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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

‘Beauty Without Cruelty - India’, Animal Rights Organization

The office of Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) in Pune is a unique place of sorts. As you enter the four-acre premise, you are greeted by half a dozen friendly cats. Soon, more pour in and settle themselves on the tables, desks, computer keyboards – right under the fans in an effort to beat the summer heat. After a while, Sammy the mother dog enters. She protects these cats, more than 20 in number, from all the other dogs in the area. Most of these animals have been rescued from various life-threatening situations and given a name and home at BWC – these animals bring in positivity and one can feel it.

We soon learn that BWC was founded by Diana Ratnagar in 1974 with the objective of eliminating the commercial exploitation of animals in India in the pretext of religion, entertainment, fashion, sports, research, and food. BWC pledges to exemplify “a way of life which causes no creature of land, sea or, air  terror, torture, or death.” Since its inception, BWC has dedicatedly worked to achieve its motto. 

Essentially, BWC is an organization engaged in vegan education, research, and lobbying. BWC lobbies with agencies in a position to take decisions that can have a bearing over the life, safety, and welfare of animals, birds, and other sentient beings. It is difficult to summarize the achievements of BWC in one post; however, we shall try to capture the essence.

Some landmark lobbying by BWC

You will probably recall the 'green' vegetarian symbol on packaged foods. This symbol is an outcome of the lobbying done by BWC with the Food and Drugs Department of the Government of India. In 1978, BWC appealed that consumers have the right to know whether a particular food product is vegetarian or not. After more than 20 years of advocacy, the appeal was heard. In 2001, the Government made it mandatory for manufacturers to print the indicative 'green' symbol on vegetarian products.

In 1989, BWC won a battle with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) that led to the discontinuation of the ICAR-sponsored Karakul lamb project. Under this project, Karakul lambs were been imported from the former USSR for slaughter in India. After the project got scrapped, BWC purchased the entire flock of sheep meant for slaughter and shifted them to a safe place in Gujarat where they could live out their natural lifespan. In the same year, BWC succeeded in stopping the age-old barbaric custom of teenage boys biting a piglet to death at Terekol, Goa in celebration of St John’s Baptism.

Over the years, BWC has succeeded in putting an end to many similar cruel practices in the country. To learn about the other achievements of BWC, you can visit the BWC-India website by clicking this link.

Vegan education by BWC

“Compassionate Friend” newsletter:The BWC newsletter, "Compassionate Friend" is an effective tool for Vegan education. We recommend subscribing to this quarterly newsletter. Compassionate Friend is available both in hard and soft copy. For the soft copy editions of the Compassionate Friend, you can click this link. The hard copy editions can be collected from the BWC office or requested through post upon payment of a nominal membership fee. The hard copy editions come with a copy of the current communication materials prepared by BWC, their lovely calendar featuring many animal friends, and a remarkable investment guide. The investment guide, an outcome of research, is for use by investors who wish to invest in ethical companies. The guide lists companies in three categories: 1) whose actions do not cause harm to animals, 2) whose actions cause harm to animals, and 3) whose intent is unknown. You can read more about the investment guide by clicking this link.

Besides this, the hard copy editions of the newsletters are printed on paper that is free of substances derived from animals. 

“Life Reverent Programme” for schoolchildren: BWC is actively engaged in imparting value-based education to schoolchildren through its school contact programme called the “Life Reverent Programme”. Amruta who is in charge of this program says: 
“Young minds are more impressionable, empathetic, and compassionate. Unfortunately, children detach from compassion as they grow older because compassionate behavior is not reinforced by most guardians – be it parents, relatives, or teachers.”
The BWC Life Reverent Programme helps children understand that humans share the planet with animals, birds, and other sentient beings. Children also learn that humans do not have the right to exploit other living beings that are less powerful than them or behave cruelly with them. Amruta describes the contact programme to be a very rewarding exercise as children are able to appreciate the ideals of compassion. Some of them take part in the conversations by sharing personal experiences of incidents where they have witnessed cruelty towards animals. These experiences are used to discuss about all that can be done to stop such incidents and prevent them from occurring again.

BWC has a letter of permission from the Pune Municipal Corporation schools to conduct the Life Reverent Programme with the Pune Municipality schools. Private schools are also contacted on a one-to-one basis. What have the reactions of parents and teachers been to the Life Reverent Programme? Explains Amruta:

“Parents and teachers are overwhelmed by all that their children learn through our presentations and usually want to know more... and ask us to come back. They even help us in reaching out to more schools...”

