Being vegan

Being vegan (avoiding all forms of animal use and exploitation) is an obvious solution to end our share of the enslavement, torture and killing of innocent animals.  Avoiding animal products does not mean giving up yummy food, comfortable clothing, enjoyable entertainment, etc. Sweets, cakes, chocolates, ice-creams, curd, paneer, cheese, tea/coffee – pretty much everything – can be enjoyed vegan!  Plant based milks made of cashews, almonds, coconut, soy, etc. can veganize any dish you love!

Ample alternatives are available for wool, leather furniture/accessories, silk, honey, pearls, fur, etc. Shampoos, soaps, cosmetics and other lifestyle products involving no animal testing/ingredients are also readily available. To sum up, veganism involves no deprivation at all!

General Suggestions

  • Plant based food is rich in fiber (essential for good digestion and nutrient absorption), low on saturated fat, and contains no cholesterol. Contrastingly, all animal foods are very high on saturated fat and cholesterol, containing zero fiber.
  • No species in nature drinks another species’ milk, or any milk at all post infancy. Every animal’s milk is tailor-made for her species. The hormonal structure and biology of a cow are drastically different from those of a human.
  • Meat too is unnatural. Our so-called canine teeth do not make us omnivorous, as canines are also found in several herbivores (e.g., gorillas, horses, hippos). From laterally moving jaws to long intestines, humans possess a dozen physiological traits that make us plant-eaters, not omnivores.
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency is equally common in non-vegans & vegans, so don’t be alarmed. It is a modern lifestyle issue. B12 comes from bacteria. Since today’s ultra-hygienic ways eliminate bacterial presence, vegans and non-vegans both need to be careful of vitamin B12 levels, and take supplements as needed. (More on http://sharan-india.org/vitamin-b12/)
  • Clichéd but crucial: The more raw fruits, greens and vegetables you consume, the healthier you will be.
  • Vegan or non-vegan, fried & processed junk foods are unhealthy, and should be avoided as much as possible for gaining good health.
  • Getting regular sunlight is important to ensure adequate Vitamin D levels (More on http://sharan-india.org/vitamin-d/).

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Vegan products

Note: Please check the ingredient list before buying anything recommended here, as the ingredients may have changed. Some of the non-vegan ingredients to look for are milk solids, whey, glycerin, butter, ghee, condensed milk, gelatin, caseinate and casein.

  • Milk: Soy milk is useful in the beginning, as it is readily available in the market. Some places also stock ‘Homemade’ brand coconut milk and ‘Silk’ brand organic Almond milk. One can also use soymilk powder (see below) to make soy milk by adding it in hot water.
  • Soy milk powder: Soyvita, Manna Soyplus and Bionutrients are some of the soy milk powder brands available in several cities. They can easily be used to make soymilk (by adding hot water) or for tea/coffee.
  • Vegan milk maker machine: Nut Magic – extracts milk out of nuts, soy, seeds etc in an easy way.
  • Chocolates:
    • Dark chocolates by Nestlé’s, Rittersports, Amul & Sattva
    • Lotus and Morde dark compounds
    • Malia bar (nutritious raw bar) is available in several cities, and can be ordered online.
  • Biscuits: Hide-n-Seek (plenty of flavors), Oreo, Pickvick, Parle’s Coconut and Bourbon, McVities Hobnobs. There may be more; just check the ingredients. Duke’s waffles (except chocolate flavor) are vegan.
  • Sweets:
    • Haldiram’s classic soan-papdi and badam halwa,
    • Lal sweets besan ladoo (one variety),
    • Variety of chikkis
    • Some shops also keep boondi laddu, Mysore Pak, Soan papadi, Badusha, etc. made with vegetable oil, and cashew burfi without mava.
  • Ice-cream:
    • Amour has many Sorbet options in many cities.
  • Plant based butters and mayonnaise:
    • Vegan butters (from peanut, cashew, almonds, sesame etc.) can be bought at Dakini Foods, Fab India
    • Fun-food’s diet mayonnaise is vegan.
  • Whipped cream: Non dairy whipped cream by Rich

[Caution: Vegan or non-vegan, it’s best to limit the intake of processed foods from a health perspective. Plus, most of them come in non-recyclable aluminum-coated plastic packaging, which is not eco-friendly.]

