“You can leave you shower on, full speed, for an entire year and not waste as much water as you would by eating one burger.” Who said?
I am a hardcore meat lover. A vegan lifestyle isn’t just something I am skeptic about but also found intriguing. This curiosity led me to a conversation with Sonal Chowdhary, a hardcore vegan—a person who does not eat or use animal products—and a colleague. She has been a vegan for 4 years now. She was the co-founder of Zaza Box—an organic food delivery chain based out of Gurgaon—and a firm believer of the impact of turning vegan on planet Earth.
Q. What made you turn vegan?
A. Consuming animal products leads to animal cruelty, has an adverse environmental impact, leads to world hunger and also causes disease. If you were to eat the plants directly, to create maybe a kg of plant matter, you’d need 20-30 litres of water but to create a kg of meat or a litre of milk, you’d need somewhere between 1000-10000 litres of water. The figures and stats are staggering but it’s surprising how little people know about these facts. Vegans and vegetarians will usually have much lower rates of obesity, heart diseases and diabetes. Getting off meat can help one see a drastic reduction in their medication. Infact, people have been able to go completely off their medication—it’s that powerful. It’s such a simple change and hence, I became one.
Q. If someone wants to turn vegan, where do they start ?
A. It might take a month or two to give up milk. Starting from the glass of milk you drink everyday, moving onto giving up butter and then cheese—I did it slowly, in stages. The taste factor is short lived. Your taste buds adapt. Diary has a numbing effect. When you stop using diary, you’d discover a wide range of flavours that you were oblivious to, earlier. You’d see a change in the way fruits and vegetables taste, and trust me, it is so much better.
Q. Can you elaborate on the substitutes vegans use?
A. In terms of milk, there are a lot of alternatives that you can opt for. Take any nut—cashews, almonds, hazelnut—or even boiled rice and soy, soak them for a few hours, grind them with a litre of water in the mixie and strain it. The liquid you get is as good as milk. Soya milk is really good for cooking and can also be used to make curd. There are 20-30 options available. Meat is harder to let go because recreating the texture and taste of meat is tougher than milk. But again, there is soya chaap, seitan—fake meat which can be made from mushroom, tofu and soya nuggets— and tofu. All of these are easily available in the market.
Q. What are the vegan’s go-to places in Delhi?
A. You’ll find dairy-free ice cream at White Cub, based out of Gurgaon. There is, also, Rose Café in Saket who have a separate vegan menu. I Say Organic is another favourite. They have a store and a little vegan juice bar and pita pockets. There is Greenr in Shahpurjat which is fairly new and there food is brilliant. Another juice bar called Antidote has got vegan nut milks.