This is just a glimpse of some of the work done by BWC-India. To know more, you can explore the BWC website. Hope you can make use of the BWC education materials and tools to expand the circle of compassion on Earth.

“Animal rights, at its heart, is the most unextreme philosophy I can imagine. It is about nonviolence. It is about compassion. It is about not harming and not causing suffering and not killing when we don't have to. That’s it. It is really, truly that simple.” ~Stephanie Ernst, Independent Animal Rights Advocate~

For more articles in this blog containing references to BWC, you can click this link.

Friday, May 21, 2010

‘Kamat’ Vegetarian Hotels & Restaurants

For more vegan-friendly restaurants and hotels reviewed in this blog, you can click the linked words.

Karnataka based all-veg Kamat hotels and restaurants are places where you can, without hesitation, ask which dishes contain ghee (clarified butter) and avoid them rather than ask which dishes do not contain ghee because the ones that do not contain ghee outnumber those that do!

Was that a teaser! :-) Not really, as after eating at Kamat it becomes clear that you can enjoy some of the finest regional South Indian cuisines without being worried about ghee! For the majority of dishes, Kamat uses vegetable oil as the medium for cooking. Curds and butter milk may come as accompaniment with some of the dishes – however, you can decline them. As you probably know, if ghee and curd items are ignored
in South Indian vegetarian cooking, then, the dishes are safely Vegan!

But we cannot say the same about the sweets at Kamat. Vegans would have to go without all the sweets at Kamat (ghee! khoya!), which is fine because the large variety of delicious food and snacks make up for the lack of vegan sweets.

Kamat Branches with Restaurant

Kamat has around 30 branches spread in and around the state of Karnataka. There is one branch each in Delhi and Hyderabad as well. The Kamat drive-ins on the highways connecting Bangalore to cities such as Mysore, Ooty, Mangalore, Tirupathi, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Pune are excellent. We are told that seven more branches will be added shortly.

Kamat Branches with Boarding & Lodging, and Restaurant

Three Kamat branches have boarding and lodging facilities as well. Two of them are in Bangalore while one is on the Hubli-Dharwad road. We are told that the stay at the Kamat hotels is very comfortable, luxurious, and reasonably priced. Check out the Kamat website to learn more about boarding facilities by clicking this link.

Location of Kamat Branches

To find a Kamat hotel with boarding and lodging facilities, or a Kamat restaurant in Bangalore city, or a Kamat drive-in on the highway, please click on the image on the right. 


Some branches of Kamat serve North Karnataka meals with chapatti (bread) made from jowar (barley) and an ensemble of vegetable preparations cooked in oil. These are finger licking good. We highly recommend the Kamat branches on the highways between Bangalore and the different cities mentioned above. They can only make your travel better and satisfying as Kamat Upachar on the Bangalore-Mysore highway did to ours! Chuck the Mac Donald’s and KFCs on the highways and visit the Kamats – this is what we highly recommend!

Furthermore, we love the consistency of taste in our favorite dishes across different Kamat branches and we appreciate the high quality of the preparations. We have had good experiences whenever we have tried something different from the huge menu. What’s more, the food is divinely cheap on the pocket and majority of it is Vegan!

Vegan notes

You can watch a slide presentation from Vegan Peace titled 'Do you know the truth about dairy?' by clicking this link.

“I think and speak clearer since I cut the dairy out. I can breathe better and perform at a better rate, and my voice is clearer. I can explore different things with my voice that I couldn't do because of my meat and dairy ingestion. I am proud and blessed to be a vegetarian, everything became clear.” ~Common, Hip-Hop Musician~

Monday, May 17, 2010

Campaign Against Animal Testing by ‘LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics’

Dear Readers,

This is to share that LUSH Fresh Handmade Cosmetics is launching an awareness campaign against animal testing titled, “Against Animal Testing” in the forthcoming weekend. The campaign will have the LUSH staff perform skits where the LUSH bunnies will ‘test’ on customers. A role reversal of sorts, this is an attempt to educate consumers on going cruelty-free. Please find the details of the campaign below.

Date of the Campaign: 21/May to 23/May, 2010

Time: 12noon to 3pm

Venue: All 12 LUSH stores across 6 cities in India: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Please click here for the complete address of all the LUSH stores.

Please contact Ms. Saroj Maria Joseph, Manager–PR, LUSH @ if you wish to participate in the campaign in any way.

