every single year, only to be our lifelong slaves, only to be tortured mentally and physically, until their premature brutal deaths. Add to that the annual misery of countless marine animals. If these victims were human, this would be deemed as a mass torture of unprecedented proportion, some would say the largest ever holocaust, one that is still ongoing, one that is powered by ordinary people like you and me.

2) The victims are the most vulnerable: Unlike humans who can possibly retaliate against their oppressors, animals are unable to fight back. These defenseless victims depend entirely on our being ethical for their liberation.

Let’s change our lifestyles so as to end our contribution to animal slavery

In view of the scale and powerlessness of animal victims, it’s imperative for us to not just stop participating in their oppression, but also to become champions of animal rights. It’s high time we recognized the fundamental moral obligation we have to grant the right to freedom to all sentientVegan - For animals, for health, for the planet beings, regardless of who belongs to which species. And, it’s high time we made our lifestyles aligned with that ethical obligation. You and I – ordinary individuals – play a very powerful role here. Through simple lifestyle changes, you can not only liberate scores of animal lives, but also shrink your environmental footprint and substantially improve your health.

So, what is this antidote to animal slavery & exploitation? It’s veganism. A vegan rejects, as far as practically possible, all things animal for food, clothing or any other purpose. The vegan lifestyle excludes milk & its products, meat, eggs, honey (substituting them with their plant-based alternatives for taste, if desired), wool, leather, fur, pearl, silk and all other animal products. Not many people know that – like meat – milk, eggs and other animal products also lead to animal killing and torture! Even in traditional Indian tabelas/dairies, cows have to be subjected to unbearable repeated forced pregnancies and a lot of other misery. Hence, vegans also avoid all dairy products such as milk, paneer, cheese, ghee, butter & curd. So, food wise, a vegan eats nothing from a mother, nothing with a face. Vegans refrain from animal-tested products too, to the extent possible.

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Vegan Bazaar – a grand success!

The first ever Vegan Bazaar in Hyderabad on Feb 9th, 2014 witnessed a GRAND success!!

It’s difficult to precisely gauge the footfall, but based on several indicators such as number of leaflets taken away, we believe that we had as many as 400 visitors (within the span of 5-6 hours), many of whom were non-vegan. Except for 1-2 stalls, all the others were completely sold-out much before we wound up the event. The response we got from the commercial stall-owners was equally heartening; with some of them mentioning that this was the best experience they ever had in any event in the city! Moreover, all the items in the bazaar were prized very reasonably, proving that vegan food is very much cost-effective and sometimes even cheaper than the non-vegan couterparts! We thank Ms. Amala Akkineni for inaugurating the event. She then also gave an interview wherein she mentioned about how long since she’s been vegan and why.

You might want to take a glance at the space below, to know/recollect all the delightful moments and the delicious dishes that were presented in the bazaar :).

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All the entrants were asked to kindly register themselves by providing their names, Email IDs and contact numbers after which, were provided with a welcome kit that consisted of a leaflet showing WHY it is important to go vegan (for the animals, environment, health, etc.) and a booklet with the alternatives, recipes, etc to help with smooth vegan shift.

We also had as many as 15 books on various aspects of veganism on display that many people browsed through and noted down their names. There was also a separate table that displayed various off the shelf vegan products to make people aware of the wide availability of vegan options in the market.

Apple-Walnut crumbles pie, gluten free chocolate brownies, other bakery stuff

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Madhulika (an animal rights activitst), pretty well known for her culinary skills, had generously prepared varieties of desserts that also included the gluten-free ones. The apple walnut crumble pie was given with a tasty pineapple dip that made the dessert even grander. Being the first stall to have got sold out, the items did motivate the attendees to go check out the following stalls where the next was one that made people all inquisitive as it was.

Sesame based milk stall

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While most of us would not like to believe that sesame in itself is tasty, this milk made out of sesame had caught the eyes of many people. Almost everyone in the crowd had a glass of sesame milk on their plate. The feedback on the taste and quality of sesame milk was overwhelming, both to the organizers and to the owner of the stall, Ipshita, who along with her husband, has done a fabulous job in preparing the milk and adding flavors to it, besides managing the stall with the overflowing and curious crowd.