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Cooking at Home

Making plant based alternatives doesn’t take much time at all. In fact 80% of the recipes in this booklet can simply be made in just 5-7 minutes time! Wherever applicable, easy tips on making these things almost instantly are also mentioned.

Like with any lifestyle change, there is a tiny bit of ramp up time involved here too. But, once you get the hang of a few basics, you will be surprised to see how easy it is to make everything vegan!

[Note: Please find recipes for plant based milks (from almonds, cashews, coconut, rice & peanuts), curd, curd rice, simple cashew cheese and fruit based ice-creams here.]

  • One can make milk out of various nuts, seeds, beans etc. Some examples are soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, coconut milk, peanut milk, oat milk. The best thing about plant based milks is that they are cholesterol free and growth hormone free. Hence, they do not cause high blood pressure and heart disease. They don’t promote diabetes, either.
  • Tofu tastes just like paneer, and is healthy too. Rich in protein & calcium, it is available in most stores.
  • Tea: As a substitute for milk tea, cashew milk, almond milk or soy milk work great (Use only 1/3 cup milk for 1 cup tea in case of almond/cashew milk) Many other options exist too: lemon tea, herbal tea, green tea, etc. You may add different herbs like ginger, mint, tulsi, cardamom, mint.
  • Coffee tastes great with cashew milk, almond milk, vanilla flavored soy milk or coconut milk. [Do not boil the coconut/cashew/almond milk. Add them in the last 5-10 seconds before turning off the stove.]
  • Almond milk, cashew milk & soy milk are good choices for breakfast cereals.
  • Orgran offers a variety of vegan easy baking mixes (cakes, pancakes etc.) and egg-replacers. They are available at Nature’s basket stores.
  • Any curry (even Malai Kofta) can be easily veganized: Replace ghee/butter with oil, paneer with tofu, dairy cream/mava with cashew cream (sometimes added with watermelon/pumpkin seeds), and dairy-based milk with coconut/cashew milk.
  • Curd: Peanut curd goes well with buttermilk, raita etc. For other usages, cashew curd is a good choice. (See recipes section).
  • Coconut milk is very cost-effective and can be used to make hot/cold coffee, cold cocoa, ice-creams, kheer etc. Thick coconut milk can also be used with vegan ready-made ice-cream mixes.
  • Orgran offers a variety of easy baking mixes (cakes, pancakes etc.) and egg-replacers. Most of them are gluten free. They are available at Nature’s basket stores.
  • Most of the taste in meat dishes comes from spices. Still, if you want meat-like texture in vegan form, go for mock-meats/soy-nuggets.
  • Egg-replacers: A good list of all possible egg replacers that can be used in baking or other dishes is available here.
  • Ice-creams : Delicious, dairy-free (and cholesterol free) ice-creams can easily be home made! Find tons of very easy and healthy recipes here.
  • Sweets: Many recipes for veganized Indian sweets can be found here.
  • Cheese from Cashew: Check recipes section.
  • Home made pizza with cheese! : Find a detailed recipe here.

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Other lifestyle changes

Veganism is not just about food; it’s about avoiding cruelty in all our choices. There are ample options for non-leather furniture, footwear & accessories. It’s very easy to substitute or avoid leather, honey, wool, fur, silk, pearls etc. as well. You can also readily find natural/cruelty-free shampoos, soaps & cosmetics involving no animal testing/ingredients. Visit the page below for an exhaustive list of products:

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Recipes

Plant based milks

One can make milk out of various nuts, seeds, beans etc. Some examples are soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, coconut milk, peanut milk, oat milk. The best thing about plant based milks is that they are cholesterol free and growth hormone free. Hence, they do not cause high blood pressure and heart disease. They don’t promote diabetes, either.

