On the eve of World Vegan Day, 3 Mumbaikars sort you out for everything vegan

Oct 31, 2017, 08:36 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani and Krutika Behrawala

Off meat and dairy products and wondering where to eat out? On the eve of World Vegan Day, three Mumbaikars sort you out for everything vegan

Vegan thali at Aharveda
Vegan thali at Aharveda

Breaking the glass wall
Raised in a Roman Catholic family of Goan origin, Wadala resident Wayne D'Mello's diet featured at least two included meats in every meal, and eggs for breakfast. Then, three years ago, he came across the video Glass Walls, which was about slaughterhouses, and featured a powerful narration by music legend Paul McCartney. "Though I'm an animal lover, I was oblivious to how cruel I was being. So, I turned vegetarian for a couple of months, and then, vegan," says the 20-year-old media professional. He is quick to add, "Veganism is more than just a diet. It's a social justice movement. Do not confuse following a plant-based diet with being a vegan."

Wayne D'Mello with his picks of vegan butters at Rare Earth: The Organic Store. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Wayne D'Mello with his picks of vegan butters at Rare Earth: The Organic Store. Pic/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

First memorable meal after
Turning vegan: Lemon Coriander Risotto and Belgian Chocolate Almond Ice cream at Birdsong Café in Bandra West.
Initial challenges: Since we have so many vegetarian restaurants, I didn't have to look far. The only problem was that some use dairy in every dish.
For breakfast: Idlis, vadas, dosas and uttapams without butter at Café Madras, Matunga.
For lunch: Vegan Warmer Pizza or The Loaded Aglio Olio at The Village Shop, Bandra West.
For a snack: Vegan Cubano Sandwich or a Quinoa or Chickpea Salad at The Bagel Shop, Bandra.
For dinner: Machhli Shorba Gravy with Tandoori Rotis at Chaap Ki Chhap, Andheri West.
For unusual vegan fare: Aharveda, Vile Parle West, for its vegan thali [a rotational menu including vegan dahi vadas and kheer]. Vegan Bites in Lower Parel [they do deliveries only] for ice creams — they're the best I've ever eaten.
For continental fare: Prisim Health Food, Grant Road.
For north Indian dishes: Most places serve Chhole, Rajma, Paratha and Bhature. Just mention that you don't want butter or dahi.
For regional fare: Goa Portuguesa for Konkani.
Tips for fellow vegans: Most vegetarian dishes can be veganised, except paneer. Similarly, in cuisines such as Chinese, most veg dishes are vegan by default.
For meat substitutes: Rare Earth: The Organic Store in Khar West stocks mock meats and dairy alternatives, including vegan cheese, which I use to make pizzas. Most stores have also started keeping soy milk and tofu.

Raya with mum Rithika Ramesh await their vegan meal at Hello Guppy
Raya with mum Rithika Ramesh await their vegan meal at Hello Guppy

Like mother, like daughter
For 33-year-old Ghatkopar resident Rithika Ramesh, turning vegan was largely a smooth ride. The challenge was satiating her sweet tooth with dairy-free desserts, which weren't easily available eight and a half years ago, when she chose veganism. This led her to start her brand, The Green Stove. Now, a mother to two-and-a-half-year-old Raya, the home chef practises veganism easily, and raises her daughter on a vegan diet too, except for desserts made using dairy, which Raya is fond of.

First memorable meal after turning vegan: I was on a two-month vacation to the US. I ate a lot of vegan substitutes; none were found here.
Initial challenges: Desserts were the toughest to find; it's where I began experimenting. A lot of Indian food is vegan, especially south Indian. North Indian food, with paneer and cream is difficult to replicate. At eateries, I would tell servers that I am allergic to cheese and they would get worried that I would return the pizza. But with some convincing, they would oblige. So I stick to places that cater to me. For Italian, I pick Basilico's tomato pasta or pizza. Quattro [Lower Parel], with its many Jain patrons, gets requests for no-cheese dishes. Matunga's south Indian joints are my favourites — they make dishes without butter or ghee. Bournville chocolate was vegan but they changed the composition. Amul still has vegan dark chocolates.
For breakfast: South Indian breakfast in Café Mysore, The Village Shop does a Tofu Akuri and a cashew-based vegan spread.
For lunch: I like khow suey at Burma Burma, and the vegan menu of Candy and Green [Breach Candy]. Chetana [Fort] serves a dairy and gluten-free thali.
For dinner: Hello Guppy [BKC] does a delicious Tofu on a Bed of Vegetables. At Yauatcha, I like Turnip Cakes. Pizza Express will make pasta or pizza without cheese for you. The Birdsong Cafe, The Village Shop, Farmer's Cafe and Bombay Salad Co. are my other favourites.
Tips for fellow vegans: Substitute butter with olive oil, make ice creams with cashew or coconut milk. Cashew's creaminess comes closest to dairy cream.

Gluten free Quinoa Crepe at The Pantry
Gluten free Quinoa Crepe at The Pantry

From meat to mock meat
"MY family is non-vegetarian. When I was 15, I couldn't come to terms with the fact that I was fond of animals but still consumed meat. So, I went vegetarian and slowly started weaning myself off other animal products too," says 32-year-old Goregaon resident Tanya Pearl Roberts. "In September 2013, I decided to go vegan — it is one of the best decisions I've made," she says. This year, Roberts started Indie Maharani, a vegan apparel brand.

Tanya Pearl Roberts eats Sindhi Kadhi Chawal, Soya Bean Kheema Gravy and Rai Meha Alu; all vegan dishes from the Sindhi cuisine for lunch
Tanya Pearl Roberts eats Sindhi Kadhi Chawal, Soya Bean Kheema Gravy and Rai Meha Alu; all vegan dishes from the Sindhi cuisine for lunch

First memorable meal after turning vegan: It was at a pan-Asian restaurant as most recipes don't call for dairy products. I am a big fan of Burmese Khow Suey, and I used to visit the Lemon Leaf in Bandra.
Initial challenges: It would be a tad overwhelming at times, because the server would refuse to make a substitution. Once the staff at a pav bhaji joint refused to serve me the dish without butter; 'Madam, pav bhaji butter ke bina kaise ban sakti hai?' they would go.
For meat substitutes: Soya granules and chunks can make some seriously good meat-tasting food. Jackfruit can be used to make a burger patty. Joss at Santacruz has good mock meat options.
For breakfast: I like The Pantry's [Kala Ghoda] gluten-free Quinoa Flour Crêpes. The Birdsong Cafe has a nice Cous Cous Upma.
For lunch and dinner: My favourites would be The Fatty Bao, Hello Guppy, Joss, Sushi Café, Sampan, Nom Nom, Pa Pa Ya, Kofuku, Mamagoto and Bastian. I also prefer LPQ, Out of the Blue, Smoke House Deli, Vegan Burger Kitchen and Udupi joints.
For evening tea: Taj Mahal Tea House serves lovely tea lemonades, iced teas and sherbets. I am a big fan of the Kashmiri Qawah Delight.
Tips for fellow vegans: Read your food labels — some products marked with a vegetarian sign could be vegan too. A chat with the server or chef will sort things for you.

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What is veganism?
World Vegan Day is celebrated on November 1. A vegan diet excludes meat, fish, poultry, cheese, milk and other animal and animal-derived products. Following veganism also involves using no products of animal origin, for example, leather.

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