It's veganuary

Updated: Jan 21, 2020, 09:44 IST | Karishma Kuenzang | Mumbai

Vegan jamboree The Ahimsa Fest is back with more than 150 exhibitors, cookouts, kiddie and parent sessions, and demos by vegan athletes

Kuntal Joisher
Kuntal Joisher

"Ahimsa means compassion, which is what veganism is about," says Kunatal Joisher, who has been vegan for 17 years and has climbed Mt Everest twice (2016 and 2019). He has been curating the sessions since the first edition. "I started preparing for my journey to the Everest in 2009 and the biggest benefits of being vegan was the advantage of a great gastro system and faster recovery period," he says.

You also have to keep in mind that just because you're vegan doesn't mean you're eating healthy. It's about eating whole grains like whole wheat instead of maida, bajra and jowar — organic produce, which will also be available at the fest. "The festival is based on what ahimsa entails, which is "do not harm". We are associating with NGOs working for animal welfare and the environment," says Rupa Shah, co-founder. Get your kids to participate in competitions and attend a parenting session on bringing up kids vegan.
Here are five cool things to check out at the fest.

At Holy Family Ground, Mahakali Caves Road, Gundavali, Andheri East.
On January 26, 10 am to 10 pm
Log on to (to RSVP)

1 Pick up goodies

Pick up goodies

It's not just about discussing the benefits of veganism, because you also need to stock up ingredients that may not be available near you. "The only way people will switch to veganism is if they try it out," says Joisher, adding that they have gone from 10 stalls to 150 stalls, and 4,000 people showing up to 14,000 since the 2016 edition. They also have a wider range of products due to the demand in the market, including plant-based proteins such as peanuts, chana, sesame seed laddu, chia seed preparations and makhana, all made using jaggery, protein powder and bars.

2 Marathon ready

Marathon ready

Sandeep Kumar, the fastest Indian at Comrades Ultra Marathon, will talk about how he eats and trains for runs, besides giving tips on how people can work out better with running, the kind of form they should ideally have and how to fuel for running. "When you come back from a run, you have to put a whole bunch of carbs back into your body as your muscles are depleted of glycogen, that you need to restock to avoid burning out. And, 40 minutes after that you have to add protein to your diet so that your muscles can recover," Joisher says about Kumar's regime, describing what attendees can learn from this session.

3 Sweet craving

Vegan brownie with ice cream
Vegan brownie with ice cream

For those with a sweet tooth, vegan ice cream of different textures and flavours will be available at the stalls. You can also expect a wide range of cakes, brownies, macarons, muffins, and some desi sweets. "There will also be diary alternatives to dahi vada, and eight types of cheese and paneer made using cashew or almond that taste as good as the original. For those who want to sip on something, try the vegan alternatives to buttermilk, the coconut milk coffee," Shah says.

4 Meat matters & tips

A vegan barbeque stall
A vegan barbeque stall

The biggest factor when non-vegetarians want to switch to veganism is that they think they can't quit meat. But plant-based meats created from soya and whole wheat can easily pass off as real, which you can try at some of the 45 eateries there. Three cooking demo sessions are scheduled, that aim to help people switch to a vegan life, once they realise how easy it is. The first one will focus on protein from plants, the second on healthy food options you can eat throughout the day, and a third that introduce you to less fortunate kids who have been adopting the vegan lifestyle. "We want to bust the myth that practising veganism is an expensive affair and, meant for the elite only," says Shah about the session, where the kids will teach you how to make a quick and easy mac and cheese using basic vegan ingredients.

5 Vegan bodybuilding

Gunjan Sharma
Gunjan Sharma

One of the country's top callisthenics and parkour athletes, Gunjan Sharma will talk about how he stays fit by being vegan and showcase his power core techniques and martial arts moves, while teaching some tricks to the crowd. Meanwhile, Abhishek Thevar, a professional vegan bodybuilder who started a career in dancing but switched to bodybuilding, will talk about how he turned vegan after he watched a video of cows mistreated at dairies. The vegan bodybuilder will share how he fuels up, with a focus on bodybuilding in particular, and recommend substitutes. "You have to understand what protein is — it's a group of amino acids that are created when plants convert the nitrogen in the air. Now, when a herbivore eats the plant and man eats the said herbivore, the human will not be getting protein from its primary source. So, vegan plants actually make for strong protein sources," Joisher concludes.

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