Mumbai Food: A festival to celebrate true veganism

Updated: 28 November, 2018 15:14 IST | Snigdha Hasan |

Talks by fitness athletes, workshops on sustainable living, and cruelty-free food and lifestyle products will be part of a festival that celebrates the core philosophy of veganism

The word vegan was born out of necessity. In 1944, when several members of the UK's Vegetarian Society asked that a section of its newsletter be devoted to non-dairy vegetarianism, the demand was turned down on the grounds that a dietary choice as niche as this would prove to be an impediment in spreading the concept of vegetarianism. Donald Watson, a key member of the society, felt strongly for the cause and decided to take the first three and last two letters of the word vegetarian to start a separate newsletter, The Vegan News.

India, with its significant vegetarian population, is not new to the concept of a meat-free diet. But in the land of ghee and makkhan, switching to a dairy-free lifestyle has seemed out of place to many. Veganism by its definition, however, isn't restricted to dietary choices alone. The Mumbai-based Ahimsa Parmo Dharma Group (APDG) found its cruelty-free approach in resonance with the Indian concept of ahimsa.

"Ahimsa or merciful living is a way of life, and veganism is a part of it," says Ruchika Chitrabhanu, a core team member of The One Earth Festival, organised by APDG, an NGO started by Mumbaikars tied together by their philosophy of "Do no injury, cause no harm". The festival aims to be a one-stop destination for all things vegan, while also creating an engaging platform for those contemplating switching to the lifestyle, and those curious about the concept. Here's our pick of events to attend at the fest.

On December 2, 10 am to 10 pm
At Juhu Ground, opposite Chandan Cinema, Juhu.

Vinita Contractor

Towards holistic living
Switching to a vegan lifestyle can be daunting. Meet consultants who have overcome personal challenges to turn vegan to guide you on the same. While nutritionist Vinita Contractor organises health and wellness retreats, and curates plant-based menus for restaurants, Dr Rupa Shah can tell you how she overcame her migraine problem by giving up dairy products.

Ingrid Newkirk

Hear it from the experts
The industrial raising of animals, says Chitrabhanu, has contributed to global warming. "Nine billion chickens are raised ever year in the US alone. Food needs to be grown to feed them, and for that, trees are being cut down [to make way for farms]," she explains. Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA, will speak of the plight of animals raised for consumption. Another expert talk will address concerns of calcium deficiency associated with veganism.

Kuntal Joisher

Vegan and adventurous
This panel discussion is for those who like an adrenaline rush. Moderated by vegan mountaineer Kuntal Joisher, the discussion will feature Dharmendra Kumar, ultra marathon athlete, Siddharth Shukla, Ironman triathlete, Aman Duggal, fitness entrepreneur, and Shyamal Vallabhjee, sports scientist. They will discuss how their lifestyle choice helped them achieve impressive fitness milestones.

Buy cruelty-free

Buy cruelty-free
If you are a vegan in your dietary choice, here's your chance to extend it to other facets of life by shopping for products that caused no harm to animals or the environment. From non-leather footwear and accessories, clay pots, lamps, edible cutlery, yoga mats, bamboo toothbrushes, soaps and detergents to plant-based milks, butters and herbal teas, there's much to pick from.

ice creams and mithai

Skip the dairy
Cooking plant-based food with no ghee or butter, and giving up ice creams and mithai has stopped many from making the switch. But Chitrabhanu affirms, "People feel better and healthier when they avoid animal products in their diet." Sign up for cooking demonstrations by chefs and home cooks on vegan desserts, drinks and dairy alternatives to get a taste of vegan food and gauge if whipping it up every day is up your alley.

sparrow nest

In harmony with nature
"When you live and eat mindfully, you are also helping the environment," says Chitrabhanu. And to promote a lifestyle that's in harmony with nature, the festival includes talks on rainwater harvesting by organic farmer Subhash Sharma, and reviving the sparrow population by Mohammed Esmail Dilawar, founder of Nature Forever Society. Organic and forest farming, and recycling and composting will also feature in the talks.

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First Published: 28 November, 2018 11:45 IST

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