Are you cruelty-free?
(Condensed from the LUSH Press Release)

Picture this: animals in hugely cramped quarters, often about three rabbits in a half foot by one foot cage living in piles of their own excrement. These animals are then partly shaved and have chemicals rubbed on their skin. Chemicals often burn and cause blisters or open wounds. Often the animals are left blind and sometimes get wounds that do not heal. After this torture, the animals are loaded into vehicles, roughly handled and transported, and later, killed. 

The irony is that testing on animals only proves whether or not a particular substance is harmful for animals, not humans. No one benefits from animal testing. Testing on animals does not provide us either safe chemicals or safe products. It is an abysmal act of cruelty bringing misery to the millions of animals who are tortured and killed.

It is estimated that annually roughly 50 to 100 million animals are used for testing. The estimated rise in animals used for testing since 2007 is 3,583,223.

Let us all pledge to go cruelty-free as much as we can! Let us consider changing to brands that care for animals! We hope you can join the LUSH campaign and mobilize more people to spread awareness against animal testing.

You might also want to read our last story on LUSH by clicking here.

“Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are not like us.’ Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction.” ~Charles R. Magel, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics~

For vegan/cruelty-free cosmetics reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vegan Soan Papdi from ‘KC Das’, Bangalore

Update as on August 26, 2011: KC Das, St. Marks Road branch has discontinued the below mentioned "diet" or vegan soan papdis because according to them, they were "not moving". We found out about this when we called up to place an order. You can enjoy some of the soan papdis from Haldiram's which continue to be vegan.

There was a time many years back when the soan papdis available used to be a delectable affair of glazing yellow strands, each separate, and when put inside the mouth, they would simply melt. This became fast uncommon and was replaced by the version that seemed to drip in ghee (clarified butter).

KC Das has both versions. The Vegan soan papdis are known as “diet” soan papdi in which rice-bran oil is used in place of ghee and fructose from Ensigns Healthcare is used in place of refined sugar. They are flavored with ground cardamoms and they melt in the mouth!

Cost factor: The soan papdis are available at the rate of Rs.15/- per piece.

Availability: Besides Bangalore, KC Das as several branches across two other cities—Kolkata and Mysore. The “diet” or Vegan soan papdis are available only at the No. 48, St. Marks Road branch, Bangalore - 560001. The telephone number of this branch is 080-25592021.

Vegan notes:
Why refined sugar may not be vegan?
Dairy products and 10 false promises

“People are the only animals that drink the milk of the mother of another species. All other animals stop drinking milk altogether after weaning. It is unnatural for a dog to nurse from a mother giraffe; it is just as unnatural for a human being to drink the milk of a cow.” ~Dr. Michael Klaper, M.D., Author of ‘Pregnancy, Children, and the Vegan Diet’~

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Organic-Vegan Breakfast Cereal from ‘Pristine Organics’

For more vegan breakfast cereals reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.
If you are looking for a 100% organic-vegan breakfast cereal from an Indian manufacturer, then this is the one for you: ‘Beginnings’ manufactured by Pristine Organics. The ingredients in all Pristine Organics' products are organically grown and vegetarian. ‘Beginnings’ is one of its vegan products.

Beginnings is available in four varieties: Wheat, Mixed Millet, Corn, and Ragi. Each box of Beginnings is fortified with minerals and vitamins, and contains the respective organically grown grain, organic sugar, and salt. Rich in dietary fibers, Beginnings makes a great breakfast meal.

When you choose Beginnings, you can easily avoid the following non-vegan and non-healthy ingredients that may be present in other breakfast cereals in the market such as: honey, milk solids, artificial flavors, and sugar.

What’s more, Beginnings offers you the added advantage of the ingredients being organic.

Suggested ways in which you can enjoy the vegan Beginnings breakfast cereal

You can have Beginnings with fruit juice, soy milk, nut milk, fresh fruits, vegan yoghurt, or simply as a healthy munchie. You can also use it as the base to prepare muesli. We did this and it was a big hit! Let’s share the recipe with you which has been adapted from another recipe. The original muesli recipe is from SHARAN which you can check by clicking here. The only modification we have made to the original recipe is to substitute the oat flakes and puffed amaranth with 'Beginnings'.