The Chocotarian stall

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Sweet is a taste nobody would get tired of. This was clearly depicted by a treat that MOST did not expect, something that everyone from children to adults enjoyed and relished at the bazaar: Chcolates! The stall was one of the biggest surprises to all the visitors, amusing all the chocolate lovers, in particular. There were close to ten flavors of chocolates in different forms, shapes and packaging. There was almost no visitor to have gone back home without tasting or buying at least one chocolate. The fact that they were all vegan, attracted a lot of attention among the visitors and kept the excitement and thrill steady enough to proceed to the stall after that which was.

Vegan Cheese spread sandwich stall

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This lip smacking cheese dripping from the middle of the sandwich has caught immense attention of the visitors as to how on earth can something like this be made dairy free. The small notes containing recipe of the cashew cheese spread were all grabbed by people in no time. A few samples of the cheese spread were also bought by interested visitors. Another interesting factor contributing to the fast sale of the sandwiches was the inclusion of healthy veggies along with cheese spread. Sowmya, who tirelessly made sandwiches for everyone, customized them with choices like cabbage, tomatoes, cucumber and a little of each. All in all, it was a filling and tasty experience that held up their curiosity levels high enough for the next.

All favorite, Ice cream stall

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The ice creams prepared by Berry’s were sold out in no time. There was a lot of curiosity among visitors as to the taste of the ice creams, since they were all soya milk based. The company named Berry’s has never disappointed us in the quality of his ice creams. Most of his flavors always remain unquestionably tasty to the extent that a non-vegan could NEVER make out they’re dairy free. Although not all of the visitors could get to taste it due to the limit of stock, they were happy enough to see something decorative in the.

Cookies and cakes stall

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Amandine from O’ Delicacies bakery, impressed all the visitors, from kids to adults by giving them exactly what they need. Good health combined with taste. She’s mastered making birthday cakes (or for any other occasion), cupcakes, etc., so well. Her stall was one of those most crowded ones, hardly leaving her with time to taste the food at other stalls or to socialize with people at the event.

The authentic semiya paayasam

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A south-Indian event is never complete without a South-Indian dessert. To make sure this wish of people was fulfilled as well, Mr. Satyanarayana, accompanied by his wife, proved to everyone how coconut milk can be easily used to make. Being one of the coolest members of the group, Mr. Satyanarayana and his wife had brought semiya paayasam made out of coconut milk. The paayasam was just perfect with the right quantity of sugar and coconut milk (of course with those few crunchiness of nuts added, made it even richer!!).

Mac & cheese and Shahi Tofu

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Quite surely readers could be wondering how Macaroni with Cheese, would have tasted, but believe me, it was a LOT better than the one made of dairy – A lot lighter on you and a lot healthie. Shahi Tofu was remarkable as well. It was served with Jowari rotis and made a complete lunch to all those who had opted to have it under the main course :). Although Sejal, the chef was busy with interacting with people and her 10 month old (born vegan) baby, she indeed did a great job managing to prepare all of this before rushing to the venue. She had prepared 4 kg of each Macaroni with cheese and Shahi Tofu and both hit a complete rock bottom at the end of the Bazaar!

Curd Rice

While this was covering up most of it for the north Indian part, a meal is never complete for a South Indian without…..

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Yes! (vegan) curd rice! This gorgeous and pretty looking curd rice stall was indeed put up by Manpreeth Singh & his wife Gagan. The curd was made out of peanuts and a very simple tadka made it look so delightful that people have started drooling at the very sight of it. There was a sumptuous quantity served on every plate that made sure that people who wanted to fill their stomach, would surely not go disappointed. The pomegranate seeds and grated carrot added to the lusciousness. People were mesmerized by the different flavors that their tongue experienced.

Soya milk and soya milk based buttermilk stall

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In the midst of all yummy flavors enjoyed by people, this came as a surprise (stall also being placed in the middle of the shelter). The excitement that showed on people faces was worth a click! The butter milk was indomitable, hats off to this lady and her husband who make soya milk and other (many) soya based snacks, sweets, etc., at home (Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad). Most people who had attended went back carrying at least little of that soya milk home. Now whether you use the milk for tea, coffee, sweets or you let it become curd and use it or you break it using lemon and use it (as tofu), anything would end up as a treat to your tummy and taste buds :).

Ahaar Kuteer millet based food stall

While we speak about natural and homemade food here, we should be addressing concerns of those looking for completely healthy and easily digestible food. Here is it for you in the form of…

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Now what all was there inside those huge containers, is a lot to explain, not due to the variety, but due to the fineness in the taste of the few varieties that were there. Ahaar Kuteer, one of the most vegan friendly restaurants in Hyderabad, located in Begumpet, was successful enough in having their entire food sold out. Few of their delicacies included millet based halwa (that you can see in the picture), milled based upma and millet based vadas (that were again, a super hit of the day), served with chutney. A perfect example of health+taste, this is! Every one of you should time out of your weekend and visit this place :).