Nut milks [from cashews, almonds and peanuts]

Ingredients: ½ cup almonds/cashews/peanuts, Water (2 cups or more)

Procedure:

  • Wash and soak nuts in water (almonds overnight, cashews/peanuts for 3-4 hours). Rinse well and blend with water. First make smooth paste with little water, and then add the rest of the water.
  • Sieve with a thin cloth (optional).
  • Nut milks can be stored in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Easy tip: To make instant nut-milk anytime, soak nuts in large quantities, drain water and deep-freeze them. This way, they can be stored for a month. Thereafter, whenever you want to make milk, just take some nuts out, thaw them in water and blend them!

Coconut Milk

Blend grated coconut with equal amount of lukewarm water. Sieve the mixture with a thin cloth. Save the fiber. Once all the milk is extracted, repeat the procedure with the fiber, and a little water to extract the remaining milk. Discard the fiber. This can be stored in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Rice Milk

Ingredients: 4 cups water, ½ cup uncooked rice (white or brown) or 1 cup cooked rice

Procedure:

  • Cook rice and water until very soft.
  • Let it cool and put mixture into blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth.
  • Let it stand for at least 30 minutes, and then pour the liquid on top into another container. Be careful not to let the sediments in or strain it. Refrigerate. It can be kept for at least 48 hours.

Peanut/Cashew curd

  • Use 2 cups of lukewarm cashew/peanut milk. (While using peanut milk, let it boil fully, and then let the temperature come down).
  • Add 2 teaspoons of curd as a starter, and mix well.
  • If you are starting the curd for the first time then, make the curd starter by adding 10-15 chilli stems in small quantity of warm milk and keep overnight. Use this to start the bigger batch of curd.
  • Most vegan curds stay well in refrigerator up to 7 days. Store a small quantity from each batch to use it to start the next batch of curd. The starter can also be stored in deep freezer for a month.
  • Find a complete guide to making dairy-free curd/yogurt here.

Simple vegan fruit-based ice-cream

Blend ½ kg of any pulpy fruit (such as mangoes, chickoo) with a handful of cashews (or even lesser) and 2 spoons of sugar (or according to taste). Let it blend for 3-4 minutes. Freeze the mixture for at least 2 hours, and scoop!

Peanut curd-rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup slightly overcooked rice (optionally it can be smashed a little)
  • Peanut curd – quantity according to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Jeera(cumin) powder – 1tsp
  • Ccumin seeds – 1/2tsp
  • Grated carrots – according to taste
  • Finely chopped mint leaves
  • Grated ginger,
  • Lemon – according to taste
  • For tempering – cumin seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, red chilly, white urad dal, chopped green chilli (3-4)

Procedure:

  • Boil rice with water (take 3 times more water than rice)
  • When rice is half cooked, add carrots, ginger, mint leaves, cumin powder and salt. Mix rice and curd together.
  • In a bowl, take a spoon of oil (optional), and add urad dal, mustard & cumin seeds. Once they pop, add green chillis, red chillis and curry leaves. Pour this over the curd rice mixture. Add curd and lemon according to taste.

Simple cashew cheese spread

Ingredients: ½ cup cashews soaked for at least 3 hours; 3-4 cloves of garlic; salt and black pepper to taste, pinch of turmeric

Procedure: Blend all the ingredients in the chutney jar of the blender with a little water. Add water one spoon at a time, and blend till its consistency becomes creamy. Refrigerate it overnight for better results. [Optional: Add 1.5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast if available. It can be ordered from Bon appetite in Pondicherry. Since only a little amount is required at a time, a 150gms jar lasts for almost 6 months.]

Here are some more cheese recipes (Herbs are optional; you can use dried herbs too).

More vegan recipes

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Vegan Communities

Note: Open for anyone interested in veganism (not just vegans)

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If you think being vegan is difficult,

Imagine how difficult it is for the animals that you are not vegan!

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