Muesli with Beginnings

*Any variety of Beginnings breakfast cereal: Wheat, Mixed Millet, Corn, or Ragi
*Nuts and seeds - almond, pistachios, walnuts, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, and sesame seeds
*Dried fruits - raisins, dates, and apricots
Roast the nuts and seeds on a think pan, one at a time or similar ones together. Sprinkle a little jaggery to cover it all and cook a little more. Take off the fire and cool.
Mix the Beginnings cereals, nuts and seeds, and the dried fruits in the quantities desired. Muesli is ready! This muesli can be stored and used as needed.
Serve dry as a snack or with soy milk, nut milk, or coconut milk.

Availability of Beginnings breakfast cereal

Beginnings is currently available in many traditional stores, organic stores, and super markets in the cities of Bangalore, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Mangalore, Mumbai, and Mysore. We have word that it will have an all-India launch soon. The Pristine Organics management is also considering inserting a "Vegan" label on the Beginnings box! If you are in any of the six cities mentioned above and have difficulty in finding Beginnings, you can get in touch with the Marketing Manager at Pristine Organics by writing to

Enjoy all!

The World is Vegan if You Want it!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Vegan Sorbetto from ‘Mama Mia’, Bangalore and Kolkata

Update as on 14/03/2014: This company has wrapped up operations from India.

When we read a write-up on Mama Mia in the food section of one local daily recently and made an inquiry, little did we know what surprise lay in store for us. The Manager of the Indiranagar outlet of Mama Mia in Bangalore, whose telephone number was provided in the article, informed us in a dispassionate tone that they have several ice cream flavors that are 100% free of dairy.

“Then what do you make the ice cream with!!?”

“Fruit pulp, Madam.”

Well that was that, off we sped to Indiranagar to witness this too good to be true place! It is a little odd that the reporter of the article missed this oh-so-precious information.

Mama Mia sorbetto flavors

‘Sorbetto’ is what Mama Mia dairy-free, egg-free ice creams are called. Sorbetto is typically the dairy-free counterpart of the traditional dairy ice cream. Sorbetto is made from fruit pulp and water blended together using a specific technique to produce a superbly creamy texture! The following are the sorbetto flavors available at Mama Mia: Alphonso Mango, Green Mango, Blueberry, Raspberry, Ruby Orange, Sicily Lemon, Tropical, Watermelon, Lychee, and Wine Grape. We had fun sampling all the available flavors – the Blueberry flavor (photo below) being the creamiest, easily became our favorite! 

Mama Mia outlets

Mama Mia has many outlets in the cities of Bangalore and Kolkata. For more information, you can check the Mama Mia website by clicking here.

However, please note that not all flavors are available at all outlets. The only outlet that has all the flavors is the one at Indiranagar in Bangalore.

Vegan Notes

From time to time we have linked our stories to various vegan resources on the internet. Today we link to an eye opener research compiled by PETA India entitled, Inside the Dairy Industry: A Report on the Abuse of Cows and Buffaloes Exploited for MilkThis research article condenses everything that you need to know about the other side of dairy – the part that advertisements and companies do not tell you about. The article also demystifies some of the common myths associated with milk and milk products.

On a different note, vegan food writers who have shared recipes of exceptional vegan or dairy-free and egg-free ice creams have made them a joy to prepare at home. It is amazing how dairy-free ingredients can make the ice cream so delicious while lending a rich, smooth, and creamy texture! Here’s a world of information and recipes of vegan ice creams from the blog A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise! Compassionate ice creams are possible!!

“If a man earnestly seeks a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from animal food.” ~Leo Tolstoy, Writer and Philosopher~

Update: Mama Mia has opened another branch at Church Street in Bangalore. Two Sorbetto flavors are available there.

For sorbetto available in Pune reviewed in this blog, you can click this link.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

‘Art by Susmitha’ and ‘Veganosaurus’ Vegan Jewelry and Art

Driving back home after having met Susmitha, you really start to see the finer shades of green on the trees, notice that the roads aren't that bad afterall, feel unperturbed by the traffic and the honking... ah well, you get the drift, do you not? Susmitha simply infuses positivity into everything and everyone she comes in contact with!

To introduce the lady of our story today, she is Susmitha Subbaraju, vegan since 2003, a Reiki channel, the vegan chef in her vegan household, a vegan activist, and a vegan jewelry and sculpture artist – a few among the many hats she wears! It is the vegan artist part of her that we shall explore for our story today. But wait, before we do that, we ask Susmitha what makes her such an optimist.