Lemon cakes with icing, sold at a superfast speed

While people were busy indulging into this combination of health+taste, there were others quickly grabbing stuff at another stall.

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While Visala, this young lady in the picture, was busy explaining to people the what, why and how of the concept of veganism, her visitors were all pouncing over the lemon cakes and she was all set with the will and readiness to go back home and get a fresh (2nd) batch of lemon cakes with icing. There could be no competition to this and her endeavors and enthusiasm, in taking up the preparation and management of the entire stall, were very much appreciated. Also, kudos to her mother who stood by her to support and help her all the time! This being the last stall in the bazaar, I definitely do not want to end the narration of this wonderful journey this way.

Herbal shampoo powder, bath powder

This was an overdose of food, I know!! There was something else that caught people’s eyes. Yes, something that most women, in particular would be curious to take a look at…

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These little bags of goodness created so much of excitement among the crowd that they actually ended up spending quite a long time, around the stall! We all know how the word “herbal” rings bells of natural and eco-friendly thoughts in our mind :). There were bath powders, shampoo powders, face powders (replacing face washes), grey hair concealers, etc., all of these, 100% natural. We always wish everything was natural in the world, don’t we? Well… I’m not sure about everything, but we sure did have something in the bazaar that was a super duper hit…

A show of the many vegan lifestyle products available in the market

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The stall by IAMO Organics presented and made available for sale a lot of goodies that we can all pretty conveniently find in the super markets, grocery stores, etc. Apart from this, we also had a few vegan products by Jiva Organics, T-shirts with Vegan logo by Karma over Dogma etc.,

The crowd went back home absolutely cheerful and happy, totally satisfied with the food, the lifestyle products, and most importantly, the vegan message below:

Being vegan is a win-win-win proposition, in terms of human health, environmental sustainability and animal suffering avoidance.

While all the stalls mentioned were sold out as mentioned, have you ever wondered who had been behind making sure all went well at the bazaar, hassle free for both the stall owners and the visitors? It’s certainly not fair to forget them!! I’m pretty sure I’m missing out a lot of names but here are few of them starting with Pulkit who was busy explaining the concept of veganism until his throat had gone dry; Rekha who helped many arrange their stalls and manage them for a while when the stall owners wanted to take a round of the bazaar themselves and have their lunch; Varenya (Rekha’s 11 year old daughter, who’s a passionate and enthusiastic vegan) who was the star of the bazaar with all her energies put into the event, the busy bee who was in a lot of demand; Manpreeth Singh who helped with a number of logistical needs; Amita Desai who had helped us spread the word by media co-ordination and arranging press meets pre-event; Abhijit who helped in directing people to the venue, taking phone calls and was a right hand to most stall owners who required help; Srihari Kolachina who helped well at the registration counter; Gaurav, who again helped at cashew cheese sandwich stall by getting some supplies when everything but the cheese was over; Mr. Manipal Reddy’s daughter & her friend who had done an extremely great job in managing the crowd and visitors at the Macaroni & Cheese and Shahi tofu stall put up by Sejal and many more. A HUGE ROUND OF APPLAUSE TO ALL OF THEM!!! 🙂

Wondering when the next bazaar is going to be? Well, keep a tab on the Hyderabad Vegans Facebook group and this blog. It’s not far away :).

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Everyone’s cup of tea!

I have always been a huge tea addict. And, before turning vegan, I’d invariably had tea made of animal milk. So, when I took up the vegan lifestyle, tea was one of the challenging aspects. Today, I am aware of a few amazing options for vegan tea (including one that totally resembles the taste of animal milk tea). But, 2.5 years ago, I didn’t know as much. One thing I knew for sure was that, no matter what, I should not – and will not – contribute to the rape and torture of cows. So, I experimented with lemon tea, herbal tea, masala tea, tea made from soy mylk, etc. I warmed up to these vegan tea options so well and so quickly that within a month of turning vegan, tea became a non-issue. I’ve never had any craving of animal milk tea since then (even when someone drinks it right in front of me).