Here is Susmitha’s uncut response, every thought logical, as she explains the importance of the power of thought in steering vegan activism onto a positive trajectory:

“Each and every thought that you have and word that you utter has a vibration. Positive thoughts empower the positive elements in this world and attract them into your life. When you are passionately focused upon the suppression of cruelty, this cruelty feeds off your thoughts and becomes ever stronger. Instead, if your thoughts and words are constantly pro-vegan, pro-peace, pro-love, your simple focus upon these good aspects of the very same issue gives abundant power to the positive and helps it evolve and grow exponentially in the world.”
A firm believer in vegan education, Susmitha makes it amply clear that while she is pro vegan, she is not antagonistic towards others who are not. These are values we wholeheartedly believe in and Susmitha sums up the sentiment quite aptly when she says:
“A person is an activist just by virtue of being vegan. The compassion and love inherent in a vegan lifestyle influences in one way or another, each person that a vegan crosses paths with.”
Susmitha’s creative designs are as lovely as her beliefs. Let’s explore those now!

Art by Susmitha 

Art by Susmitha s a line of exclusive handmade vegan art jewelry. What makes Susmitha’s creations vegan? Primarily, it is the use of non-animal based raw materials, and the complete avoidance of materials derived from animals and other sentient beings.

Let's first see what Susmitha strictly does not use and what she substitutes them with, wherever applicable

Swarovski pearls & crystals in fine silver wire
Pearl: Pearl is derived from two sources: freshwater and ocean. The procurement of freshwater pearls is akin to factory farming while the procurement of ocean pears is done though regular farming methods. Ahimsa or non-violent pearls is a myth because the shell in which the oyster, mussel, or scallop lives must be opened, and an incision must be made in the gonad of the oyster, thereby killing the oyster, to obtain the pearl. The substitute that Susmitha uses in her creations is Swarovski crystal pearls. Swarovski pearls are not only cruelty-free but are also more reasonably priced than the oyster pearls.

Silk, Leather, Wool: Silk, leather, and wool – all obtained at the expense of the life and security of animals is not used in the jewelry line created by Susmitha. These items are easily substituted by cotton yarn.

Coral: Art by Susmitha does not use coral either. It takes many years for a few centimeters of coral to grow. The extraction of coral amounts to the ‘deforestation’ of sea life. Art by Susmitha does not believe in being part of this destruction. (Vegan ideals inspire care for all elements in the ecosystem.)

The vegan raw materials that Susmitha uses in her line of art jewelry

Metals – copper, fine silver, and sterling silver. Usually, Susmitha uses pure unplated metal. But wherever plated metals are required, Susmitha makes sure that the plate is of high quality and non-allergic. Other vegan materials she uses are gemstones, crystals, glass lampwork, polymer clay, Swarovski crystal pearls, and cotton yarn.

Herringbone pattern with copper
Glass lampwork, silver, Swarovski crystal

How to purchase handmade art jewelry from Art by Susmitha

You can visit the links below to learn more about the products from Art by Susmitha, see more samples, and find out how to place online orders for them:
Art by Susmitha at Etsy
Art by Susmitha blog

Art by Susmitha Facebook Fan page

Copper and polymer clay

Veganosaurus is the line of miniature handmade sculptures created by Susmitha. The sculptures are made both from polymer clay (baked clay) and iclay (unbaked, air dried clay). What is remarkable about these charming sculptures is that each is inspired by a story that has not only created them but given them a soul as well!

Take for example Witchy Poo. Witchy Poo is a friendly little witch who is “an obsessive, compulsive cleaner! Even when she was a little girl, her favorite toy was the broom. Then one day the Monsterville fairies wanted to reward her for her good work and gave her a magic broom. Now Witchy Poo uses her magic broom to sweep away all the unwanted energies from any room she's in and makes the place bright and positive at all times. And then with her beautiful smile she sprinkles love and good cheer into every corner.”

Endearingly cute, isn’t? Does Witchy Poo remind you of someone you know? Want to meet more of these soulful creatures and find out their stories? Then, please visit the links below to learn more. You can also find out how to place online orders for the miniatures.
Veganosaurus at Etsy
Veganosaurus Facebook fan page 

In conclusion

A very special aspect about Susmitha’s creations is that each creation is exclusive, meaning there are no two pieces of the same design. Each design carries a thought formed out of a set of unique experiences and translated into a work of art. Her creations are so beautiful that you cannot, but be touched by the joy and Reiki love that Susmitha infused in them while shaping them.

Note: All photographs in this story are from Susmitha's various sites on the internet.

You can also read how to choose to wear vegan in this blog post, Vegan Party Wear.