Today, a tea loving new (or aspiring) vegan’s life is actually even easier! For those of you who want the taste of animal milk tea, but not the cruelty involved in it, here’s a magical solution! It’s been tried and (successfully) tested on a number of non-vegan guests in my house. In fact, after drinking this vegan tea twice a day for three days, an aunt of mine hesitantly asked me if we had to buy cow’s milk just for their tea! 🙂

The secret mylk of this tea is cashew+almond mylk – mixed in equal quantities. Very simple, very effective!

Recipe for making the cashew-almond tea:

  • To make cashew-almond mylk, soak equal quantity of cashews and almonds overnight (in different bowls). Blend them in the morning with water, sieve with a fine cloth. (Sieving is only necessary to make tea, for any other recipes with cashew or almond mylk, it’s optional.) This mylk can stay for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Warm cashew-almond mylk if taken out of refrigerator.
  • Boil water with sugar, tea leaves, masaala (optional), ginger(optional) and anything more that you usually like to add in your tea.
  • Add the cashew-almond mylk to it and keep stirring with spoon continuously for half a minute. Stirring is very crucial else the mylk might separate.
  • Sieve, pour it in a cup and serve hot!

In case you want to make tea for some unannounced guests, here’s a way. Soak cashews and almonds saperately. Drain water completely and freeze them in two different airtight containers. So when the guests arive, all you need to do is blend them in equal quantity, sieve and prepare tea!

Other vegan tea options

Some people use just cashew mylk (Here’s a recipe video) or soy mylk for their tea, and that too works fine. There are many options without them too: lemon tea, herbal tea, lemon-grass tea, green tea, tulsi tea, amla tea. You could add different herbs like ginger, mint, tulsi, cinnamon, cardamom and mint.

Cost: NOT a concern

Home-made cashew-almond mylk roughly costs around Rs. 70 per liter for me. The cost obviously varies according to the prices of cashews and almonds purchased. Considering one cup tea consists of half a cup of mylk (around 100ml), a cup of this tea costs Rs. 7. Given the prevalent rates of animal milk tea, and the fact that the cashew-almond tea is a much healthier option containing no cholesterol or contaminants that animal milk has, I believe it is perfectly reasonable and totally worthwhile. Plus, don’t forget the amazing mylk-free vegan tea options mentioned above. They are extremely cost-effective and equally stimulating!

Happy mother’s day? No way!

Courtesy : Madhulika Jajodia

hyd-vegans-blog-picToday as we celebrate the mother’s day, as we drink and eat the products stolen from constantly grieving mothers, I begin to wonder whether its really a happy mother’s day ? We should at the risk of sounding Speciest, call it, a happy “human mothers” day! It’s only us who will get to hug the babies today, cuddle them, and keep them close to our hearts. The rest, though they experience the joy of giving birth, will never get to touch or feed their newborns. Night after night these mothers will weep, broken hearted, for the babies they will never see again.

The eggs for that scrumptious cake that your son or daughter bought for you, and celebrated the day with, come from hens who never get to see chicks emerging from the eggs they lay every day. They get depleted laying them day after day, only to be slaughtered when they are no longer “useful mothers”. The male baby chicks are ground alive as meat. The female chicks are kept separately till they grow up enough to become egg laying machines like their mothers.

The milky coffee or tea that was served with lot of hugs and smiles form your children, is the reason for millions of calves either being starved to death or sold for veal. A cow’s gestation period is around 9 months, the same as us human mothers. She never gets to feed the milk that nature provided her to nourish her babies. A mother cow’s cry after her calf has been taken away from her is heart rending. Depleted of milk and with a broken heart, she too ends up in a slaughter house, her only fault, she stops being a “commercially viable mother”.

Tonight as we hug our children close to our hearts, read them stories and laugh at their antics, let us also remember those non-human mothers who have been denied the very basic joys of motherhood, only so that we humans can enjoy the stuff that was meant for their babies instead of us. Vegans do not disrespect any mother, they refuse to celebrate at the expense of someone else’s pain. Think, are you truly celebrating a happy mother’s day? To celebrate the true spirit of a mother-child bond, do the right thing, go Vegan! (for details, check the links below)

‘Humane and Free-range’ – Is there such a thing?

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Every non-vegan, when his/her lifestyle choices are challenged, seems to have the perfect solution to the current system of animal agriculture which is based on animal abuse-free-range farms, where animals roam around without constraint and leading happy and healthy lives and where eggs, dairy and meat are obtained from them ‘humanely’. When it is their time to die, they are killed swiftly with a single movement of the knife.

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